Roku Smart Soundbar Review — How Does It Work With Your Roku TV? (2021)

Roku Soundbar Review

The Roku Smart Soundbar is a simple-looking soundbar that is packed with features. It comes at a very affordable price, but is the soundbar better than others in the same price range? To save you from disappointment, our experts are here to determine if the Roku Smart Soundbar is the best for you with this Roku Soundbar Review.

Pros

Cons

Design

The design of the Roku Smart Soundbar is quite a likeable one. Not only does it pair well with your Roku TV, but it’s also a great match for your home theater system with or without Roku wireless speakers and a Roku wireless subwoofer.

It’s not one of the smallest and most compact soundbars, but that’s to be expected, especially since it packs so many features it needs room for it all. It measures at 32.2 inches in length and is 2.8 inches tall. This makes the Roku Smart Soundbar one of the easiest to incorporate into your existing system.

The grille is wrapped in a perforated cloth to not obstruct the optical audio and you can see the TCL Roku logo and a single LED light display. The hardware inside features four 2.5 inch drivers that help propel the sound out in full force. Each driver in the design provides great treble and speech clarity, making it ideal for your usual channels and TV program.

Our experts were a bit dismayed by the lack of a control panel on the top, but everything can be accessed and may earn via the colorful Roku remote that comes with your purchase. The volume rocker on the remote is at the edge, though, just in case you get confused how to adjust the volume level. Unlike the Roku Ultra, the Smart Soundbar doesn’t feature a remote finder.  You can also opt to use the Roku app [1] for control, but the application is not as intuitive as some other ones. 

All the connections are located on the back of the soundbar. Roku built their smart soundbar with convenience in mind. All the major inputs are featured on the Smart Soundbar, but more on that later. 

There are also wall-mounting holes already present on the soundbar. It’s a pretty lightweight soundbar relative to its size, and the flexible placement option of this Roku smart soundbar will offer a much better private listening experience.

Feel free to expand on the system and add apps and channels. You can add a Roku Media Streamer or a streaming player you already own like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. Another good thing about this is that all the streaming platforms you’re paying for will show on the Roku home screen. If you’re playing music from platforms like Spotify, you can shut turn off the TV screen and let music run in the background. Plus, you can use the voice search for easier navigation.

A subwoofer can also be added for more impressive bass and satellite speakers for a surround sound performance. You can opt for the Roku Wireless Subwoofer, which has a “Bass Off” setting if you want to temporarily turn off the sub in case the volume is a bit much for the neighbors.

Features of the Roku Smart Soundbar

Sound Quality

Sound quality is the one major consideration when it comes to purchasing a soundbar. You want the soundbar to elevate your Roku TV or other branded TV experience. Of course, the sounds should be better than your TV speaker.

The aforementioned four 2.5 inch drivers do the job well. There is strength in numbers and each of them is capable of pumping out a lot of power.

It will elevate your Roku TV speakers to a whole new level, and testing this Roku Smart Soundbar with a variety of contents revealed great treble and dialogue performance. It doesn’t feature its own subwoofer, so the bass could be lacking to some audiophiles with high expectations. Our team did find the highs and mids to be very adequately produced and the bass was impressive enough for a soundbar without an external sub.

You can upgrade by adding a subwoofer, satellite rear surround speakers or even the best available floor standing speakers under 2000 to create a more encompassing home theater experience that can handle all the notes on the spectrum. Our experts connected a few of these extra components and found that the bass sounded much better.

The Roku Smart Soundbar can handle the dialogue in movies, TV shows, and your fave channels, but it can also play music at high levels without muddying the sound. Even the bass doesn’t sound punchy at a louder volume. The soundbar works well with any sound system for heightened music and action movie sound effects. Still, our experts would recommend a sub for bass boost especially when playing video games.

The only sound mode present on the Roku is night mode. This is a setting that will limit the output, making it the ideal choice for viewing in the dead of night. While our team likes optical audio modes overall, we found the audio mode messes up the volume leveling a bit. It would’ve also been useful if this streaming player had other sound modes for a more personalized viewing experience.

But to further improve the sounds, Roku has expanded the frequency range of the Smart Bar. This means it can reproduce more notes on the spectrum, which encompasses more dynamic bass tones and sharper highs. With the help of Dolby Audio, your Roku Smart Soundbar can match up to many higher-grade soundbars for TVs.

Roku Streaming

You can also use this model as a 4K HDR streaming box, so you don’t have to buy a streamer stick like the Amazon Fire TV for your television. Roku streaming with a media streamer is possible if you add it. The Roku Smart Soundbar streaming is comparable to more high end soundbars with voice control. Although the Smart Bar doesn’t feature a built-in voice assistant, it can still support easy video and music streaming with a stable connection for all your favorite apps and content.

And because it’s main function is a soundbar, the scenes in movies will be more realistic.

Subwoofer

The Roku Smart Soundbar doesn’t come with its own subwoofer, but one can easily be added to your system. Having a subwoofer is helpful for music with a lot of bass or just for people who like the booming vibrations. If you want to improve the sound quality of your Roku Smart Soundbar, there are available small subwoofers under 500 compatible with your device.  

With the addition of a wireless subwoofer, our experts found that the soundbar is still easy to use and can create a more full-range setup. A subwoofer will also eliminate the chances of punchy bass and weak bass tones at a louder volume.

When purchasing the Roku Smart Soundbar, there is an option to include a subwoofer in your package and even the surround sound set.

Connections

A soundbar that doesn’t share compatible connections with your TV would be a waste of money no matter how good the quality is. Let’s take a look at what connections are featured in this section of our review. 

The Roku Smart Soundbar has an HDMI port making it suitable with other flat screen TVs like TCL 50S53 for easy setupIt’s not just an HDMI port, but it’s an ARC port. It’s different because it can both send and receive signals through it. 

The high speed via HDMI ARC cable is included for the HDMI ARC port for an easy setup process. Aside from the HDMI connection, the Roku Smart Soundbar also has an optical audio input. The optical audio cable and HDMI cable are plug-and-play designs and work right when you plug them in. Just in case you have a TV without HDMI, our experts recommend the optical cable connection as the next best one on the list.

The Roku Smart Soundbar also has a USB port that supports wireless playback and saved content. Overall, we’ve found no connectivity issues.

Wireless Connectivity

Most basic soundbar design will have Bluetooth for wireless streams and wireless speakers. What’s even better about the Roku Smart Soundbar is it’s an affordable mid-range soundbar that has wireless connection via Bluetooth and WiFi. So, you can connect phones to the device. The wireless connection is very convenient and it can work with Alexa devices and Google Assistant for hands-free control.

The Wi-Fi connection is one recommended by our experts because it offers more stability. Bluetooth tends to be more accessible in electronic devices and does a good job for content streaming. However, it’s distance-based, which means the closer the two devices are, the better the connection.

While it’s a wireless form of connection, it doesn’t offer the same versatility as Wi-Fi in terms of placement. According to our reviews, pairing is easy to use as the bar connects automatically when put in pairing mode. But for wireless connectivity, our team recommends WiFi all the way. Make sure to stay in a 30-foot range for stability.

However, the Bluetooth is very useful when it comes to wireless speakers. The pairing is easy as the devices will automatically detect each other and link up. We can recall when Roku came out with the Roku TV wireless speakers in the past. And although the device was good for television use, the Roku TV wireless speakers have limited compatibility.

If your WiFi network is stable, the connection with the soundbar will be strong even if you’re not in the living room anymore. You can be 30 feet or further away from your TV and your Roku Smart Soundbar will still produce impressive sounds with no lag.

Control

The Roku bar comes with its own remote control. Our team liked the colorful buttons as it really stands out from the basic black body. The vivid colors make it easy to see and use the clicker when accessing the settings and volume leveling. You have Home, Back, Power button, Option, Microphone, and playback buttons. 

You can see a power button and volume controls on the smart bar along with other streaming features. There is no control panel on the bar itself, so you need to fully rely on the clicker to handle your adjustments and screen options.

There is also a Roku mobile app for those who like to do everything from their phone, but the app is not a coveted part of the purchase. In all honesty, you won’t have problems even without installing the app on your phone. The bar is much easier to control with the easy-to-use remote unlike in Yamaha SR-C20A  that can integrate using mobile app compatibility.

It’s very easy to customize your listening experience once you get the hand of the clicker. You can switch between streaming services with just the push of a button. You can see the buttons labeled clearly with Netflix, Disney, Sling and Hulu. 

If you don’t like the sound settings, you can enter into the menu page and may lower or increase certain sound to personalize your experience. The clicker included can also be configured to control your TV as well.

Setup

Our team understands that the sound is important when picking a soundbar for TVs. However, the setup is something people forget to consider. 

You can go from unboxing to enjoying excellent sound in a matter of minutes. Everything you need for the soundbar is already included. What you will see is the remote and relevant cables. This is similar to how the Bose Solo 5 is set up. If you’re a newbie, there are lots of tutorial videos online.

The Roku Smart Soundbar has consistently received high reviews and a part of that is due to the simple set up. It’s compatible with your home theater setup even when you are using a flat screen TV or the best home theater projectors below 1000All you need to do is plug in the correct cables. Look on the back of your TV and your soundbar to locate the right connection ports. Once you have successfully found them, insert both endson the inputs, turn up the volume level, and enjoy your favorite music and movies with enhanced sound.

Price

Who doesn’t like an affordable soundbar that is jam-packed with convenient features? The Roku Smart Soundbar is such a device, moreso because its function doubles as a streaming media player.

For the price of this speaker, you get more than you bargained for. you can watch your favorite movies, TV shows and channels while enjoying great sounds. While the soundbar doesn’t have many advanced audio technologies except for Dolby Audio to boost the sound, it can be expanded on to create a full surround system with an added sub and rear speakers. 

However, you might be able to buy a soundbar at lower prices if you already have a streaming device or game console.

To make things easier, you can choose to purchase a slightly more expensive system that already includes the sub or a full 5.1 package. The high-tech bar can support both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless connections and is compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. 

Our experts were very impressed with the performance and volume levels of the Roku Smart Bar when it played their favorite content, which is why they were very surprised the price tag is very reasonable.

The Roku Smart Soundbar is an excellent investment for your money because it gives TVs more apps. It’s not easy to get such high quality and high definition sound and dialogue clarity without going over a few hundred. Other models may have more expensive prices, so this is a good upgrade.

FAQ

Is the Roku soundbar worth it?

Yes, the Roku Smart Soundbar is worth it. The Roku Smart Soundbar is a very valuable investment for your home cinema system. It’s filled with advanced features such as HD, 4K and HDR compatibility, both WiFi and Bluetooth streaming, HDMI ARC connection, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support as well as a very intuitive remote.

How does the Roku soundbar work?

The Roku smart soundbar works by connecting directly to your TV via the HDMI ARC port connection. You can also choose to connect wirelessly via the Bluetooth or WiFi features. Once connected, use the colorful remote to input the correct settings such as enabling the HDMI ARC and enjoy your content!

Roku Sound bar Review Conclusion

For such an affordable smart soundbar and streamer, we were very impressed with the audio capabilities of this speaker. In out testing and reviews, the Roku Smart soundbar produces a wider frequency range and more dynamic bass notes. The bar supports high definition HDR, 4K and HD content once you connect Via HDMI ARC. If you like to integrate thousands of apps with your TV, you can do so.

The audio performance is fully customizable from the settings page with the help of the remote. You will enjoy optimized visual and audio content, although this speaker is not for a more discerning audiophile.

Other than the soundstage, the Roku sound bar offers exceptional user-friendliness with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant device compatibility, wireless connection, value, and system expandability. Overall, it’s a nice upgrade for normal TVs.

If you want a clutter-free setup for your Roku TV, here is our step-by-step guide to hooking up a TV on a brick wall. Read next! 

Willie Greer

Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.
Willie Greer

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