Review: All-Roku Surround Sound System With Smart Soundbar, Wireless Speakers and Subwoofer
Last year, Roku announced the Roku Smart Soundbar and Roku Wireless Subwoofer. The new additions joined the existing Roku TV Wireless Speakers as part of Roku’s audio lineup.
In late-January, the company announced a Roku OS update, which allowed you to combine the three devices to create a true surround sound system for the first time.
In our previous review, we said of the Roku Smart Soundbar and Roku Wireless Subwoofer:
While the audio quality (on the Roku Smart Soundbar) is not best-in-class, it improves on the experience you would have if you just used the speakers in your television. If you’re not ready to invest a full-fledged Dolby Digital Surround Sound or $400-plus soundbar, the Roku Smart Soundbar is a great option.
The Roku Wireless Subwoofer dramatically improves the soundbar, especially when listening to music or intense action sequences. At $179.99 by itself, or $269.99 when bundled with the Smart Soundbar, it is a worthwhile upgrade.
For the last few weeks, we added a pair of Roku Wireless speakers to our existing Roku Smart Soundbar and Subwoofer to test out the surround sound update. When streaming immersive content, adding the additional set of speakers it’s night and day.
Roku Smart Soundbar
Roku Wireless Subwoofer
Roku TV Wireless Speakers
Since I already had a Roku Smart Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer set-up, I just had to add the Roku Wireless Speakers to my set-up.
After unboxing the pair of wireless speakers, which come with a Roku remote, as well as a audio-control remote, I simply had to place the devices and power them up. If I didn’t already have a the Roku Smart Soundbar, I could have placed them directly next to the TV.
For Surround Sound set-up, Roku recommends placing them to the back sides of your couch. With the Smart Soundbar from the front — as well as the subwoofer — this can give a true Surround Sound experience.
Once plugged-in, the set-up of the devices are incredibly straight-forward. Since Roku devices are the first streaming player for a lot of users, they have nailed the on-boarding experience for even the most novice technophile.
First you turn you turn on your Roku Smart Soundbar (which has a built-in streaming player), then press and hold the “Home” button on your Roku remote for five seconds. You will be given the option to set-up a connected device, so select “Speakers.”
Once you select “Speakers,” it will ask you for the orientation of your speakers and then ask you to confirm that they are working one-by-one. After they are set-up, it will play a demo video so you can hear your new surround sound in all its cinematic glory.
While in the review for the Roku Smart Soundbar, we said that it “will give you a significant improvement over the built-in speakers in your television … and compared to other $150-$300 soundbars like Vizio SB3651 ($150), Polk Command Bar ($300) and JBL Link Bar ($400) it sounds good enough.”
What I felt was missing when I was just using the Soundbar, was that true cinematic feel. I can safely say that with the addition of the Roku TV Smart Speakers, along with the surround sound feature, it creates a true surround sound experience, that was night and day.
When I streamed “Frozen II” on Disney+, which is available with Surround Sound, you could really feel the sound coming from multiple directions (or as Roku says “immersive multi-directional sound”) — which I didn’t feel was there when I just used the soundbar. The Roku Wireless Subwoofer, covers what the speakers and soundbar, can’t handle bass-wise — which is important for high-action content.
The surround set-up also comes with sound modes that can reduce or boost the bass, improve speech clarity and level the volume, which adds a nice touch. Since it has built-in Bluetooth, you can also connect your phone to stream music directly to the sound system.
Should You Upgrade Your Set-Up?
It will cost you a little over $500 to build your own Roku surround sound home theater system, a little less if you factor in that you’re getting a $70-plus streaming device built-in to the Roku Smart Soundbar.
While I felt that the Roku Smart Soundbar and Subwoofer set-up was an upgrade on my built-in TV speakers, the addition of the wireless speakers to give surround sound takes it to a new level.
While it isn’t cheap to add all the pieces to the surround sound set-up, you don’t have to do it all it once. You could start with the speakers or soundbar. And if you’ve already invested in pieces of surround sound set-up — it seems like a no brainer to upgrade at some point.
If you deal hunt, there might be cheaper options out there, if you’re a high-end audiophile, there may be more performant systems — but what Roku nails is a high quality audio experience with a dead simple set-up. If you’re already in the Roku ecosystem, or want to get started in your streaming set-up, it’s hard not to recommend going all in on Roku audio to get started.