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Roku Smart Soundbar Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Aug 21, 2020 at 10:14 am
Roku Smart Soundbar Picture
6.7
Mixed Usage
8.3
Dialogue/TV Shows
6.6
Music
5.7
Movies
Channels
2.0

The Roku Smart Soundbar is an entry-level 2.0 soundbar. It gives you access to Roku's streaming media player, which organizes your streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ into one place and even lets you display HDR10 via these apps. This bar performs well with dialogue-heavy content like podcasts and TV shows, thanks to its fairly neutral and well-balanced mid-range. You can also use the bar to play surround content, though it doesn't provide the most immersive listening experience. It doesn't support Atmos content and it doesn't have an HDMI In port. There's no interface on the bar, so you'll need to connect it to your TV or download the companion app in order to adjust its settings, view its volume level, or access the Roku media player. Overall, it's still a decent entry-level soundbar that can enhance your TV-watching experience.

Our Verdict

6.7 Mixed Usage

The Roku Smart Soundbar is adequate for mixed usage. Overall, it has a decently neutral audio reproduction, especially in the mid and treble ranges, so it can reproduce voices and lead instruments well. It doesn't have a subwoofer, though, and it struggles to reproduce the deep thumps and rumbles of low bass. On the upside, it has some sound customization features, including four EQ presets, a dialogue enhancement feature, and an auto volume setting. However, like many 2.0 soundbars, it doesn't support Atmos and its surround performance is poor.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Adjustable dialogue enhancement feature.
  • Voice assistant capabilities.
Cons
  • Doesn't support Atmos content.
  • Lacking sub-bass.
  • No dedicated subwoofer.
8.3 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Roku Smart Soundbar is great for dialogue-heavy content like TV shows. This bar is a 2.0 setup, so it doesn't have a dedicated center channel, but it still does a good job reproducing dialogue clearly. Its audio reproduction is fairly neutral and well-balanced in the mid-range, which is ideal for reproducing voices. There's also an adjustable dialogue enhancement feature to help make dialogue sound more crisp and clear. It gets pretty loud, though there's a bit of compression when you play audio at max volume. You can also wirelessly connect your mobile devices to stream content to the bar using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Adjustable dialogue enhancement feature.
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible.
Cons
  • No dedicated center channel.
6.6 Music

The Roku Smart Soundbar is okay for music. Its sound profile is pretty neutral and well-balanced, especially in the mid and treble ranges, which is ideal for reproducing vocals and lead instruments. However, this setup doesn't come with a subwoofer, so it's lacking a bit of sub-bass. This may be disappointing if you love bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. The bar comes with some sound customization features, including four different EQ presets (Normal, Reduce Bass, Bass Off, Bass Boost) that help you to adjust the sound to your liking. You can also purchase a sub separately, although we didn't test this setup.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
  • Four EQ presets.
  • Well-balanced mid-range.
Cons
  • Lacking sub-bass.
  • No dedicated subwoofer.
  • No graphic EQ.
5.7 Movies

The Roku Smart Soundbar is disappointing for movies. While its sound profile is pretty well-balanced and should reproduce voices well, it's lacking sub-bass, so you won't get the deep thumps and rumbles from explosions in action-packed scenes. This soundbar supports surround content, but like most 2.0 soundbars, it downmixes it to stereo, so it doesn't have the most immersive listening experience. It also doesn't have height channels and can't support Dolby Atmos content. On the upside, this bar gets pretty loud, but there's some compression when you play it at max volume.

Pros
  • Gets loud.
Cons
  • Doesn't support Atmos content.
  • Poor surround performance.
  • Lacking sub-bass.
  • 6.7 Mixed Usage
  • 8.3 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 6.6 Music
  • 5.7 Movies
  1. Update 9/21/2020: The Dynamics tests have been reconducted due to a value input bug.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Roku Smart Soundbar is an entry-level 2.0 soundbar launched in 2019. It gives you access to Roku's media player with "channels" such as Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu, either through the companion app or your TV. There's also a mic built-in to the remote, which is compatible with voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. You can even add on a subwoofer and rear speakers, which are sold separately. Its main competitors are the Bose Solo 5, the Sony HT-S100F, the Yamaha YAS-209, and the JBL Link Bar.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Roku Smart Soundbar has a simple design. It's mostly made of plastic, which feels very sturdy. There's thin fabric covering the front and the sides of the bar, but it doesn't seem like it could easily rip because the fabric is so tightly wrapped.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The Roku Smart Soundbar doesn't come with a subwoofer, although you can buy the Roku Wireless Subwoofer separately.

Design
Style - Satellites

This setup doesn't have any satellites, but you can buy compatible rear speakers separately.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width 32.1" (81.5 cm)
Bar Height 2.8" (7.1 cm)
Bar Depth 3.9" (9.8 cm)

The Roku Smart Soundbar has a pretty compact design. It should fit between the legs of most 55" TVs. It's also not very tall, so it shouldn't block your TV screen unless the screen sits flush with the table.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width N/A
Sub Height N/A
Sub Depth N/A

The Roku Smart Soundbar doesn't come with a subwoofer.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width N/A
Sat Height N/A
Sat Depth N/A

There aren't any satellites in this setup.

Design
Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
Universal (holes on back)

On the back of the soundbar, there's an opening for the power cable and the inputs. You can also mount the soundbar on your wall using the universal holes on the back of the bar.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
N/A

This soundbar doesn't come with a subwoofer.

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
N/A

This soundbar doesn't have any satellites.

6.5
Design
Build Quality

The Roku Smart Soundbar has adequate build quality. It's mostly made of solid plastic, and there's a thin fabric covering the front and the sides of the bar. This fabric doesn't seem like it could rip easily, but if you grip the bar very tight in the middle, the front cover comes off the body as if it's glued on. Note that this soundbar doesn't have any physical buttons, so you can only see the volume controls and the scroll menus when it's connected to a TV.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
5.0 ft (1.5 m)
Digital Optical Cable Length
6.0 ft (1.8 m)

  • Remote
  • Batteries (2x AAA)
  • Quick Start guide
  • Optical cable
  • HDMI cable
  • Power cable

Sound
6.9
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
-0.38
ST Std. Err.
2.67 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
61.7 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
13.1 kHz

The Roku Smart Soundbar has an adequate stereo frequency response. The mid and treble ranges are well-balanced, which is ideal for reproducing vocals and acoustic instruments. However, the bar doesn't have a subwoofer, so it struggles to reproduce a thumpy low bass on its own, which may be disappointing for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. The bar comes with four EQ presets (Normal, Reduce Bass, Bass Off, Bass Boost) to help you customize the sound, but we don't test these settings.

Sound
Stereo Raw Frequency Response
6.5
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
3.20 dB

The Roku Smart Soundbar's soundstage is alright. It sounds about as wide as the bar itself, but it doesn't have any tricks to make it sound larger than that. It has an okay focus, so sounds seem to come from a pinpoint location, but it can be a little diffused.

6.7
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
90.2 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
3.09 dB

Update 09/21/2020: We've discovered a value input bug that would cause the Dynamics box results to be slightly off. All soundbars reviewed since January 30th, 2020 have been updated.

The Roku Smart Soundbar has adequate stereo dynamics. It can get loud, which is great if you want to use the bar in crowded settings or large rooms. However, when you play the bar at max volume, there's noticeable compression, especially in the bass range.

7.6
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
0.40
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.89

The Roku Smart Soundbar has a good stereo THD performance. There isn't a lot of distortion when you play the bar at normal listening levels. There's more distortion when the bar is played at max volume, but this may not be noticeable with real-life content.

5.4
Sound
Center
C Localization
Phantom
C Slope
-1.64
C Std. Err.
3.95 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
88.1 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
0.72
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.28

The Roku Smart Soundbar's center channel performance is poor. This 2.0 setup doesn't have a dedicated center channel. Instead, it uses the left and right-firing speakers to mimic a center, but it won't sound as clear and detailed. It may sound a bit bass-heavy, though this won't matter as much since there isn't much bass on center channels.

2.9
Sound
Surrounds
Sr Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
N/A
Sr Slope
-1.74
Sr Std. Err.
4.30 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
87.4 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
1.18
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.52

The Roku Smart Soundbar has a bad surrounds performance. It has to downmix surround content into stereo, which won't provide as immersive of a listening experience. Sound may seem to come from straight in front of you instead of all around you. Its audio reproduction is also quite bass-heavy.

0
Sound
Height (Atmos)
H Localization
N/A
H Slope
N/A
H Std. Err.
N/A
H SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
H Weighted THD @ 80
N/A
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A

The Roku Smart Soundbar doesn't support Atmos content.

3.9
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
No
Bass Adjustment
Yes
Treble Adjustment
No
EQ
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
No
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
No

The Roku Smart Soundbar has a poor selection of sound enhancement features. It doesn't have a room correction feature, so it may sound different depending on the room you're in. On the upside, you can choose between different degrees with its dialogue enhancement feature called Speech Clarity (Off, Low, High) and its Volume Mode (Off, Leveling, Night). You also have some control over the sound profile of the bar, thanks to its four EQ presets (Normal, Reduce Bass, Bass Off, Bass Boost). You can access these EQ presets on the app or by pressing the * button on the Roku remote, though your TV will have to be on in order to view the settings.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI ARC
1
HDMI Out
No
Full HDMI In
No
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
No
USB for Files
1
Ethernet
No

The Roku Smart Soundbar comes with several basic inputs. However, it doesn't have an HDMI In port, so you won't be able to use the bar as a hub between your TV and your game console or PC. There also isn't a 3.5mm Aux port, so you won't be able to plug in your phone to play audio.

7.6
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
No
Dolby Atmos
No
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
Yes
DTS
Yes
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
No
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No

The Roku Smart Soundbar's ARC port supports Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and DTS content commonly found on streaming services like Netflix and in Blu-ray discs.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
No
DTS:X
No
Dolby Digital
No
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
Dolby TrueHD
No
DTS-HD MA
No
5.1 PCM
No

This soundbar has an HDMI ARC output. However, it doesn't have any HDMI ARC inputs, so it can't receive content via HDMI.

6.0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - Optical
Dolby Digital
Yes
DTS
No

The Roku Smart Soundbar supports Dolby Digital content via its optical port. However, it doesn't support DTS content, which may be disappointing if you want to play audio from DTS-formatted Blu-ray discs.

8.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi
Yes
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No

This soundbar has very good wireless playback capabilities. You can connect your phone or your tablet and stream music wirelessly to the bar via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. However, you can't connect using Chromecast built-in or Apple AirPlay.

Connectivity
Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
N/A
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
N/A
HDR10 Passthrough
N/A

Since the Roku Smart Soundbar doesn't have an HDMI In port, it doesn't support 4k passthrough.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
N/A

There isn't a subwoofer, but you can buy one separately.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
N/A

There aren't any satellites in this setup.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The Roku Smart Soundbar doesn't have a display. There's a red light on the bar that flashes when the bar is set to mute, or when you press a button on the remote. When you press the power button, it doesn't turn off the bar but instead sets it to standby mode. To see the settings and the volume level, you'll have to turn on your TV.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

There aren't any physical controls on the Roku Smart Soundbar. You can use the remote or the app to adjust its settings.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The Roku Smart Soundbar comes with a small, simple remote that lets you control almost all of the bar's features. It also has a built-in microphone, so you can control some of the bar's settings using your voice. However, you have to use the companion app to access Private Listening mode, which lets you listen to your TV from the headphones connected to your phone or tablet.

Additional Features
App
App Name Roku
iOS Yes
Android Yes
Acts as the Remote
Yes
Controls Soundbar's Settings
All
Casts Device Files
Yes

The Roku app acts as the remote and allows you to control all of the Roku Smart Soundbar's settings. You can adjust the volume, access the channels, control the EQ settings, and adjust the Volume Mode and Speech Clarity features. There's even an extra feature called Private Listening mode that lets you listen to your TV from the headphones connected to your phone or tablet.

Additional Features
Other Features
Power Saving
No
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
Yes

The Roku Smart Soundbar supports HDMI CEC, so you can control some of its features using your TV remote. While the bar goes into standby mode when you push the power button, we're unable to confirm if it enters standby mode on its own.

Compared to other soundbars

The Roku Smart Soundbar is a 2019 entry-level 2.0 setup. It can play surround content, and it has some sound enhancement features. You can use the bar to access Roku's media streamer, which puts all of your streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu in one place. There's also a mic built-in to the remote, so you can use voice assistants to control the bar. It doesn't come with a subwoofer or rear speakers, though you can purchase these separately. If you're looking for more soundbars, see our recommendations for the best budget soundbars, the best soundbars under $200, and the best soundbars.

Sonos Arc

The 5.0.2 Sonos Arc is a better soundbar for TV shows and movies than the 2.0 Roku Smart Soundbar. Unlike the Roku, the Sonos has a dedicated center channel, which allows it to reproduce voices and dialogue clearly and more accurately. It doesn't downmix surround content into stereo, either, which provides a more immersive listening experience. The Sonos also supports Atmos content, unlike the Roku, and it has a room correction feature and a wider and more focused soundstage.

Bose Solo 5

The Roku Smart Soundbar and the Bose Solo 5 are very similar 2.0 setups. Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Bose has a better build quality and a better-balanced sound profile for its center channel. On the other hand, the Roku can get louder, but it has more compression artifacts at max volume. The Roku comes with a companion app and more features, like built-in voice assistant capabilities, dialogue enhancement, auto volume mode, and several EQ presets, so it's a bit more flexible. Unlike the Bose, the Roku also has an HDMI ARC port.

TCL Alto 8+

The Roku Smart Soundbar is a better overall soundbar than the TCL Alto 8+, though both bars perform very similarly. Neither bar supports Dolby Atmos content. However, they both give you access to a media streaming player - the Roku media player for the Roku bar and the Amazon Fire TV 4k media streamer for the TCL. The Roku supports Wi-Fi streaming and it has a companion app, unlike the TCL. The Roku also has a better-balanced sound when playing content through both its center channel and when downmixing surround content into stereo. However, the TCL has a more focused soundstage.

JBL Link Bar

The JBL Link Bar is a better soundbar than the Roku Smart Soundbar. Both bars are 2.0 setups lacking a bit of sub-bass, but the JBL has an overall better-balanced sound profile. Unlike the Roku, the JBL supports Chromecast built-in and 4k passthrough, and it also comes with three HDMI In ports, so it's much more versatile. Neither bar supports Atmos content. However, if you want to balance the volume between different programs and commercials, you may prefer the Roku because it has an auto volume feature.

Sony HT-S100F

The Roku Smart Soundbar is a better overall soundbar than the Sony HT-S100F. Both bars don't have a subwoofer, so they both struggle to reproduce sub-bass. However, the Roku's bass extends a bit deeper, so it does a better job reproducing the low rumble and thump in bass-heavy music and movies. It also has more sound customization options, thanks to its four EQ presets. The Roku is also Wi-Fi compatible. On the other hand, the Sony comes with an always-on surround sound mode called S-Force Front Surround, which some listeners may like. Also, the Sony has a better-balanced sound on its center channel than the Roku.

Sony HT-S200F

The Sony HT-S200F and the Roku Smart Soundbar are similarly-performing budget soundbars, but depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The Roku gives you access to Roku's media player. It also supports Wi-Fi wireless playback, and you can play Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus content thru its ARC port, unlike the Sony. However, if you want to use your soundbar as a hub between devices, you may prefer the Sony because it has an HDMI Out port. The Sony is also better-built, and it has less compression at max volume.

TCL Alto 5

The Roku Smart Soundbar and the TCL Alto 5 are very similar 2.0 setups. Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The TCL has a better build quality. Neither bar comes with a subwoofer, and neither bar can play Dolby Atmos content. However, the Roku has a companion app and an auto volume feature, which is good if you want to control the volume level between different programs and commercials.

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