Roku Streambar Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Dec 01, 2020 at 08:01 am
Roku Streambar Picture
5.8
Mixed Usage
6.7
Dialogue/TV Shows
5.9
Music
5.2
Movies
Channels
2.0

The Roku Streambar is a budget-level 2.0 setup. This impressively small soundbar allows you to access different streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu in one place via Roku's media streamer. It can also be upgraded with a separate subwoofer and satellites down the line. However, it really struggles to produce low-bass and has a veiled treble. It also doesn't get very loud and doesn't support Atmos. On the upside, you can wirelessly stream audio via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Its center channel also reproduces dialogue clearly and is well-suited for vocal-centric content.

Our Verdict

5.8 Mixed Usage

The Roku Streambar is disappointing for mixed use. Its sound profile really lacks low-bass. It also struggles to get loud and doesn't support Atmos content. Its surrounds performance is bad, as it has to downmix surround content into stereo. However, it can reproduce dialogue clearly. You can also wirelessly stream audio content to the bar using Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi, and it offers a few EQ presets so that you can tweak the bar to your liking.

Pros
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible.
  • Four EQ presets available.
Cons
  • No room correction.
  • Really lacking low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Poor surrounds performance.
6.7 Dialogue/TV Shows

The Roku Streambar is alright for dialogue and TV shows. While it doesn't have a dedicated center channel, it can reproduce dialogue clearly. There's also a dialogue enhancement feature to further improve vocal clarity. You can even stream audiobooks and podcasts to the bar via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. However, it doesn't get very loud.

Pros
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible.
  • Dialogue enhancement feature available.
Cons
  • No room correction.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
5.9 Music

The Roku Streambar is subpar for music. It has a very underemphasized bass, which doesn't really make it suitable for thumpy genres like EDM and hip-hop. It also doesn't get very loud and doesn't have a room correction feature. That said, its mid-range is fairly well-balanced, so vocals sound clear. It also has a few EQ presets so you can slightly customize its sound.

Pros
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible.
  • Four EQ presets available.
Cons
  • No room correction.
  • Really lacking low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
5.2 Movies

The Roku Streambar is poor for movies. It really struggles to reproduce thump and rumble, and it doesn't support Atmos content. Its surrounds performance is also poor, as it downmixes this content into stereo. Luckily, it has a few EQ presets, so you can customize it to your liking.

Pros
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatible.
  • Four EQ presets available.
Cons
  • No room correction.
  • Really lacking low-bass.
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Poor surrounds performance.
  • 5.8 Mixed Usage
  • 6.7 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 5.9 Music
  • 5.2 Movies
  1. Update 1/13/2021: Due to a change in our methodology, we updated DTS and DD+ support via ARC to 'No'.
  2. Update 12/1/2020: Updated HDMI Out to 1 (shared).

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Roku Streambar is a 2.0 soundbar from this manufacturer's 2020 lineup. Just like the Roku Smart Soundbar, it offers access to several streaming platforms in one place thanks to Roku's streaming media player. You can also purchase wireless satellite speakers and a subwoofer separately to upgrade your setup. There's a mic built into its remote, so you can control some features using your voice. However, it doesn't come 'Roku TV Ready' so you can't connect it to a Roku TV to use that TV's remote to control the bar. Its main competitors are the Sony HT-S100F, the LG SK1, and the Bose Solo 5.

Design
Design
Style - Bar

The Roku Streambar is a very small soundbar with angled edges. Its front and sides are wrapped in tight fabric that almost feels like it's stuck to the soundbar's body, while the top and rear of the bar are made from hard plastic.

Design
Style - Subwoofer

The Roku Streambar doesn't come with a subwoofer, but you can purchase a Roku Wireless Subwoofer separately.

Design
Style - Satellites

This setup doesn't have any satellites, but you can buy Roku Wireless Speakers separately.

Design
Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width 13.9" (35.4 cm)
Bar Height 2.4" (6.0 cm)
Bar Depth 4.2" (10.7 cm)

This soundbar is quite small and can easily fit between the legs of most 55" TVs. It's not very tall, so it shouldn't block your TV unless it sits flush to the table.

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

This setup 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)

The back of this soundbar has one opening for its inputs and power cord. There are also universal holes on its underside so that you can wall-mount it, but the mounting parts are sold separately.

Design
Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
N/A

This setup doesn't come with a subwoofer.

Design
Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
N/A

The Roku Streambar doesn't come with any satellites.

8.0
Design
Build Quality

The Roku Streambar has a great build quality. Its top and rear sides are made of dense hard plastic, while the front and sides of the bar are wrapped in a tight fabric, so it doesn't feel like it can easily rip. That said, dust and dirt may still collect on the fabric. There's rubber underneath the soundbar, which is a nice touch.

Design
In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
4.8 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
  • Power adapter

Sound
5.4
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
0.53
ST Std. Err.
3.28 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
93.8 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
16.0 kHz

The Roku Streambar's stereo frequency response is disappointing. It really struggles to produce a thumpy low-bass and the treble sounds a bit veiled. That said, it can reproduce vocal-centric content like audiobooks or podcasts clearly.

Sound
Stereo Raw Frequency Response
7.0
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.78 dB

The Roku Streambar's stereo soundstage is decent. The soundstage is a bit wider than the bar, which is quite impressive for such a small bar, but it doesn't do any tricks to make it sound larger. The soundstage's focus is okay, but sounds seem to accelerate towards the far sides of the bar. That said, the focus is much more consistent towards the center, so objects are perceived as coming from accurate, pinpoint locations.

6.7
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
85.3 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
1.78 dB

The Roku Streambar has okay stereo dynamics. It doesn't get as loud as many other soundbars we've tested, and won't be loud enough for a large or crowded room, but that's to be expected of its small size. While it also has a few compression artifacts present at max volume, it shouldn't be too noticeable.

7.1
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
0.68
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
2.47

This soundbar has a decent THD performance. There isn't a lot of distortion at normal listening levels, resulting in clean and pure audio reproduction. However, if you push the bar to its max volume, there's a jump in THD. That said, this may not be noticeable with real-life content.

7.0
Sound
Center
C Localization
Phantom
C Slope
-0.32
C Std. Err.
2.31 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
83.5 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
0.73
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.70

The Roku Streambar has a decent center channel performance. It uses its left and right-firing speakers to mimic a center speaker, which doesn't sound as clear and detailed as a dedicated center speaker. Still, it can reproduce clear and accurate dialogue.

2.4
Sound
Surrounds
Sr Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
N/A
Sr Slope
-1.93
Sr Std. Err.
4.76 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
81.8 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
1.59
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.51

The Roku Streambar has a terrible surrounds performance. It has to downmix this content into stereo to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive as a setup with dedicated satellite speakers. It also doesn't result in a clear representation of objects in the surround image. Its audio reproduction is bass-heavy, and objects are perceived as coming from in front of you rather than from beside or around you.

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 Streambar 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

This soundbar has poor sound enhancement features. It offers four EQ presets: 'Normal', 'Reduce Bass', 'Bass Off', and 'Bass Boost'. There's also an auto-volume/night mode as well as a dialogue enhancement feature. However, it lacks room correction.

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

Update 12/01/2020: Thanks to user feedback, we updated the HDMI Out to 1 (shared). Even though this soundbar doesn't have a Full HDMI In port, it has a Roku source built-in, so you don't need to have an ARC port on your TV to use the streaming features.

This soundbar has a couple of inputs. It doesn't have an HDMI In port, so you won't be able to use this bar as a hub between your TV and devices like a Blu-ray player. If you have an external hard drive or a flash drive, you can play audio from these devices using its USB port.

6.1
Connectivity
Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
No
Dolby Atmos
No
Dolby Digital
Yes
Dolby Digital Plus
No
DTS
No
DTS:X (eARC only)
No
Dolby TrueHD (eARC only)
No
DTS-HD MA (eARC only)
No
5.1 PCM (eARC only)
No

Update 01/13/2021: We re-evaluated our methodology for ARC support and concluded that DTS and Dolby Digital+ support should be reported the same over an ARC connection as over an HDMI IN and Optical connection, so we updated our results from "Yes" to "No". Some TVs, like the one we initially used for testing, may convert this content, but other TV brands may not. Ultimately, your experience may vary depending on your TV.

The Roku Streambar has mediocre audio support via its ARC port. It supports Dolby Digital content, which is commonly found on Blu-ray discs as well as streaming platforms. However, depending on the TV you use, it may not support DTS or Dolby Digital Plus.

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 doesn't have a Full HDMI In port.

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

The Roku Streambar has mediocre audio format support via its Optical In port. It can only support Dolby Digital content and can't play DTS content, which is commonly found on Blu-ray discs or streaming platforms.

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

This soundbar has great wireless playback options. You can wirelessly stream your favorite audio from your mobile device via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. However, you can't connect to the bar 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

This soundbar doesn't have an HDMI In port, so it doesn't support 4k passthrough.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
N/A

This soundbar doesn't come with a subwoofer, but you can purchase one separately.

Connectivity
Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
N/A

There aren't any satellites in this setup, but Roku sells these separately.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

The Roku Streambar doesn't have a display. Just like the Roku Smart Soundbar, it has a light in the center of the bar. It turns solid red when you've plugged it in and turns green when it's ready. The light also slowly pulses when you're on mute and it turns white for a moment to indicate that you've made a command. Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing its volume level if the TV is off.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

This bar doesn't have any standard controls. It only has a reset button on the rear of the bar.

Additional Features
Remote
Universal Remote
No

The Roku Streambar comes with a small and simple remote. You can control almost all of the bar's features. However, its companion app gives you access to Private Listening mode, so that you can listen to your TV's audio using headphones connected to your mobile device. The manufacturer also advertises voice control, although we don't currently test for this.

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 controls all of the Roku Streambar's settings. You can turn the bar on/off, adjust volume levels, access channels, cast device files, change EQ presets, and adjust the auto-volume and dialogue enhancement features. There's also a unique feature called Private Listening mode which lets you listen to your TV's audio from headphones that are connected to your phone or tablet.

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

This soundbar doesn't really turn off and even when powering the bar off, it mainly turns the TV off. When connected via ARC, your TV remote can also power the bar on/off, and adjust volume.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Roku Streambar comes in one color: 'Black'. You can see its label here. If you come across a Roku Streambar that's different from our test unit, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The Roku Streambar is a budget-level 2.0 setup from 2020. This small soundbar offers access to several streaming platforms in one place by using Roku's media streamer. You can also expand its setup with satellite speakers and a subwoofer down the line. However, on its own, it offers a disappointing overall performance as it struggles to get loud and produce low-bass. That said, it does a better job of reproducing vocal-centric content. Check out our recommendations for the best small soundbars, the best soundbars under $200, and the best soundbars for dialogue.

Roku Smart Soundbar

The Roku Smart Soundbar is a better 2.0 soundbar than the Roku Streambar. These two soundbars have the same physical inputs as well as sound enhancement features, and they support the same wireless playback options. However, the Smart Soundbar has a significantly better-balanced sound profile and its surround performance is much better, too. It can also get louder, although with more compression artifacts than the Streambar. That said, the Streambar has a better center channel performance.

Sonos Beam

The Sonos Beam is a significantly better soundbar than the Roku Streambar. The Sonos is a 3.0 setup that's better-balanced and has a better center as well as surrounds performance. It also has more sound enhancement features and can get a lot louder, though with some compression artifacts present. However, the Roku is a 2.0 setup that has a couple more physical inputs. You can also use it to wirelessly stream your favorite audio to the bar using Bluetooth.

JBL Bar 9.1

The JBL Bar 9.1 is a significantly better soundbar than the Roku Streambar. The JBL is a 5.1.4 setup that has both a wireless subwoofer and satellites. It can produce a deeper bass, its sound profile is better-balanced, and it has room correction. Its center, surrounds, and height performances all perform better as well, and it even has a Full HDMI In port. However, although the Roku is a 2.0 setup, it's smaller and can be upgraded down the line with a separate subwoofer and satellites.

Bose Solo 5

The Bose Solo 5 is a better 2.0 soundbar than the Roku Streambar. The Bose has a significantly better-balanced sound profile and can get a bit louder. Its surround performance is better too and it has an AUX port. However, the Roku is better-built, has an HDMI ARC port, and supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It also has EQ presets.

Sony HT-S100F

The Sony HT-S100F is a better 2.0 soundbar than the Roku Streambar. The Sony has a better-balanced sound profile that's capable of reproducing more low-bass. It can get louder with fewer compression artifacts and has a virtual surround feature. It also has a shared HDMI ARC and HDMI Out port. However, the Roku is smaller and better-built. Its surrounds performance is much better too.

Sonos Arc

The Sonos Arc is a better soundbar for mixed use than the Roku Streambar. The Sonos Arc is a 5.0.2 setup with a better-balanced sound profile. It has a better center, surrounds, and height performance, and it also has room correction. However, while the Roku is a 2.0 setup, it has a few more physical inputs, like a USB port, and you can wirelessly stream audio to the bar using Bluetooth.

LG SK1

The LG SK1 and the Roku Streambar are similarly-matched soundbars, but the LG is better for dialogue and TV shows. The LG has a better-balanced sound profile, and it can get louder with fewer compression artifacts. Its surrounds performance is better, too. However, the Roku offers more sound enhancement features and has an HDMI ARC port as well as a USB port. It can also wirelessly play audio via Wi-Fi.

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