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TCL Alto 6 Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.2
Reviewed Jan 12, 2024 at 10:52 am
Latest change: Writing modified Feb 19, 2024 at 01:43 pm
TCL Alto 6 Picture
6.1
Mixed Usage
6.6
Dialogue/TV Shows
6.4
Music
5.7
Movies

The TCL Alto 6 (also known as the TCL TS6100) is a budget-friendly standalone soundbar with a simple design. Its space-conscious design is ideal for those who don't have enough space in their setup for a dedicated subwoofer. Plus, the manufacturer advertises it as Roku TV Ready, making setup extra easy for those with a Roku TV. Given the price, it's little surprise that this soundbar lacks a lot of features and customization tools, but it may be worth the value for you if you don't plan to use these anyway.

Our Verdict

6.1 Mixed Usage

The TCL Alto 6 2.0 isn't bad for mixed usage. This 2.0 soundbar is ideal for stereo content, which includes most music and dialogue-focused TV shows. Voices and lead instruments are clearly reproduced, and a few EQ presets help you make the most of its sound. However, this simple bar doesn't support a lot of multichannel audio formats like DTS. The lack of low-bass results in a flat sound, too.

Pros
  • Bluetooth compatible.
  • Three EQ presets.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • No DTS support.
6.6 Dialogue/TV Shows

The TCL Alto 6 2.0 is adequate for dialogue-centric TV shows and podcasts. This soundbar lacks a discrete center channel to improve vocal quality, and yet dialogue is still clearly reproduced thanks to its balanced mids. You can even use its TV preset to enhance dialogue in the mix. It lacks more robust customization tools like bass and treble adjustments, which is disappointing.

Pros
  • Dialogue enhancement tool.
  • Bluetooth compatible.
Cons
  • No bass or treble adjustments.
  • No auto-volume mode.
6.4 Music

The TCL Alto 6 2.0 is acceptable for music. This standalone soundbar has a fairly even sound out-of-the-box, and vocals and lead instruments are clear and present in the mix. However, without a subwoofer, it struggles to reproduce a deep thump and rumble in the low-bass, resulting in a slightly flat sound. You can't customize its output with bass or treble adjustments, either.

Pros
  • Bluetooth compatible.
  • Three EQ presets.
Cons
  • No bass or treble adjustments.
  • Lacks low-bass.
5.7 Movies

The TCL TS6100 is middling for movies. Since it's a 2.0 soundbar, it has to downmix 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital into stereo to play them back, resulting in a less immersive sound. It doesn't support other common audio formats like DTS or Dolby Atmos. Dialogue is pretty clearly reproduced, though the lack of low-bass is evident in more action-packed scenes.

Pros
  • Dialogue enhancement tool.
  • Three EQ presets.
Cons
  • Lacks low-bass.
  • No DTS support.
  • 6.1 Mixed Usage
  • 6.6 Dialogue/TV Shows
  • 6.4 Music
  • 5.7 Movies
  1. Updated Feb 19, 2024: Added market comparison with the Hisense HS214 in the Sound Enhancement Features box.
  2. Updated Jan 12, 2024: Review published.
  3. Updated Jan 09, 2024: Early access published.
  4. Updated Jan 05, 2024: Our testers have started testing this product.
  5. Updated Dec 08, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  6. Updated Dec 05, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

This soundbar is available in Black, and you can see the label for the model we tested here.

Let us know in the comments if you come across another version of this soundbar.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The TCL Alto 6 is another budget-friendly offering from the manufacturer that provides a simple upgrade over your existing TV speakers. Unlike the TCL Alto 6+, it comes without a subwoofer, making it ideal for smaller or more compact living rooms. As with most cheaper soundbars, you won't find a ton of extra features or customization options, though.

See also our recommendations for the best soundbars under $100, the best budget soundbars, and the best all-in-one soundbars.

Sony HT-S100F

The Sony HT-S100F and the TCL Alto 6 are both budget-friendly standalone soundbars, and the Sony is a bit better overall. The Sony offers a better low-frequency extension, so you get a little more bass in the mix. Also, it has lower latency than the TCL, and it comes with an auto-volume mode, which the TCL lacks. That said, the TCL's stereo soundstage is a little better.

Roku Streambar

The Roku Streambar and the TCL Alto 6 are both budget-friendly standalone soundbars with different strengths. The Roku is smaller and better built. It comes with more sound enhancement features like bass and treble adjustments and supports more wireless playback options like Wi-Fi. However, its low-frequency extension isn't as impressive as the TCL, so this bar has less rumble in the bass.

TCL Alto 3

The TCL Alto 6 is a better standalone soundbar than the TCL Alto 3. The 6 is a little wider, which isn't ideal for everyone but offers better sound quality. Notably, it has a better low-frequency extension, meaning that you get more bass in the mix. Also, this soundbar gets louder than the 3, and it offers a better stereo soundstage.

TCL Alto 6+

The TCL Alto 6 appears to be the same soundbar that comes with the TCL Alto 6+. However, the 6+ has a dedicated subwoofer, which noticeably improves its bass reproduction, especially with genres like EDM and hip-hop. Also, the 6+ offers lower latency over HDMI and Optical connections. The 6 may be a better alternative for those with smaller living rooms, though.

Hisense HS214

The TCL Alto 6 is the better budget bar compared to the Hisense HS214. The TCL is a little bigger, and it can get a bit louder. Plus, it has a better stereo soundstage. It's not as well-built as the Hisense, and it lacks a bass adjustment feature.

+ Show more

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style - Bar

The TCL Alto 6 2.0 is a simple standalone bar. It's mostly made of plastic with rounded edges, and fabric covers the front of the bar.

Design
Style - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
No
Enclosure
No Subwoofer

If you're looking for a similar bar with a subwoofer, check out the TCL Alto 6+.

Design
Style - Satellites
Satellite Wireless
No
Design
Dimensions - Bar
Width 31.5" (80.0 cm)
Height 2.4" (6.2 cm)
Depth 4.1" (10.5 cm)

It's a fairly small bar and can fit between the legs of a 65" TV stand. Since it isn't very tall, it doesn't obscure your TV screen, either.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A
Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A
Design
Mounting
Mountable Bar
Yes
Bar Brackets Included
Yes
Mountable Satellites
No
Satellite Brackets Included
No

You can mount the bar to your wall using the included brackets.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The TCL TS6100 has a decent build quality, which is normal for a budget-friendly bar. The bar is mostly made of plastic, which is textured to give the appearance of leather. It feels sturdy, though the plastic is on the cheaper side. The front of the bar is covered in mesh fabric. It seems like it could rip or collect dust over time, so you'll want to be cautious when touching it.

Design
In The Box

  • Manuals
  • Wall mounting template
  • 2x wall mounting brackets, with 2x screws and 2x anchors
  • 2x AAA batteries
  • Remote
  • Power cable (length: 4.9 ft / 1.5 m)
  • HDMI cable (length: 4.9 ft / 1.5 m)
  • Optical cable (length: 4.9 ft / 1.5 m)

Sound
6.6
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Music
Slope
-0.01
Std. Err.
2.94 dB
Channels
2.0
Low-Frequency Extension
76.6 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

The TCL Alto 6 2.0 has an alright stereo frequency response. The bar's sound profile is fairly even, especially in the mids, where most voices and lead instruments are reproduced. Given that it's a standalone bar, it struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble in the low-bass, and as a result, most songs sound flat. You can check out the TCL Alto 6+ for a similar bar with a subwoofer to improve bass reproduction.

It's worth noting that the bar makes a hissing sound. It's more noticeable with some content than others: for example, you're more likely to notice it in songs with stops or breaks as opposed to movies with constant sound. We aren't sure if this is unique to our unit, so let us know in the forums if you experience any similar issues.

6.6
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Music
Suggested Bass Setting
N/A
Suggested Treble Setting
N/A
Slope
-0.01
Std. Err.
2.94 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
76.6 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
19.9 kHz

This soundbar has no bass and treble adjustments to calibrate its sound. You can only switch between different EQ presets. We recommend using the default Music preset for a more neutral sound with stereo content.

6.5
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
2.46 dB

The TCL Alto 6 2.0 has a fair stereo soundstage performance. The soundstage is perceived to be a little bit wider than the bar itself, but it doesn't have any tricks to stretch it past your table. Focus is only decent, and sound effects seem to come from a more general area rather than a pinpoint location in the soundstage around you.

8.0
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
94.1 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
1.32 dB

This bar gets loud enough to fill an average-sized living room with sound. There isn't too much compression when you push it to max volume.

8.0
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.34
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.32

While distortion mostly falls within good limits, a peak in the bass range is noticeable at times, especially when you're listening to music at loud volumes.

6.5
Sound
Center
Localization
Phantom
Slope
-0.50
Std. Err.
3.37 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
91.3 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.79
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.77

The TCL TS6100 is a 2.0 soundbar, meaning it lacks a discrete center channel. Instead, it simulates a 'phantom' center using its left and right stereo channels. The resulting sound is more diffused than what you get with a soundbar with a discrete center channel, so voices come from a more general area rather than an accurate location in the soundstage.

4.1
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Stereo (Downmix)
Slope
-0.52
Std. Err.
3.37 dB
SPL @ Max Volume
91.1 dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
0.57
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
1.80
7.1 Rears
No

This 2.0 soundbar has to downmix 5.1 surround sound formats like Dolby Digital into stereo to play them back. The resulting sound isn't quite as clear or real, as you don't get the sense of sound effects stretching into the space around your couch. Instead, the action seems like it's coming from in front of you.

0
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Not Supported
Slope
N/A
Std. Err.
N/A
SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
Weighted THD @ 80dB
N/A
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A
2.7
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
No
Dialogue Enhancement
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
No
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
No
Bass Adjustment
No
Treble Adjustment
No
EQ
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
No
Rear Level Adjustment
No
Height Level Adjustment
No
Virtual Surround
No

The TCL TS6100 has a limited amount of sound enhancement features, which is normal for such a budget-friendly bar. You can choose between three EQ presets: Movie, Music, and TV. The TV preset doubles as a dialogue enhancement tool, as it's designed to help with vocal clarity. Without bass and treble adjustments, though, you don't have much control over the bar's sound, even compared to other budget models like the Hisense HS214.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Inputs/Outputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
1
HDMI Out
ARC
HDMI 2.1 Class Bandwidth
No
Full HDMI In
No
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
1
RCA In
No
USB for Files
1
Ethernet
No
Subwoofer Output
No

You can connect this soundbar to your TV via HDMI or Optical. It doesn't have a Full HDMI In port, so you can't use it for video passthrough between devices like a console and a TV.

4.8
Connectivity
Audio Format Support: ARC/eARC
Dolby Atmos
Not Supported
Dolby Digital
Supported
Dolby Digital Plus
Not Supported
Dolby TrueHD
Not Supported
DTS
Not Supported
DTS:X
Not Supported
DTS-HD MA
Not Supported
PCM Channels
2.0

Like the TCL Alto 6+, this soundbar supports Dolby Digital content via ARC. You'll commonly find this 5.1 surround sound format on streaming platforms, and the bar downmixes it into stereo to play it back. However, you don't get support for lossless and object-based formats like Dolby Atmos, which are also more and more common on streaming services.

0
Connectivity
Audio Format Support: HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
Not Supported
Dolby Digital
Not Supported
Dolby Digital Plus
Not Supported
Dolby TrueHD
Not Supported
DTS
Not Supported
DTS:X
Not Supported
DTS-HD MA
Not Supported
PCM Channels
Not Supported
6.5
Connectivity
Audio Format Support: Optical
Dolby Digital
Supported
DTS
Not Supported
PCM Channels
2.0

Over Optical, this soundbar supports Dolby Digital content, which is the most common surround sound format on various streaming platforms. Since it's a 2.0 bar, it has to downmix this content into stereo to play it back.

5.5
Connectivity
Latency
ARC
140 ms
Optical
130 ms
Full HDMI In
N/A

Latency is middling. It's on the higher end, which means you're more likely to notice lip-synching issues with movies and videos. Of course, different apps and TVs compensate for latency differently, so your experience can vary. Unfortunately, you don't get any A/V Sync tools to manually make up for any delay.

0
Connectivity
Video Passthrough To TV
1080p Max Refresh Rate
Not Supported
1080p @ 4:4:4 Max Refresh Rate
Not Supported
4k Max Refresh Rate
Not Supported
4k @ 120Hz @ 10-Bit
Not Supported
4k @ 4:4:4 Max Refresh Rate
Not Supported
8k Max Refresh Rate
Not Supported
HDR10 Passthrough
No
HDR10+ Passthrough
No
Dolby Vision Passthrough
No
HDMI Forum VRR Passthrough
No
FreeSync Passthrough
No
G-SYNC Passthrough
No
ALLM Passthrough
No
6.0
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Yes
Wi-Fi Playback
No
Chromecast built-in
No
Apple AirPlay
No
Spotify Connect
No

You can stream audio to the bar wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
No

While the bar lacks a display, it uses five LED lights on the front of the bar to show some information. You can tell which input you're on, the current EQ preset, and the volume level as you change it. Each color represents a different source, and there are different patterns to distinguish between the EQ presets. You can see all of this in the bar's manual.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

A few buttons on top of the bar let you control its most basic settings. You can power the bar on/off, change the input, activate Bluetooth, and adjust the volume. Other settings are accessible through the remote.

Additional Features
Remote

The remote is simple and lets you control all the bar's settings. It doesn't have a companion app, so you'll need to keep track of the remote if you want to adjust its features.

Additional Features
Voice Assistants Support
Amazon Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Apple Siri
No
Microphone Mute
No