TCL Alto 7+ SOUNDBAR REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
6.3
Mixed Usage
7.2
Dialog / TV Shows
6.2
Music
5.8
Movies
Channels
:
2.1

The TCL Alto 7+ is a decent sounding soundbar with stereo content. It gets pretty loud and has a good overall frequency response. However, it lacks a bit of sub-bass, even though it does have a wireless subwoofer. The Alto 7+ is well-built, but the bar itself lacks a few features to customize its sound to your liking. There’s also noticeable compression at max volume and its soundstage is fairly narrow. On the upside, the Alto 7+ has a clear reproduction of vocals and voices and you’ll easily be able to stream content via Bluetooth.

Test Results
Design 7.5
Sound 6.1
Connectivity 4.5
Pros
  • Good overall sound profile.
  • Good for dialog content.
  • Well-built design.
Cons
  • No DTS support.
  • Lacks bass.
  • Doesn't perform that well at max volume.

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Market Context

The Alto 7 Plus is the higher-end soundbar from the first lineup from TCL. This manufacturer just started making soundbars and is offering more budget options. The Alto 7+ is a 2.1 setup with a dedicated sub, which the 2.0 Alto 7 doesn’t have. It is also slightly bigger than the 2.1 Alto 5+. The main competitors of the Alto 7+ are the Alto 5+, the Yamaha YAS-209 and the Samsung HW-R550.

7.5

Design

Style - Bar

The bar of the Alto 7+ is made of solid plastic and metal. The front and the sides are covered with a large metal grill except in the middle of the front side where the TCL logo is shown. The top side is made of solid plastic and has the buttons that control most of the bar's functions. It doesn't look too premium.

Style - Subwoofer

The subwoofer looks like a wooden box. The only part that is made of solid plastic is the port which is located in the back.

Style - Satellites

There are no satellites in this setup.

Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width : 36.1" (91.6 cm)
Bar Height : 2.5" (6.3 cm)
Bar Depth : 3.7" (9.5 cm)

This bar is not too wide and should fit between the legs of the stand of many 55" TVs. It is also not too tall so it will not block the view of the bottom of the screen when you place it in front of your TV unless you have one of the TVs that sit flush on the table like the Sony A9G.

Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width : 8.3" (21.1 cm)
Sub Height : 12.9" (32.7 cm)
Sub Depth : 9.8" (25.0 cm)

The subwoofer resembles a medium-sized desktop PC. It is slightly wider but should pose no issue as to where you can place it.

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

There are no satellites with this soundbar.

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

There is an opening on the back for the input ports and the power cable. The universal holes for wall mounting are on the back but due to their design the bar it will not sit flush to the wall.

Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
:
Ported

The speaker of the sub is on top and the port is right under it. The power cable connects at the bottom so it will not stand out much.

Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
:
N/A

This soundbar setup has no satellites

7.5 Build Quality

The build quality of the Alto 7+ is good. The bar is made of good quality, solid plastic and metal whereas the subwoofer is made of wood, except for the port. It feels very robust with no gaps or loose ends.

In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
:
5.0 ft (1.5 m)
Digital Optical Cable Length
:
5.0 ft (1.5 m)

  • Manuals
  • Optical cable
  • Remote & Batteries
  • Power cables (x2)
  • HDMI cable
  • Wall-mounting screws
  • Audio Line-in Cable
  • Infrared relay cable

6.1

Sound

6.6 Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
:
0.43
ST Std. Err.
:
2.92 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
58.2 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
:
18.0 kHz

The Alto 7+ has an okay stereo frequency response and a fairly neutral sound profile. However, it lacks a bit of bass and the low-frequency extension is quite high, which negatively affects the stereo performance on bass-heavy content like music and movies. This results in the soundbar having a slightly bright overall audio reproduction although it still does fairly well for listening to music thanks to the relatively neutral response. Note: All tests were done with the 'Music' preset, as there is no 'Standard' mode on the Alto 7+.

Stereo Raw Frequency Response
6.5 Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
:
2.69 dB

While listening to the Alto 7 Plus, the soundstage is just okay. The bar isn’t the largest and doesn’t do any tricks to widen its soundstage performance. It almost feels as the soundstage is narrower than the bar itself. On the upside, the focus of the soundstage and the separation are good, which makes objects seem to be coming from a more accurate pinpoint location rather than from a general area.

6.7 Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
:
99.6 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
:
5.30 dB

This soundbar can get very loud, which is great for a crowded environment or a very large room. However, when pushed at the maximum volume, there are some pumping and compression artifacts, especially in the bass range.

8.0 Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.31
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.92

The Alto 7 plus has great THD performance at a normal listening volume. This means you will get a clean and pure sound reproduction. However, when pushing the bar to its maximum volume, there’s a small jump in THD across the range, but this is very difficult to hear with real-life content, so you might not notice it.

7.2 Center
C Localization
:
Phantom
C Slope
:
-0.46
C Std. Err.
:
2.98 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
:
94.2 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.49
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.18

Due to its 2.1 configuration, the Alto 7 Plus doesn’t have a dedicated center speaker, which results in poor localization of surround content on the center channel. However, the performance is still decent. It uses the left and right speakers to create a sound in the center, which will sound more diffused and less clear compared to a discrete center. All 5.1 content sent to this bar is downmixed to stereo. On the upside, its sound profile is still pretty good and dialog in movies will be clear.

4.9 Surrounds
Sr Localization
:
Stereo (Downmix)
Rears
:
N/A
Sr Slope
:
-0.49
Sr Std. Err.
:
3.02 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
:
91.6 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.74
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
0.90

The performance of the Alto 7 Plus with surround sound content is pretty poor. This 2.1 setup downmixes surround content and the localization of objects won’t be very accurate. This means that sound will feel like it's coming from the front instead of getting an immersive listening experience. This bar was quite difficult to test at first as no sound was coming out when sending surround content. A full restart of the bar was necessary after each test to make it work and the volume level was noticeably lower with surround content.

0 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

This soundbar setup doesn’t have height channels and doesn’t support Atmos.

2.0 Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
:
No
Dialog 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
:
N/A
Height Level Adjustment
:
N/A
Virtual Surround
:
No

This soundbar has very limited sound enhancement features. It only has a Dialog Enhancement, which comes from the ‘News’ preset of the soundbar to help make voices clearer. You can also choose between Music and Movies mode, but that’s about it. It lacks sound customization and doesn’t have room correction, so it might sound differently depending on your room.

4.5

Connectivity

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

This bar has only one HDMI port which serves as an HDMI ARC for connecting with your TV. The Optical Audio In is the most common connection found on soundbars and one that can decode 5.1 surround sound. If you have an older device that doesn't have a more advanced connection port you can connect the Audio Out jack of your device to the Analog Audio In from the bar to enjoy your content.

This bar has an IR passthrough. This is helpful if the line of sight between the TV's remote and the TV is blocked by the bar. In this case, the IR signal is passed through the bar and retransmitted from the IR cable transmitter which can be placed in direct line of sight to the TVs IR receiver, thus restoring the connectivity.

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

Only the most common Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio format is supported. You will find such content in many streaming platforms or Blu-rays. This soundbar won't decode any of the more advanced audio formats via ARC or any other connections. You also cannot play uncompressed sound formats like 5.1 PCM.

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

There is no Full HDMI In in this soundbar setup.

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

Just like the ARC connection, only Dolby Digital surround format is supported. On the upside, this is found in many streaming platforms or Blu-rays. The unsupported DTS format is the fallback for the higher quality DTS-HD MA format which is found on many Blu-ray discs.

6.0 Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
:
Yes
Wi-Fi
:
No
Chromecast built-in
:
No
Apple AirPlay
:
No

The soundbar can connect to modern devices using its Bluetooth connection. This makes it easy to enjoy the music from your phone or tablet.

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

As this soundbar lacks a Full HDMI port, it can’t serve as a hub between your devices and your TV.

Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
:
Yes

The subwoofer connects wirelessly to the soundbar and the only wire you’ll need is the power cord.

Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
:
N/A

This soundbar has no satellites.

Additional Features

Interface
Display
:
No

The interface is very basic. One LED changes color to denote the change in inputs. It blinks rapidly in white color to alert you about the changes in volume.

Bar Controls

The buttons on the bar can control the power and the volume. There is also a function to help you select the input and a button that helps with the pairing with other Bluetooth devices.

Remote
Universal Remote
:
No

The remote is rather plain. It can control most of the functions of the bar and has three preset modes 'Movie', 'Music' and 'News' . The remote is small in size and can easily sit in your palm. Unfortunately, it can't act as a universal remote to control other devices.

App
App Name : N/A
iOS : No
Android : No
Acts as the Remote
:
No
Controls Soundbar's Settings
:
No
Casts Device Files
:
No

There is no App that pairs with the TCL Alto 7+ soundbar.

Other Features
Power Saving
:
Standby
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
:
Limited Support

Like most soundbars, the Alto 7 Plus supports an energy-saving auto-off function. It also supports HDMI CEC which, however, works only with TCL Roku TVs like the TCL 6 Series R617. Unfortunately, with other brand's remotes, you can only control the on/off state of the soundbar.

Compared to other Soundbars

The TCL Alto 7+ is a decent budget soundbar that is surprisingly well-built for its price range. It has a fairly neutral sound profile and can get pretty loud, but compresses at max volume, especially in the bass range. This setup comes with a wireless subwoofer, which is rarer at this price point. See our recommendations for the best soundbars under $300, the best budget soundbars, and the best soundbars under $200.

Yamaha YAS-108/ATS-1080
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The overall performance of the TCL Alto 7+ is very similar to that of the Yamaha YAS-108/ATS-1080. Both lack a bit of sub-bass, even if the ATS-1080 has two built-in subs and the 7+ has a dedicated wireless subwoofer. The Alto 7+ gets louder but you get more compression artifacts at max volume. On the other hand, the ATS-1080 has better connectivity options and supports DTS, on top of having a Full HDMI In port, which the Alto 7+ doesn't have.

Sonos Playbar
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

Even without a wireless subwoofer, the Sonos Playbar is a better option than the TCL Alto 7+. The bass performance isn't impacted that much by the lack of subwoofer and the general sound profile is well-balanced. It also doesn't compress as much as the TCL and has a great and wide soundstage. The Playbar also has a 3.0 configuration, which means it has a dedicated center channel for clearer voices and dialog. On the other hand, the TCL has an HDMI ARC port and supports Bluetooth, while the Playbar can only play content wirelessly via Wi-Fi.

Yamaha YAS-207
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Yamaha YAS-207 is better than the TCL Alto 7+. Its audio reproduction is more accurate and great, and it performs better at max volume, although it is a bit quieter than the Alto 7+. It has a Full HDMI In port and supports DTS as well, which the Alto 7+ lacks. On the other hand, the Alto 7+ is surprisingly well-built and doesn't have any fabric on the bar.

TCL Alto 5+
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The TCL Alto 7+ is a better soundbar than the TCL Alto 5+. They're quite similar in design, although the 7+ is a bit bigger. Even if the Alto 5+ has a smaller sub, it gives you a lot of bass, resulting in a more dark sound profile than the 7+. The 7+ also gets louder, but compresses a lot at max volume, which the 5+ doesn't do. The Alto 7+ has an HDMI ARC port, which the 5+ lacks.

6.3 Mixed Usage

Okay for mixed usage. This soundbar will perform better with stereo content like audiobooks, podcasts, and some music genres. However, it lacks a bit of sub-bass, meaning it doesn’t perform well with bass-heavy music. Movies might be a bit disappointing too due to the lack of punch, but also since the bar doesn’t have height channels and doesn’t support Atmos. Overall, the Alto 7 Plus will do better on stereo content that doesn’t have too much bass thanks to a relatively neutral audio reproduction.

7.2 Dialog / TV Shows

Decent for dialog. This soundbar has a fairly neutral audio reproduction but lacks a bit of bass. This won’t impact the accurate and clean reproduction of voices and dialog in movies. The bar can also get pretty loud and you can stream audio content like audiobooks and podcasts easily thanks to its Bluetooth compatibility. You can also use the News Mode, which acts as a dialog enhancement feature to make voices even clearer.

6.2 Music

Okay for music. The Alto 7 Plus has a decent overall sound profile, but it lacks a bit of bass, which means it won’t be the best option for bass-heavy genres like EDM, dubstep, and hip-hop. The bar can also get pretty loud, but there are some compression artifacts, especially in the bass-range. Also, the soundstage is also pretty narrow and there’s no way to really customize the sound profile of the bar, which is disappointing. On the upside, you can stream music via Bluetooth easily.

5.8 Movies

Sub-par for movies. This bar lacks bass and won't give you an immersive feel as it doesn't do well with surround channels. The soundstage is also fairly narrow and it doesn't have height channels. All 5.1 content will be downmixed to stereo due to its 2.1 configuration. It also lacks a room correction feature, so it might perform differently depending on your room. On the upside, the bar can get loud with stereo content, but there’s audible compression in the bass range.

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