Technology Roku's complete audio lineup provides solid performance at an incredible value

02:07  29 july  2020
02:07  29 july  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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Roku's audio product lineup consists of the Roku Smart Soundbar, Roku TV Wireless Speakers and Roku Wireless Subwoofer. Each device can be used on its own when paired with the appropriate Roku TV or streaming device, or you can pair all three together to create a complete surround sound system.

a close up of a device © Provided by CNN

For over a month now, we've been testing Roku's complete audio lineup. First, we walked you through the $179.99 Roku Smart Soundbar, which combines a Roku streaming device with a soundbar that puts out impressive sound.

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Then we tested the $199.99 Roku Wireless Speakers on their own, appreciating the added sound quality and extra bass they brought to our viewing experience.

Now we're left with the $179.99 Roku Wireless Subwoofer. Instead of using it only as a means to add some depth, we put all three devices together to create a complete Roku surround sound system for a total cost of just under $560.

Setup? What setup?

Arguably the coolest part of the Roku audio lineup is being able to add components at your own pace. You can start with the smart soundbar, which provides both improved sound that nearly all modern TVs can benefit from as well as access to the Roku streaming experience.

Then, if after a few weeks you decide you want to broaden the range and soundstage, you can add the wireless speakers.

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And then again, down the road, if you want all the bass, you can add the wireless subwoofer.

To be clear, you can start with the wireless speakers or the subwoofer if you have a Roku TV, like the TCL 6-Series. Otherwise, the soundbar is the key part of the setup that allows you to use the rest of the audio lineup with any TV, not just a Roku TV.

The setup and pairing process, regardless of the order you use, is going to be the same. You'll need to set up your Roku Smart Soundbar, link it to your Roku account and sign in to your streaming apps and services.

With that done, you can add the wireless speakers in the Settings menu. The process took us maybe five minutes total, with the longest amount of time spent waiting for the speakers to play their initial pairing sound to help Roku identify which side of the room they're on.

The same process is used for the wireless subwoofer, although instead of a pleasant sound once setup is complete, the amount of bass that thing pushes out is enough to make the floor rumble and instantly make you smile.

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When the entire 5.1 surround sound system is set up, Roku immediately plays a demo that shows the range and versatility of your new sound system. As objects move across the screen, so too does the sound across the wireless speakers, which should be on either side of your main viewing area, just behind where you normally sit. The subwoofer should sit next to your TV stand, where it will immediately declare its presence once the demo begins playing.

The soundbar's part during all of this is to mix in the more nuanced sounds and details, which it does so quite handily.

Unboxing through the final setup took us maybe 20 minutes. Most of that time was signing in to our Roku account and waiting for the streaming portion of the device to install channels, updates and all the other housekeeping items that are required before you can start using a new device.

It's easy to overlook how streamlined the setup process is, but it's worth emphasizing. Consider the fact that the only wires you deal with during this entire process are a single HDMI cable to connect the soundbar to the TV and the power cords for each individual component. You don't have to worry about running wires from the subwoofer to the satellite speakers. Just plug them in and Roku takes care of the rest.

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The trio comes together with solid performance

Using the Roku voice remote that comes with the soundbar gives you easy control of the system. You can also use any paired Roku remote, or link the system to Google Assistant or Alexa and use your smart assistant to control playback on your Roku sound system.

With the complete Roku audio lineup connected and set up for a surround sound experience, each component serves a specific role.

The two wireless speakers help add depth and direction on either side of you. Again, the most obvious example is the sound following the same path in the room as whatever moves across your screen.

Watching the Apple TV+ movie "Greyhound," for example, meant we could hear the torpedoes move across the screen as they barreled toward Tom Hanks' ship. Then, with each explosion, the bass from the subwoofer — combined with the sound moving from speaker to soundbar to speaker — was quite immersive.

At times, we did feel that the wireless speakers got lost and didn't add much to the experience, but that could have easily been due to the type of show or content we were watching. However, whether we were blasting our daily mix on Spotify or watching the second "John Wick" movie, nothing was lost.

The same core sound experiences we had when using the speakers and soundbar on their own blend together to create a more powerful and impressive experience when all three components are combined.

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Will Roku audio blow away audiophiles with its range and delicate quality? Not at all. But it's not supposed to. And when you look at the Roku surround sound system through the lens of ease of use and value, it's a complete success.

Bottom line

For what amounts to be $560, you can get the complete Roku experience. Not only does that include a streaming device that provides access to Roku's entire channel lineup, but you also gain a 5.1 surround sound system with Dolby Audio that improves your overall viewing experience.

And, better yet, you don't have to run any wires or deal with the hassles of a complicated installation.

If you already have either the Roku Smart Soundbar or Roku Wireless Speakers, we strongly encourage you to round out your setup and get the missing parts. Or, if you're looking to make the switch to Roku, start with the Smart Soundbar and slowly upgrade your audio system over time.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.

a close up of a computer mouse on a table © Jason Cipriani/CNN   Roku's complete audio lineup provides solid performance at an incredible value © Jason Cipriani/CNN

Roku Userbase Grows to 43 Million Active Accounts .
Streaming time on its devices grew by 65 percent to 14.6 billion hours. "The re-platforming of TV to streaming has accelerated," the company said in a letter to shareholders. "We believe that Roku’s products and services are more relevant than ever, that we are an essential partner to content owners who want to reach large streaming audiences, and that our modern tools and incremental reach over linear TV drive great results for brands."Roku's total revenue for the quarter was $356 million, up 41 percent year-over-year. It lost $19.1 million during the period.

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