Skip to main content

Roku Smart Soundbar and Wireless Subwoofer reinvent the home-theater-in-a-box

If you find the world of home theater audio too complicated for your liking, Roku has just the ticket. Its new $180 Smart Soundbar puts everything you need to enjoy streaming media with great sound in one convenient package. It joins the more expensive $400 JBL Link Bar and the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage as the market for multi-use soundbars starts to expand.

With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and of course, the Roku OS itself, there are two ways to use the 32-inch Smart Soundbar: If you already own a Roku TV or a Roku streaming device like a Roku Streaming Stick+, you can hook it up to your TV via HDMI-ARC or optical cable, and use it as a way to get much better sound out of your TV. It packs four 2.5-inch speakers, which can deliver 2-channel Dolby Audio to fill a room with sound. Your other option is to use the Smart Soundbar as your streaming device too — it’s perfect for people who have a “dumb” TV, or who would like to ditch their existing media streamer for a simpler, clutter-free setup. With Roku OS on board and compatibility with both Alexa and Google Assistant, the Roku Smart Soundbar is a modern take on the old home-theater-in-a-box concept.

As a media streamer, the Smart Soundbar has some decent specs: It’s 4K Ultra HD- and HDR-capable and can handle streams up to 60fps. For those with older TVs, it can still do both 1080p and 720p resolutions. It’s worth noting that the Smart Soundbar isn’t Dolby Vision– or Dolby Atmos-capable. If you want those features in a Roku-powered product, you’ll have to buy a TCL 6- or 8-Series Roku TV (for both Dolby technologies) or a dedicated Roku device like the Roku Streaming Stick+ which offers Dolby Atmos pass-through to compatible TVs and A/V receivers.

The Soundbar comes with Roku’s excellent RF remote control, which gives you access to the Roku Voice function — a button- and a menu-free way to access and search for content. The Smart Soundbar also has some smart audio management features. Automatic Volume Leveling offers uniform audio levels across various types of content and can quiet loud commercials. Night mode lowers the volume for louder scenes and boosts it for quieter ones, making it less likely that you’ll disturb others in your home. Speech Clarity boosts voice frequencies for clearer dialogue.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you really want to take that home theater idea to the next level, Roku is also debuting its $180 Roku Wireless Subwoofer. Designed to work in tandem with the Smart Soundbar, the Wireless Subwoofer has a digital amplifier with 250 watts at peak power (125W RMS), which moves a single 10-inch driver. Roku claims this is good for reproducing frequencies as low as 40 Hz. The Subwoofer will also — via a future software update — be compatible with Roku TVs that have an existing set of Roku TV Wireless Speakers. Digital Trends asked Roku if all three devices (soundbar, subwoofer, and wireless speakers) could be used to create a full-fledged 4.1 or 5.1 surround sound system, but for now, that’s not a supported configuration.

Both the Roku Smart Soundbar and the Wireless Subwoofer can be pre-ordered today through, and they’re expected to ship in October — the same timing as general retail availability.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
Platin Audio’s wireless home theater speaker system now handles Dolby Atmos
Platin Audio Monaco 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos WiSA system.

When it comes to getting a true Dolby Atmos home theater sound experience, your choices are pretty simple. You either buy an A/V receiver and hook it up to a bunch of wired speakers, or you go the soundbar route. But now there's a third choice, with Platin Audio's new Monaco 5.1.2 wireless home speaker system, which can be pre-ordered starting September 13 for $1,499, with deliveries beginning in mid-October.

The Monaco 5.1.2 includes two front speakers, two surround speakers, a center channel, and a subwoofer, all of which communicate via the WiSA system for wireless audio. This means that each speaker is independently powered and can be placed anywhere within the same room. The speakers get their signal wirelessly from the included WiSA Sound Send module, which can transmit eight channels of lossless audio at up to 24-bit/96kHz, with incredibly low latency, so audio sync problems shouldn't arise.

Read more
Sonos finally has a smaller, more affordable wireless subwoofer
Sonos Sub Mini in white.

Following months of speculation, Sonos has announced the Sub Mini, a smaller and more affordable wireless subwoofer that works with the company's collection of wireless speakers and soundbars. It will be available starting October 6, in both black and white versions, for $429.

The new addition to the Sonos lineup is targeted at those with small-to-medium-sized rooms who want better low-end sound. It will be particularly well-suited to people who own the company's smaller soundbars like the Sonos Beam and Sonos Ray, for which the existing $749 Sonos Sub was a poor match both in price and power. In true Sonos fashion, you'll be able to pair the Sub Mini with almost any combination of Sonos products, with the exception of the company's portable speakers, the Move, and the Roam.

Read more
Roku rolls out a cheaper subwoofer and updated low-end streaming box
Roku Wireless Bass.

Roku today has rolled out its latest hardware, with a new subwoofer looking to hold down the low end and a new streaming box anchoring the most economical spot in that lineup.

The bigger of the two releases, both literally and figuratively, is the new Roku Wireless Bass. The name pretty much explains it all: It’s a wireless subwoofer that you can plant anywhere in a room (because the low end doesn't care so much where it comes from) to fill out that part of the sound spectrum.

Read more