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From $60 to $300, TCL’s 2020 soundbar lineup is incredibly affordable

We’ve been waiting almost a full year for TCL to announces prices and availability for its 2020 soundbar lineup, but today, we have all the details. It’s an incredibly affordable group of speakers. The company has officially announced the Alto 3, 6, 6+, 8i, and 9+ soundbars starting at just $60, with most models available for purchase right now, or by the end of October.

Here’s the full rundown.

TCL Alto 9+

TCL Alto 9+ Dolby Atmos soundbar
TCL
  • Price: $300
  • Availability: Now

As TCL’s flagship soundbar, the Alto 9+ packs a lot of features. It’s a 3.1 channel speaker with a dedicated wireless subwoofer. When we initially got our first look at the huge, 41.3-inch Alto 9+ back at IFA 2019, we figured it would end up being priced as high as $450, so it’s great to see it arrive at just $300.

The Alto 9+ is Dolby Atmos capable despite not possessing upward-firing height drivers or dedicated surround speakers. This is in part due to the capabilities of Dolby Atmos as a format — it’s been designed to be delivered “virtually” when dedicated drivers aren’t available. But we expect the Alto 9+ will perform better than other virtual Atmos speakers thanks to its use of Ray-Danz technology.

Ray-Danz is a unique audio dispersion method that uses two side-firing speakers and a host of reflectors to bend the sound around the room, with a third, front-firing speaker delivering accurate voice positioning. It sounds great in theory, but we’ll wait to heap praise on it until we’ve had a chance to review the system.

There are three preset EQ options: Music, TV, and movie.

The soundbar has a single HDMI ARC input, but no HDMI output, an optical port, USB port, 3.5mm analog input, and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless audio streaming. It’s also compatible with Google Assistant and has Chromecast built-in. Apple device owners will appreciate that it has AirPlay 2 onboard as well.

As with all of the Alto soundbars, it comes with a wall-mount kit.

But perhaps the biggest draw, especially for folks who already own a TCL Roku TV like the excellent 6-Series or 8-Series, is that the Alto 9+ is Roku TV ready, which means that all of its settings can be configured via the Roku OS on your TV. That makes for a super-simple setup.

TCL Alto 8i

TCL Alto 8i soundbar
TCL
  • Price: $180
  • Availability: October

The Alto 8i pulls in many of the same features as the Alto 9+, but does it with fewer channels, and it lacks a dedicated subwoofer. Instead, this 39.4-inch speaker uses two internal subwoofers to achieve its low-end bass. Like the 9+, the 8i delivers virtualized Dolby Atmos, but manages to do so with just a 2.1 channel configuration.

There are three preset EQ options: Music, TV, and movie.

It has a single HDMI ARC input, plus an optical port, USB port, 3.5mm analog input, and Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless audio streaming.

The Alto 8i is also Roku TV ready for a very easy setup for those with a Roku TV.

TCL Alto 6+

TCL Alto 6+ soundbar
TCL
  • Price: $130
  • Availability: September

The Alto 6+ is a 31.5-inch 2.1 channel soundbar, with bass provided by a dedicated wireless, down-firing subwoofer. This time, Dolby Atmos is no longer supported, but Dolby Audio is, which should still let this affordable two-piece speaker system deliver much better sound than your TV’s speakers, even though the combined power of both the soundbar and sub is only 45 watts.

There are three preset EQ options: Music, TV, and movie.

It has a single HDMI ARC input, plus an optical port, USB port, 3.5mm analog input, and Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless audio streaming.

Like the 9+ and 8i, the 6+ is Roku TV-ready for an easy setup and control experience.

TCL Alto 6

TCL Alto 6 soundbar
TCL
  • Price: $80
  • Availability: September

The Alto 6 is effectively the Alto 6+, minus the wireless subwoofer. It’s a half-inch wider at 32-inches, but it’s the same as the 6+ soundbar in every other respect — even the power at 20 watts is identical.

There are three preset EQ options: Music, TV, and movie.

It has a single HDMI ARC input, plus an optical port, USB port, 3.5mm analog input, and Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless audio streaming.

It’s Roku TV-ready for an easy setup and control experience.

TCL Alto 3

TCL Alto 3 Soundbar
TCL
  • Price: $60
  • Availability: October

TCL’s Alto 3 is the soundbar for people who want a really compact TV speaker for better sound. It’s likely going to appeal to folks who have been contemplating a Sonos Beam. At just $60, the Alto 3 can’t hope to compare on sound quality, but maybe it doesn’t have to.

With two-channel stereo sound, this 23-inch speaker is a bit different than the other models in the Alto lineup.

There’s no HDMI ARC connection, so your TV will need to have either an optical or analog audio line-out. Without HDMI, there’s no way to support the Roku TV-ready feature, so that’s out, too. It’s also not designed to be wall-mounted.

But you still get an optical port, USB port, 3.5mm analog input, and Bluetooth 4.2 for wireless audio streaming.

There’s a dedicated remote control, three preset EQ options: Music, TV, and movie, and 15 watts of power.

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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…
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