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CES 2020: TCL Alto 9+ is one of the first Roku TV Ready soundbars in existence

The TCL Alto 9+ soundbar isn’t new — TCL showed it off at IFA 2019 in September — but that hasn’t stopped it from making an appearance at CES 2020. Its reason for being there? To showcase Roku TV Ready in action. This new initiative allows people to control their soundbar using their Roku TV Remote, which calls upon the volume buttons to adjust the sound and on-screen menus to configure the audio exactly how they want it.

Having seen the Alto 9+ twice now, we have an idea of what it’s all about. Its headline feature is Ray-Danz — 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. Then there’s Dolby Atmos to add depth on the horizontal and vertical planes, and a wireless subwoofer (in the box) to tie it all together.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The end result? A larger sweet spot (that’s the area you need to sit in to be immersed in the action) that can span multiple people. Now throw Roku TV Ready into the mix and it’s something even the most novice of home theater enthusiasts can configure to perfection — with the entire setup process accessible from Roku’s straightforward, iPhone-like television interface using the Roku TV Remote that came with the streaming device you’re using.

We saw the TCL Alto 9+ hooked up to a Roku TV in action and were astounded by how easy Roku TV Ready made it to control the sound. Just one click of a button adjusted the volume for the entire setup — built-in speakers and soundbar alike. We also saw a demo where the bar was configured using Roku’s on-screen software, and it certainly beats having to press an endless stream of buttons on the soundbar itself or mess around with another remote.

The rest is rather straightforward. There’s Bluetooth built-in for streaming music from either a desktop or mobile device and HDMI ARC for simplifying cable connections. Of course, it’s HDMI ARC that allows Roku TV Ready to function, as it introduces the option to use one remote control for all your audio device’s most common functions. Without it, you’d have to fumble around for a small, pocket-sized remote whenever it’s time to adjust the volume.

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Josh Levenson
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