You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Roku Introduces $180 Smart Soundbar, Subwoofer

A year after its first foray into the home audio market, Roku is back with 2 new products that promise to marry TV streaming with smart sound: A $180 soundbar that doubles as a Roku video streaming device, and a $180 Roku subwoofer to add some bass to either the soundbar or the company’s bookshelf speakers.

The Roku Smart Soundbar connects to your TV via HDMI, and effectively includes a full-blown Roku streaming box, capable of streaming 4K Ultra HD HDR video. This means that you won’t need any additional devices, or even a smart TV, to watch videos from Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube or the company’s own Roku Channel.

The soundbar measures 32 inches, and packs four 2.5-inch tweeters. It uses HDMI ARC, which allows TVs to send audio both ways, so you can also use it to amplify the sound of anything you might watch with your cable box. Older TVs without HDMI Arc can be connected via optical audio, but there is no analog audio connectivity.

The device includes a typical Roku remote, complete with mic button for voice control. There’s also an option to control the soundbar with an external Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker, but the soundbar itself doesn’t have far-field microphones on board.

roku subwoofer

The Roku Wireless Subwoofer is a bit simpler, and doesn’t come with built-in video streaming. The idea is instead that you buy it as an add-on. At launch, it will only work with the Smart Soundbar, but the company is working on making it compatible with its bookshelf speakers as well.

During a brief demo, both products sounded good, and definitely better than TV sound by itself. However, don’t expect the Smart Soundbar to beat a Sonos soundbar or other premium-priced devices with Dolby Atmos in a head-to-head competition. Roku’s emphasis is clearly on price and usability as opposed to mind-blowing audio quality.

To that effect, the company has also once again added its own smart audio features. This includes the ability to amplify dialogue, and also a night mode that equalizes the entire soundscape to make sure that a sudden car crash in a movie won’t wake up the entire house.

Speaking of whole home: Roku’s Smart Soundbar is not yet able to pair with the company’s bookshelf speakers, either for 5.1 audio setups, or for multi-room audio, but Roku product management director Sheldon Radford told Variety that the company is considering adding such features.

Radford also clarified the status of the company’s homegrown voice assistant. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the company stopped developing the assistant, but Roku took issue with that assessment. “Voice is still an important part” of the company’s audio platform, Radford said, while adding: “It’s evolved over time.”

Roku’s entry into the home audio market has been a bit rocky. The company announced a partnership with TCL to build a soundbar together at the beginning of 2018, but that product never made it to market. The company’s bookshelf speakers, which exclusively work with Roku TVs, have only been sold via Roku’s website. Roku’s new Smart Soundbar and Subwoofer products will be available online as well as at Best Buy in October.

At the same time, the company may still partner with consumer electronics manufacturers to build Roku-powered audio equipment. “There is opportunity there,” said Radford. “We look at both models.”

More Digital

  • tubi kids

    Tubi to Launch Tubi Kids, U.K. Offshoot

    Ad-supported video streaming service Tubi is the latest to jump on the children’s entertainment bandwagon: Tubi is set to launch a dedicated kids section on Oct. 21, the company announced at Mipcom in Cannes Monday. Additionally, Tubi will also bring its service to the U.K. early next year. Tubi’s new kids section will offer access [...]

  • Terry Back chairman ACF

    Veteran U.K. Media Investor Terry Back Joins ACF as Chairman

    CANNES — Veteran U.K. film industry investor Terry Back has joined ACF investment bank as chairman. ACF, headed by CEO Thomas Dey, has been at the forefront of the M&A activity around independent TV and film production outfits, mostly in the unscripted TV arena. ACF is in the midst of expanding its activities in the [...]

  • Jay Frank

    Jay Frank, UMG Senior VP and Digital Music Veteran, Dies at 47

    Universal Music executive and digital music veteran Jay Frank died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 47. UMG chief Lucian Grainge remembered him in a message sent to the company. “Dear Colleagues,” it reads. “I’m deeply saddened to tell you that our colleague and friend Jay Frank has passed after a recurrence of [...]

  • Sam-Colby-The-Graveyard

    YouTube’s Sam and Colby Unveil ‘The Graveyard’ Paranormal Series Set in London

    Sam and Colby, YouTube’s favorite DIY paranormal investigators, headed to the U.K. for their next big ghost-hunting project. The duo today released the trailer for “The Graveyard,” a four-part docu-series shot in The Langham – by legend, London’s most haunted hotel – and an abandoned church graveyard. The project is their first international expedition. The [...]

  • Santos Dumont

    Mipcom: International TV Output Picture Changing for U.S. Majors

    The global import-export strategies of the U.S. majors are in flux as the world’s major content companies gather this week in Cannes for the annual Mipcom market and conference. Disney, WarnerMedia and the other handful of media conglomerates that control the vast majority of the U.S. market are in the midst of a radical transition [...]

  • Babylon Berlin

    ITV-Backed Streamer Cirkus to Launch European Drama Service Kritic (EXCLUSIVE)

    SVOD outfit Cirkus is expanding with Kritic, a new service programmed with premium non-English-language drama. The first launch will be in Sweden in December and feature big-ticket shows such as “Babylon Berlin” from Germany and “Gomorrah” from Italy. Cirkus has established itself in the Nordics and German-speaking territories. Kritic will roll out in Sweden before [...]

  • Mama K's Tesm 4

    Time Travel, Child Hosts, Diversity Build in Kids Shows, Says Glance Study

    CANNES —  More or less the only thing that hasn’t changed in Avril Blondelot’s MipJunior presentation of Kids Audience Successes Around the Globe was Blondelot herself. As well as, which she began by reporting, that “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Miraculous Ladybug” – in that order – still dominate the rankings for the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content