Roku is well known in the consumer electronics market. Not long ago, the company launched its line of Roku Speakers to allow homeowners to not only utilize its well-regarded streaming platform, but to enjoy home theater surround sound with their favorite streaming services.
Like its streaming products, Roku’s speakers are reasonably priced and they are easy to setup and install. Like similar product lines that are available, Roku’s speakers allow homeowners to build systems a la carte based on their budget and home space considerations.
Sending me a full suite of its Roku Speakers, including the Streambar Pro, along with two pairs of its Roku Wireless Speakers and companion Wireless Subwoofer, which all total for a 5.1 system retails for approximately $660, I tried system out with a 50-inch Sony 4K television.
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- Streambar Pro incorporates Roku OS for streaming, as well as Bluetooth audio, Apple AirPlay 2, and 802.11ac wireless network connectivity.
- Roku’s Streambar Pro features HDMI and optical inputs.
- The Streambar Pro supports PCM and several Dolby audio formats.
- The soundbar contains four 2.5-inch drivers.
- The Roku Wireless Speakers feature a ¾-inch tweeter, along with a 3.5-inch midrange driver and 802.11ac wireless connectivity.
- Roku Wireless Subwoofer features a 125-watt amp that drives a 10-inch woofer. The sub features wireless connectivity.
- Roku supports its system with a companion Android and Apple iOS app.
- MSRPs: Streambar Pro is $180; Roku Wireless Speakers $150 per pair and the Roku Wireless Subwoofer is $180.
Speaker Features and Setup
Using wireless connectivity to support the system’s integration, the Roku speakers in a 5.1 configuration included the company’s Streambar Pro, which features Roku’s popular streaming OS baked in, along with internal amplification and four 2.5-inch drivers.
Externally, the Streambar Pro offers optical and HDMI with ARC, and its size complements TVs up to 50 inches in my opinion.
The Roku Wireless Speakers offer users Bluetooth capabilities, along with a ¾-inch tweeter and a 3.5-inch woofer. The speakers can be used as a standalone stereo pair or integrated into a multichannel system.
Wrapping up things is the Roku Wireless Subwoofer. The Subwoofer employs a down-firing 10-inch woofer powered by a 125-watt RMS amplifier that’s capable of producing up to 250 watts of peak power.
After downloading the Roku app onto my iPhone, the Roku system like other wireless speaker systems prompts users through a series of setup steps. The single wired connection I made was running an HDMI cable from the eARC-enabled HDMI input of my Sony 4K TV to the Streambar Pro. Since all of the other speakers are wireless, I just needed to plug them into power.
After I completed the first round of my setup—initially I configured the system as a 3.1 system. Later I added the other pair of speakers to make the system a 5.1 system solution.
With the basic setup done, I entered into the Roku OS streaming setup phase of the installation and configured my various streaming accounts for Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Discovery+, and a few others. Interestingly, as a user with an existing Roku account, the system seemed to remember a few of my various accounts, but I needed to input the account information on a couple of my streaming service subscriptions.
I estimate it took me roughly 30 minutes to unbox the speakers, set up the 3.1 system, configure my streaming services and clean up my mess.
Getting back to something I pointed out earlier. After living with the 3.1 configuration for a few weeks I added the other pair of speakers. Adding the last pair of speakers took a few moments. To do this, I plugged the speakers into power and opened the app.
Under the “Devices” title I was prompted through a couple of steps that included identifying the position of each speaker. I did this through some test tones that were played through each speaker. Then using the system’s on-screen setup GUI I chose the test tone for the appropriate speaker—left front, then left rear speaker for example.
Roku Speakers Performance
Let me start by saying I love the system and I applaud Roku’s audio engineering team for how well the system performs in several areas, including tonal balance, sound stage, and the integration of the subwoofer with the rest of the components.
As a 3.1 system, I thought it delivered a lot of fun. If you’ll excuse the pun, that fun was amplified by the addition of the other pair of speakers.
One of the things that I liked about the processing that powers the Roku speakers’ performance is the DSPs intelligence. I watch a lot of YouTube videos on topics that include cars, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), and music.
These videos are often in a simple stereo audio mode and the intelligibility of the speakers and the stereo spread allows me to easily understand Bernardo Faria’s BJJ Fanatics videos without having to turn up the volume or strain to hear him and his guests explain a technique.
Speaking of stereo, I also used the system’s Apple AirPlay capabilities to stream my Apple Music account from my iPhone. With music I also heard the same spacious sound stage attributes with upper midrange definition to allow me to midrange instruments such as guitars clearly.
As a multichannel surround sound system with Dolby capabilities, I thought the Roku speaker system performed well too. The rear channels are assertive to really help add a nice level of ambience to multichannel content and as I noted earlier the subwoofer is really well integrated into the system to provide seamless cohesion between the soundbar and speakers.
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Surprisingly, the only thing I ran into that was noteworthy related to the performance of the Roku OS streaming platform. The HBO Max app initially worked fine, but later it kept crashing. I tried to uninstall it and reinstall it, but that did not work. I have never run into an issue with the Roku OS before. I have had the same troubles using the Sony TV’s built-in Google TV OS, but this was the first time I’ve experienced issues on the Roku platform.
I am not going to blame Roku since I suspect it’s more of an HBO Max app issue. I have not experienced any issues with the app on my Apple TV, but Roku users may want to be aware of this potential problem, nevertheless.
As a whole Roku nailed it with its home audio products. The Roku speakers are affordably priced, the system is easy to install and it performs at a very high level. Additionally, the inclusion of the Roku OS ties together a complete home theater experience when paired any TV.
I think the Roku speakers could easily serve homeowners as a main home theater solution in a smaller room environment or it could serve as a multichannel system in a secondary room whether it’s a 3.1 or 5.1 configuration. Underscoring the Roku speakers as a value proposition, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a true, 5.1 system that outperforms it for less than its approximate $660 retail price point.
- Immersive, cohesive soundstage that’s great for home theater
- Roku’s engineering team did a great job of integrating the subwoofer with the rest of the system to provide a seamless transition to lower frequencies
- Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay make music playback easy from any smart device
- There does not appear to be an upgrade path for the addition of true, immersive audio (Dolby Atmos and DTS:X)
- This has nothing to do with the audio system, and this may not be Roku’s fault, but the HBO Max app crashes frequently in the Roku streaming OS