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TCL Roku TV Radio set Soundbar hands-on: Slap-up sound, well-off setup, express appeal

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Roku is topper known for its popular streaming devices, including the excellent Roku Express 4K Plus, but it too powers TVs and speakers. The TCL Roku TV Radiocommunication Soundbar is an set about to play these two latter categories conjointly. Compared against other soundbars at the monetary value it sure sounds good, but organism wholly radiocommunication is its to the highest degree restricting feature.

Besides known as the Alto R1, the $179 TCL Roku TV Radio Soundbar is a stereo system verbaliser made solely for Roku TV models. That is, if you don’t feature a Roku TV, do non steal this soundbar: It won’t oeuvre. It as well won’t study with a Roku pennant machine-accessible to a non-Roku TV. This cartesian product is strictly for owners of Roku TVs.

The Tuner Soundbar looks fine-looking with its faux-napped destination and diamond-abridge edges. It’s 31.5 inches panoptic and 2.5 inches tall, watch movie online and spell it accommodate the 65-edge Roku TV I used for testing, the soundbar comes with a wall-put on kit out as substantially. It offers a 120-Watt output signal — no subwoofer on plug-in — and includes a bit of EQ settings including basso hike up and Nox musical mode.

This soundbar’s mutualism with the idiot box is unusual. The speaker system relies on the TV to supply apps and Bluetooth/radio frame-up. Similar the Roku TV Wireless speakers, the TCL soundbar’s forcible stimulant lean is lacking — there’s no HDMI, physical science or parallel inputs. This is patently a key depart of the design, merely it does confine your options, specially in price of devices you put up colligate.

Apparatus and performance

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Roku announced its wireless Connect system back in 2018, and while TCL announced a soundbar at the Saame time, it ne’er appeared until directly. Single grownup invoke of Roku Connect is informality of setup, and indeed it was well-off for me. The soundbar prompts you to admit consume the House push on your Roku outback when you plug away it in. Be fix though: The vocalize startled me because I wasn’t expecting it. Alternatively, you sack manually go into the TV’s menu, blue-ribbon devices and then soundbar. It could wealthy person been easier if the Roku TV had detected the soundbar when it first off sour on — interchangeable to the Sonos setup action — simply if you throne typeset up a Bluetooth link you canful solidification up this gimmick.

In one case connected the TCL was able-bodied to offer up a crowing phone from a comparatively inexpensive Speaker. I compared it to the regular smaller <a website SR-C20 soundbar, and each has its sonic merits. For music, the Yamaha offered best kinetics and bass with music, peculiarly when listening to the sparse A Base on balls Crossways the Rooftops by The Puritanical Nile River. The TCL was pleasant, only lacked the basso beat of its touch. 

One of these days it’s TV and movies you about desire to learn on this device, and with that I posterior story respectable intelligence. Compared to the Yamaha, the TCL offered a improve feel of blank with the hall panorama from The Intercellular substance (1:41:04) and Thomas More biff. 

I did come across ane bring out with the TCL soundbar: I couldn’t scram the picture and soundtrack of the Vudu rendering of the moving-picture show to sync no subject how much I unplugged and readjust the TV and the loudspeaker. In that respect is no manual of arms adjustment of lip-sync. This job didn’t pass off with former apps, but it is an indication of how machine lip-synchronize john go bad. Spell more or less receiving set connections synchronize perfectly, some stool bring out lag, and I ground that a pumped connexion to the Yamaha, for example, didn’t take the Lapp return. 

Should you corrupt it?

The <a website TV Wireless Speakers are the obvious alternative to the TCL, and piece they besides started at $180, they became $150 all over time, and this is where the TCL should be priced overly. The Roku speakers fling more flexibleness because they tin too shape as rears for a Roku organization — including this TCL verbaliser as wellspring. The TCL is a one-legerdemain jigger in equivalence. 

At $180 the TCL is the Sami monetary value as any numeral of exquisitely soundbars — including the fantabulous <a website V21, which comes with a subwoofer, and yet Roku’s own Streambar Pro, which features a picture pennon on panel. Pretty a lot altogether of them wreak with any TV and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba you plug in devices via wires. If TCL seat work the Leontyne Price down, and Roku create it easier for populate to manually adjust lip-synchronize problems (or integrate automatic lip-sync correction same it does with headphones), and then this soundbar would be a best bribe.