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Wireless Speakers Bring Premium Sound To Roku TVs

Roku TV Wireless Speakers

Roku TV Wireless Speakers


  • Product Name: TV Wireless Speakers
  • Manufacturer: Roku
  • Review Date: October 13, 2018 00:00
  • MSRP: $199.99
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

Roku TV Wireless Speakers

2-way powered wireless speakers for Roku TVs

Dimensions (H x W x D): 7.7" x 4.9" x 4.9”

Weight: 4 lbs each

Roku has come a long way since I bought my first Netflix-streaming box in 2009. The company has maintained its position as the top seller of digital media players, even in the face of fierce competition from the likes of Apple and Amazon. The first Roku-branded smart TVs arrived in 2014, priced at the low end of the market. Built by Chinese manufacturers Hisense and TCL, these sets offered a better user interface than other smart TVs from major manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, and Sony. This year’s TCL 6 Series Roku TV is one of the best value propositions on the market, offering very good overall picture quality for very reasonable prices. (The 55-inch model costs only $600, and the 65-inch sells for $1,000.) According to Roku, one out of every four smart TVs sold in the United States during the first quarter of 2018 was a Roku TV. Now the company is expanding into another new product category with the introduction of the Roku TV Wireless Speakers, which will sell for $199.99 per pair when they arrive in early November.

The Roku TV Wireless Speakers are two-way powered stereo speakers designed to work exclusively with the company’s own smart TVs, such as the TCL 6 Series mentioned above. Functionally, they perform the same tasks that a sound-bar would, providing bigger and more impactful sound than a TV’s internal speakers can muster. But unlike a sound-bar, Roku’s new speakers are sold as a stereo pair, allowing them to throw a wide soundstage with true stereo separation. Each speaker has a 3.5” woofer and 0.75” tweeter. The speakers connect to the TV and to each other via wifi, so the power cords (one per speaker) are the only wires involved. Thanks to this wireless design, the user can place the speakers wherever they sound best, without worrying about accommodating long runs of unsightly cables. The entire setup process is done via the Roku TV’s famously user-friendly interface. And because the same Roku software controls both the TV and the speakers, the company is able to ensure seamless connectivity and a proper sync between the audio and the video, eliminating the lip-sync issues that sometimes plague other wireless audio products.

The Roku TV Wireless Speakers are equipped with an “Automatic Volume Leveling” feature, which attenuates the volume on loud scenes and increases the volume during quiet scenes. This setting squashes dynamic range, so it’s not great for music, but it’s ideal for watching action movies late at night, for example. Explosive sound effects are tamed so as not to wake the kids, but dialogue is still easily discernible. It also keeps loud commercials under control. A separate “Dialog Enhancement” mode tweaks the frequency response to improve the intelligibility of speech, if necessary. The Roku TV Wireless Speakers ship with two different remote controls, both of which rely on RF transmission rather than the infrared signals used by most TV remotes. Because of this, the remotes do not require line of sight to transmit control signals to the speakers. The first remote is the familiar-looking handheld Roku TV Voice Remote, which can control the TV itself, as well as the speakers. The additional remote is a new tabletop controller called the Roku Touch, which is designed to take up permanent residence on a coffee table or kitchen counter. The Roku Touch has the typical playback control buttons, programmable preset buttons, and a dedicated button for voice control — just press it and say a command such as “search for romantic comedies,” or “play my birthday party playlist.

Viable Soundbar Alternative?

Music listening is one area where the Roku TV Wireless Speakers should really stand out from the crowd of inexpensive sound-bars in this price range. Even modest stereo speakers have a huge sonic advantage over single-chassis sound-bars. Roku’s streaming platform includes a wide variety of streaming music channels, including Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Sirius XM, Deezer, TuneIn, and Amazon Music. The speakers also support bluetooth music streaming from mobile devices. Any video sources connected to the TV will work with the Roku TV Wireless Speakers, including cable boxes and antennas. The speakers will retail for $199.99/pair when they are officially released in early November but they are available for pre-order on the Roku website for $179.99/pair between now and October 15th.

Will these new speakers be another hit for the company, or has Roku placed itself at a disadvantage by offering an audio product that can only work with its own TVs? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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