After a slow start, Roku is adding to its home audio lineup. The company is introducing the Roku Smart Soundbar and Roku Wireless Subwoofer, both of which work with any TV.
The Smart Soundbar is a streaming set-top box, as well as an audio component, and it supports 4K UHD and HDR video. It runs the Roku OS, like all Roku boxes, and provides access to OTT services. It can connect to a TV via HDMI ARC or optical ports, and cables for both are included in the package. It supports Dolby Audio and Roku voice search. It also offers Automatic Volume Leveling (for consistent volume across channels and programs), Night Mode (which evens program volume between scenes), and Speech Clarity (boosting the dialogue). It comes with a Roku Voice remote that doesn’t require a line-of-sight to work. The included 2.5-inch speakers are at either end of the 32-inches soundbar, which Roku says is enough for stereo separation.
The Wireless Subwoofer is a large component that can be placed anywhere in the room, since there’s no wired connection. It includes a 10-inch driver and provides a theater-like audio experience. It supports bass as low as 40Htz and has 250W of peak power. This isn’t a streaming device so it must be used with one of Roku’s other speaker components. StreamingMedia.com will post a hands-on review of both new speakers later in the month.
The Roku Smart Soundbar and Roku Wireless Subwoofer both list for $179.99 and are available for presale today. They’ll be available online and at Best Buy stores sometime in October. The Wireless Subwoofer requires either the Wireless Speakers or Smart Soundbar to operate (a download that lets it work with the Wireless Speakers will be released in the coming months). Roku won’t say at this time if all three audio components will be able to be used with a single TV.
Talk of Roku audio components started in January 2018, when the company announced its Whole Home Licensing Program, and said a variety of third-party partners would soon develop soundbars and speakers. By that fall, however, all the company had on the market were the Roku Wireless Speakers, a strong product limited in that they only work with Roku OS televisions.
Not only is Roku expanding its audio hardware, but it announced during its Q2 report to shareholders that Walmart will soon release Roku-compatible audio hardware, as well: “We recently agreed with Walmart to offer several new Roku devices including audio products to their customers under their Onn brand. This is in addition to Roku TVs and Roku players already sold through Walmart.”