Roku Streambar evaluation: No-brainer TV sound and streaming improve

Compact soundbars just like the Vizio M-Collection 2.1 and the Yamaha SR-B20A provide improved TV sound in a small bundle. 4K HDR streamers just like the Chromecast with Google TV and Roku Streaming Stick Plus ship higher streaming to any TV. Till now, nonetheless, no product has mixed the 2 right into a single, do-it-all bundle underneath $150. That is what the Roku Streambar does, and it does the job very effectively.


  • Compact, straightforward to arrange and reasonably priced
  • Glorious dialogue replica
  • Tried and true Roku expertise

Do not Like

  • Lacks bass in motion pictures and music
  • Restricted skill to tailor the sound

The Streambar follows the footsteps of final yr’s Roku Sensible Soundbar with a smaller measurement and extra reasonably priced worth. Often the most important difficulty with hybrid units is that they’ve compromised an excessive amount of in some space, and whereas the Streambar is not sonically excellent — lack of bass is its greatest weak spot — it makes up for that with glorious sound for dialogue and a capability to fill a room that belies its tiny footprint. Certain, it lacks a subwoofer, however it could nonetheless beat your TV’s audio system with out one. 

Then once more, so can quite a lot of different soundbars. If you need superior sound and do not want streaming, the Yamaha SR-B20 or Vizio V21 ($180 at Greatest Purchase) are higher decisions. The Roku Streambar is cheaper than both one, nonetheless, and makes excellent sense for individuals who do not have already got a superb streamer hooked as much as their TV. If you need to have the ability to hear your TV higher, significantly vocals, and in addition improve its streaming capabilities, it is a wonderful worth. 

What it’s

The Roku Streambar is a 2.0-channel soundbar with side-firing “broad” audio system, and the corporate says its onboard streaming capabilities are equal to the Roku Streaming Stick Plus. The system will course of 5.1 audio, which implies you may improve the system at a later date with Roku’s wi-fi subwoofer and encompass audio system or the Walmart-exclusive Onn merchandise


Simply 14 inches broad, the Streambar (proper)  is dwarfed by this 55-inch TV.

CNET employees

The principle variations between the Streambar and the unique Roku Sensible Soundbar are measurement and form. The Sensible Soundbar is 32 inches broad whereas the Streambar is far more compact at 14 inches. Though I have never heard the 2 aspect by aspect, I can just about assure the bigger cupboard generates extra bass.

The Streambar consists of Roku’s voice distant, which helps you to difficulty instructions by talking into the clicker. On the aspect the distant consists of quantity controls and mute. The shortcuts on the backside embrace Netflix, Disney Plus and Hulu.

The Streambar gives “easy quantity modes” which “decrease loud commercials, enhance the amount of voices and optimize the sound for evening listening” in addition to adjusting bass ranges — useful for controlling an exterior sub.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity consists of an optical digital enter and HDMI with audio return channel functionality. It is designed to connect with a TV and when you have different units, akin to a sport console, you will have to use your TV as a switcher. The soundbar can be outfitted with Bluetooth and Spotify Join, whereas Apple AirPlay 2 assist is coming quickly.

The way it performs

The staff at CNET has written at size about our experiences with Roku streamers so I will not dwell on the bar’s streaming capabilities right here. Suffice to say it is our favourite streaming platform and the Streambar is extra of the identical. The menus have been acquainted and easy, the response pace and film high quality have been glorious as anticipated and the voice distant was a pleasure to make use of as at all times.

As an alternative I’ll give attention to sound high quality. The Streambar is smaller than most soundbars however after I plugged it in I used to be struck by how naturally it carried out with dialogue. There was no chestiness on male voices — an issue with some soundbar/subwoofer combos — and dialogue had the articulation that made it straightforward to observe the story. I had been listening to a pair of Elac Uni-Fi 2.Zero audio system instantly previous the Streambar and it was straightforward to think about that I nonetheless was. Provided that vocal articulation is the Elac speaker’s precedence that is in all probability the best reward I might give the Roku speaker.


The Streambar’s distant can flip your TV on and off too.

Sarah Tew/CNET

After all there have been variations, virtually definitely because of the Roku’s tiny cupboard. Once I in contrast the Streambar with the Yamaha SR-C20 the Roku’s lack of bass and even midbass was instantly obvious. With Mad Max: Fury Highway the Roku once more made dialogue comprehensible whereas additionally making it seem to return from across the room. The Roku’s side-firing audio system actually do assist create a big picture. As compared the Yamaha speaker’s Digital:X software program did a equally good job distributing sound round my listening house, however when Max spins up his Charger’s engines, the Yamaha pulled forward.

The Roku is so bodily tiny that the engines and onscreen explosions in Mad Max had little influence. The Yamaha was in a position to higher seize the roar of the automobiles and the blast that catapults Max into the air. The Yamaha lacked the oomph {that a} devoted sub can convey, however was a greater match than the Roku for individuals who need to watch greater than the information and dramas.

The foyer scene from the The Matrix was subsequent and the Yamaha supplied extra of a balanced sonic combine, with much less high-frequency and extra low-end. The Roku sounded slightly shrill in distinction, significantly with the falling bullet casings. Altering the sound mode to bass enhance helped slightly, however the Yamaha was higher.

Including the $130 Onn subwoofer to the Roku helped fairly a bit. Lastly I might hear the chugging bass rating, the shotgun blasts had extra influence and the falling shell casings weren’t as piercing or irritating. In case you are on the lookout for a straightforward, economical improve to the Streambar, the Onn subwoofer is really helpful. 

With music the Roku once more lagged behind the Yamaha for a similar fundamental motive — lack of bass response. There is not a devoted music mode, which is a disgrace for individuals who need to use the Streambar for listening to tunes from their telephones or music apps like Spotify. Songs like Doves’ Cathedrals of the Thoughts sounded hole on the Roku, regardless of its glorious vocal articulation, and once more the Yamaha made the track fuller and extra engrossing.

Do you have to purchase it?

If you need actual residence cinema thrills you continue to have to spend greater than $130 on a soundbar — though the Roku’s skill so as to add the subwoofer and rear-channel audio system does offer you a transparent improve path if you would like. The $130 Roku Streambar is for individuals who worth small measurement and ease but nonetheless need higher sound and streaming for his or her TV. It is easy to attach and arrange (one cable!), it is simply as straightforward to make use of and its streamer behaves like an peculiar Roku in each respect. And that is a superb factor.

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