The Roku TV Wireless Speakers may be some of the best speakers to use in a bedroom because of the voice clarity and sound leveling features which will enable you to listen with full sound without annoying the neighbors or waking the children … that is, as long as your bedroom television runs Roku TV.
As great as these speakers are, they only only work with Roku TVs from TCL, Insignia, Hisense, Sharp and others. They won’t work with Roku streaming devices like the Roku Ultra, which is why these speakers are sold exclusively at Roku.com so that Roku can make sure that you’re setup for success.
That said, it’s not like there aren’t any Roku TVs on the market. Roku-integrated televisions are some of the most popular low cost TVs available today and an ever-expanding catalog thanks to Roku’s robust partnership deals. These speakers are the first of its kind to come from Roku and we expect more announcements and possible upgrades in Roku’s audio category at CES 2019.
Beyond its limited availability, the Wireless Speaker’s only fault is its anemic bass, due in no small part to the lack of a subwoofer. If you’re after cinema-quality sound you’d be better off with a soundbar/subwoofer combo – like the ridiculously low-cost Vizio SB3621 – but, if you’re looking for a late-night listening solution for your bedroom Roku TV, the Wireless Speakers are the way to go.
Design and setup
The speakers are 8 inches tall and look very much like the Sonos One except that they are 2 inches taller. During setup, a speaker is placed on either side of the TV and plugged into an AC outlet meaning two outlets or an extension cord will be needed.
Each speaker tells you to turn on the TV and hold down the home button for 5 seconds and the TV does the rest. Both of the new included remotes are activated the same way easily and instantly.
We needed to turn the TV on and off once to get everything to talk to each other but it took under two minutes for complete installation.
The tops of the speakers and the touch remote use a soft rubber which may be a dust collector but it’s too early to say how hard that would be to clean.
If you want to connect your phone or tablet, however, Roku isn’t going to leave you out in the cold: Bluetooth is included so that you can stream music from other devices, controlled through an app.
More convenient is that, while the Roku app will allow you to control your Roku TV and Roku Wireless Speaker setup, it’s far from the only way: In fact, if you buy the package that’s on Roku’s site right now, Roku includes its upgraded Voice Remote and the Touch alongside the Wireless Speakers.
The latter does not need line of sight to the TV as it uses RF codes to send commands, enabling it to be placed anywhere in the house. It has buttons that can be programmed and can control volume, play, pause, and skip forward or back, and Roku says that it’s designed to sit in an adjacent room to where you watch TV, thereby allowing you to control the volume without fear of losing the TV remote.
We found the dialog sounded better, both crisper and clearer, than the Roku TV’s built-in speakers. However, the bass response could cause speaker rattle during action movies although it seemed to be curtailed if the speakers were placed closer to the wall for better reflection. These are a pair of stereo speakers and a wider image than you would hear from a soundbar is shown.
We found that when watching an action movie we got very good sound using the leveling setting as well as the bass boost when watching the train crash in the movie Super8. The bass rattle was lessened and the scene was as intense as it was supposed to be. The bass boost was not necessary for most of our TV/movie watching with the speakers set closer to the wall and normal settings worked best with music.
In terms of controlling the speakers, the tabletop remote is useful if you are in another room and want to stream music. You can save two shortcuts for stations you listen to often. The microphone button will change to other stations but we were unable to request a particular song. We were able to ask for an artist such as “play Lady Gaga or the Grateful Dead” or genre by saying “play blues.” The source for this music can either be iHeart Radio, Pandora, TuneIn or Spotify Connect.
The TV can also be turned off from wherever you are in the house and the TV screen remained off when we used the tabletop remote to activate music.
Another neat trick the speakers have is Automatic Volume Leveling that boosts the sound when it gets too low, lowers the sound in loud scenes or adjusts the volume for booming commercials. All settings can be changed in case you want to get the full effect of a movie while still supporting full stereo sound and dialogue enhancement.
This technology, in part, was engineered by a company Roku acquired last year called Dynastrom, a multi-room audio startup based out Denmark.
The Roku TV Wireless Speakers are, overall, a great option for an affordable easy to connect speaker upgrade for your Roku TV, especially if you listen to lots of music and enjoy the idea of the Roku Assistant.
As of now there are no options to add a subwoofer or wireless rear speakers, but that’s something that could change by this time next year.
Worse is that, for now, the speakers only work with Roku TVs, and not any of the half-dozen cheaper players Roku has out on the market – not only would this have greatly expanded the compatibility of the speakers, but it would’ve offered an extremely low-cost solution to upgrade both your smart TV and your sound quality.
While a Vizio soundbar may be harder to setup and slightly lower cost, this Roku system also includes two voice remotes enhancing the use of your Roku TV and overall presents a better value to those looking for a wireless audio upgrade.
- Speaking of soundbars, don’t miss our guide to the best soundbars 2018