Roku Streambar Pro 5.1 System Review Page 2

For the review, I used a 65" Sony A80K OLED as the display and connected to it via HDMI ARC. It recognizes the Roku right away and even controls it with the TV's remote (thanks to the HDMI CEC functionality).

The soundbar worked perfectly with the TV and made a big difference in the quality of the sound. The integrated Roku 4K streaming features were also great, and I was able to access all of my favorite content without any issues. The 5.1-channel sound from the full system was particularly impressive, and it really added to the experience of watching movies and TV shows.

I tapped my Vudu movie collection to demo scenes from movies including Thor: Love and Thunder, the new Scream, Nope, and Bullet Train. In soundbar terms, the results were fantastic, considering the cost. Even with the volume turned up in my large loft space, it offered a cinematic listening experience. Compared to my full-size, 5.1.4 AVR-based system, the Roku is limited in terms of how deep the subwoofer can play and how loud the speakers get, but within its performance envelope, the difference is not huge.


The best thing about this Roku 5.1 system is that unlike most soundbars it does not depend on the soundbar for front left and right channel sound, a pair of the wireless speakers take on that task. Other soundbars rely on DSP processing, or reflect sound off side walls, and can't match the soundstage of a sound system with dedicated, separate speakers. When the left and right channels have to come from the soundbar itself, the listening experience is not as impressive. But here, you get a wide front soundstage and superior audio immersion with the discrete left and right channels.

With music, the soundbar itself stays silent, the wireless speakers do all the heavy lifting. Depending on whether or not you use the Stereo Expansion option, the system can work in either 2.1 mode or 4.1 mode with music. Because these are 2-way satellites—each one is equipped with a tweeter and woofer—they produce clear and detailed sound.

With a 5.1 surround-sound source, like movies, TV shows, and video games, the system uses the soundbar as a dedicated center channel. When the subwoofer handles deep bass and the wireless speakers take care of the other channels, the Steambar Pro's center channel performance is robust; it plays loud and clear.

When running the full system, it was hard to find fault with its cost. You can spend more on a soundbar and not achieve the same fidelity. Even though it doesn't support Atmos, the sense of immersion is probably better than soundbars that say they support Atmos but don't really do it right. 5.1 surround sounds great on this rig because it gets the fundamentals right.

I started the listening evaluation by streaming music through the Tidal Hi-Fi app on the Roku. I pressed play on New Order's classic compilation album, Substance, which was the first CD I ever bought. It sounded like a real stereo system, and when I sat centered, the system produced a proper soundfield with stereo imaging and a proper tonal balance that held up even at moderately loud volume levels. When I unplugged one of the front wireless speakers, the system quickly adapted to the change and used the soundbar to play stereo sound, but without the soundstage that comes with using separate speakers for the left and right channels.

I moved on to more challenging and bass-heavy music, opting for the Tron: Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk and the London Symphony Orchestra. "Disc Wars" has long been my go-to track for testing a sub's ability to handle deep, all-encompassing bass. The Roku system's output isn't as good as my dual 12-inch sub, but it held up fine, even at a volume that made me worry about bothering the neighbors. My guess is this has a lot to do with Roku's decision to go with a sealed sub design that is immune to port-related distortions (making a ported sub that plays deep requires a larger enclosure than what typical soundbar subs have).

Realizing that the system is powerful enough to handle a party, I moved on to the funky rhythms of Chasing the Golden Hour, Pt. 4 by Griz and cranked it way up. Cutting to the chase, this system will easily fill a big room with danceable tunes. Even at very high volume levels, I heard some dynamic compression kick in, but the system remained distortion-free! Ultimately, with the wireless satellites handling the front left and right channels, it is a real-deal stereo system, a claim other soundbars simply cannot make. For parties, switch the Expanded Stereo function to Music for an even more room-filling effect!

Removing the subwoofer from the system had a strong impact on the system's sound, but not in a good way. While the system does adapt to the sub's absence, restoring full-range output to the speakers, the tonality is a lot thinner and more in line with what I hear from all-in-one soundbars that lack a sub.


The main takeaway from my time with this system is that it focuses on the fundamentals of achieving great sound. It does 5.1 surround-sound right, and in the process, delivers a better listening experience versus Dolby Atmos soundbars of similar cost. While it would be nice to have Atmos capability on top of what it already does, ultimately, I did not miss it. I'll take 5.1 surround done right over half-baked soundbar Atmos any day.

Roku's new Streambar Pro offers a simple, affordable, and effective way to add high-fidelity sound to your TV. Overall, the Roku Streambar Pro 5.1 system has better than expected sound quality. Roku's 4K streaming platform is reliable, easy to navigate, and offers a ton of free and paid content. For TVs and projectors that don't already have robust 4K streaming built-in, it is a tremendous value.

The Streambar Pro's best features are its versatility, expandability, and sound quality when used as part of a 5.1 system. The Wireless Bass Pro subwoofer is the biggest surprise, it offers clean, tight bass with an impact that exceeds expectations for its price point. The full 5.1 system gives you a clear, dynamic, engaging, and enveloping way to listen to movies, music, video games, and TV shows.

Roku, Inc.