ZDNET’s key takeaways
- The Roku Streamer Pro Part soundbar, part streaming stick. And it makes using both easier than ever.
- The private listening mode is a nice addition for late night viewing, and I really enjoyed using it.
- Even down to the sleek design, the Roku all-in-one aims for simplicity.
Roku is a name that’s quickly become synonymous with streaming, but the company has branched out into TVs and TV accessories in recent years — including speakers and soundbars.
For the most part, Roku’s products are intended to make things simple, and there they are Streambar Pro comes into play
Also: Best soundbars you can buy, tested and reviewed
Streambar Pro is a soundbar that doubles as a streaming stick, which takes the Roku Streambar and Roku 4K Streaming Stick and combines them into one device. So, how does it work, and should you buy one? Dive into it.
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Roku Streamer Pro
The Roku Streambar Pro is one of the best value products for adding both 4K streaming and fantastic audio quality to your TV.
First, it’s worth noting that the Roku Streambar Pro will work with any TV, not just Roku. In fact, this is one of the device’s biggest advantages, making a non-Roku TV essentially one.
Along with the soundbar and cables to connect it, the box includes a standard Roku voice-controlled remote with a headphone jack and a pair of earbuds for personal listening.
The front of the bar illustrates Roku’s aim for simplicity. There is only one power light and no buttons to be found. All volume and settings controls are operated via remote. And given that I can’t remember the last time I used physical buttons on my everyday soundbar, I like the sleek look.
On the back of the soundbar, it’s just as simple — USB, optical and HDMI ports, depending on how you want to connect the device to your TV. The setup process was short and sweet; I connected the device to my TV’s HDMI ARC port and followed the on-screen instructions.
Also: The best sound system you can buy
One of the biggest issues I have with my main TV is that the audio is poor, and often not loud enough to hear our two kids and dog. I have a soundbar that works fine, but conversations can still be hard to understand, so I always use closed captioning.
Due to the limitations of my TV, I first tested the Voice Clarity feature on the Roku soundbar. The feature has off, low and high modes and there was a noticeable difference when enabled. The maximum version of Voice Clarity is almost too much, but I found the feature useful if I was watching something late at night and wanted to make sure I didn’t wake my kids.
Like many modern televisions and soundbars, this device uses virtual surround to simulate a surround-sound system. I’ve tried this feature on different devices with varying levels of success, so I wasn’t expecting too much. I’m not a fan of superhero movies, but I thought this type of film would be a good way to test the surround sound feature.
I left the first superhero movie I ever saw — Flash — and fast-forwarded directly to the first explosion. When I hit play, the room filled with a deep rumble that didn’t reach a true surround-sound system, but came pretty close — and much louder than the default audio on my TV. There’s no support for immersive formats like Dolby Atmos, but virtual surround works well here.
Revaluation: I replaced my expensive Klipsch soundbar with a $300 Hisense, and it surprised me in the best way.
This soundbar doesn’t have a subwoofer, but the bass was substantial and provided a nice roar when it was needed There aren’t many settings to tinker with other than a few profiles to choose from, but since simplicity and ease of use are the primary focus here, that’s to be expected.
In terms of 4K streaming, which is the other half of this product’s offering, the interface is almost identical to Roku’s television and its streaming stick. All your main apps are available, also dedicated to music streaming. I had no problem logging in and installing new apps. Also, voice navigation to pull up apps worked flawlessly. Maybe it’s just because my television is several years old, but the soundbar’s interface seemed a little faster and more responsive than my television, which is a big-box store brand.
ZDNET’s buying advice
in the end, Streambar Pro similar to Roku Streamer, but this version is much more extensive and adds some useful features, such as private listening. The device performs in line with other mid-range soundbars, but the added value of Roku 4K streaming gives it an edge.
If you’re looking to upgrade your TV’s audio, there are plenty of soundbar options out there. But, if you want to give your TV a serious audio boost and add 4K Roku streaming for under $200, the Streambar Pro does the job perfectly.