If you are a Roku fan or simply like to stream your favorite content using a slick interface and may be in the market for a new soundbar, why not consider a soundbar that has Roku built right in? A great opportunity for a setup you are looking to keep simple. This is the Roku Streambar Pro (model 9101R2).
I’ll admit, it’s a unique device within a setup to drop a Roku into. However, finding a high-end TV with Roku built-in can be a challenge. Most of the options out there are generic or come close to generic in performance. So this frees you to invest in any screen you want. Mount is as flat as you want to the wall and never worry about it. Let the soundbar do all the streaming as the TV focuses its resources on displaying a great image.
I’ve been testing one of these out for around a month now to see how I react to it. I attached it to a TV that is in a small den area, mostly for child consumption than anything else. The TV is neatly tucked into a cove space in the wall that makes it hard to get to the back of it as it fits perfectly top to bottom and side to side. I had a small soundbar underneath it attached to the wall, so I replaced it with this. Instantly, upgrading that TV with a much better streaming experience. The 4K Samsung TV has been a great TV, however, the app experience hasn’t been the best for us, and for some reason, it has poor Wi-Fi reception (possible due to being tucked into the cove in the wall).
It has an HDMI 2.0 (ARC) connection on the back so data can be sent both ways (as long as your TV supports ARC within one of its HDMI ports as well). Video to the TV with the speaker outputting sound or sound from the TV back to the speaker if you have something else connected to the TV. This is important since this is the only HDMI port on the soundbar, thus you can use it as a switchable input source for the TV. Thankfully, in our use, it’s the only thing connected to the TV and the only thing that will be.
There is also an optical input for sending sound to it and a USB port. It also supports Bluetooth in case you want to connect a mobile device to it for streaming audio.
Getting everything set up is easy as it’s the same as connecting any soundbar to a TV. Always remember to use the HDMI with ARC support on the TV so it can be used both ways (in case you ever need to). Then setting up Roku is the same as any variation of Roku.
You can control it using the remote it comes with. It offers familiar shortcuts to get straight to some of the more popular streaming services (Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, and HULU. There is nothing new to really brag about with the remote this round. If you wind up misplacing it or someone runs off with it, you can also control it via your phone.
The sound quality is pretty good for its size when compared to some of the other soundbars we have come across over the years. Dialogue is rich and clear and you can get a lot of volume from it. If it is being used in the way we are using it (mostly cartoons and movies for younger kids), you don’t really need anything else. However, if you want to adult with this soundbar and watch some fun movies, you’d likely want to buy into the optional wireless subwoofer ($179.99). The soundbar, by itself, doesn’t have enough oomph to it. This is the same for almost any soundbar out there.
This is where things get a little expensive though and tips the score of things a bit (if we were to score it based on the soundbar and accessories combined). By itself, the soundbar is fantastic. With the sub, you get a bit more boom in your content (it’s actually quite nice). However, you are going to have to adjust the dialogue clarity and turn the sub down a little as it can affect the dialogue within the content you are watching. It doesn’t feel like Roku did a great job of placing the crossover. So if they gave users the ability to adjust the crossover to the sub so that dialogue isn’t so heavily affected by it, this would greatly improve the pairing of the wireless accessories. For now, I am purposely avoiding its inclusion as part of this story.
On another note, Roku also offers (optional) wireless speakers ($149.99) to get some rear channel presence with. Note, I haven’t had any experience with them as they would never be needed in this setup. This also brings the cost up even more and things begin to get silly as you can really invest in a high-end soundbar system at this point and just buy the darn Roku stuck to slide into the back of the TV separately and deal with it if it’s hard to get to like mine is. You might even save some money in the mix doing it that way. So buying the soundbar, plus the wireless sub, plus the wireless rear speakers, is a little much and we can’t quite recommend it.
So again, this review and the score we give the Roku Streambar Pro is simply based on the Streambar’s (soundbar) performance by itself.
We found it to be an interesting place to tie in a streaming platform like Roku. It does work though. Albeit, it is a bit niche. Streaming sticks are still likely going to be the bigger seller for most consumers. They are easy to upgrade as things get better without having to replace the whole soundbar in the process. However, in given niche situations (like ours), it works fantastically.
The sound quality is enough to be impressed with, earning a great score from us. It could use a little more low-end, but then again, all soundbars could use that. That’s why they make subwoofers. However, as I mentioned, things do get a little complicated and expensive when you start adding the optional addon pieces to this. So that’s as far as we will discuss it this round since this score simply reflects the soundbar by itself.
It may dip on sale to $149.99 later this year. It has already happened once. This would make for a great deal for this model.
- Network: 802.11ac dual-band, MIMO wireless
- TV Compatibility:
- HD TVs: Up to 1080p (1920 x 1080) with up-scaling from 720p
- 4K UHD TVs: Up to 2160p at 60fps (3840 × 2160) with up-scaling from 720p and 1080p. TV must have an HDMI input that supports HDCP 2.2
- 4K UHD HDR TVs: Supports HDR10 and HLG. TV must have an HDMI input that supports HDCP 2.2
- Requires TV with HDMI ARC or Optical outputs
- HDMI 2.0a (ARC)
- Optical Input (S/PDIF Digital Audio)
- USB 2.0
- Audio features
- Speakers: Four 2.5″ full-range drivers
- Audio Formats: PCM, Dolby Audio
- Sound Modes: Normal, Reduce bass, Bass boost, Bass off
- Speech Clarity: Off, Low, High
- Volume Modes: Off, Leveling, Night mode
- Virtual Surround: Off, On
- Remote control: Voice remote with personal shortcut buttons, TV power, volume, and mute buttons, and headphone jack for private listening
- Power: 100-240V, 50-60 Hz AC, 1A
- USB Media Formats
- Video: H.264/AVC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV), H./ (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); VP9 (.MKV)
- Audio: AAC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV); MP3 (.MP3, .MKV); WMA (.ASF, .WMA, .MKV), FLAC (.FLAC, .MKV), PCM (.WAV, .MKV, .MP4, .MOV), AC3/EAC3 (.MKV, .MP4., .MOV, .AC3), ALAC (.MKV, .MP4, .MOV, .M4A)
- Image: JPG, PNG, GIF (non-animated)
- Height: 2.8 in (71 mm)
- Width: 32.2 in (818 mm)
- Depth: 3.9 in (99 mm)
- Weight: 88 ounces (2495 g)
- Mount: Two ¼” (6.35 mm) 20-threaded mounting sockets (Mounting hardware sold separately)
- Works with any TV with HDMI-ARC or HDMI and optical ports
- Voice Remote with TV controls: TV power button works with most TVs.
- Does not work with Roku streaming players
- Works with Apple AirPlay and HomeKit
- Works with Hey Google
- Works with Alexa
- Bluetooth 4.2
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.
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