TCL Roku TV Alto R1 Wireless Soundba

MSRP $179.00

“Roku and TCL partner up to make improving your Roku TV’s sound an easy plug-and-play experience.”

Pros

  • Easy, one-cable setup
  • No further remotes wanted
  • Good audio high quality
  • Vocal enhancement and quantity leveling options are good

Cons

  • No Dolby Atmos
  • Only works with Roku-enabled TVs
  • No audio enter ports

When constructing out a house theater, one of many first stuff you may do after choosing out a tv is add a sound system. One of the best methods to do that is by choosing up among the best soundbars. Because let’s face it, the built-in audio system present in TVs aren’t going to fill the room and assist you really feel immersed in your favourite motion pictures. Roku is aware of this, and it’s been on a mission to make your audio expertise higher whereas additionally retaining issues simple to arrange. At CES 2021 in January, Roku introduced a partnership with TCL to carry a wi-fi soundbar for Roku-ready TVs.

The new Alto R1 is the end result.

This new soundbar is designed to work seamlessly with Roku TVs and be just about easy to arrange. Where extra residence theater sound programs would require, on the naked minimal, plugging a cable into your tv — the one cable concerned in establishing the Alto R1 is the one offering energy. Part of the particular sauce that makes this minimalist method work is Roku’s proprietary Wi-Fi Audio streaming know-how. While that sounds nice in principle, how does it pan out in actuality? Follow alongside, and I’ll reply that very query.

Can it actually be that simple?

The rear and ports of a TCL Roku TV Alto R1 Wireless Soundbar.Chris Wedel / Digital Trends

When unboxing the Alto R1 soundbar, all that’s included inside is the 31.5-inch speaker, {hardware} to mount the speaker to a wall, paperwork, and an influence cable. There aren’t any extra cables included within the field as a result of none are wanted for the reason that solely port on the soundbar is for the facility cable.

My skepticism elevated as I began to assume that there was no means that pairing the soundbar to the TV may very well be this simple. So I powered on my 65-inch TCL Roku tv and plugged within the Alto R1 to the wall outlet. Pairing the soundbar to the TV requires holding the Home button in your Roku distant for five seconds, choosing “Setup devices,” after which “Wireless soundbar.” After that, the TV and Alto R1 acknowledged one another, and the soundbar processed an over-the-air software program replace.

The technique of including the soundbar to my Roku TV couldn’t have been simpler. There aren’t any further cables or remotes to handle. The TV routinely is aware of that the Alto R1 is paired, and when adjusting the amount by way of the Roku distant, the modifications occur by the soundbar and never the built-in TV audio system. I take advantage of a Caavo Control Center to handle my residence theater, and after making just a few changes to it, I used to be controlling the amount for the newly paired soundbar.

Features and sound high quality

TCL Roku TV with an Alto R1 Wireless Soundbar.Chris Wedel / Digital Trends

In use, Alto R1 is as no-frills because the setup is. It is a two-channel, 120-watt soundbar totally managed by way of the Roku distant and your TV. However, that isn’t a foul factor. If you merely need to enhance the sound to your Roku TV or use it for taking part in music out of your cellphone by way of Bluetooth, this soundbar can accomplish that.

While you gained’t discover fancy options like Dolby Atmos and digital encompass sound in choices just like the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) has, the Alto R1 does have just a few methods corresponding to the flexibility to supply extra focus to the dialogue of no matter you’re watching and to routinely decrease the amount of commercials. There can be a bass enhance characteristic and quantity leveling choices inside the sound settings accessible by urgent the Star button on the Roku distant.

In addition to the skepticism I had towards the simplicity of setting the Alto R1 up, was doubtfulness concerning the audio high quality and the way in sync it could be with the content material on display screen. Because the soundbar is totally wi-fi in its connection to my tv, I anticipated a delay in what I noticed on display screen and once I would hear it. To my delight, I didn’t discover it within the slightest.

Roku remote. Chris Wedel / Digital Trends

Roku makes use of Wi-Fi to deal with the connectivity as an alternative of Bluetooth, which considerably reduces latency and will increase the knowledge capability. I watched 4K HDR motion pictures, reside soccer video games, and common TV programming, and all of it labored fantastically. Of course, even with bass enhance enabled, the Alto R1 isn’t going to rival a setup with a devoted subwoofer, nevertheless it’s additionally not making an attempt to.

I’ve a comparatively giant rectangular front room, so filling it with balanced audio is troublesome. The sound setup I normally use is a Vizio soundbar with two wi-fi satellite tv for pc audio system and a wi-fi subwoofer — and it does the trick. As I started utilizing the Alto R1, I tempered my expectations for getting a full-featured audio expertise. But, surprisingly, the wi-fi soundbar did a nice job.

The audio was crisp, and the vocal enhancement options did a great job. It wasn’t an evening and day distinction, however there was sufficient of an enchancment with it turned on that I can safely say it’s value having. The soundbar is designed for TVs 43 inches and up, and I believe in most conditions, the Alto R1 will make most customers fairly completely satisfied.

Our take

TCL Roku TV Alto R1 Soundbar under a TV on a media stand. Chris Wedel / Digital Trends

I’d like to say that the Alto R1 might be an ideal alternative for anybody merely making an attempt to get higher sound for his or her residence theater and doesn’t need to fuss with a variety of setup — and I nearly can. I say nearly as a result of it’s only true in case you have a Roku TV. Now, you don’t need to be utilizing the best possible Roku TV, however you do want a TV with Roku built-in. So, in case you use one of many many nice Roku streaming gadgets that you simply plug into your TV — you gained’t be capable of use the Alto R1.

Roku and TCL had a transparent give attention to what the Alto R1 can be good at — no-fuss setup course of and ease of use. For these two factors, the 2 corporations did a unbelievable job with this product. The technique of going from out-of-the-box to utilizing the soundboard couldn’t be a lot simpler. The Alto R1 isn’t touting bleeding-edge options and even these changing into commonplace amongst different merchandise like Dolby Atmos and digital encompass sound. Also, by together with choices like these, the opposite byproduct can be a rise in the associated fee, and at $180, it’s onerous to argue with what the Alto R1 brings to the lounge.

Is there a greater different?

There are loads of soundbars that supply an entire characteristic bundle however will come at an inflated worth. However, in case you are keen to pay a bit extra however need not an excessive amount of extra, then the Yamaha YAS-209 tops our listing of greatest soundbars beneath $500 coming in at round $350. Not solely will this soundbar present a wider soundstage with assist for DTS Virtual:X, a digital 3D encompass sound profile, however due to a separate subwoofer, it can additionally carry a low-end rumble to your favourite exhibits. It gained’t have fairly the identical degree of simplicity of setup because the Alto R1, and it’ll value you just a few extra bucks, however the Yamaha YAS-209 does present a extra full residence theater audio expertise.

How lengthy will it final?

TCL and Roku have each been on the house audio and video scene for fairly some time now and convey that have to the Alto R1 soundbar. Both corporations even have executed a great job of supporting their respective merchandise, and because of the Alto R1’s Wi-Fi connectivity, the soundbar can obtain OTA software program updates to assist it final for the lengthy haul.

Should you purchase it?

Yes, in case you are somebody who needs to be engulfed from each angle by what you’re watching, this isn’t the soundbar for you. While the Alto R1 does a stable job of manufacturing good audio with just about zero latency, it isn’t a encompass sound system. This is as a result of it’s restricted to 2 channels and doesn’t include the flexibility to copy 360-degree audio. But, in case your purpose is to improve the sound considerably above what your tv has built-in, not spend a lot cash to take action, and have a Roku-enabled TV, then the Alto R1 is properly value contemplating.

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