Roku TV Wireless Speakers Review: Decent sound done simply
The speakers that come attached to your TV are, to put it mildly, not good. Also bad is the experience of hooking up external speakers. Those of us who deal with computers and audio and other such nerdery for a living certainly are used to complicated setup processes and diving into submenus just to make something work. But for normal folks? There's a reason Best Buy's Geek Squad is a thing.
Roku wanted to change all that with its Roku TV Wireless Speakers. As the name should imply — and as I'll stress a number of times in this review — these are wireless speakers that work with Roku TVs, and not with Roku's various streaming sticks and boxes and dongles.
The premise is simple: Take a pair of decent speakers and make them super easy to connect to a TV. Toss in a voice remote (that might or might not be an improvement on what came with your Roku TV), include the new Roku Touch tabletop remote, and do it at a price that shouldn't frighten anyone away.
And that's mostly what we've got in the $199 Roku TV Wireless Speakers.
WARNING: These speakers only work with Roku TVs. They do not work with the Roku Ultra streaming box, or any of Roku's other streaming devices. They only work with Roku TVs.
- Setup takes just a couple minutes
- Roku Touch tabletop remote is nice
- Seamless integration
- Sound quality is decent, but not outstanding
- Could use a dedicated subwoofer
- Soft-touch rubber is a hard-to-clean dust magnet
Easy as promised
Roku TV Wireless Speakers What I Like
I can recall, as a child in the 1980s, on more than one occasion helping my father drill through walls in our home, running what seemed like miles and miles of speaker cable. I've used any number of receivers over the years, and any number of combinations of systems connected to my TV.
I'm over it. I'm all about simplicity these days, and to that end the technology has caught up with my laziness. Sort of.
While HDMI and optical inputs have done wonders to simplify setups, the fact remains that there still is required a certain level of knowledge of how and why things work. ARC inputs are great, if you know how to use them, and don't mind diving into submenus. What's easy for some remains out of reach for others.
Roku TV Wireless Speakers seek to erase that barrier. And for the most part, they do that. Setup is as simple as removing them from the box, plugging them in alongside your TV, holding the Home button on your Roku remote for 5 seconds, then following the on-screen instructions. (As a neat trick, each speaker speaks the initial setup instructions as soon as you plug it in.)
It's really that simple — providing that your TV's Roku software is up to date. It took me a couple tries to get the speakers and TV talking to each other (a simple reboot of both seems to have aided that), and then we were off and running.
It's pretty clear that the speakers sound better than whatever is built into your TV. So you're immediately ahead of the game in that regard.
The speakers integrate seamlessly. You'll still use the same Roku remote you've been using — or the new voice remote that came with the speakers, if you want.
There's also the new Roku Touch tabletop remote. It's sort of a secondary remote. It's battery powered and has basic play/pause controls, and you can assign two buttons for voice commands. (That is, you press a button and executes a given command.) It's a nice secondary remote control, though it's lacking the D-pad of a normal Roku Voice Remote. I don't quite get why I'd want this instead of the other, but it works well enough. And, oddly, it has a button that doesn't yet do anything. Tap the two diamonds and Roku Touch will say "
Roku TV Wireless Speakers What I Don't Like
Once I connected the Roku TV Wireless Speakers to my Roku TV (a TCL 6-Series), it automatically disconnected the 36-inch Vizio sound bar, rear speakers and sub I've had connected via ARC. So I was fully expecting a drop-off in quality. There's no way these two speakers — no matter how good Roku says they are — were going to be on par with a more robust system.
That's not to say that the sound quality is poor. It's not. Roku has done a great job here. There's a just enough bass coming from these speakers so that I don't immediately plug in something better. The overall sound quality is crisp and clear, with a good mix. I'd say Roku met my expectations here — I knew what I was buying.
It's just not the same as having a dedicated subwoofer and rear speakers — to say nothing of Dolby Atmos support, even in the entry level system I was using. If you want room-filling sound, you'll want to look elsewhere than Roku's speakers, is all.
Roku TV Wireless Speakers
Should You Buy Them? Maybe
4 out of 5
The Roku TV Wireless Speakers are an interesting little product. You can get better audio for the same price from a basic 5.1 system. But what you won't get is a system that's as easy to set up and use as what Roku has here.
That's a big selling point, actually — decent audio that takes just a couple minutes to connect — literally, it'll take you longer to get them out of the box than it will to set them up. And you'll no doubt see it promoted heavily alongside Roku TVs, which have only been gaining in popularity.
You'll want to consider placement. These will be great in a bedroom, where space is at a premium, and where a full subwoofer may not be warranted anyway. They're decent in a larger living room, but you can do better for about the same price, or just a little more.
But you'll undoubtedly not find anything easier to use.
$199 at Roku (opens in new tab)
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So ... Do these only work with a Roku branded TV? Like the TCL unit pictured in the article?