The Roku Streambar Changed How I Watch Movies

The Roku Streambar is Roku's first foray into digital sound. How does it work, and does it hold up to an audiophile and movie buff's scrutiny?

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I am a huge movie buff—classic movies, new movies and foreign movies included. Naturally, that means I appreciate anything that enhances the home theater experience. My household is also a Roku household, so we’re already familiar with all the benefits and features of the smart home streaming device. When the brand reached out to send me a Roku Streambar to check out, I accepted. Despite being a Roku fangirl, I expected that the bar would be decent, but nothing mind-blowing.

So how did this streaming device hold up to testing? Spoiler: I was completely wrong.

What is the Roku Streambar?

roku streambarEmily Way/Family Handyman

The Roku Streambar, much like the brand’s assortment of streaming sticks, offers a plug-and-play way to easily access almost any show or movie. The setup for these devices is simple. Just use an HDMI cord to connect it to any TV, plug it in and voila. Roku’s menu makes it easy to add the channels you subscribe to, like HBO. There are also hundreds of free channels in Roku’s catalog.

Despite offering the same streaming capabilities as Roku sticks, the real draw of the Roku Streambar is that the streaming capabilities combine with a built-in Dolby Audio Bluetooth speaker. This hybrid device doesn’t just deliver crisp 4K picture—it also makes movies sound amazing.

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Roku Streambar Features

roku streambarEmily Way/Family Handyman

  • The box has a Roku streaming bar, power cord, HDMI cable and a remote with voice search capabilities
  • Compatible with virtually any device using Bluetooth or cable connection
  • Streams in 4K HDR picture quality
  • Uses Dolby Audio

How We Tested It

roku streambarEmily Way/Family Handyman

I’ve used my Roku Streambar for a few weeks now, so I’ve had ample time to try it out. Setting it up proved easy. I simply plugged in the power cord and used the included HDMI cable to connect it to my TV. I love the versatility of the setup. Users choose between Bluetooth or a wired connection, and the HDMI cable even works with my home projector.

As an existing Roku user, I anticipated a drawn-out process of downloading and logging back into all of my subscriptions. However, this was not the case. After I logged into my Roku account, I used the Automatic Account Link feature to download and log into the channels I have on my other Roku devices. It was so simple—I was shocked.

For me, the real test was the audio quality. As a big fan of vinyl, I’ve had some experience with both analog and wireless speakers, running the gamut from $20 all the way up to a $100 set. Audio is where the Roku soundbar excels. Despite the lack of bass, the sound quality is crisp and clear, even at low volume. Using it for music is a pleasure. It brings out song details that used to blend into the background, like the bongos peeking out from Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.”

As for movies and shows, my favorite feature of the streaming bar is a setting called “speech clarity.” Enabling it boosts the dialogue in a scene. This is incredibly useful for movies that mix music higher than speech (I’m looking at you, Christopher Nolan). I normally keep subtitles on indefinitely, but using this feature cut down massively on my use of captions over the last few weeks.

I’m not someone who normally uses voice assistants like Alexa, so I didn’t expect the voice search function on the remote to be a big plus for me. Again, Roku surprised me. It’s so easy to press a button, say the name of any movie and immediately see all your streaming, purchase and rental options.

Pros

  • 4K HDR compatible
  • Easy to set up and connect
  • Priced fairly for a mid-tier speaker
  • Connects to other Roku speakers
  • Speech clarity settings for the hard-of-hearing
  • Dolby Audio sounds surprisingly good for a mid-tier speaker
  • Combines streaming stick and Bluetooth speaker into one device
  • Different audio settings for movies, nighttime viewing and leveling
  • Existing Roku users can use the Automatic Account Link feature to sign into streaming services upon setup

Cons

  • Requires separately purchased bass speakers for the full audio experience
  • Older TVs not supported
  • No Dolby Vision

FAQs

How do you set up the Roku Streambar?

As outlined in the Roku streaming bar review above, setting up the device is easy. Connect to any Bluetooth-compatible device using the Bluetooth settings available in the device’s settings. Non-Bluetooth devices easily connect to the speaker using the included HDMI cable.

Once connected, the easy-to-use Roku menu allows users to add their favorite streaming channels, such as Netflix or Hulu. There are even hundreds of Roku-exclusive channels, the Roku channel being the most popular. A library of thousands of free channels offers a wide variety of content, from DIY how-tos like At Home With Family Handyman to channels that stream old westerns 24/7.

Does the Roku Streambar work with Roku TVs?

Yes, the Roku Streambar works with Roku TVs. This makes it easy to add a speaker system to Roku TVs without struggling with unfamiliar technology.

Does the Roku Streambar have Bluetooth?

Yes, the Roku Streambar connects to Bluetooth-enabled devices.

What Other Reviewers Had to Say

“We got this on sale during Black Friday and it’s easily one of the best purchases we made in 2022,” says verified purchaser Luke L. He writes, “Our TV’s streaming software stopped working so I started to look for different streaming devices. The Roku paired with the incredible sound bar. The sound quality is great and we normally keep the volume at 20% since it can get so loud. Definitely recommend.”

Final Verdict

While there are a few drawbacks—such as weak bass and no Dolby Vision—it’s overall a worthwhile purchase. In researching for my Roku Streambar review, I found the device to be a good introduction to the digital speaker world. It’s easy enough to set up that I would feel comfortable gifting one to my parents who struggle with complicated technology. I like it so much that I plan on bolstering my new audio system with a set of wireless speakers and a subwoofer bass speaker.

Movie buffs and beginner audiophiles will enjoy the features of the Roku Streambar, which are a step up from the average Bluetooth speaker. Hard-of-hearing individuals or those who have trouble understanding dialogue in their favorite shows will appreciate the dialogue-boosting features. Overall, the Roku Streambar is worth it for those considering a streaming stick or smart TV but long for an elevated home theater experience.

Where to Buy the Roku Streambar

roku streambarvia merchant

The Roku Streambar retails for around $120 on Amazon, which is a mid-tier price point for speaker systems. For a little extra, stock up on the entire line of Roku audio devices with the full-surround sound bundle. I’ll definitely be upgrading to include the bass speaker and surround speakers soon. Now that I’ve experienced the Roku Streambar firsthand, I’ll never go back to buggy $20 Bluetooth speakers.

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Emily Way
As Associate Shopping Editor of Sales and Deals, Emily helps readers find the lowest prices on the best products. An enthusiastic shopper, Emily is always on the lookout for the biggest bargains. When she’s not searching through flash sales, you can usually find her reading mystery novels or cuddling with cats.