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This all-in-one soundbar turned my old TV into the ultimate 4K theatre experience

Roku's Streambar Pro gives your TV audio a boost while adding 4K streaming, and it's relatively affordable at $180.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
A Roku soundbar on a TV stand
Artie Beaty/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Roku Streambar Pro is part soundbar, part streaming stick. And it makes using both easier than ever.
  • Private listening mode is a nice addition for late-night watching, and I've really enjoyed using it.
  • Even down to the sleek design, simplicity is the goal with the Roku all-in-one.

Roku is a name that's quickly become synonymous with streaming, but the company has branched out in recent years into TVs and TV accessories -- including speakers and soundbars. 

For the most part, Roku's products are intended to make things easy, and that's where the Streambar Pro comes into play.

Also: The best soundbars you can buy, tested and reviewed

The Streambar Pro is a soundbar that doubles as a streaming stick, which takes the Roku Streambar and the Roku 4K streaming stick and combines them into one device. So, how does it perform, and should you buy one? Let's dive in. 

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First up, it's worth noting that the Roku Streambar Pro will work with any TV, not just Roku's. In fact, that's one of the device's biggest advantages, which is that a non-Roku TV essentially becomes 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 private listening. 

The front of the bar illustrates Roku's aim for simplicity. There's only a single power light and no buttons to be found. All volume and settings controls are handled via the remote. And given that I can't remember the last time I used the physical buttons on my everyday soundbar, I like the sleek look.

Artie Beaty/ZDNET

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 systems you can buy

One of the biggest problems I have with my main TV is that the audio is poor, and often not even loud enough to hear over our two kids and dog. I do have a soundbar that works fine, but dialogue can still be tough to understand, so I always utilize closed captioning.

Artie Beaty/ZDNET

Because of the limitations of my TV, the Voice Clarity feature on the Roku soundbar was one of the first things I tested out. The feature has off, low, and high modes, and there was a noticeable difference when it was 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 up my kids.  

Like a lot of modern televisions and soundbars, this device utilizes virtual surround to mimic a surround-sound system. I've tried this feature on many different devices with varying levels of success, so I wasn't expecting much. I'm not a fan of superhero movies, but I figured that kind of film would be a good way to test out the surround-sound feature. 

A Roku soundbar on a TV stand
Artie Beaty/ZDNET

I fired up the first superhero movie I saw -- The Flash -- and fast-forwarded straight to the first explosion. When I hit play, the room filled with deep rumbles that didn't quite reach a true surround-sound system, but got pretty close -- and much more so than the default audio on my TV. There's no support for immersive formats, such as Dolby Atmos, but the virtual surround here works well. 

Review: 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 sufficient and gave a nice rumble when it needed to. There aren't many settings to tinker with, other than a few profiles to choose from, but since simplicity and ease are the primary focus here, that's expected. 

In terms of 4K streaming, which is the other half of this product offering, the interface is pretty much identical to the one found on Roku's televisions and its streaming stick. All your major apps are available, plus dedicated ones for music streaming. I didn't have any trouble getting logged in and installing new apps. Plus, the voice navigation to pull up apps worked flawlessly. Maybe it's just because my television is several years old, but the interface on the soundbar seemed a tiny bit faster and more responsive than the one on my television, which is a big-box store brand. 

ZDNET's buying advice

Ultimately, the Streambar Pro is similar to the Roku Streambar, but this version is much wider and adds a few useful features, such as private listening. The device performs in line with other mid-range soundbars, but the value of adding Roku 4K streaming gives it an edge.

If you want 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. 

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