Roku combines soundbar and speakers into surround sound system

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Roku's new software update will enable surround sound.
Image: Roku

Roku might not be known for its home theater equipment. In fact, most people only know the brand for its streaming sticks and smart TVs. However, it does have a line of speakers that offer a solid entry-level audio experience.

Roku’s various sound equipment doesn’t play nicely together. This means that owners can’t use it as part of a surround sound system. Thanks to a software update slated to arrive this February, that will soon change. Those who own Roku speakers will be able to use their setup as a wireless surround sound system.

Joining Forces

Currently, Roku offers three different speaker products. Its Smart Soundbar is both what the name implies and also doubles as a hub for Roku’s streaming platform. With it, users are able to access their favorite streaming apps and control the soundbar’s settings.

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Meanwhile, the company also offers Roku TV Wireless Speakers that operate independently and offer a more immersive TV watching experience. As of now, these speakers are only compatible with Roku-branded TVs. The third piece of equipment sold by Roku is a subwoofer that gives at-home movie lovers the chest-pounding feel of bass right in their living room.

The entire trio uses Dolby audio. This is the standard format supported by the most popular streaming apps today including Disney+, Apple TV, Netflix, and more. Following the upcoming update in February, each component will sync wirelessly to the others to create a network of sound. This is far simpler than some other surround sound systems that require hard wiring.

As if that isn’t good enough, the entire setup can be controlled through Roku’s on-screen menus. The prompts even include a soundcheck to ensure that each speaker is functioning properly and calibrated for its position in the room. Once again, this is far more convenient than needing to learn an entirely new system.

Potential Problem

Interestingly enough, this sound system won’t be a great choice for those who own a Roku TV. Yes, that doesn’t make much sense—especially considering that the Roku Wireless Speakers only work with the company’s TVs.

The problem originates from the fact that the soundbar doubles as a streaming stick. With a TV that’s already running Roku OS, users will have to deal with two separate remotes (one for the TV and one for the soundbar). That just isn’t practical. Considering that the soundbar is a mandatory piece of hardware for someone wanting to set up a surround sound system, it will be a dealbreaker for many.

Nonetheless, the system is perfect for those who don’t own Roku TVs. Not only will they get an easy-to-set-up surround sound system, they’ll also be able to access Roku’s streaming platform. It appears that the company is targeting this market with an invitation to create a simpler home theater set up.

As of now, Roku doesn’t offer a bundle with its various sound components. However, with the capability of creating a surround sound system on the way, that is likely to change.

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