25/10/2021

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Polk Signa S3 review: Feature-packed soundbar excels with music, too

Soundbars aren’t just for looking at Tv set and flicks. They can do new music way too, and products like the Polk Signa S3 that verify that musical audio from a bar isn’t going to have to price a fortune. The Signa’s superlative audio overall performance is anchored by a potent subwoofer that can help bolster the base close of equally tough soundtracks and bass-hefty new music. 

Like

  • Remarkable new music playback
  • Highly effective subwoofer
  • Attribute-packed, such as Chromecast streaming

Will not Like

  • Not as efficient with flicks
  • Somewhat overbearing with imperfect recordings
  • Bland look

The Polk adds should-have options way too, such as Wi-Fi and Chromecast streaming that go lacking from much less expensive products like the Vizio V21. The Signa lacks the DTS Digital:X processing of rivals Vizio and Yamaha, nonetheless. Digital:X can help produce a convincing surround discipline without having the use of rear speakers, and it pushes people makes ahead for Tv set looking at. 

The Vizio V21 is a superior choice for customers who want a soundbar that does new music and flicks in equal evaluate the Polk is superior for new music lovers who crave exciting, comprehensive audio and punchy bass. 

Design and style and features 


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Polk Signa S3 is a soundbar/wi-fi subwoofer combo that builds on the achievement of other Polk products like the Signa S1 and the Command Bar. On the surface area it appears identical to 2014’s Signa S1 — only with a nicer, wool-like grill — but the internals have obtained a variety of essential upgrades.

The Signa S3 incorporates Chromecast built in, which permits customers to stream new music in excess of suitable apps like Amazon Audio High definition, Spotify and Tidal. It lacks a built-in voice assistant, but you can handle new music applying a separate Google Assistant speaker like the Nest Mini. 

Seem processing incorporates Polk’s Voice Adjust technology, which permits customers to regulate the amount of the dialogue, as nicely as Film, Audio and Night modes. The S3 lacks Dolby Atmos decoding uncovered on extra-highly-priced soundbars, but it does have Dolby Electronic 5.1 via a one HDMI ARC relationship. The soundbar also incorporates a digital optical input and a three.5mm auxiliary.

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The principal speaker is compact at 35-inches huge and a lot less than 2 inches in top so it shouldn’t block your TV’s IR port. The bar alone comprises four motorists — two woofers and two tweeters — and the device can be wall-mounted without having the use of a separate bracket. The ported, wi-fi subwoofer is somewhat huge for a spending plan device, and it really is produced of wooden (MDF), relatively than plastic like some competitors.

The S3 is extra user-helpful than the Vizio V21, and the remote has apparent markings for each individual of the features as nicely as the inputs. No cycling by inputs or audio modes listed here — just push the a person you want.

How does it audio?

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

I examined the Polk Signa S3 in opposition to two other 2020 soundbars — the Vizio V21 and the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass — and it pulled ahead of the other two in a person essential respect: it was the most pleasurable with new music. When judged on its very own the Vizio sounds fantastic, but in immediate comparisons to the Polk it arrived across a minimal chesty and boxed-in. The Polk burrowed even more into recordings, releasing critical specifics, earning it less difficult to forget I was listening to a soundbar.

Regardless of whether I was looking at a present streaming from Netflix or listening to some Spotify, the Polk Signa S3 was pure sounding with a good stereo soundstage, moreover a forcefulness and emotion of ability when required. There was no feeling that it was keeping back again or distorting, and it delivered impressive scale for a somewhat compact speaker.

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

I commenced with Mitski’s heartbreaking Your Very best American Lady, and on the Polk her overall performance sounded equally forceful and brutal — but the speaker was also equipped to surface area very small specifics these types of as the minimal “hmph” at the start out of the tune. The S3’s tuning tends towards the exciting close of the spectrum, nonetheless, so the distorted center 8 was hardest to listen to among the the a few ‘bars. In comparison, the Vizio in individual sounded a minimal veiled and lacked the Polk’s dynamics. 

The Polk also belted out huge productions like Kamasi Washington’s edition of the Fists of Fury topic. The Vizio sounded laid back again but heavily separated. Turning off Digital:X on the Vizio diminished the carnival halfway outcome a minimal, but I even now wished to go back again and listen to the tune on the Polk.

While Digital:X can be a distraction during new music, it can help the Vizio with lots of film soundtracks. In the course of the Thanator chase scene from Avatar (at 26:53), the Polk managed to convey the dialogue but the swirling bugs and stomping creatures were a minimal blunted by comparison. Changing the Polk’s bass handle and audio manner didn’t aid convey back again the slam of the Vizio or the JBL.

In the lobby scene from The Matrix, nonetheless, the tables were turned. The Vizio struggled with the pulsing bass score, but the Polk’s bigger, extra muscular sub was superior equipped to convey each individual of the notes.

Must you invest in it?

The Polk Signa S3 is a strong soundbar worth in particular if you can get it for a lot less than its $250 record cost. The Signa S3 offers a strong overall performance with new music, many thanks to the bigger sub and a host of new tech such as HDMI ARC and Wi-Fi streaming. When it comes to flicks, it really is not as punchy as the JBL Bar 2.1 or as evocative as the Vizio V21, nonetheless, so both of these may be superior possibilities if you happen to be not going to listen to much new music on your soundbar.