Polk React review: Built-in Alexa soundbar for your TV

I have had a voice assistant in my house for the earlier several yrs and it is tricky to know how I at any time did with out it. The full family makes use of it to switch off the lights, request for the weather conditions or, to my horror, listen to countless amounts of Spotify-skewing pop songs. The Polk Respond brings the usefulness of Alexa into a Tv-helpful, soundbar form. The vital dilemma is: Do we really want a Tv speaker that’s also an assistant? 


  • Amazon Alexa onboard works very well.
  • Excellent sound excellent for the price tag.
  • Wise on the lookout design and style

Do not Like

  • Only a single HDMI enter
  • Optional sub and surrounds are high priced.

The new Respond follows up Polk’s authentic just about-but-not-formally-an-Echo soundbar, the Polk Command Bar. The Respond differs from the Command mainly because it would not incorporate the wi-fi subwoofer — it is just a solitary bar. The Respond seems quite great and is equally comfy with flicks and songs, and its integration with Alexa is even slicker than right before. The end result is a very well-rounded deal for your funds.

But back to that vital dilemma. Honestly I want retaining my assistant in a separate, devoted speaker. Inquire Alexa a dilemma on a hybrid device like the Respond and the audio grinds to a halt even though the assistant does your bidding. That can be troublesome, especially when you have to interrupt your The Nevers session to request a connected dilemma.

Then again, you could possibly want an all-in-a single remedy, in certain if you don’t now have an Alexa speaker in your residing region. And the Respond is a greater worth than the $400 Sonos Beam, another Alexa-run soundbar, while it lacks Sonos’ multiroom chops. At the time of publication the Respond is available for $two hundred, and if you want to make improvements to the sound you can add an optional sub ($180) and/or the SR2 surrounds ($180), supplying a great enhance path for the potential.

What is in the box?

The Polk Command Bar lacked the stylishness of the Sonos Beam, but the Respond smooths out the awkwardness with touches like its smooth, woolen grill. The distinctive central ring area stays — with quantity, motion and on/off buttons established in a circle that seems to be like the prime of an old-college Echo — but the action mild is now an illuminated bar across the entrance edge. 


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The bar by itself steps two.two inches significant, four.76 inches deep and 34 inches large. The soundbar is wall-mountable by way of keyhole keyhole mounts on the back. The audio area is made up of two midrange motorists, two tweeters and two passive radiators underneath for included bass.

Inputs run to a solitary HDMI (ARC) output, an optical enter for Tv audio, Bluetooth, and a USB that’s strictly for firmware updates. I do desire it had the Polk Command Bar’s 2nd HDMI port, which is a boon for consumers with multiple units. The device also delivers Wi-Fi connectivity, even though not Ethernet, for connecting the voice assistant to the Online. 


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The Respond incorporates Amazon’s Multi-Room Music compatibility in addition to Spotify Join, but regrettably no AirPlay or Chromecast constructed in. I did recognize that track requests by using Alexa can be performed by means of Tidal by default, even though.


The Respond can do the job with an optional Sub and/or surround speakers.

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The optional wi-fi Polk Respond Sub is hefty, akin to the a single I observed on the JBL Bar two.1 Deep Bass, and it expenses a very penny, too, at $180. The big sixteen.five-by-eight.6-by-thirteen.seven-inch box has a seven-inch woofer onboard. 

In the meantime optional rear speakers appear in devoted Left and Correct variations and element 10-foot lengthy electricity cables. The speakers, formed vaguely like a eyeglasses scenario, are finished in gray marle and evaluate approximately eight inches lengthy by four inches square.

For a somewhat affordable soundbar, the remote control is very in depth. It really is chunky but in a useful way and it delivers loads of control abilities — even for the amounts of the rears and the sub. These latter controls could also be witnessed as a not-so-subtle upsell attempt.

Interacting with Alexa


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In the time due to the fact the introduction of voice assistant-enabled soundbars, I have some 2nd feelings on the technological know-how, as have seemingly many producers. There are two important motives. Initial, people probably now have a electronic assistant in their residing space by now, mainly because they’re fairly low-priced. Second, the sound from the major speaker “ducks” or mutes anytime you challenge a command, this means your show or movie is interrupted. 

All those caveats apart, the Polk Respond was somewhat pain-free when it arrived to issuing commands, listening to my “Alexa” wake phrase even when at the greatest quantity. The speaker would not mute absolutely when it ducks, this means you can continue to type of hear what’s going on. Queries ended up speedily resolved and so the interruption was not as excellent as with other good soundbars I have tested, these kinds of as the Yamaha YAS-209 or JBL Hyperlink Bar.

Polk remote

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If you don’t want to use the remote you can also use your voice for all of the controls, together with the potential to alter the sub and rear volumes. In a connected trend, the only thing that irked me during set up was that neither the soundbar nor the subwoofer guide convey to you how to sync the peripherals. Ideally the firm can repair this for its May launch, but if you are trapped you want to press the sync button on the soundbar for four seconds, then the synching device’s for four seconds, and then touch the soundbar’s button speedily again.

A night time on the couch

As with the great sequence of Tv speakers right before it, the Polk Respond is equally at dwelling with flicks as it is with actively playing songs. The array of speedily-changeable sound modes means that you can request Alexa on the fly if you want to strengthen intelligibility (voice quantity) or bathe in pseudo-surround sound (movie manner).

Unfortunately, I did not have the Sonos Beam on hand for immediate comparison, but I did have two subwoofer-considerably less soundbars, the Vizio M21D-H8 ($150) and the JBL Bar five. Multi Beam ($350), that bookend the Polk in price tag.

I started my testing with a single of the most memorable sequences from a superhero movie — up there with Superman flying around the globe backwards — which is Marvel Female going “about the prime” of the Planet War I trenches (1:14:00). Bullets fly as our hero strides confidently by means of the mud right before bracing herself with the assistance of her protect for a device gun assault. The scene brought me chills.

The Polk was able to seize the movie’s epic sweep, the soundtrack swelled and bullets zinged, but I did skip some of the oomph and immersiveness a larger program could convey. In comparison, the Vizio was not as apparent and failed to have as considerably bass. It just felt a little underpowered for this scene, even with the oft-reliable DTS Digital:X processing utilized.

But it was the JBL Bar five. which sounded the most majestic in this exam. With the JBL’s Wise Mode turned on, dialogue was continue to apparent but bullets whizzed around the space in a way that they failed to with the other two bars. There was also loads of base finish for the shells that exploded around our good friends as they approached the German line.

With this and other content I uncovered that the Polk made available the ideal compromise of sounding full for a acceptable sum, but the JBL was the greater dwelling cinema speaker. Possibly it could be worthy of the extra $100 for movie looking at, but not if you want to listen to songs.

Like other Polk’s right before it, the Respond is able to tap out a tune quite convincingly. Nick Cave’s Pink Correct Hand sounded pure and well balanced on the Polk at each and every quantity degree. Whilst the JBL can go considerably louder than the Polk, its musical functionality arrived with sonic artifacts. The bass line started to distort and turn into synth-like further than only midway up the dial.

When I included the optional sub and rears the Polk was at its ideal, as you would expect from a program that now expenses $650. The gains of the sub and rears could be felt whichever variety of content I was listening to, in some cases in unpredicted strategies. For example, Useless Can Dance’s Yulunga Spirit Dancer, especially in Motion picture manner, was as pleasurable as at any time — the globe-songs-tinged tune sounded large, and it was tricky to feel it was coming from a soundbar program.

Should really you purchase it?

With the Polk Respond the maker has presented consumers a apparent enhance path, a rarity in this class, by supplying the optional sub and surrounds. If you have to opt for in between the two it is a difficult phone. If you predominantly look at Tv sporting activities or dramas, then the surrounds will make the most change as they give the listener the biggest sense of immersion. On the other hand if you like your songs loud or your motion flicks explodey, then it is the sub you really should get. 

With out the optional speakers, the Polk Respond delivers great sonics for a solitary bar with a smattering of excellent functions for the funds. For people who want a hybrid Alexa speaker, it is another gratifying program that life up to the good soundbar legacy developed by the authentic Polk Command Bar.