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

Soundbars are not just for viewing Tv set and motion pictures. They can do tunes much too, and versions like the Polk Signa S3 confirm that musical seem from a bar will not have to value a fortune. The Signa’s superlative audio effectiveness is anchored by a powerful subwoofer that will help bolster the bottom end of each tricky soundtracks and bass-major tunes. 

Like

  • Fascinating tunes playback
  • Potent subwoofer
  • Attribute-packed, which include Chromecast streaming

Will not Like

  • Not as productive with motion pictures
  • A little overbearing with imperfect recordings
  • Bland appearance

The Polk adds will have to-have capabilities much too, which include Wi-Fi and Chromecast streaming that go missing from more affordable versions like the Vizio V21. The Signa lacks the DTS Virtual:X processing of rivals Vizio and Yamaha, on the other hand. Virtual:X will help build a convincing surround field without the need of the use of rear speakers, and it pushes those people makes forward for Tv set viewing. 

The Vizio V21 is a far better choice for people who want a soundbar that does tunes and motion pictures in equal evaluate the Polk is far better for tunes fans who crave thrilling, specific seem and punchy bass. 

Structure and features 

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The Polk Signa S3 is a soundbar/wireless subwoofer combo that builds on the achievement of other Polk versions like the Signa S1 and the Command Bar. On the surface it seems to be very similar to 2014’s Signa S1 — only with a nicer, wool-like grill — but the internals have obtained a quantity of significant upgrades.

The Signa S3 involves Chromecast crafted in, which enables people to stream tunes over appropriate applications like Amazon Tunes Hd, Spotify and Tidal. It lacks a crafted-in voice assistant, but you can command tunes making use of a separate Google Assistant speaker like the Nest Mini. 

Sound processing involves Polk’s Voice Adjust technological know-how, which enables people to change the stage of the dialogue, as nicely as Motion picture, Tunes and Night time modes. The S3 lacks Dolby Atmos decoding uncovered on a lot more-pricey soundbars, but it does have Dolby Digital 5.one via a solitary HDMI ARC connection. The soundbar also involves a digital optical input and a 3.5mm auxiliary.

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The major speaker is compact at 35-inches vast and fewer than two inches in peak so it should not block your TV’s IR port. The bar alone includes four motorists — two woofers and two tweeters — and the unit can be wall-mounted without the need of the use of a independent bracket. The ported, wireless subwoofer is rather substantial for a funds unit, and it really is produced of wooden (MDF), instead than plastic like some opponents.

The S3 is a lot more consumer-friendly than the Vizio V21, and the distant has crystal clear markings for each and every of the features as nicely as the inputs. No cycling as a result of inputs or seem modes below — just push the 1 you want.

How does it seem?

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I analyzed the Polk Signa S3 versus two other 2020 soundbars — the Vizio V21 and the JBL Bar two.one Deep Bass — and it pulled forward of the other two in 1 significant respect: it was the most exciting with tunes. When judged on its very own the Vizio appears good, but in direct comparisons to the Polk it came throughout a little chesty and boxed-in. The Polk burrowed more into recordings, releasing important information, generating it simpler to overlook I was listening to a soundbar.

Regardless of whether I was viewing a demonstrate streaming from Netflix or listening to some Spotify, the Polk Signa S3 was normal sounding with a respectable stereo soundstage, in addition a forcefulness and emotion of ability when necessary. There was no feeling that it was holding again or distorting, and it shipped impressive scale for a rather compact speaker.

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I started off with Mitski’s heartbreaking Your Best American Lady, and on the Polk her effectiveness sounded each forceful and brutal — but the speaker was also ready to surface little information these as the little “hmph” at the commence of the track. The S3’s tuning tends towards the thrilling end of the spectrum, on the other hand, so the distorted middle eight was most difficult to hear to amongst the 3 ‘bars. In comparison, the Vizio in individual sounded a little veiled and lacked the Polk’s dynamics. 

The Polk also belted out major productions like Kamasi Washington’s version of the Fists of Fury concept. The Vizio sounded laid again but greatly divided. Turning off Virtual:X on the Vizio lowered the carnival halfway influence a little, but I still wished to go again and hear to the track on the Polk.

When Virtual:X can be a distraction all through tunes, it will help the Vizio with numerous 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 ended up a little blunted by comparison. Altering the Polk’s bass command and seem mode failed to support carry again the slam of the Vizio or the JBL.

In the lobby scene from The Matrix, on the other hand, the tables ended up turned. The Vizio struggled with the pulsing bass rating, but the Polk’s larger sized, a lot more muscular sub was far better ready to convey each and every of the notes.

Should really you invest in it?

The Polk Signa S3 is a robust soundbar value primarily if you can get it for fewer than its $250 record rate. It delivers a top-quality effectiveness with tunes, a a lot more strong sub and a host of new tech which include HDMI ARC and Wi-Fi streaming. When it arrives to motion pictures, it really is not as punchy as the JBL Bar two.one or as evocative as the Vizio V21, on the other hand, so either of these may perhaps be far better possibilities if you’re not heading to hear to much tunes on your soundbar.