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

Soundbars aren’t just for looking at Tv and films. They can do songs way too, and models like the Polk Signa S3 verify that musical sound from a bar won’t have to cost a fortune. The Signa’s superlative audio general performance is anchored by a powerful subwoofer that aids bolster the bottom close of the two tricky soundtracks and bass-hefty songs. 

Like

  • Fascinating songs playback
  • Impressive subwoofer
  • Function-packed, including Chromecast streaming

You should not Like

  • Not as helpful with films
  • A little bit overbearing with imperfect recordings
  • Bland visual appearance

The Polk adds have to-have capabilities way too, including Wi-Fi and Chromecast streaming that go lacking from less expensive models like the Vizio V21. The Signa lacks the DTS Digital:X processing of rivals Vizio and Yamaha, having said that. Digital:X aids build a convincing encompass field without the need of the use of rear speakers, and it pushes these models forward for Tv looking at. 

The Vizio V21 is a superior choice for customers who want a soundbar that does songs and films in equal evaluate the Polk is superior for songs enthusiasts who crave enjoyable, in depth sound and punchy bass. 

Structure and features 


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The Polk Signa S3 is a soundbar/wi-fi subwoofer combo that builds on the achievements of other Polk models like the Signa S1 and the Command Bar. On the surface area it appears to be like very similar to 2014’s Signa S1 — only with a nicer, wool-like grill — but the internals have gained a quantity of vital updates.

The Signa S3 includes Chromecast crafted in, which permits customers to stream songs around compatible applications like Amazon Music High definition, Spotify and Tidal. It lacks a crafted-in voice assistant, but you can manage songs making use of a separate Google Assistant speaker like the Nest Mini. 

Seem processing includes Polk’s Voice Adjust engineering, which permits customers to alter the degree of the dialogue, as very well as Motion picture, Music and Night time modes. The S3 lacks Dolby Atmos decoding identified on a lot more-high priced soundbars, but it does have Dolby Digital five.one by way of a solitary HDMI ARC connection. The soundbar also includes a digital optical enter and a 3.5mm auxiliary.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The major speaker is compact at 35-inches large and considerably less than two inches in height so it should not block your TV’s IR port. The bar alone comprises 4 motorists — two woofers and two tweeters — and the unit can be wall-mounted without the need of the use of a individual bracket. The ported, wi-fi subwoofer is relatively massive for a spending plan unit, and it is built of wood (MDF), rather than plastic like some rivals.

The S3 is a lot more person-helpful than the Vizio V21, and the remote has crystal clear markings for just about every of the features as very well as the inputs. No cycling by means of inputs or sound modes listed here — just push the a single you want.

How does it sound?


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

I analyzed the Polk Signa S3 against two other 2020 soundbars — the Vizio V21 and the JBL Bar two.one Deep Bass — and it pulled forward of the other two in a single vital regard: it was the most pleasurable with songs. When judged on its possess the Vizio seems wonderful, but in immediate comparisons to the Polk it arrived across a tiny chesty and boxed-in. The Polk burrowed additional into recordings, releasing critical aspects, producing it easier to forget about I was listening to a soundbar.

No matter if I was looking at a exhibit streaming from Netflix or listening to some Spotify, the Polk Signa S3 was organic sounding with a good stereo soundstage, as well as a forcefulness and experience of energy when required. There was no feeling that it was keeping again or distorting, and it delivered amazing scale for a relatively compact speaker.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

I commenced with Mitski’s heartbreaking Your Most effective American Woman, and on the Polk her general performance sounded the two forceful and brutal — but the speaker was also ready to surface area little aspects these types of as the tiny “hmph” at the begin of the song. The S3’s tuning tends towards the enjoyable close of the spectrum, having said that, so the distorted center eight was hardest to pay attention to among the a few ‘bars. In comparison, the Vizio in specific sounded a tiny veiled and lacked the Polk’s dynamics. 

The Polk also belted out big productions like Kamasi Washington’s version of the Fists of Fury theme. The Vizio sounded laid again but intensely divided. Turning off Digital:X on the Vizio minimized the carnival midway influence a tiny, but I even now required to go again and pay attention to the song on the Polk.

Whilst Digital:X can be a distraction during songs, it aids the Vizio with many movie soundtracks. All through the Thanator chase scene from Avatar (at 26:fifty three), the Polk managed to express the dialogue but the swirling insects and stomping creatures ended up a tiny blunted by comparison. Adjusting the Polk’s bass manage and sound manner failed to assist deliver again the slam of the Vizio or the JBL.

In the lobby scene from The Matrix, having said that, the tables ended up turned. The Vizio struggled with the pulsing bass rating, but the Polk’s much larger, a lot more muscular sub was superior ready to express just about every of the notes.

Must you purchase it?

The Polk Signa S3 is a solid soundbar worth primarily if you can get it for considerably less than its $250 listing price tag. It gives a excellent general performance with songs, a a lot more impressive sub and a host of new tech including HDMI ARC and Wi-Fi streaming. When it comes to films, it is not as punchy as the JBL Bar two.one or as evocative as the Vizio V21, having said that, so either of these may perhaps be superior alternatives if you happen to be not heading to pay attention to substantially songs on your soundbar.