Soundbars aren’t only for watching TV and films. They will do music too, and fashions just like the Polk Signa S3 that show that musical sound from a bar does not should break the bank. The Signa’s superlative audio efficiency is anchored by a potent subwoofer that helps bolster the underside finish of each difficult soundtracks and bass-heavy music.
Thrilling music playbackPowerful subwooferFeature-packed, together with Chromecast streaming
Do not Like
Not as efficient with moviesSlightly overbearing with imperfect recordingsBland look
The Polk provides must-have options too, together with Wi-Fi and Chromecast streaming that go lacking from cheaper fashions just like the Vizio V21. The Signa lacks the DTS Digital:X processing of rivals Vizio and Yamaha, nevertheless. Digital:X helps create a convincing encompass discipline with out the usage of rear audio system, and it pushes these manufacturers forward for TV watching.
The Vizio V21 is a better option for customers who desire a soundbar that does music and films in equal measure; the Polk is healthier for music lovers who crave thrilling, detailed sound and punchy bass.
Design and options
The Polk Signa S3 is a soundbar/wi-fi subwoofer combo that builds on the success of different Polk fashions just like the Signa S1 and the Command Bar. On the floor it seems just like 2014’s Signa S1 — solely with a nicer, wool-like grill — however the internals have acquired quite a lot of essential upgrades.
The Signa S3 consists of Chromecast in-built, which allows customers to stream music over appropriate apps like Amazon Music HD, Spotify and Tidal. It lacks a built-in voice assistant, however you may management music utilizing a separate Google Assistant speaker just like the Nest Mini.
Sound processing consists of Polk’s Voice Alter know-how, which allows customers to regulate the extent of the dialogue, in addition to Film, Music and Evening modes. The S3 lacks Dolby Atmos decoding discovered on more-expensive soundbars, nevertheless it does have Dolby Digital 5.1 through a single HDMI ARC connection. The soundbar additionally features a digital optical enter and a 3.5mm auxiliary.
The primary speaker is compact at 35-inches extensive and fewer than 2 inches in top so it should not block your TV’s IR port. The bar itself contains 4 drivers — two woofers and two tweeters — and the unit may be wall-mounted with out the usage of a separate bracket. The ported, wi-fi subwoofer is comparatively giant for a finances unit, and it is manufactured from wooden (MDF), quite than plastic like some rivals.
The S3 is extra user-friendly than the Vizio V21, and the distant has clear markings for every of the features in addition to the inputs. No biking by inputs or sound modes right here — simply press the one you need.
How does it sound?
I examined the Polk Signa S3 towards two different 2020 soundbars — the Vizio V21 and the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass — and it pulled forward of the opposite two in a single essential respect: it was essentially the most enjoyable with music. When judged by itself the Vizio sounds nice, however in direct comparisons to the Polk it got here throughout somewhat chesty and boxed-in. The Polk burrowed additional into recordings, releasing key particulars, making it simpler to overlook I used to be listening to a soundbar.
Whether or not I used to be watching a present streaming from Netflix or listening to some Spotify, the Polk Signa S3 was pure sounding with a good stereo soundstage, plus a forcefulness and feeling of energy when wanted. There was no sense that it was holding again or distorting, and it delivered spectacular scale for a comparatively compact speaker.
I began with Mitski’s heartbreaking Your Finest American Woman, and on the Polk her efficiency sounded each forceful and brutal — however the speaker was additionally in a position to floor tiny particulars such because the little “hmph” at first of the track. The S3’s tuning tends towards the thrilling finish of the spectrum, nevertheless, so the distorted center eight was hardest to take heed to among the many three ‘bars. As compared, the Vizio specifically sounded somewhat veiled and lacked the Polk’s dynamics.
The Polk additionally belted out large productions like Kamasi Washington’s model of the Fists of Fury theme. The Vizio sounded laid again however closely separated. Turning off Digital:X on the Vizio diminished the carnival halfway impact somewhat, however I nonetheless wished to return and take heed to the track on the Polk.
Whereas Digital:X could be a distraction throughout music, it helps the Vizio with many film soundtracks. Through the Thanator chase scene from Avatar (at 26:53), the Polk managed to convey the dialogue however the swirling bugs and stomping creatures have been somewhat blunted by comparability. Adjusting the Polk’s bass management and sound mode did not assist deliver again the slam of the Vizio or the JBL.
Within the foyer scene from The Matrix, nevertheless, the tables have been turned. The Vizio struggled with the pulsing bass rating, however the Polk’s bigger, extra muscular sub was higher in a position to convey every of the notes.
Must you purchase it?
The Polk Signa S3 is a robust soundbar worth particularly if you will get it for lower than its $250 checklist worth. The Signa S3 gives a stable efficiency with music, due to the bigger sub and a number of latest tech together with HDMI ARC and Wi-Fi streaming. On the subject of films, it is not as punchy because the JBL Bar 2.1 or as evocative because the Vizio V21, nevertheless, so both of those could also be higher selections when you’re not going to take heed to a lot music in your soundbar.