Wireless Speaker Television – The first speakers to use the new Roku Connect platform are also Roku’s first forays into the speaker market
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Wireless Speaker Television
Roku has long been known for its Roku set-top boxes and TVs, but now, the entertainment company is introducing Roku TV Wireless Speakers. They are the first pair of Roku wireless speakers that will use the Roku Connect platform announced at CES to connect to your Roku-powered smart TV via Wi-Fi.
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The Roku TV Wireless Speakers aim not necessarily to compete with high-end home theater sets but with the built-in speakers on your smart TV that become the default for most users. If you’re the type of person who pays attention to your sound system, the Roku TV Wireless Speakers probably aren’t for you. They are best suited for the type of person who wants their movies and music to sound great without having to change their entire living room. This is the simplest and easiest way to enter the wide (and often jargon-filled and confusing) world of audio equipment.
I was able to listen to a pre-production demo of the Wireless Speakers compared to the built-in speakers on the TCL Roku TV, and they deliver what Roku promises here. The paired speakers produced a fuller and richer stereo sound than the TV speakers. Music had better range, especially in the low end, and film clips had a deeper sound than without the extra sound provided by the speakers. Obviously, we’ll have to wait for the speakers to come out to see how they sound compared to their competition, but Roku seems to be succeeding in its goal of beating the default.
Along with providing a simple entertainment experience, the Roku Wireless TV Speakers are very easy to use. Plug in two speakers, press the “Connect” button on the back, and the speakers will connect wirelessly via Wi-Fi to your Roku TV device. There’s also a Bluetooth option, if you want to use them for playing music from your computer or phone instead.
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And while wireless audio can create latency concerns, Roku claims it solves that issue by running its operating system on the TV and speakers, allowing the two devices to communicate and keep audio and video in sync every time. For situations where latency is more important, such as playing games, the system can automatically switch to using the built-in TV speakers. The speakers are part of Roku’s $3.15 million acquisition of Danish audio startup Dynastrom last year, and they leverage the company’s experience in wireless audio.
Adding to the experience is the Roku TV Voice remote and the square Roku Touch remote. Although the speakers don’t include onboard microphones, the idea is that you’d use the volume controls (which only offer push-to-talk functionality and don’t always listen to you in the background such as Amazon’s Alexa devices) for voice controls . The new Touch remote takes it a step further, with a number of pre-programmable buttons that you can set to store commands or a custom playlist.
Roku TV wireless speakers are not smart speakers in the traditional sense; there’s no digital assistant like Siri or Alexa, no option to control other devices in your smart home, and no support for things like trivia or weather updates. And while Roku is still working on its Roku Entertainment Assistant (which will work with Roku TV devices and, by extension, new speakers), it will still be an entertainment-focused voice assistant, not an Alexa replacement .
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The Roku TV wireless speakers are just the beginning of Roku’s audio ambitions, and while the company didn’t have any details to share, it’s easy to imagine future products that will improve on Roku Connect at different price points and create reasons that allowing Roku TV owners to create more of their audio setup in the living room. If you can add a pair of speakers, why not a subwoofer? Or a microphone? Or a full 7.1 surround sound system?
The Wireless Speakers will be available exclusively from Roku.com in October, but the company is doing things a little differently with pre-order. In October, the two integrated speakers along with a Voice and Touch remote control will cost $199.99. But customers can pre-order today for an introductory price, a first week of $149.99, and a second, longer pre-order option between July 24 and October 15, which will cost $179.99. Connecting an extra speaker or two to your TV is a great way to create your own mini home theater experience.
If you’ve been hesitant to introduce a new speaker to your home for fear of adding to the dreaded snake pit of twisted cords behind your entertainment center, a Bluetooth speaker can help amplify your sound without adding to the clutter.
Wireless Speaker And Audio Realized
There are nuances depending on the speaker and the specific device you choose to connect, but we’re here to walk you through the basics. Here’s a step-by-step guide to connecting a Bluetooth speaker to your TV.
First things first: Make sure your Bluetooth speaker is turned on and in pairing mode. You can consult the device manual to confirm how to turn on your speaker and enable pairing mode.
On your TV, go to Network Settings and select Bluetooth. Then find your speaker in the list of discoverable devices. If you’re lucky, this simple connection method worked. If not, your TV may not offer Bluetooth as a built-in network or may have a low-level Bluetooth signal that does not allow an audio connection.
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Unfortunately, your TV may not offer built-in Bluetooth connectivity. Most VIZIO models, for example, only have Bluetooth LE, which is a very low frequency and does not support connecting speakers. If this is the case, you can add Bluetooth using a Bluetooth transmitter, which connects via a 3.5 mm jack, optics or USB.
You press the button on the Bluetooth transmitter to put it in pairing mode, then press the corresponding button on your speaker to pair it with the transmitter. Once the microphone is added and activated, you can connect and increase the volume. (Pro tip: Look carefully when buying Sound Bars, because some of them have Bluetooth technology but are specifically designed to be used through special third-party apps, like Roku TVs or Alexa.)
Another way to connect a Bluetooth speaker to your TV is to connect it directly to a wired connection using the 3.5 mm port.
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Yes, and no. If your existing wireless speaker has Bluetooth capability, you can still pair it with other devices in your home via that Bluetooth connection. The wired speaker then becomes a base station of sorts that your other devices can connect to wirelessly.
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Roku does the obvious: it creates a surround sound system that brings together the company’s Smart Sound Bar, subwoofer, and Roku TV Wireless speakers for the best sound experience. A software update, expected in February, will allow owners of Roku-branded sound bars to add wireless speakers — previously only available with Roku TVs — and a subwoofer to the mix. Roku uses Dolby audio (Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus), which is used across Disney+, the Apple TV app, Netflix, and other streaming apps.
All audio components are connected wirelessly, which is convenient compared to traditional surround systems. Another is that audio settings (volume, volume balance) are handled through Roku’s on-screen menu. Setting up the Roku surround sound system takes just a few minutes: you hold the home button on the remote for a few seconds and then a menu appears to pair everything together. There’s a sound check to make sure the rear left and right speakers are correctly assigned, and then you’re done.
But there’s a strange snag in all of this: the whole proposition doesn’t make much sense for Roku TV owners. See, the Smart Soundbar has Roku software built in and doubles as a streaming device in its own right. But if your 4K TV is already running Roku OS, you’ll be dealing with a lot of redundancies. Roku tries to explain some of that on this page. But it seems impossible to me. You will be dealing with two Roku remotes and two Roku interfaces. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to pair two sets of Roku TV speakers to create a surround setup: a soundbar is essential.
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This solution is clearly designed for many people who own TVs from other brands such as Samsung, Vizio, LG, Sony, and others. Roku thinks it can simplify home theater in a
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