The Polk Audio Signa S3 comes to us from a manufacturer that specializes in audio and delivers better quality audio than soundbars from some of the bigger manufacturers out there. We love its VoiceAjust feature that lets you toggle between 3 levels of dialogue enhancement, its Chromecast support that allows it to connect with other Google speakers, and its performance as a standalone Bluetooth speaker.The S3 is available at a pretty nice price, but in our testing, we've encountered models that produce better sounds for just a little bit more and far superior soundbars if your budget isn't limiting. In short, this is a good product that will greatly improve your home theater experience, but our testing and research suggest that there are better options available.
Polk Audio Signa S3 Review
Pros: Three levels of voice enhancement, versatile physical inputs, subwoofer included
Cons: Instructions are confusing and don't include wifi setup, subwoofer is quite large, sub-par sound quality
Manufacturer: Polk Audio
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|Pros||Three levels of voice enhancement, versatile physical inputs, subwoofer included||Great sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwoofer||Easy setup, great price tag, subwoofer included||Compact footprint, simple setup, versatile physical inputs||Low price, includes subwoofer|
|Cons||Instructions are confusing and don't include wifi setup, subwoofer is quite large, sub-par sound quality||No wifi connection, no EQ controls||Not the best overall sound quality||No smart features, minimal EQ customization||No HDMI connection, weak low end|
|Bottom Line||This is a two-piece system that may take up more space than it's worth||This is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we tested||This soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good value||This soundbar sounds great for its size, but can't hold a candle to higher-end models||This model is affordable and fairly easy to set up, though there are similarly priced options that deliver much better sound quality and advanced connectivity|
|Rating Categories||Polk Audio Signa S3||Sony HT-S350||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker||Samsung HW-A450/ZA...|
|Sound Quality (45%)|
|Ease of Use (35%)|
|Specs||Polk Audio Signa S3||Sony HT-S350||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker||Samsung HW-A450/ZA...|
|Dimensions||Bar: 2.15" x 35.43" x 3.22"
Sub: 13.4" x 6.72" x 12.2"
|Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13"
|Bar: 2.28" x 36.00" x 3.20"
Sub: 9.9" x 8.25" x 8.25"
|Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13""
|Bar: 2.1" x 33.9" x 2.9"
Sub: 13.5" x 7.1" x 10.7"
|External Subwoofer||Yes||Yes||Yes||No (optional)||Yes|
|Inputs (wired)||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX, USB||Digitcal audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC)||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX VA, 3.5mm AUX, USB||Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX||Digital audio in (optical), USB|
|Supported Audio File Formats||Dolby||Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch||DTS||Dolby||Dolby 2ch, DTS 2ch|
|Voice Assistants||Google Assistant||n/a||None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device||n/a||n/a|
|Syncs with:||Chromecast and/or Google Home enabled devices||None||None||Bose Simplesync enabled speakers||Samsung Wireless Surround Rear Speakers|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Though not at the top of its class, the Polk Audio Signa S3 is a decent soundbar that (in our opinion) offers a solid performance over similar soundbars from electronic manufacturing behemoths like Samsung and Yamaha. This model includes WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities, a wireless subwoofer, and a slew of connection options. The S3 is a little more expensive than the entry-level soundbars, but we feel the extra dough is justified considering the quality and features set. That being said, we've tested a few soundbars that score better and have a friendlier price.
Right out of the gate, the Signa S3 distinguishes itself with decent sound quality, particularly when considering a home theater context. Dialogue is a strong point here, as we can discern the spoken word clearly, even over action scenes with rumbly bass and chaotic sounds. This is in part due to the S3's 3 levels of dialogue, allowing the listener to not only accentuate dialogue but also select from three settings of dialogue enhancement.
Even with the wireless subwoofer, this model isn't very immersive, and it doesn't support Dolby Atmos or DTS Virtual:X. That being said, we aren't impressed with the immersiveness qualities of the soundbars in the S3's price range, even the models that do support surround sound formats. Keeping it simple with 2 channels and a subwoofer works well for the S3, and we're happy to report that this model provides a fair amount of depth considering the fact that all the sound output is coming from one direction.
When listening to music, we found the highs and mids to be pleasantly clear, though the lows lack definition, despite the included subwoofer. Our testers agree that the S3 is more tailored to dramatic cinema sound effects than bass-heavy music listening.
Ease of Use
This soundbar supports Google's Chromecast. Plus, it has Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. Once everything is set up and connected, it's easy to use and its IR remote is compatible with TVs from LG, TLC, Sony, and Vizio.
This is not a plug-and-play device, and we had to venture outside the included manual to learn how to connect it to WiFi and work out a few kinks. After some googling, with discovered that the Google Home app is required to connect the S3 to our WiFi network, and while the process is simple enough, we're not psyched on yet another app requirement.
The built-in Chromecast allows you to stream music from a host of services, including Google Play, Spotify, and Amazon, or you can connect your phone via Bluetooth and use whatever music app you like if the S3 is your only speaker.
Those with sonically sensitive ears who like to perfectly attenuate their speakers to their living room will find this model quite limiting, as its EQ settings only allow you to adjust the bass. The mere mortals among us will appreciate the 3 VoiceAdjust modes, along with the Music and Cinema modes. Especially useful is the Night mode, which lowers the dynamics and accentuates the dialogue so you can relax and enjoy your shows without waking up the kiddos.
We observed a maximum volume of 88 decibels (around the same as a lawnmower). While it's not the most powerful in the lineup, it still cranks out enough for a small party, and plenty to get the neighbors riled up if so desired.
Like many other soundbars, the Signa S3 employs a cloth mesh to house the tweeters and drivers. This strategy makes the unit difficult to clean and the cloth is far from rip-proof, so you'll need to take care if you have children or pets zooming around your home. There is a wall mounting option to help with that, though the subwoofer (13.4" x 6.72" x 12.2") will still need to live on the floor.
Though the S3 performs better than more than a few of its competitors, it doesn't quite hit the price/performance sweet spot like the budget-friendly soundbars we recommend ahead of this one. Still, its connectivity and audio quality are above average, and you'll likely be wowed when comparing this soundbar to the dinky speakers built into most TVs.
In our barrage of tests, the Polk Audio Signa S3 certainly holds its own but is far from the top of the line when it comes to sound quality. Its features set and connectivity are its main appeal and shouldn't be overlooked, but if you have the budget, there are several more appealing soundbars on the market.
— Michelle Powell and Matt Bento
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