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

Matthew N. Henry

Soundbars usually are not just for watching Tv set and videos. They can do new music way too, and products like the Polk Signa S3 prove that musical audio from a bar doesn’t have to charge a fortune. The Signa’s superlative audio functionality is anchored by a strong subwoofer that will help bolster the bottom end of both equally difficult soundtracks and bass-major new music. 


  • Exciting new music playback
  • Powerful subwoofer
  • Function-packed, which includes Chromecast streaming

Really don’t Like

  • Not as powerful with videos
  • A little overbearing with imperfect recordings
  • Bland visual appearance

The Polk provides need to-have capabilities way too, which includes Wi-Fi and Chromecast streaming that go lacking from more cost-effective products like the Vizio V21. The Signa lacks the DTS Virtual:X processing of rivals Vizio and Yamaha, nevertheless. Virtual:X will help generate a convincing surround discipline without the need of the use of rear speakers, and it pushes individuals models forward for Tv set watching. 

The Vizio V21 is a superior selection for consumers who want a soundbar that does new music and videos in equivalent measure the Polk is superior for new music enthusiasts who crave remarkable, detailed audio and punchy bass. 

Layout and features 


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The Polk Signa S3 is a soundbar/wi-fi subwoofer combo that builds on the achievement of other Polk products like the Signa S1 and the Command Bar. On the surface area it looks related to 2014’s Signa S1 — only with a nicer, wool-like grill — but the internals have gained a quantity of essential upgrades.

The Signa S3 includes Chromecast crafted in, which allows consumers to stream new music in excess of compatible applications like Amazon Tunes Hd, Spotify and Tidal. It lacks a crafted-in voice assistant, but you can command new music using a separate Google Assistant speaker like the Nest Mini. 

Seem processing includes Polk’s Voice Adjust technology, which allows consumers to alter the degree of the dialogue, as effectively as Movie, Tunes and Night modes. The S3 lacks Dolby Atmos decoding discovered on a lot more-highly-priced soundbars, but it does have Dolby Electronic 5.1 through a one HDMI ARC link. The soundbar also includes a digital optical enter and a three.5mm auxiliary.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The key speaker is compact at 35-inches large and significantly less than two inches in height so it shouldn’t block your TV’s IR port. The bar itself includes four 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 reasonably big for a spending budget unit, and it can be manufactured of wooden (MDF), somewhat than plastic like some competitors.

The S3 is a lot more person-helpful than the Vizio V21, and the distant has obvious markings for each of the features as effectively as the inputs. No cycling through inputs or audio modes below — just press the 1 you want.

How does it audio?


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

I examined the Polk Signa S3 from two other 2020 soundbars — the Vizio V21 and the JBL Bar two.1 Deep Bass — and it pulled forward of the other two in 1 essential respect: it was the most fun with new music. When judged on its very own the Vizio sounds wonderful, but in immediate comparisons to the Polk it arrived across a tiny chesty and boxed-in. The Polk burrowed further into recordings, releasing key aspects, creating it a lot easier to forget about I was listening to a soundbar.

Regardless of whether I was watching a demonstrate streaming from Netflix or listening to some Spotify, the Polk Signa S3 was organic sounding with a good stereo soundstage, additionally a forcefulness and emotion of electricity when needed. There was no feeling that it was keeping again or distorting, and it sent spectacular scale for a reasonably compact speaker.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

I begun with Mitski’s heartbreaking Your Ideal American Woman, and on the Polk her functionality sounded both equally forceful and brutal — but the speaker was also equipped to surface area tiny aspects this sort of as the tiny “hmph” at the begin of the song. The S3’s tuning tends towards the remarkable end of the spectrum, nevertheless, so the distorted center eight was hardest to listen to among the 3 ‘bars. In comparison, the Vizio in distinct sounded a tiny veiled and lacked the Polk’s dynamics. 

The Polk also belted out massive productions like Kamasi Washington’s variation of the Fists of Fury concept. The Vizio sounded laid again but greatly separated. Turning off Virtual:X on the Vizio lowered the carnival halfway impact a tiny, but I continue to desired to go again and listen to the song on the Polk.

Whilst Virtual:X can be a distraction during new music, it will help the Vizio with several movie soundtracks. During the Thanator chase scene from Avatar (at 26:53), the Polk managed to express the dialogue but the swirling insects and stomping creatures had been a tiny blunted by comparison. Modifying the Polk’s bass command and audio mode did not assistance carry again the slam of the Vizio or the JBL.

In the lobby scene from The Matrix, nevertheless, the tables had been turned. The Vizio struggled with the pulsing bass rating, but the Polk’s greater, a lot more muscular sub was superior equipped to express each of the notes.

Really should you get it?

The Polk Signa S3 is a robust soundbar worth especially if you can get it for significantly less than its $250 checklist cost. It provides a remarkable functionality with new music, a a lot more strong sub and a host of new tech which includes HDMI ARC and Wi-Fi streaming. When it arrives to videos, it can be not as punchy as the JBL Bar two.1 or as evocative as the Vizio V21, nevertheless, so possibly of these may be superior possibilities if you happen to be not heading to listen to a great deal new music on your soundbar.

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