This Soundbar-Slash-Streaming-Device Is a No-Brainer for Anyone With a TV

·4-min read
Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare
Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare


"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below."

Shop $180, amazon.com

Welcome to The Esquire Endorsement. Heavily researched. Thoroughly vetted. These picks are the best way to spend your hard-earned cash.

Back in the dog days of the pandemic, I became obsessed with home theater equipment. Deeply missing multiplexes, I was dead set on bringing the cinema experience into my bedroom. And while a good chunk of my research (or, more accurately, obsessive ruminating) was devoted to finding the right projector on a budget, I realized pretty quickly that what really makes The Movies such a special place to go is not so much the sights, but the sound.

I’d never been too interested in soundbars, subwoofers, surround-sound speakers, what have you. All of those pricey peripherals seemed geared toward those who live in excess: people with actual screening rooms in their houses; the kid from my childhood whose dad won a gigantic widescreen on a radio call-in show. And then there was the clusterfuck of setup. Speaker wires, audio outputs, wall mounts—all of it always seemed like too much of a hassle for me.

But then I discovered the Roku Streambar Pro, which somehow simplified the entire home theater process into one box. Well, three boxes, if you count the optional subwoofer and add-on speakers.

Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare
Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare

It has a Roku built into it.

Now that I’ve got my Streambar Pro all set up, it just feels like a no-brainer. But the idea of a media player living inside a sound system is still a pretty novel thing, I guess. The biggest plus about this soundbar, even more than the quality of the sound, really, is the fact that you can change your dumb old TV, or even your fancy new smart TV, into something even smarter. When you hook up the Streambar Pro, you use the thing just as you would a Roku stick. If you’re already in the Roku ecosystem, you can just log into your account, so you don’t have to worry about finding your ex-roommate’s mom’s Hulu password. You’re back in right away. And, since all the TV audio is coming through the Streambar now, everything sounds a whole lot better.

Shop $180, amazon.com

Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare
Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare

That great audio quality gets even better as you add onto it.

You could be totally fine with just the Streambar Pro, especially if you live in a little apartment and don’t want your neighbors complaining. But if you’re a movie nerd like me, getting that beefy, low-end bass and those surround sound whooshs is always more important than the wellbeing of your annoying neighbors. Treat yourself. The Streambar Pro can be outfitted with a Roku Wireless Subwoofer and a set of Roku Wireless Speakers (which, as of this week, if you purchase four of them, will output full-on 5.1 surround sound). Everything pairs completely wirelessly. No multicolored wires. No snaking cords through walls. It just works. Great for the impatient crowd, like me.

Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare
Photo credit: Timothy Mulcare

Voice controls and headphones make life easier.

Those of us who are already familiar with Roku’s interface know that its latest remote comes loaded with handy features. Voice control, which you never think you’re going to use until you’ve worked another 10-hour day and the idea of typing the title “What We Do in the Shadows HULU” into the search bar seems impossible, is actually very, very convenient. The voice controls are smarter now, too, as Roku just announced this week that you can ask Netflix, Spotify, and other apps to play content straight from the remote. Another huge perk of the Roku remote is its headphone port. Listen to everything on your TV quietly, in the privacy of your own ear holes. That, I’m sure, will make your neighbors very pleased.

The Streambar Pro goes for $180 alone. If you want to add the subwoofer and 5.1-surround-sound speaker set, the whole shebang comes out to $655. I opted for the sub and just two speakers instead of four, which totals $505. Now my apartment shakes when the Millenium Falcon takes off. For just over $500, that’s a steal, baby.

Shop $180, amazon.com

Photography by Timothy Mulcare. Prop styling Miako Katoh.

For recommendations on the latest gear that's worth your attention, join Esquire Select.

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting