The Polk Audio Signa S3 is a 2.1 channel soundbar with a dedicated subwoofer. Released in 2021, this upgraded version of the Polk Audio Signa S2 comes with even more input/output options like WiFi connectivity and built-in Chromecast support.
This enables one to stream music over apps like Amazon Music HD, Spotify and Tidal. It, however, lacks a built-in voice assistant. At this price point though, we shouldn’t expect all the bells and whistles common with more high-end soundbars on the market today.
In this review, we will explore and find out if this soundbar is worth the $244.90 price tag or if one should look elsewhere to spend their hard-earned cash.
List of Specifications
|Product Dimensions||35.43″ (89.99 cm) x 2.15″ (5.46 cm) x 3.22″ (8.18 cm) (Soundbar)
6.72″ (17.07 cm) x 13.4″ (34.04 cm) x 12.2″ (30.99 cm) (Subwoofer)
|Weight||11.46 lbs (5.2kg) (Subwoofer)
3.96 lbs (1.8kg) (Soundbar)
|Wireless Audio Protocol||WiFi
Built-in Chromecast (Google Assistant support)
|Physical Connections||Optical Audio In
USB for files
|Special Features||HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)|
- Built-in Chromecast support
- Multiple input options
- Gets loud
- Good bass response
- Voice can be adjusted separately
- Multiple voice modes
- No Dolby Atmos support
- No surround activity
- Lacks front display
- Lacks auto volume mode
- Lacks adjustable EQ
- The bass overshadows the highs and mids
What’s in the Box?
- Remote control
- Optical cable
- HDMI cable
- Two power cords and soundbar power supply
- Quick Start Guide
- Registration card
Design and build
The Polk Audio Signa S3 has a simple design similar to its predecessor, the Polk Audio Signa S2. It is quite difficult to tell them apart.
This 2.1 channel soundbar uses a combination of oval drivers and tweeters to fit in the low-profile enclosure without sacrificing its front sound output.
Sizewise, the S3 features exactly the same dimensions as the S2. 35.43″ (89.99 cm) x 2.15″ (5.46 cm) x 3.22″ (8.18 cm) and with a weight of 3.96 lbs (1.8kg), handling this soundbar isn’t difficult at all.
While it isn’t the most compact soundbar, in general, it sits comfortably under most TV sizes.
The entire front and a good portion of the top side are covered by a fabric grille. The rest of the top, the back, and sides are covered with plastic. The matte plastic surface keeps the device from having fingerprints showing all over which is a problem common with glossy surfaces.
The top of the soundbar has physical control buttons while the back contains three input jacks -The aux input, Optical connection, and the HDMI Arc.
The subwoofer measures 6.72″ (17.07 cm) x 13.4″ (34.04 cm) x 12.2″ (30.99 cm) and weighs in at 11.46 lbs (5.2kg). It can easily fit anywhere in your living room regardless of room size.
It is made of MDF material and covered by a fabric grille. On the front, the grille hides the front-facing bass driver. A small piece of glossy plastic surrounds the bass port at the front giving a slight bit of contrast to accentuate the style.
The subwoofer is pre-connected from the factory hence you need not do anything to connect it to the soundbar. As such, the back of the unit only accommodates a single pair button in case the connection is lost and the power connector.
On the front of the soundbar is an array of LED indicators that light up in various combinations depending on what the soundbar is doing.
This is a bit of a letdown because save for remembering what each combination means, you will have to check the manual each time to know what is going on with the device.
Placed atop the soundbar are five physical control buttons. These are for powering the unit, input selection, Bluetooth functionality, and adjusting volume.
A remote control is also provided, which will be the main control method for this device. It is small, making it easy to hold and press buttons with one hand. However, it feels a bit cheap, which brings up questions about its durability.
Nonetheless, the remote control has all the control features you’d expect from a soundbar at this price point.
It even has a voice adjust feature – the three buttons that the bottom will allow you to adjust how much voice you’d like in your audio. This is especially good for movies that have the music much louder than the voices. The other buttons adjust volume, bass, sound modes, inputs, mute, and turn the device on or off.
HDMI-CEC functionality is also present. If your TV is connected via HDMI and your TV supports CEC (remember to enable it in your TV settings), you can control the volume and mute functions on Signa S3 from your TV remote.
The presence of a WiFi module in this soundbar also affords you the option of Google Assistant support if you want to control it via voice commands. The lack of a microphone array, however, means that you’ll need an external Google Assistant device to control it.
WiFi support will also allow you to control the device via your mobile phone. It doesn’t have a dedicated mobile app but since it supports Chromecast, you can use the Chromecast app to control some basic functions.
Just like its predecessor, the Polk Audio Signa S3 maintains the use of a 3.5mm AUX input, an HDMI port with ARC functionality, and a Digital Optical input as physical connectivity options.
With the addition of WiFi and Bluetooth from the wireless side of things, the options might still seem lacking by today’s standard, but we mustn’t forget that this is a sub $300 piece of kit.
There is a USB port that is located on the bottom side but this seems to be used only for service as the soundbar doesn’t have any kind of USB streaming capabilities.
We think the connectivity options are plenty for this price point and are definitely a major selling point.
The Polk Audio Signa S3 has a 2.1 channel configuration. This means it lacks a center channel that comes in handy when watching movies to push the voice aspects of the movie’s audio through for clarity. This issue is mitigated via the voice adjust feature. It allows you to increase the voice volume over the music and sound effects in the movie.
For the two main channels, two 1.25″ x 4.4″ (32 x 112mm) full-range drivers are accompanied by a single 1″ (25mm) tweeter for each channel that handles most of the upper frequencies. The subwoofer handles all the bass frequencies. It contains a front-firing 5.25″ (165mm) bass driver.
The compact build of this subwoofer means it won’t have a wide soundstage. You can, however, still hear sounds accurately when they are coming from different directions.
With a lower frequency limit of 45 Hz, this soundbar doesn’t get low enough to produce rumbling sounds that improve immersion.
The Polk Audio Signa S3 sounds good for the money and has a fair amount of connectivity options. But what else is out there? What does the competition have to offer?
VIZIO V-Series 2.1
The Vizio V-Series 2.1 soundbar is close to the Polk Audio Signa S3 in many sound aspects except when listening to music. It sounds boxed-in and chesty, problems that the S3 doesn’t have. The only advantage the Vizio has is the price.
Polk Audio Signa S2
This best-selling predecessor to the S3 is still available for about $100 less and has many similarities. The design, the size, and the sound are quite similar with both but the Polk Audio Signa S2 doesn’t come with the WiFi and Chromecast support that you get in the S3.
The simplicity of the Polk Audio Signa S3 makes it an excellent budget-friendly choice. It is easy to install with just two parts that automatically connect to each other., It sounds good both for movies and for music.
The ability to adjust the voice in movies makes up for the absence of a center channel and works really well.