Polk Audio has been a respected name in home audio for over 50 years. Founded in 1972 by three Johns Hopkins University students, Polk has built a reputation for high-quality loudspeakers at reasonable prices.
The company has successfully captured the soundbar market, and the Polk Signa S3 sits around the middle of the company’s soundbar lineup. This 2.1-channel soundbar targets buyers looking for an easy way to upgrade their TV’s audio for just under $300.
Key features of the Signa S3 include Polk Audio’s patented SDA surround technology for immersive audio, built-in Chromecast for music streaming, and a wireless subwoofer for deep bass. In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at the design, features, sound quality and value of the Polk Signa S3 soundbar.
- Great stereo sound
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Chromecast and Google Assistant Voice Commands
- Limited low end
- Limited to Dolby Digital
Design and Build
The Polk Signa S3 has an understated, minimalist look that should blend in nicely with most living room decors. The soundbar itself is a slim rectangular block measuring just 2.2 inches high, 35.4 inches wide, and 3.2 inches deep – an ideal size to fit in front of today’s thin LED/OLED TVs without blocking the screen. It has a black matte finish wrapped in a durable plastic shell.
Setup is straightforward, with keyhole slots on the rear for wall-mounting and rubber feet for placing on a media stand. All connections and controls are located on the back, keeping the front clear and inconspicuous. The wireless subwoofer is a 6.5” cube in black finish, and if being critical, looks a bit outdated by today’s standards.
While mostly plastic, the Signa S3 feels solidly put together. The soundbar’s wraparound grille snaps tightly into place and should withstand dust and damage. The buttons have a satisfying click, lending confidence in the construction. While not as premium-feeling as metal designs, the Signa S3’s build seems reliable for regular use.
Features and Specifications
The Polk Signa S3 utilizes a 2.1-channel system with two 1.6” tweeters and two 3.5” full-range drivers in the soundbar, paired with a 6.5” wireless subwoofer. The soundbar has a maximum power output of 80 watts, while the subwoofer provides deep bass at 100 watts.
For connectivity, the Signa S3 has HDMI ARC to easily connect with your TV audio. There are also optical and auxiliary inputs, along with built-in Chromecast for WiFi music streaming. The soundbar is Bluetooth-compatible for wireless music playback from your mobile devices.
The Signa S3 is limited to Dolby Digital when it comes to surround sound formats, meaning it misses out on the more immersive Dolby Atmos and DTS Virtual:X.
There are also three listening modes tailored for music, movies, and clear dialogue. The soundbar can be controlled via the included remote or buttons on the unit itself.
Setting up the Polk Signa S3 is quick and straightforward. The package includes the soundbar, wireless subwoofer, power cords, HDMI cable, optical cable, remote control, and instructions.
I simply connected the HDMI cable from the soundbar’s ARC port to my TV’s ARC HDMI input. I then paired the subwoofer by pressing the pairing button on each unit. The subwoofer connected instantly without issue.
For music streaming, I connected the Signa S3 to my WiFi network using the Google Home app and my smartphone. The whole set-up process took under 10 minutes without any hiccups.
The Signa S3 comes optimized out of the box for most rooms, but I tweaked the subwoofer level and listening modes slightly to better fit my living room’s size and acoustics. Overall, the initial set-up is smooth and painless for this soundbar.
Unique Features and Differentiators
The Polk Signa S3 has a few key features that help differentiate it from other soundbars in its class:
- Polk’s SDA Surround Technology: Polk’s patented surround technology uses psychoacoustic processing to create an immersive surround sound experience from the 3-speaker setup. This helps provide a wider and more enveloping soundstage.
- Wireless Subwoofer: The included wireless sub connects separately from the soundbar for flexible placement. It provides deep, room-filling bass without any unsightly wires.
- VoiceAdjust Technology: Polk’s VoiceAdjust boosts vocal clarity for better dialogue intelligibility when watching TV and movies. This is useful in counteracting muddled speech sometimes heard with soundbars.
- Chromecast Built-In: The Signa S3 has Chromecast streaming integration for playing music from hundreds of apps via WiFi. This is rare for affordable soundbars.
- Designed for Smaller Rooms: From its compact size to tuning, the Signa S3 is designed to fill smaller rooms with immersive, powerful audio. This makes it ideal for apartments and secondary rooms.
Use Cases and Versatility
The Polk Signa S3 is ideal for smaller to medium-sized rooms where a full surround sound system may be overkill or obtrusive. Its compact size makes it a great option for apartments, bedrooms, offices, and secondary rooms. Despite its diminutive package, the Signa S3 can fill these smaller spaces with immersive audio thanks to its surround technology and wireless subwoofer.
For media versatility, the Signa S3 handled everything I threw at it. TV shows and movies benefited from clear, well-balanced sound with the subwoofer adding a welcome low-end punch. The dedicated movie mode helped amplify action sequences without overdoing it. Music from streaming services sounded full and lively in the music mode. The Signa S3 managed to add rich spaciousness to audio tracks from TV, games, and more.
The Signa S3 would suit a range of buyers looking for an easy audio improvement for their TV. First-time soundbar buyers will appreciate its straightforward setup and performance. Streamers will enjoy built-in Chromecast support. Media enthusiasts will like the surround sound processing. Overall, it packs versatile functionality into a compact and affordable package.
Price and Value for Money
The Polk Signa S3 has an MSRP of $249, which lands it somewhere between the budget and midrange part of the soundbar spectrum.
Comparable soundbars from other competing brands like Vizio and Yamaha are available at a similar price, putting the S3 in a somewhat difficult spot, especially since it lacks 3D surround formats that are present elsewhere.
Overall, it doesn’t represent the best value for money for its price, but it’s not far behind.
The Signa S3 soundbar from Polk Audio offers a satisfactory experience for those not seeking high-end features. While it provides a noticeable upgrade from standard TV speakers with its clear sound and wireless subwoofer, it doesn’t quite compete with newer systems, which have surpassed the S3 in terms of features.
Its performance is decent, but it lacks the depth and richness of more expensive soundbars. The limited range of inputs and basic functionality might disappoint users looking for a more immersive audio experience.