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Polk Audio Signa S3 Review

This is a two-piece system that may take up more space than it's worth
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Polk Audio Signa S3 Review
Credit: Polk Audio
Price:  $299 List
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Manufacturer:   Polk Audio
By Michelle Powell and Matt Bento  ⋅  Nov 11, 2021
58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 10
  • Sound Quality - 45% 5.2
  • Ease of Use - 35% 6.1
  • Volume - 15% 7.0
  • Style/Design - 5% 4.7

Our Verdict

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.
REASONS TO BUY
Three levels of voice enhancement
Versatile physical inputs
Subwoofer included
REASONS TO AVOID
Instructions are confusing and don't include wifi setup
Subwoofer is quite large
Sub-par sound quality
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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
polk audio signa s3
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Price $299 List
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$280 List$190 List
$148.99 at Amazon
$279 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Bottom Line This soundbar offers above-average connectivity and a useful features set, but doesn't sound as nice as our favoritesThis soundbar creates a wide and immersive soundstage while producing a sublimely well-balanced mixWhile this model doesn't have a lot of features, it sounds excellent at an excellent priceThis is hands down the best choice for folks on tight budgetAn easy to use and compact bar with below-average sound quality
Rating Categories Polk Audio Signa S3 Bose Smart Soundbar... Sony HT-S350 Vizio V-Series 2.1... Bose TV Speaker
Sound Quality (45%)
5.2
8.5
7.1
5.6
5.6
Ease of Use (35%)
6.1
7.5
5.8
6.9
5.9
Volume (15%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Style/Design (5%)
4.7
7.0
6.8
5.4
9.0
Specs Polk Audio Signa S3 Bose Smart Soundbar... Sony HT-S350 Vizio V-Series 2.1... Bose TV Speaker
Dimensions Bar: 2.15" x 35.43" x 3.22"
Sub: 13.4" x 6.72" x 12.2"
2.25" x 38.5" x 4.25" 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""
External Subwoofer Yes No (optional) Yes Yes No (optional)
Inputs (wired) Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX, USB Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), Ethernet, 3.5mm AUX IR, 3.5mm AUX Data, 3.5mm AUX Bass, 3.5mm AUX ADAPTIQ tuning 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
Supported Audio File Formats Dolby Dolby Digital, DTS Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch DTS Dolby
WiFi-enabled Yes Yes No No No
Bluetooth Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Voice Assistants Google Assistant Alexa, Google Assistant n/a None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device n/a
App n/a Bose Music n/a n/a n/a
Remote control? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Max Volume 88dB 97dB 102dB 95dB 91dB
Syncs with: Chromecast and/or Google Home enabled devices Bose Simplesync enabled speakers None None Bose Simplesync enabled 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.

Performance Comparison


polk audio signa s3 - the s3's low profile ensures it won't block an inch of your tv.
The S3's low profile ensures it won't block an inch of your TV.
Credit: Laura Casner

Sound Quality


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.

polk audio signa s3 - you'll need to use the app or the included remote to control the...
You'll need to use the app or the included remote to control the dialogue-enhancing presets.
Credit: Laura Casner

Cinamatic Experience


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.

Music


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.

Setup


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.

polk audio signa s3 - the remote is simple and easy to use with the signa s3.
The remote is simple and easy to use with the Signa S3.
Credit: Laura Casner

Conectivity


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.

Sound Customization


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.

polk audio signa s3 - the recessed audio ports are a great design as it protects the...
The recessed audio ports are a great design as it protects the connection points from damage.
Credit: Laura Casner

Volume


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.

Design/Style


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.

polk audio signa s3 - keep in mind that you'll need space for the external subwoofer.
Keep in mind that you'll need space for the external subwoofer.
Credit: Laura Casner

Value


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.

polk audio signa s3 - the subwoofer adds power and a little more immersion to the home...
The subwoofer adds power and a little more immersion to the home theater setup.
Credit: Laura Casner

Conclusion


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