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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
Polk Audio Signa S3
Credit: Polk Audio
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Price:   $279 List | $279.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Three levels of voice enhancement, versatile physical inputs, subwoofer included
Cons:  Instructions are confusing and don't include wifi setup, subwoofer is quite large, sub-par sound quality
Manufacturer:   Polk Audio
By Michelle Powell and Matt Bento  ⋅  Nov 11, 2021
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Sound Quality - 45% 5.2
  • Ease of Use - 35% 6.1
  • Volume - 15% 7
  • 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.

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.

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Polk Audio Signa S3
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Price $279 List
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Pros Three levels of voice enhancement, versatile physical inputs, subwoofer includedGreat sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwooferEasy setup, great price tag, subwoofer includedCompact footprint, simple setup, versatile physical inputsLow price, includes subwoofer
Cons Instructions are confusing and don't include wifi setup, subwoofer is quite large, sub-par sound qualityNo wifi connection, no EQ controlsNot the best overall sound qualityNo smart features, minimal EQ customizationNo HDMI connection, weak low end
Bottom Line This is a two-piece system that may take up more space than it's worthThis is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we testedThis soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good valueThis soundbar sounds great for its size, but can't hold a candle to higher-end modelsThis model is affordable and fairly easy to set up, though there are similarly priced options that deliver much better sound quality and advanced connectivity
Rating Categories Polk Audio Signa S3 Sony HT-S350 Vizio V-Series 2.1... Bose TV Speaker Samsung HW-A450/ZA...
Sound Quality (45%)
5.2
7.1
5.6
5.6
4.1
Ease Of Use (35%)
6.1
5.8
6.9
5.9
5.0
Volume (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Style Design (5%)
4.7
6.8
5.4
9.0
4.0
Specs Polk Audio Signa S3 Sony HT-S350 Vizio V-Series 2.1... Bose TV Speaker Samsung HW-A450/ZA...
Dimensions Bar: 2.15" x 35.43" x 3.22"
Sub: 13.4" x 6.72" x 12.2"
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""
Bar: 2.1" x 33.9" x 2.9"
Sub: 13.5" x 7.1" x 10.7"
External Subwoofer Yes Yes Yes No (optional) Yes
Inputs (wired) Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX, USB 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 Digital audio in (optical), USB
Supported Audio File Formats Dolby Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch DTS Dolby Dolby 2ch, DTS 2ch
WiFi-enabled Yes No No No No
Bluetooth Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Voice Assistants Google Assistant n/a None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device n/a n/a
App n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Remote control? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Max Volume 88dB 102dB 95dB 91dB 91dB
Syncs with: Chromecast and/or Google Home enabled devices None None Bose Simplesync enabled speakers Samsung Wireless Surround Rear 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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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