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Polk Signa S1 review: Low price doesn't mean a low 'bar

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The Good The Signa S1 offers excellent music replay for the money and decent intelligibility in movies. The provision of a separate subwoofer means it can go lower than some competitors that lack subs.

The Bad Less clarity and dynamic punch with action-packed movies compared to some rivals. No HDMI.

The Bottom Line For a budget-priced sound bar system, the Polk Signa S1 sounds a lot bigger than it really is.

8.1 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Sound 7
  • Value 10

"You get what you pay for" still has meaning, but some companies are now working to attract the entry-level home theater shopper with cheap products that actually sound good too.

We were impressed by the performance of the Yamaha YAS-106, a $200 (or around £160 or AU$260) sound bar without a sub, and were keen to see the appearance of the Polk Signa S1 ($180 at Amazon). Here was an even cheaper $180 sound bar with a sub!

The Polk Signa 1 isn't the world's best sound bar, it's true, but for the money it does pretty much everything you need a speaker to do. It will make movies sound like movies, not the ham radio broadcast you're used to from your TV's speaker, and as a bonus it sounds really good with music too.

Of course spending more money for the step-up Polk MagniFi Mini will get you better performance, but both of these models demonstrate that the sweet spot is coming down in price. With the Polk Signa S1 you don't have to sacrifice much performance or style to meet a tight budget.

Design and Features

polk-signa-s1-01.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

While brands like Samsung and Vizio have offered $200 sound bars with separate subs for some time, this is the first time for Polk. By looking at it, you wouldn't even guess that this is a cheap speaker set. The subwoofer is 13.41 high, 6.72 inches wide and 12.29 deep. It houses a 5.25-inch woofer and the company claims it will go down to 45 Hz.

polk-signa-s1-06.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Meanwhile the 35-inch wide sound bar is 2 inches high which means it shouldn't block the infrared port on your TV. If it does, there is also an option to wall-mount the bar as it includes keyhole mounts. The bar is covered in black fabric which hides two 4.4-inch drivers and two 1-inch tweeters. The unit's top panel includes controls such as a Bluetooth pairing button, input selection and volume.

polk-signa-s1-20.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote that comes in the box is a step above most credit-card style clickers and includes an ergonomic design and easy access to all of the inputs and features.

As an entry level speaker the Polk's feature count is modest yet still helpful. Apart from the added sub the Signa includes Bluetooth streaming, a 3.5 mm input and an optical input with support for Dolby Digital (though like most sound bars, not DTS). Sadly, unlike its Yamaha rival it does lack HDMI.

If you find yourself constantly adjusting the volume on your TV because you can't hear the voices, the Polk's VoiceAdjust Technology should come in handy, offering dialogue adjustment on the fly.

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