The Polk React soundbar may be the perfect soundbar for your home theater. It’s designed to give you great sound without the need for a complete surround sound system, and you’ll appreciate how it blends in with any décor.
The Polk React will make your TV and movie time even more enjoyable, from its sleek and stylish design to its rich and room-filling sound.
Check out our Polk React soundbar review for all the details on this excellent product!
Pros & Cons
- Amazon Alexa works well onboard.
- Excellent sound quality for the price
- Smart looking design
- One HDMI input
- Additional sub- and surrounds may be available for an additional cost.
Overview About Polk React
The new React follows Polk’s original almost-but-not-officially-an-Echo soundbar, the Polk Command Bar. The React is different from the Command in that it does not include the wireless subwoofer. It’s just one bar.
The React is enjoyable to listen to, with both movies and music. It also integrates with Alexa much more smoothly than ever before. This package is well-rounded and worth the money.
Let’s get back to the essential question. In truth, I prefer to keep my assistant in a separate speaker. If Alexa asks a query using a hybrid device such as the React, the audio stops, and the assistant performs your bidding.
This can be frustrating, especially if you need to interrupt your The Nevers session to ask a similar question.
You might also prefer an all-in-one solution, especially if you don’t have an Alexa speaker already in your home. The React is cheaper than the Sonos Beam ($400), another Alexa-powered soundbar.
However, it lacks Sonos multiroom capabilities. The React retails for $200 at the time of publication. To enhance the sound, you can also add an optional sub ($180) or SR2 surrounds ($180). This will provide a nice upgrade path in the future.
What’s Inside The Box?
Although the Polk Command Bar was not as stylish as the Sonos Beam’s, the React makes up for it with features like the soft woolen grill.
It retains the distinctive central ring section — volume, action, and on/off buttons are set in a circle similar to an Echo’s top — but the activity bar is now illuminated along the front edge.
The bar measures 2.2 inches in height, 4.76 inches deep, and 34 inches wide. Keyhole mounts at the back allow for wall mounting of the soundbar. The audio section includes two midrange drivers, two tweeters, and two passive radiators beneath for added bass.
The inputs include:
- A single HDMI output (ARC).
- Optical input for TV audio and Bluetooth.
- A USB is used for firmware updates.
It would be an excellent addition for those with multiple devices, but I wish it had the Polk Command Bar’s second HDMI port. Although it does not have Ethernet connectivity, the unit has Wi-Fi connectivity that can connect the voice assistant to the Internet.
React also includes Amazon Multi-Room Music compatibility, Spotify Connect, and AirPlay. Unfortunately, there is no Chromecast or AirPlay built-in. However, I was pleased to see that Alexa song requests can be played through Tidal automatically.
The optional wireless Polk React Sub, which is also available, is heavy, similar to the one on the JBL Bar-2.1 Deep Bass. It costs $180. The large 16.5-by-8.6-by-13.7-inch box has a 7-inch woofer onboard.
Optional rear speakers are available in the Left and Right versions and have 10-foot power cables. These speakers are shaped like glasses cases and measure approximately 8 by 4 inches in length.
The remote control is quite comprehensive for a relatively affordable soundbar. Although it is bulky, the remote control has many controls, including the rears and sub. These controls could be seen as an attempt to upsell the product.
The React soundbar is slim and looks almost like an Amazon Echo Dot. The React is essentially an updated Polk’s Command Bar. However, it’s smaller and doesn’t include a wireless subwoofer.
It measures 34×4.8×2.2 inches and can slide under most TV stands. Polk placed two soundbar drivers inside, two tweeters, and two passive radiators.
The front panel has a light bar that displays the volume level and lights up when Alexa is engaged. Below the light bar, a small LED status indicator switches the color to indicate sound input.
The top features Echo-like controls. These buttons include buttons to activate Alexa and mute the microphones. You’ll love using Alexa voice commands for sound adjustments. The React has four microphones that can be used to make Alexa more responsive to your voice.
The back of the React includes an HDMI port with an audio return channel (ARC), which allows for connection to your TV. Or, you can use an optical digital cable. You can also purchase the React separately with a USB port, a button to pair it with Polk’s wireless subwoofer or wireless surrounds.
The buttons are large and well placed. You can use the remote to activate Alexa, change between TV audio or Bluetooth, adjust the volume, adjust the voice level, and choose a sound mode. You can adjust the volume and balance of wireless surrounds by using the remote.
It is easy to set up and use React. Once the React is connected to your TV using an HDMI cable, it’s ready for use. Launch the Alexa app, and it will be connected to your TV via an HDMI cable. React comes with a QR code at its back to make this process simple.
The remote can be used to adjust the volume and bass. Although I didn’t need to crank up the bass, I wanted more dialog. You can switch between three sound modes using the remote or your voice: Movie, Sport, and Music. Even when listening to music, I found the Movie mode the most lively.
You can further adjust the sound by going into Alexa and finding a three-band equalizer. I added more treble to the sound and increased the midrange. However, the effect on the overall sound was minimal.
Interact With Alexa
Since the introduction of voice assistant-enabled audio bars, I have had some second thoughts about the technology, as have many manufacturers. There are two main reasons.
Because they are affordable, most people already have a digital assistant installed in their living rooms. The second is that the main speaker’s sound ducks or mutes when you issue a command. This means your movie or show is interrupted.
These caveats aside, the Polk React was very easy to use when issuing commands. I could hear my Alexa, even at high volume, and it was very painless. You can still hear the speaker’s activity even if it ducks. The interruption was less severe than other smart soundbars like the Yamaha YAS-209 and JBL Link Bar.
You can use your voice to control all controls, including volume adjustments and sub-volume adjustments. The only problem I had with the setup was that neither the subwoofer manual nor the soundbar explained how to sync peripherals.
The company will hopefully fix this for the May release. If you are stuck, you can press the sync button on your soundbar for four seconds, then the synching device for four seconds, and quickly touch the soundbar button again.
A Night On The Sofa
Like the other excellent TV speakers, the Polk React can be used to play music and movies. You can quickly change the sound modes to make Alexa more understandable (voice volume) or even bathe in pseudo surround sound (movie mode).
Unfortunately, the Sonos Beam was unavailable for me to compare. However, I had two subwoofer-less soundbars: the Vizio M21D -H8 ($150) and the JBL 5.0 Multi-Beam ($350), priced at the same price as the Polk.
My testing began with Wonder Woman over the top in the World War I trenches (1.14:00). As our hero confidently walks through the mud, bullets fly. She then braces herself with her shield to defend herself against a machine-gun attack. It gave me chills.
Although the Polk captured the movie’s epic sweep and the soundtrack swelled, bullets zinged, and the soundtrack swelled, I missed some of the immersiveness and oomph that a more extensive system could provide.
The Vizio was more apparent and had more bass, but it wasn’t as impressive. Even with the reliable DTS Virtual:X processing, this scene felt a bit underpowered.
The JBL Bar 5.0 sounded the most impressive in this test. The JBL Bar 5.0’s Smart Mode was activated. Although the dialogue was clear, bullets moved around the room differently than they did with the other bars. The bottom end of the shells that exploded in our friends’ vicinity was also plentiful.
The Polk was my favorite choice for sounding full, and it cost a fair amount. However, the JBL was a better home cinema speaker. It might be worth it if you enjoy music, but maybe not for movie viewing.
The React can tap out a tune like other Polk’s. Nick Cave’s Red Right-Hand sounds natural and balanced on the Polk at all volume levels. The JBL is louder than the Polk, but its musical performance was affected by sonic artifacts. The bass line began to distort, becoming synth-like above halfway up the dial.
The Polk performed at its best when I added the rears and sub-woofers. This is what you would expect for a system that costs $650. The sub and rears had a positive effect on any music, although sometimes it was in surprising ways.
Dead Can Dance’s Yulunga Spirit Dancer was a great choice, especially in Movie mode. The world-music-tinged track sounded enormous, making it hard to believe it was coming out of a soundbar system.
Why does my Polk soundbar stop working?
Check the HDMI connection if your Polk Soundbar doesn’t work. Verify that the HDMI cable is connected to the correct port. Use only the HDMI cable between your TV and the Polk Soundbar to prevent it from connecting with other sources.
How can I connect my Polk soundbar with my Samsung TV?
Connect using an HDMI cable
- Make sure you have an HDMI cable.
- Connect the cable to your TV’s HDMI IN(ARC).
- Connect to the HDMI-OUT (TVARC) port on the soundbar.
- Turn on the soundbar, and change the source set to D.IN.
- Your soundbar will play the TV sound.
Why is my Polk soundbar constantly turning off?
Make sure you check the power outlet where your Polk soundbar is plugged in. The power supply may be poor, and the soundbar could turn off.
The soundbar will shut off again and again if the power source keeps disconnecting. You must ensure that the switch is properly plugged in and that the source supplies the required voltage.
Check our article to know more Why Does My Soundbar Keep Cutting Out?
There you have it! The Polk React is an excellent soundbar to enhance your TV and movie experience. Hooke Audio certainly thinks it’s a great-looking, affordable, and easy to set up a product that will add some great sound to your movies, shows, and music!
Thanks for reading our Polk soundbar React review. Do you have any questions about the product or experiences with it? Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!