Archive for May 15, 2022

Review: TCL Alto 6 2.0 Soundbar

Posted in Products with tags on May 15, 2022 by itnerd

Let’s face it. The speakers that are built into your average TV suck. So if you want decent audio, you need a soundbar. But your use case for a soundbar may not include having 5.1 surround sound or 7.1 surround sound. It just may be simply having decent audio. That’s where the TCL Alto 6 2.0 Soundbar comes in. It promises easy setup if you have a Roku TV and “premium sound” via the fact that it is Dolby Audio compatible. Let’s see if they deliver on both those fronts. But first, let’s see what you get in the box:

Besides the soundbar, you get the usual books and paperwork, a remote control, a pair of batteries for said remote control, a power cable, an HDMI cable, and an optical cable.

Looking at the ports on the soundbar, you get an USB port, HDMI port, optical port, an aux port and the power connector.

Now if you have a Roku TV, like I do, then the setup of this soundbar is laughably simple:

  1. Plug the power in.
  2. Connect the HDMI cable from the soundbar to the HDMI ARC port on the TV.
  3. Turn on the TV and follow the prompts.
  4. Done. Declare victory and have a beer.

For those of you who don’t have a Roku TV, you have the option of setting up via HDMI or optical depending on your use case. But if you do have a Roku TV, this ease of setup means that it also fully integrates with the Roku remote that you already have. Meaning that you can completely ignore the remote that comes with the soundbar. I like that as it cuts down on the number of remotes that I have to deal with.

Now about that sound part. The soundbar when it’s positioned properly has a very large sound stage with clear dialog and decent bass. It’s not going to blow you away with the quality, but it will be better than the speakers that your TV comes with, and you will be able to hear little details in movies and video games if you use those on your TV.

It also has Bluetooth connectivity so that you can stream audio from your phone or tablet for example. And one thing that I really like is that this soundbar isn’t constantly broadcasting it’s availability via Bluetooth. Thus someone won’t be able to prank you by playing sounds on it at 3AM. The only downside is that you either need to use the remote control to put the soundbar in pairing mode, or you have to walk up to it to do the same thing. In any case, playing music on it sounds great with a fair amount of detail and the same large sound stage that you get when watching movies.

Having said that, I do have a few gripes:

  • There’s no way to tweak the soundbar to get the audio the way you want it. TCL is marketing this as a plug and forget solution. But it would have been nice for people who want to tweak the bass for example to have a way to do that. Though I will note that Roku TVs do have a limited ability to do this sort of things.
  • Documentation is sparse. TCL could have done a better job of documenting how this soundbar works. Especially how it works with a Roku TV so that I didn’t have to randomly press buttons and go through menus to figure out how to get the best out of this soundbar. Which it turns out that I had a limited number of options, as in one, when I pressed “*” when inside a Roku channel or when using a device attached to it such as my computer. By doing that I was able to go to the sound options and choose if I wanted the sound balanced for TV, movies, or music.

The best part of this soundbar is the price. In Canada, it goes for $109 CDN. But if you look at Amazon, you can get it for less if you wait for it to go on sale. I’d recommend this soundbar for anyone who lives in an apartment or a small room that can’t wire up a surround sound system, but still wants half decent audio. And if you have a Roku TV, then it’s a total win. As long as you don’t expect that you’re going to be able to tweak the settings of the soundbar beyond a few basic settings, you’ll be happy with the TCL Alto 6 2.0.