Polk Audio Signa S3 - Slim and smart, but with weaknesses
Overall, the Polk Audio Signa S3 offers a thoroughly good overall package. Not only does it come with all sorts of accessories and ports, but unlike many competing products in this price category, it also comes with smart features. Especially those who already own a Google Home speaker can look forward to limitless streaming options and operation via voice command.
In terms of sound, the American 2.1-channel system is also impressive, but there are a few drawbacks. Thus, the sound partly sounds tinny and dull, since the soundbar lacks bass despite an external sub. Even the handful of integrated presets and sound settings can’t quite save that.
Especially with Dolby Digital content with a lot of dialogs, the Signa S3 shows what it can do. The frequency response is already quite balanced in the range of voices anyway and the Polk VoiceAdjust Technology leads to an additional enhancement. This allows the volume of the voice reproduction to be regulated separately. Therefore, those who mainly want to enjoy TV shows or podcasts via the soundbar should get their money’s worth with the Polk Audio Signa S3.
- Balanced sound
- Polk VoiceAdjust
- Smart Features
- Slim dimensions
- Tinny sound
- Little bass
- No display
- No DTS
- Plastic processing
Space-saving setup from Polk Audio
Polk Audio’s Signa S3 comes in a truly slim look: it’s just five and a half centimeters high, so it’ll fit in front of almost any TV – no matter how low the stand may be. With a width of just under 90 centimeters, it’s also ideal for use in combination with 55-inch TVs. The included wireless subwoofer is also rather compact, which means the 2.1 setup can also find a place in smaller rooms.
Polk Audio Signa S3: High-quality design looks different
While the subwoofer of the Polk Audio Signa S3 comes with an MDF enclosure, as is so often the case, the soundbar itself is mostly made of plastic. This makes for a light weight, but it does not make it look particularly stable and high-quality. On the top of the soundbar there are four buttons for adjusting the volume and selecting the audio source, which are also made of plastic.
The front of the soundbar is covered with an anthracite-colored fabric, which protects the four speakers inside – including two tweeters and two midrange speakers – from dust. The subwoofer also comes with the matching fabric cover and still has a small bass reflex port on its front.
Polk Audio thought of everything
The Signa S3’s scope of delivery truly leaves nothing to be desired. In addition to the soundbar and subwoofer, there is a power supply with a German plug and a power supply with an American plug for both components. Also included were a short manual, an optical cable, an HDMI cable, and placeholders for wall mounting. Even the template for the wall holes to hang the soundbar using its keyhole openings has been thought of.
The Polk Audio Signa S3 also comes with a remote control and batteries. This one is a bit clunky, but very light due to its plastic processing. It can be used to set the different sound modes, adjust the volume and select an audio source. However, you cannot pause or stop the current playback with it.
The installation of the Polk Soundbar could not be easier
The ports of the Signa S3 are located in two angled cutouts on its back. On one side is the power connector, on the other the AUX input, an optical interface, and a HDMI Audio Return Chanel: With the HDMI ARC connection, the higher bandwidth allows data to be both sent and received over one HDMI cable, saving additional cables in many setups. output. In our test, we opted for the connection via the latter, since you can then also control the soundbar via TV remote thanks to HDMI Consumer Electronics Control: HDMI CEC makes it possible to control various consumer electronics devices with just one remote control.. The soundbar could be used directly via Plug & Play, and the wireless connection between the soundbar and subwoofer was also established very quickly.
The Signa S3 unfortunately lacks a display
To display the current status, the Polk Audio Signa S3 does not have a display, but four LEDs. These light up in different colors or a different sequence depending on the setting. Unfortunately, this is not very intuitive and the volume of the soundbar is nowhere apparent. Furthermore, the LEDs are so small that they are poorly visible if you do not look at the soundbar head-on.
Polk Signa S3: Balanced sound with sacrifices
The 2.1-channel system consisting of soundbar with external subwoofer comes to a total power of 160 watts, as both components are 80 watts each. The built-in processor can process Dolby Digital content up to 5.1 channels for virtual surround sound, but Dolby Atmos is a 3D sound format that adds sounds from above to surround sound systems and can also assign additional information to sounds so that they can be reproduced even more realistically. or DTS is not supported. The sound of the Signa S3 sounds balanced overall, but it is a bit flat. Despite an external subwoofer, the setup lacks bass.
In our measurement, the soundbar was able to reproduce frequencies between 50 and 16,000 Hz. The graph shows shortcomings especially in the low bass range and a dip can be seen at around 3000 Hz, which may be an explanation for the dull, flat sound of the Signa S3. In the range of high mids and trebles, however, their frequency response is very balanced, which has a positive effect on speech reproduction. While the Polk Signa S3 does not have a center speaker, it is equipped with voice enhancement (more on this in the Sound Adjustment section). We were also impressed by the soundbar’s maximum volume in view of its slim dimensions, but clear distortions are also audible at a high volume. In addition, the sound sometimes sounds very tinny, which could be due to the strong emphasis of the frequencies around 16,000 Hz.
Patented Polk speech enhancement for clear dialogue
In addition to the already well-balanced frequency response in the high-mids and highs, the Signa S3 also features Polk’s patented VoiceAdjust technology for even better speech intelligibility. The voice volume can be adjusted in three levels using the remote control. In our listening test, this worked very well and voices were emphasized to varying degrees. In addition, the bass level of the soundbar can also be regulated, on a total of eight levels. At a high bass level, the sound then makes more of a difference in the low frequency range and can compensate for the previously noted shortcomings to a certain extent.
The presets of the Polk Audio Signa S3 are limited to the basics
If you prefer to use presets instead of adjusting the sound yourself, you can use Polk Audio’s Presets. In total, the soundbar has three sound modes for movie, music or night. In movie mode, the sound sounds a bit more voluminous, in music mode, it is more effective, and in night mode, the volume is adjusted to deliver a balanced sound even at lower volumes.
Signa S3: The "S" may stand for Smart
Thanks to its integrated Chromecast, the Polk Audio Signa S3 is quite smart. This allows content to be conveniently transferred to it via smartphone or tablet. A Bluetooth interface is also on board for older devices, which ensured a stable connection in our test. With an external Google Home Speaker, control via voice command is also possible, at least as far as basic functions like play and pause or louder and quieter are concerned. There are thus no limits to enjoying music from countless streaming services via the soundbar. Furthermore, the Signa S3 can be grouped with other speakers in the Google Home app.
Polk Audio Signa S3 Datasheet
|Dimensions Soundbar (WxHxD)||898 x 56 x 83 mm|
|Dimensions Subwoofer (WxHxD)||171 x 311 x 343 mm|
|Channels||2.1 (5.1 virtual)|
|Power Output Soundbar||80 watts|
|Power Output Subwoofer||80 watts|
|Total Power Output||160 watts|
|HDMI 2.0 In|
|HDMI 2.1 In|
|Dolby True HD|
|DTS HD Master|
Frequently asked questions about the Polk Audio Signa S3
How to connect the Polk Audio Signa S3?
The Polk Audio Signa S3 can be connected via optical connection, HDMI or AUX. We recommend the connection via HDMI, because the soundbar can then also be controlled with the TV remote control due to HDMI Consumer Electronics Control: HDMI CEC makes it possible to control various consumer electronics devices with just one remote control.. A wireless transmission is also possible via Bluetooth or Chromecast.
What are the differences between Polk Audio Signa S3 and Signa S2?
Compared to its predecessor, the Polk Audio Signa S2, the Signa S3 has a stronger overall output, making it suitable for slightly larger rooms. It also comes with integrated Chromecast, whereas the Signa S2 has no smart features.