As one of the industry's best-known companies in the realm of affordable high-performance loudspeakers, Polk has wasted no time in jumping into the mobile solutions craze. As part of this growing trend, the soundbar category has exploded in recent years, and should grow much bigger into the next decade as lifestyles continue to speed up while budgets shrink in lockstep with the overall concern for ultimate fidelity. Polk offers six soundbar models, but deciphering such might prove slightly difficult for the average consumer. Polk's website and marketing materials are a bit complicated and even incomplete in some cases. How the company simply presents its basic model lineup, features, and specifications gets so tied up in applications and lifestyle that it loses the basics quickly. It's funny - and frustrating - how sometimes a company, in trying so hard to promote the simplicity of its solutions, can overcomplicate the matter and potentially lose the customer in the process before they even see its products in person. Which is a shame, because in person the SurroundBar 3000 delivers quite a bit.
Of the six soundbar solutions, Polk offers the SurroundBar 3000 and 6000, which have similar customers in mind and feature sets. The SurroundBar 3000 exudes quality right out of the box, with smooth edges and little details that go a long way. A two-piece system designed to simulate the sound coming from six speakers (i.e., a 5.1 system), the system's main unit employs two drivers employing neodymium magnet structures and measuring two inches by six inches driven by a 50-watt stereo amplifier, within an enclosure measuring 3.75 inches high by 31 inches wide by a super slender 2 inches deep, and weighing a very light 3.5 pounds. The main unit applies what Polk calls "Polk Digital Logic", or Polk's proprietary DSP programming, to all of its three inputs (one optical digital, two analog, but no video switching). According to the company, this processing is created independent of any room boundaries, and helps maintain a solid center channel for clear, intelligible dialogue and Polk's signature sound--warm, with exceptional immediacy, fullness and clarity. The system does not decode Dolby Digital or DTS signals, or any HD music material. The wireless subwoofer employs a downward-firing 6.5-inch Dynamic Balance Poly Composite Driver and flared port driven by an 80-watt mono amplifier, within an enclosure measuring 10 inches high by 10.25 inches wide by 10.75 inches deep, and weighing 7.8 pounds. The system also comes with a cute credit card sized remote, providing basic functions of input select, mute, system volume, subwoofer volume, and power. The fit and finish of the SurroundBar 3000 are first rate. The main unit's plastic enclosure and smooth, substantive grill add some nice solidity to the product, and the sub's rounded edges look and feel great. The sub's back panel is very clean (as it should be given the sub's wireless architecture), and the built-in feet are very solid and clean (This touch is nice on a budget sub, and more companies should do it - although it prevents spiking, stick-on rubber feet are so cheesy.).
The SurroundBar 3000 sounded good with all types of music material, drawing a good blend between spacious, smooth, and detailed. Rock tracks could have used some more slam on the bottom and sparkle on the top, but pacing was good and overall musicality stayed constant even at higher volume levels. Vocal and acoustic tracks sounded best, but the SurroundBar 3000 had enough guts to render more intense rock tracks pretty accurately, if a little politely. With movies and games, the SurroundBar 3000 sounded big and detailed, with its simulated surround/fullness processing doing a nice job overall. These types of effects can sometimes muddy up the works, but Polk keeps things calm enough to keep them as a complement to the main gist of the material. The woofer played loudly with minimal breakup, and the occasional movie produced some interesting feelings of spaciousness and stuff happening around the listening position. Dialogue could have been a little more crisp and intelligible, and but it was more than passable overall. The key was that the SurroundBar 3000 never took away from the material, and allowed it to deliver what it intended without big side effects.
• The SurroundBar 3000 is built very well with some nice features like built-in rubber feet, looks terrific, and keeps a low profile.
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• The SurroundBar 3000 offers a handy, compact remote, and the wireless subwoofer worked perfectly.
• The SurroundBar 3000 offers a versatile sound quality, with no big
weaknesses and a pretty neutral, musical character balanced with good
thump and pacing.
• The SurroundBar 3000 provides no video switching.
• The SurroundBar 3000 does not decode Dolby Digital, DTS, or any HD music material.
• The SurroundBar 3000 sounds a bit too polite sometimes, lacking some
detail, midrange speed, and low end slam over rock and electronic music
and intense movie material.
Competition and Comparisons
If you are interested in comparing Polk's SurroundBar 3000 soundbar against its competition, be sure to read our reviews for Vizio's VHT-210 soundbar and Sony's HT-CT150 3D soundbar. You can also find more information in our Soundbar section and on our Polk brand page.
The SurroundBar 3000 provides a solid amount of features and
performance for an affordable price. The remote and wireless subwoofer
worked perfectly and added a lot of convenience. The solid cosmetics
and build quality allow it to function as a primary loudspeaker source
with ease, and the rounded subwoofer edges and built-in rubber feet are
great touches. It definitely lacks some things, namely video switching
and a more sparkly sonic demeanor, but its value proposition is very
competitive and will no doubt appeal to many.