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3 Reasons I Would Avoid a TCL Alto R1 Sound Bar

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3 Reasons I Would Avoid a TCL Alto R1 Sound Bar

Key Points

  • The TCL Alto R1 soundbar is designed to work only with Roku TVs and will not connect to TVs from other brands.
  • The TCL Alto R1 soundbar lacks inputs such as HDMI ports and only has a power cord.
  • The TCL Alto R1 soundbar was released in 2021 and is priced around $149, making it less appealing compared to newer models with better features.

Soundbars have become one of the more popular options with homeowners interested in boosting the audio on their smart TVs. That means there’s no shortage of soundbars to choose from, like the TCL Alto R1. This soundbar made a splash when it touched down in 2021, but is it worth it today? While it has plenty of fans, here are three reasons I would avoid a TCL Alto R1 Sound Bar.

TCL Alto R1
Released2021
Channels2.0
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi
Length31.5 inches
MSRP$179.99

I Don’t Own a Roku TV

Hisense Roku TV powering on.
If you don’t own a “Roku TV” you can’t use the soundbar.

The main reason I would avoid the TCL Alto R1 soundbar is the brand of TV I own. I currently have smart TVs from Samsung and Vizio, along with an older Philips HDTV set. While none of my TVs have great speakers, it would be a major mistake to purchase the Alto R1 from TCL. That’s because it only works with one type of TV.

The TCL Alto R1 is designed to work with Roku TVs and will not connect to a TV from another brand, no matter how smart it is. It connects through Roku’s wireless audio system, which rules out any TV that doesn’t use its wireless platform. While Roku has some great TVs, I’m not going to purchase one just so I can use a soundbar. 

The biggest reason to avoid a TCL Alto R1 soundbar is compatibility. If you own a Roku TV, it’s definitely an interesting choice. Otherwise, you’ll want to skip this soundbar, especially if you appreciate ports.

Lack of Inputs

We live in a connected world, so it’s no surprise to find gadgets with a variety of inputs. Smart TVS are a great example of that. Most have at least two HDMI ports, along with inputs for other things like optical audio or USB. These extra inputs allow us to sync up devices in interesting ways, but you can’t do that with the TCL Alto R1.

TCL designed this soundbar with minimal distractions in mind. It’s ideal when you want something that you can seamlessly sync to a TV, but there are no inputs on this soundbar. You won’t find an HDMI port on the TCL Alto R1 or any other input. It just has a power cord.

This streamlined approach is part of the charm of TCL’s soundbar, but it’s obviously not something for everyone. As someone who constantly finds themselves short on ports, the soundbar would be a poor fit for my system. 

Age and Pricing

Things move fast in the tech world. While the TCL Alto R1 Sound Bar isn’t old or outdated by any means, it was released in 2021. There have been dozens of soundbars released since that time, many of which have better features for the price.

The TCL Alto R1 arrived with an original MRSP of $179, a respectable price for a wireless 2.0 soundbar with streaming capabilities. While it’s common to see components like soundbars drop in price when new models arrive, this one still carries a premium price tag. Unless you find it on special, the TCL Alto R1 is generally priced around $149. 

That’s not much cheaper than its original price, and stock has dried up significantly. When you factor in soundbars in that price range with comparable features, the Alto R1 isn’t nearly as appealing for many people, including myself. 

The Best Alternatives to a TCL Alto R1 Sound Bar 

Many people love the TCL Alto R1, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your home entertainment system. With that in mind, here are three soundbars with comparable price tags that provide just as much bang for your buck. 

Premium Pick: Yamaha Audio SR-B20A Sound Bar

Best Premium Sound Bar
Yamaha Audio SR-B20A Sound Bar
$199.95
  • Includes subwoofers (built-in)
  • Features DTS Virtual: X surround sound
  • Remote control included
  • Supports Bluetooth
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 04:30 pm GMT

The Yamaha SR-B20A Sound Bar is a bit longer and slightly more expensive than the TCL Alto R1, but an excellent all-around alternative. It also has plenty of bump thanks to built-in subwoofers.

Yamaha’s stylish soundbar is around 35 inches long with six speakers inside its attractive shell. There is 120w of power disturbed across those speakers, including the two 3” subwoofers. While the Yamaha SR-B20A doesn’t have Wi-Fi, you’ll get Bluetooth, an Optical port, and an HDMI port.

That HDMI port has 4K pass-through, and the design makes it easy to mount. You can stream audio to the soundbar via Bluetooth or use the Yamama app if you don’t dig the remote. There are multiple ways to use this soundbar and multiple listening modes depending on your musical tastes. 

This well-received soundbar won’t break the bank and will provide more bass than the Alto R1. You can also take advantage of DTS Virtual: X surround sound and Clear Voice on the Yamaha SR-B20A.

Mid-Range: Sony S100F 2.0 Soundbar

Best Mid-Range Soundbar
Sony S100F
$98.00
  • Tweeter built in, with 2-channel speaker
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • USB port
  • Bass Reflex style speaker for an especially deep sound
  • S-Force Pro Front Surround sound feature included
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 04:34 pm GMT

Finding a great soundbar for under $100 is hard, but Sony pulled off the impossible with the S100F. This soundbar has more connectivity options than the TCL Altor R1 and a range of fantastic features for the price.

Sony’s soundbar is a 2.0 channel system with a bass reflex design and integrated tweeter. It delivers impressive sound front the front, although there’s no Dolby DTX or 3D surround. Sony’s S-Force Pro simulates surround, however, and helps fill a space with sound. That includes movies, television shows, or music through streaming services.

Like most mid-range soundbars, the Sony S100F doesn’t have Wi-Fi. You can connect with HDMI ARC or stream music via Bluetooth to the soundbar. It’s also easy to set up and use with onboard controls or the included Remote Commander control. The S100F has a USB port on the rear along with the HDMI out and optical input. 

Sony didn’t break any new ground with this soundbar but managed to keep the price down while providing consumers with an excellent all-around system. While it lacks the bass and features found on models with a higher price tag, it gets loud and can improve dialogue in content dramatically.

Budget: TCL Alto 6 Home Theater Sound Bar

Best Budget Sound Bar
TCL Alto 6 2.0 Channel Home Theater Sound Bar
$59.08
  • Dolby Digital virtual surround sound
  • HDMI, USB, AUX, optical, or Bluetooth connectivity
  • Wirelessly stream music on your sound bar using Bluetooth devices
  • Specialized sound modes for movies, music, and TV
  • Roku TV ready
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/02/2024 04:40 pm GMT

If you like TCL’s Alto series but want a soundbar that will work with any TV, the Alto 6 is a great alternative. It’s significantly cheaper than the company’s Roku-centric soundbar and has a compact, modern design.

One of the perks of the TCL Alto R1 is how easily it connects to Roku-based TVs. While you will need to use a cable for the Alto 6, TCL gives you a choice between HDMI or optical. There’s also a USB port, AUX, and Bluetooth connectivity on this soundbar. 

This soundbar is ARC-ready out of the box and designed to sync to a Roku TV like the Alto R1. You’ll get a seamless experience on compatible TVs with their wireless system. It has multiple sound modes like other soundbars from TCL and looks great mounted or sitting beneath a TV. 

The TCL Alto 6 is a simple 2.0 soundbar that delivers respectable sound for the price. It’s a huge upgrade over stock speakers on any TV and should slide under most of them. This soundbar will definitely boost the volume on a TV set but is light on bass and features compared to pricier models. 

Alternatives to a TCL Alto R1 Sound Bar 

1. Yamaha Audio SR-B20A Sound Bar
2. Sony S100F 2.0 Soundbar
3. TCL Alto 6 Home Theater Sound Bar
  1. Yamaha Audio SR-B20A Sound Bar
    $199.95
    • Includes subwoofers (built-in)
    • Features DTS Virtual: X surround sound
    • Remote control included
    • Supports Bluetooth
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 04:30 pm GMT
  2. Sony S100F
    $98.00
    • Tweeter built in, with 2-channel speaker
    • Bluetooth enabled
    • USB port
    • Bass Reflex style speaker for an especially deep sound
    • S-Force Pro Front Surround sound feature included
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 04:34 pm GMT
  3. TCL Alto 6 2.0 Channel Home Theater Sound Bar
    $59.08
    • Dolby Digital virtual surround sound
    • HDMI, USB, AUX, optical, or Bluetooth connectivity
    • Wirelessly stream music on your sound bar using Bluetooth devices
    • Specialized sound modes for movies, music, and TV
    • Roku TV ready
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/02/2024 04:40 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you add speakers to a soundbar?

Some soundbars allow you to add satellite speakers, but it’s a feature you’ll want to check on beforehand.

Does a soundbar need Wi-Fi?

While many sound bars use Wi-Fi, it’s not required as many have HDMI, optical ports, and Bluetooth.

Are cheap soundbars worth it?

A budget-friendly soundbar can be a great addition to an entertainment system while significantly boosting volume. 

Will a soundbar help increase the dialogue on a TV?

A soundbar will increase the overall volume, including dialogue, but some models have features designed specially for this.

Does TCL make good soundbars?

TCL’s soundbars have been well-received for their features and pricing.

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