Polk Command Bar review: Alexa has never sounded this good

The $249 Command Bar does a fantastic job integrating Amazon’s
virtual assistant.

Amazon and Google offer a range of smart speakers tailored for
different use cases, but the main issue with these devices has
always been sound quality. The Echo Plus (2nd gen) delivers much better sound over
its predecessor, but it still isn’t anywhere close to a budget 2.1
setup.

That’s where products like Polk’s Command Bar come in. The
soundbar features Alexa integration — allowing you to control
your lights, get updates on your daily commute, and much more —
and it also manages to deliver excellent sound that’s perfect for
watching TV shows and movies. The Command Bar debuted last year,
and Polk recently rolled out multi-room audio, which lets you group
the soundbar with other Alexa devices in your home.

Polk isn’t the only manufacturer with an Alexa-enabled soundbar,
as everyone from Bose, Sony, Yamaha, and Sonos offer a product in
this space. The $399 Sonos Beam in particular delivers exquisite
sound, and the Command Bar manages to do the same at a lower price
point.

Synergy Polk Command Bar

$249 at Amazon

Great sound quality backed by Alexa smarts.

The Command Bar is a great budget soundbar in its own right, and
Alexa integration combined with multi-room audio make it one of the
best options in this category right now. The wireless subwoofer
allows it to deliver punchy bass, and the far-field mic picks up
your voice from across the room. Overall, you’re getting great
value for your money.

The Good

  • Seamless Alexa integration
  • Great sound quality
  • Multi-room audio
  • Dedicated HDMI slot for Fire TV Stick

The Bad

  • App has limited functionality
  • Plain design

Polk Command Bar What I like

The Command Bar looks just like every other soundbar: it’s long,
sleek, and has a material finish that doesn’t make it stand out.
But its distinguishing feature is the center console — where it
looks like Polk crammed a 2nd Gen Echo Dot into the soundbar. The
hockey puck-sized housing has the same design as an Echo Dot, the
same set of controls, and it even has the same light ring that
glows blue when Alexa is activated.

The Command Bar has a sleek design, and the Echo Dot-style
center housing gives it a sense of familiarity.

The center housing has controls for volume, manually triggering
Alexa, and a mute button. The light ring also serves as a visual
indicator when you’re increasing or decreasing volume or adjusting
the bass level on the wireless subwoofer. By emulating the same
design as the Echo Dot, the Command Bar immediately feels familiar
if you’ve used an Echo device before.

The bundled remote is standard fare: it has controls for
adjusting volume and bass, invoking Alexa, switching between HDMI
inputs, TV and music modes, playback controls, and a night mode
that turns down the volume considerably. The remote itself doesn’t
have a microphone, but it turns down the volume on the soundbar to
allow the far-field mics on the center console to pick up your
commands.

With a depth of four inches and height of two inches, the
Command Bar slots in unobtrusively in front of any 50-inch or
larger TV. And while you can also mount the soundbar on a wall, the
depth means it will jut out considerably.

You get two 4K HDMI 2.0 inputs, as well as an HDMI ARC output
and optical port at the back. And as the soundbar is aimed at users
that are tied into Amazon’s ecosystem, the second HDMI slot is
located on the side, specifically to allow a Fire TV Stick —
although you can also slot in any other streaming device and it’ll
work just fine. There’s also a USB port that provides power for any
streaming devices that you connect to the soundbar.

Easy configuration and exquisite sound quality make the Command
Bar one of the best Alexa-enabled soundbars today.

Initial configuration is pretty straightforward: you’ll just
have to plug in the soundbar and subwoofer to a wall outlet and use
the Polk Connect app to log in to your Amazon account and set up
Alexa. The Command Bar primarily connects over Wi-Fi, but it also
has Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to just connect your phone
to the soundbar to play music.

There are adjustable EQ modes for movies, music, and sports, and
you can easily switch between the modes from the remote. Thanks to
Alexa integration, you can easily switch between various sound
modes and HDMI inputs just by issuing commands — and you’ll even
get an oral confirmation whenever a particular mode is
selected.

The Command Bar offers the same features as any other
Alexa-enabled device: you can talk to the virtual assistant for
your daily news briefing, controlling your smart home devices,
getting updates on weather and sports, and so much more. One of the
major updates that Polk rolled out to the Command Bar this year is
multi-room audio, allowing the soundbar to be included in a group
with other Alexa devices.

The Command Bar consists of two 3-inch drivers along with a pair
of 1-inch tweeters located at either end of the soundbar. The
subwoofer, meanwhile, has a 6.5-inch driver that pushes 100 watts.
It’s perfect for watching TV shows and movies, and it manages to
outmatch the Sonos Beam in the low-end because of the wireless
subwoofer.

In general, the sound quality is fantastic for a soundbar that
costs less than $300. The subwoofer delivers powerful bass, the
mid-range is very well-defined, and highs are clear and detailed.
The Command Bar is particularly great for watching movies, but it
also does a great job when it comes to playing music.

Polk Command Bar What needs work

My main issue with the Command Bar isn’t with the soundbar
itself, but the Polk Connect app. The app serves little purpose
other than for initial configuration, and you don’t get any options
to adjust the equalizer or stream music from the app.

It would’ve been easier to just use the Alexa app to set up the
soundbar considering the lack of options with Polk Connect. My only
other qualm is that the design of the soundbar is mundane. The
Sonos Beam looks much better in comparison, and Polk could have
added more flair to the design.

Polk Command Bar Should you buy it?

With the Command Bar, Polk has managed to create the perfect
Alexa-enabled soundbar. It has a wide variety of connectivity
options, and the Alexa integration unlocks a whole new set of
features. The audio quality is excellent for a device in this
category, and the wireless subwoofer adds another dimension to
movies and TV shows.

The addition of multi-room audio makes the Command Bar an even
better deal, and right now there aren’t many alternatives that
deliver quite the same set of features for under $300. Simply put,
this is the Alexa-enabled soundbar you’ve been waiting for.

4.5 out of 5

There are several Alexa-enabled soundbars in the market today,
but the Command Bar stands head and shoulders above the rest thanks
to its combination of features and sound quality. The Command Bar
sounds better than the Sonos Beam thanks to the wireless subwoofer,
and it costs $150 less. That’s one heck of a bargain.

Synergy Polk Command Bar

$249 at Amazon

Great sound quality backed by Alexa smarts.

The Command Bar is a great budget soundbar in its own right, and
Alexa integration combined with multi-room audio make it one of the
best options in this category right now. The wireless subwoofer
allows it to deliver punchy bass, and the far-field mic picks up
your voice from across the room. Overall, you’re getting great
value for your money.

Source: FS – Android
Polk Command Bar review: Alexa has never sounded this good