amazon fire tv soundbar
“It doesn’t get much simpler than the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar.”
Good bass for a single speaker
impressive virtual surround sound
weak midrange performance
some missing instructions
I’ll be honest: When Amazon announced its new Fire TV soundbar during its Fall 2023 hardware event, I had to suppress a wince. After all, on paper, this speaker doesn’t exactly wow. It’s a simple two-driver, two-channel soundbar that connects to any TV via HDMI or optical, and it comes with its own remote, all for $120. So my expectations were quite low.
And yet, after spending a week with the Fire TV Soundbar, watching movies and TV shows, and even streaming some music, I’m happy to say that this isn’t a bad little speaker. It is not a replacement for more expensive soundbars. But for those who are on a budget, that’s why I think it’s a good buy.
Is this a Fire TV streaming device?
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Despite its name, the Fire TV Soundbar is not an actual Fire TV device. Connecting it to your TV won’t give you the Fire TV interface or give you access to any streaming media services. In other words, it’s a soundbar. Duration.
While it’s true that if you have a Fire TV device – like a Fire TV Omni – you’ll be able to control the volume and power of the Fire TV soundbar with your TV’s remote control, it’s not limited to Fire TV. Any TV connected to the soundbar via HDMI will have the same capability. What makes this unusual is that at this price ($100 to $120) you typically won’t find an HDMI port at all on a soundbar.
So why is it called Fire TV Soundbar? According to Amazon, that’s because the company’s Fire TV team designed and built it. Well then.
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar: What’s in the Box?
The Fire TV Soundbar comes with everything you need to get it connected and running. You get a power cable, an HDMI cable, a remote control with batteries, a simple wall-mount kit, a quick start guide, and a wall-mounting template.
The only thing you might need to buy is an optical cable, but that’s only if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI ARC/eARC port, or if you want to connect an additional audio source (more on that in a moment. More in).
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar: Design
Like many Amazon devices, the Fire TV Soundbar is free of any visible logos. It’s a minimalist black rectangle with a matching fabric grille that wraps around the front four corners. You might be tempted to say that it looks boring, but I’m a firm believer that a soundbar shouldn’t draw attention to itself. And in that respect, the Fire TV Soundbar is perfect.
Size-wise, it will fit almost anywhere. At 24 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall, it won’t look out of place in front of a 32-inch TV, and it’s narrow enough that you can even fit it between the legs of a larger TV.
There are five buttons on the top surface for basic functions like volume, source, power, and Bluetooth, but don’t lose the remote—it has additional functions that the soundbar’s buttons can’t replicate.
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar: Setup and Connection
Like most basic soundbars, the Fire TV Soundbar is virtually plug-and-play. Once you connect it to power and your TV’s HDMI ARC/eARC port, and then turn on your TV, the soundbar should be automatically recognized and used as your TV’s sound output. Needed If it’s not, go into your TV’s settings and make sure the sound is set to Optical/HDMI (or HDMI if you don’t have an optical port).
Here’s a quick tip: If your TV has both HDMI ARC and optical (and you don’t mind using two remotes), use the optical connection. There’s no difference in sound quality, and you’ll be able to keep your HDMI ARC port available for other devices. The optical connections can handle any audio up to Dolby Digital 5.1, which the Fire TV soundbar supports. Dolby Atmos soundbars only require an HDMI connection to deliver sound at the highest possible quality.
For TV sound, your work is done. Congrats. If you choose to use this your next option is to connect an additional device such as a CD player to the optical port if you have it available and/or connect a USB drive to the USB port.
Because each of these is considered a separate input, you can keep all three connected and jump between them using the input selection buttons on the speaker or remote. If you decide to pair your phone, tablet or other device via Bluetooth, the input selection will include that Bluetooth connection, so there is no need to use the Bluetooth button after pairing is complete.
The use of a very familiar sound to announce each of these inputs, rather than needing to decipher the three color-coded LEDs visible behind the fabric grille, is a nice touch.
Don’t want your speaker to talk to you? A long press of the remote’s mute button will cause those announcements to disappear (repeat the long press to bring them back). Speaking of the remote, it’s not going to win any design awards. But it is compact, has easy-to-press buttons that are covered with a rubber layer. This should make it relatively spill-resistant should the inevitable TV dinner disaster occur.
As easy as the Fire TV Soundbar is to set up and use, whether in the box or online, the lack of a full set of instructions is annoying. I haven’t found directions yet on how to use the USB port for playback of digital music files, but here’s what I found – in case you need them:
Amazon Fire TV Soundbar: Sound quality
We buy soundbars because we don’t believe our TV’s built-in speaker system sounds very good, and we want something better. The two ways in which TV speakers commonly fail us are a lack of bass (good bass is one of the keys to a more dramatic sound experience) and a lack of dialogue intelligibility (“What did he just say?”).
The Fire TV Soundbar can solve both problems. Its low-end bass is surprisingly deep and resonant for a single speaker without a subwoofer, and when you shift the EQ mode to its Dialogue setting, it does a good job of emphasizing the higher frequencies associated with speech. Is. With 40 watts of power, it gets fast enough for small rooms and can even handle some larger spaces.
However, the real surprise is the soundbar’s DTS Virtual:X surround sound mode. Putting it on immediately widens the soundstage, and you quickly forget that the small rectangular box beneath your TV is producing the sound – the audio sounds like it’s coming from speakers mounted on either side of your room. This works with any content – and can even be a fun way to listen to music – but the effect is most pronounced when your source material is multichannel (for example, Dolby Digital 5.1).
I enjoyed watching many big Hollywood movies dune, edge of tomorrowAnd Spider-Man: No Way Home Using the Fire TV Soundbar. Even in standard movie mode, I thought dialogue was clear, although I admit it was better in some movies than others.
No, it’s not as good as a true Dolby Atmos soundbar that plays Dolby Atmos content. And, yes, it can work with an external subwoofer for more bass impact. But it’s still a much more immersive experience than you can get from your TV alone.
If you’re finicky about sound or have golden ears, it’s quite obvious that the Fire TV Soundbar has trouble with midrange frequencies. There is a clear lack of detail there. Using the Music EQ setting helps a bit, as does dialing down the bass (there are three levels of bass boost), but it’s still noticeable.
Once you’re immersed in the on-screen action of a big blockbuster movie, your brain will probably adapt pretty quickly – pumping up the bass and using surround mode is definitely the way to go – but Bluetooth Streaming music through the medium can be a bit weak.
Again, it depends on your frame of reference. If you’re coming from a dedicated set of hi-fi stereo speakers, the Fire TV Soundbar can’t compare. But considering that this is essentially a giant Bluetooth speaker, it compares really well to smaller portable Bluetooth speakers in the same price range.
As a budget soundbar, the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar gets the job done. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and it offers better sound than many TVs – in some cases, significantly better sound.
Its biggest problem is that – unless you count its HDMI port as an advantage – it doesn’t really do anything better than the competition. For the same price or less, you can buy a Vizio, LG, or Samsung soundbar that will sound just as good and possibly better.