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TCL’s newest soundbar strives to elevate a home theatre on a budget

Key Takeaways

  • The two new series sit at both end of TCL’s soundbar lineup.
  • S45H is an entry-level soundbar available for $180 with Dolby Atmos.
  • Its Q series soundbars are a premium upgrade with true multichannel sound.



TCL is well known for its budget-minded TVs and audio solutions. At CES this year, the company announced a new lineup of soundbars, including two new series, the budget-focused S Class and more premium Q Class. At the time, we knew that each model would feature Dolby Atmos, but not much detailed information was available beyond that. Now, more details about the new lineup are available, including the fact that you can pick up the new S45H entry-level soundbar for only $180.

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Before diving into each speaker’s specifics, there are a handful of features that apply across the board. TCL says that it designed the new soundbars to complement its newest TVs, which includes styling that pairs with the look of its TVs. Beyond looks, they also feature a new TCL TV Ready feature that enables a “TV as Center Channel Mode.” This mode allows a TCL TV to send center channel content through its built-in speakers, resulting in clearer dialogue that seems like it’s coming through the screen. Sony offers a similar feature, but TCL’s version doesn’t require an analog connection from the TV to the soundbar.


TCL says that it designed the new soundbars to complement its newest TVs, which includes styling that pairs with the look of its TVs

Additionally, all the new soundbar models are Roku TV Ready, so if you own a Roku TV (regardless of the TV manufacturer), you can control the soundbar using the TV’s remote and see more settings in the Roku TV interface. Plus, all will work with Dolby Atmos-capable TVs and come with a wall-mount kit, HDMI cable, and remote control.


The S series offers premium features at a budget price

$180 for a soundbar is a steal

The S45H soundbar on a built-in shelf in a living room with a TV displaying a snowboarder above it.
Image Credit: TCL


Kicking things off, the S45H sits at the very entry point to the company’s soundbar lineup. It is a 2.0-channel Dolby Atmos soundbar with 100 watts. This budget speaker is 31.8 inches long and offers HDMI ARC/eARC, optical input, 3.5mm analog input, and Bluetooth. If that’s not enough, there’s a USB-A port to play digital music files from a storage device.

The TCL S45H soundbar against a white background.

TCL S45H

The TCL S45H is a budget soundbar that offers Dolby Atmos, DTS 5.1, automatic room calibration, and plenty of connectivity options.

Connectivity
Bluetooth

Ports
HDMI eARC, Optic Digital Audio, 3.5mm AUX

Dimensions
31.89″ x 2.36″ x 3.86″

Buttons
On/Off, Input, Bluetooth, Vol-, Vol+

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Dolby Atmos, app control, and more from top brands like Bose, Samsung and Sennheiser.

The S45H features a built-in bass reflex port to boost low-end frequencies. Beyond Dolby Atmos, it also supports DTS 5.1, which isn’t typical for soundbars. There’s also a DTS Virtual:X mode for upmixing non-surround audio. The S45H has two front-firing speakers, which means it will rely on virtualization — the software signal processing that mimics additional speakers.


Surprisingly, the S45H (and S55H) offer automatic room calibration via the TCL Home mobile app. This feature used to only be available for the top-of-the-line Q series, so it’s exciting to see that trickle down to the entry-level lineup. We haven’t listened to the S45H yet, but $180 for a soundbar with Dolby Atmos and automatic room calibration is quite impressive. It should allow for a much more immersive, quality sound in your home theater without spending a fortune, which is always appreciated.

The TCL S55H soundbar in a living room.
Image Credit: TCL

The S55H is a slight step up from the S45H. The soundbar itself is the same, though you get an additional wireless subwoofer with a 5.5-inch driver for $40 more. That subwoofer makes a difference in obtaining a quality cinematic experience, so for those wanting to kit out their home theater, spending the extra $40 is likely a smart move.

The TCL S55H soundbar and subwoofer against a white background.

TCL S55H

The TCL S55H soundbar features a separate wireless subwoofer, Dolby Atmos, and automatic room calibration.

Connectivity
Bluetooth

Ports
HDMI eARC, Optic Digital Audio, 3.5mm AUX

Dimensions
31.89″ x 2.36″ x 3.86″

Buttons
On/Off, Input, Bluetooth, Vol-, Vol+

Drivers
5.5-inch driver in subwoofer


The TCL Q series soundbars offer a jump in price and features

The Q series sits at the top end of TCL’s lineup

The TCL Q75H soundbar and subwoofer in a living room.
Image Credit: TCL

The Q series is a significant upgrade from the more budget S series of soundbars. Both the Q75H and Q85H feature true multichannel sound because of multiple drivers in the main soundbar. Both come with a separate subwoofer and offer Dolby Atmos. They also work with DTS:X, which is an object-based surround sound format that has been gaining popularity because of the support of IMAX Enhanced by Disney+.

TCL Q75H soundbar and subwoofer against a white background.

TCL Q75H

The TCL Q75H is a 620-watt Dolby Atmos soundbar with 5.1.2 channels and 11 drivers. It comes with a wireless subwoofer with a 6.5-inch driver.

Connectivity
Bluetooth, Apple Airplay

Ports
HDMI, HDMI eARC, Optical Digital Audio, USB, 3.5mm AUX

Dimensions
41.50″ x 4.86″ x 2.68″

Buttons
On/Off, Input, Bluetooth, Vol -, Vol+

Drivers
6.5-inch driver in subwoofer

Both Q soundbars provide an HDMI input, so you can plug in external devices like gaming consoles and Blu-ray players, and the soundbar will send the video signal back to the TV. The Q soundbars do not support DMI 2.1 formats such as variable refresh rate (VRR) or high frame rates, though, so serious gamers may want to look elsewhere for their soundbar needs.


In terms of specifics, the S75H is a $900, 5.1.2-channel, 620-watt soundbar with 11 drivers. That includes two dedicated units for bouncing Atmost heigh channel audio off the ceiling and back to you. There are also TCL’s Ray Danz side-firing acoustic reflectors, which function in a similar manner, though they bounce sound outward. It comes with a wireless subwoofer with a 6.5-inch driver.

The TCL Q85H soundbar in a living room with blue graphics showing the surround sound.
Image Credit: TCL

The S85H steps things up to $1,000. That extra $100 results in an 860-watt, 7.1.4-channel soundbar that is comparable to Samsung, LG, and Vizio flagship systems. Four of those channels are housed in the included wireless satellite speakers for a true surround sound experience.


The TCL Q85H soundbar, speakers, and subwoofer on a white background.

TCL Q85H

The TCL Q85H is a premium 860-watt, 7.1.4-channel soundbar that comes with a wireless subwoofer and two wireless satellite speakers for a true surround sound experience.

Connectivity
Bluetooth, Apple Airplay

Ports
HDMI, HDMI eARC, Optical Digital Audio, USB, 3.5mm AUX

Dimensions
41.50″ x 4.86″ x 2.68″

Buttons
On/Off, Input, Bluetooth, Vol -, Vol+

Drivers
6.5-inch driver in wireless subwoofer

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