This cheap Dolby Atmos soundbar could be a great budget alternative to the Sonos Arc

the polk signa s4 soundbar in a living room
(Image credit: Polk Audio)

If you’ve been lusting over the Sonos Arc but can’t afford the hefty price tag, the latest soundbar from Polk Audio could be an excellent cheaper alternative. 

The Polk Signa S4 comes with support for immersive Dolby Atmos sound - and unlike Sonos’ budget option, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), the new Polk ‘bar features two upfiring speakers that can bounce sound off of your ceiling. This should deliver a more convincing sense of height from your film and game soundtracks - a key component in creating the sensation that sound is coming at you from every angle. 

Many other budget Atmos soundbars rely on digital signal processing to trick your brain into thinking the sound is truly three-dimensional; however, they’re rarely capable of matching ‘true’ Dolby Atmos speakers

Costing a very reasonable $349.99 / £329.99, the Signa S4 also comes with a wireless subwoofer to boost those bass frequencies. While we’re still waiting on Australian pricing and availability, that works out to about AU$490. 

the polk signa s4 wireless subwoofer

(Image credit: Polk Audio)

The new soundbar is also able to upmix non-Dolby Atmos sources, rendering height, surround, and center channels to give the impression of 3D sound.

Even without upmixing, the Polk Signa S4 should sound pretty powerful. Its seven-speaker array features a discrete center channel and left/right tweeters and woofers for a wide soundstage. There are also different modes to make dialogue sound clearer, the bass more powerful, and to reduce the bass and increase dialogue levels to avoid disturbing your neighbors when using the soundbar at night. 

You can hook the new soundbar up to your TV via the HDMI eARC, optical, or AUX-in ports, and it works with Bluetooth so you can use it to play music wirelessly from your phone. 

Analysis: should you buy the Polk Signa S4 over the Sonos Beam (Gen 2)? 

a closeup of the polk audio signa s4 soundbar

(Image credit: Polk Audio)

While we haven’t tested the Polk Signa S4 yet, it could be a really compelling alternative to Sonos’ range of soundbars - especially the latter's cheapest offering, the Sonos Beam (Gen 2). 

That’s because it comes with ‘true’ Atmos drivers rather than relying on psychoacoustic techniques to give the impression of height from your movie soundtracks. This was something that we didn’t feel the second-gen Beam was particularly successful at. Sure, it has a lovely, wide soundstage, but 3D sound? We’re not convinced. 

Otherwise, the Signa S4 shares many of the same specs as the Beam (Gen 2). It has a sleek, compact design and support for HDMI eARC connectivity. 

What it doesn’t have, is integration into Sonos’ excellent wireless multiroom ecosystem. But, if you don’t have other Sonos speakers and don’t plan to add to your home cinema setup, the Signa S4 is considerably cheaper than the Beam (Gen 2) - and the addition of a wireless subwoofer at no extra cost only sweetens the deal. 

We’ll be interested to see if Polk’s new soundbar lives up to the company’s claims of delivering “exceptional sound quality coupled with great value” - and if it can compete with Sonos’ soundbars, Polk will be on to a real winner.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.