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Polk, Alexa Hook Up At A Soundbar

‘Just Ask’ feature lowers volume when ‘Alexa’ is said

Sound United’s Polk brand came to CES with one of the industry’s first wireless multiroom soundbars with far-field microphones and an embedded Cloud-based digital assistant.

The $299-MSRP Command Bar, available globally in March, will feature built-in Amazon Alexa to deliver voice control of Alexa-supported Wi-Fi music-streaming services, networked smart-home devices, and Alexa-enabled A/V products, including Amazon’s 4K Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. The Amazon streaming devices can be plugged into the bar’s two HDMI 2.0a ports and get power from the bar’s USB port to stream video content to an HDMI-connected TV. The HDMI ports are spaced to fit the Fire TV Stick and other wide HDMI-streaming dongles.

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A so-called “Just Ask” feature automatically reduces playback volume when the wake-up word “Alexa” is uttered so the ensuing voice command can be interpreted correctly, the company said.

Key features include built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, two 4K HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2 copy protection, HDMI passthrough of HDR 10 and Dolby Vision HDR, one HDMI (ARC) port, an optical audio input, Ethernet RJ45 port and Dolby and DTS 5.1 surround.

The bar packs two 1- by 3-inch full-range drivers and two 1-inch tweeters, complemented by a ported, wireless outboard 6.5-inch subwoofer.

The product’s feature set also includes proprietary dialog-enhancing technology, called Voice Adjust for Crystal Clear Dialogue, to isolate and adjust the voice channel for clearer vocals. Preset EQ setting are optimized for playing back movies, music or sports and include subwoofer-level adjustment.

The bar supports HDMI CED, comes with IR remote, and features keyholes for wall mounting.

Alexa-supported music services that can be controlled by voice include Amazon Music, TuneIn, Pandora, iHeartradio, Sirius XM and Spotify. Other Alexa-enabled services include information, news and Audible audiobook playback.

Michael Greco, Polk’s global brand director, contends the soundbar “profoundly changes how we control our home theaters” and “produces Polk Audio-quality sound for movies and music, while simultaneously giving owners the flexibility to use the soundbar like they would any other Amazon Alexa product.”