Today we’re going to be comparing two really popular soundbars to get you that soul-enriching cinematic quality sound that is perfect for every setting, from soft-spoken movies to action-packed video games and much more. The comparison today is between the Polk Signa S3, which is an upgrade to the popular Polk Signa S2, and the Klipsch Cinema 400, a beautiful product with the audio quality to match! To make this choice easier for you, we’ve reviewed both products in great detail, along with their distinguishing features and our expert recommendation.
Let’s talk about the price point first. Budget is one of the most important aspects that will decide the purchase decision. It’s important that the product gives the best bang for your buck. Both these products fall in the same price category which is the moderate $250 to $350 range.
POLK SIGNA S3:
At the time of writing, the Polk Signa S3 is available on Amazon (link mentioned) at $279. This makes it about 15% cheaper than the Klipsch Cinema 400. So that will definitely be a consideration when making the purchase decision.
KLIPSCH CINEMA 400:
Compared to this, the Klipsch Cinema 400 is available for about $319 on Amazon (link mentioned). It’s a bit on the higher side as compared to the Signa S3, so read further to find out if it has the attributes to justify the price.
The Polk Signa S3 is known for its sturdy build quality and reliability and is priced a little lower than the Klipsch Cinema 400, so based solely on that the S3 wins in this category. But let’s now see if the audio output and the design sleekness tick all your boxes and makes you open your wallet!
Here’s my favorite category to review. This is one of the most (if not the most) important deciding factors for most people. Both the competitors come very close. The availability of different sound modes, and the usage preference is what it will ultimately come down to.
POLK SIGNA S3:
The Polk Signa S3 is a 2.1 channel soundbar, which means it is a stereo plus subwoofer. It’s new built-in Wi-Fi means there won’t be any more dropouts while listening to music! The subwoofer is easy to set up. It’s plug-and-play and it will give you just below 50 Hz, which is really great for listening to music and also decent enough for most people when it comes to movies and TV, although it’s important to note here that it doesn’t give you that punchy cinema vibe. Although audio optical does sound good it is not as versatile as the HDMI arc.
The Polk Signa S3 will automatically work with most TV remote controls, but it comes with its own awesome remote control. The three different modes quickly get you hearing what matters most. “Movies” for cinematic and television content, “Night” which lowers the bass but keeps to mid-range for vocal clarity and less boom, and “Music” which pushes the highs and lows for great music clarity. The one particular feature that stands out for me that is popular with this series is definitely the Voice Assist, which significantly boosts dialogue clarity.
KLIPSCH CINEMA 400:
The Klipsch Cinema 400 is a very complete sound system. Its wireless subwoofer works effectively up to 9 meters. Although if you stop and play audio it takes about a second for the subwoofer to kick in.
In terms of remote control, besides the overall volume buttons, you can control the subwoofer volume independently, which is pretty cool. You can also toggle the LED on and off, which is really helpful for when you’re watching a movie with all lights off, so it doesn’t distract you (considering they’re really bright). A setback however is that it has a pretty narrow field for the sound throw, maybe attributing to its size.
Additionally, you have a dialogue button, a virtual surround system mode, as well the night mode. The dialogue enhancer feature (as the name suggests), basically brings up the voice so it’s more foreground, without having to make the volume too loud. Night mode works in a similar way; it reduces the dynamic range between the softest and the loudest points of what you’re watching. I actually found that the best way to enjoy movies at night is to have the night mode and the dialogue enhancer on simultaneously. And of course, the virtual surround mode, which worked a lot better than I expected it to, gives you a surround feeling even though the cinema 400 is not a surround setup. But a weird thing I noticed was that with the surround mode “off”, I can pretty much hear the dialogue in the center, but when the feature is turned “on”, the voice felt tilted slightly towards the left. It is crisp, and the sound doesn’t distort no matter how loud I play it.
When it comes down to sound quality, both of the products come close. But most people would prefer that surround cinematic feel that the Klipsch Cinema 400 delivers. Its clarity of speech, crisper output, and dynamic range definitely overpowers the Polk Signa S3 in most areas. It’s downward facing drivers are perfect for wooden or concrete floors.
Of course, when you’ve found the perfect device that’s delivering the premium quality audio you were looking for, you also want the product to aesthetically pleasing. It should look and feel premium too. Let’s see how the two competitors perform here.
POLK SIGNA S3:
The Polk Signa S3 is stylish, and only about about 2.1 inches tall, so even if it is kept in front of a 65-inch TV, it doesn’t block any sensors. For comparison, its competitor for today is 2.8 inches tall.
The soundbar is 35-inches wide. Its plastic construction feels really durable. The back of the unit has the hanging brackets and your 3 inputs that is the optical, HDMI arc and your auxiliary as well as the standard power input. For most people it would sit on the TV stand, but you can easily mount using the mounting brackets (included in the box).
KLIPSCH CINEMA 400:
The box of the Klipsch Cinema 400 is equipped with the soundbar, the subwoofer, connecting power cords, an HDMI cable, and mounting brackets. In terms of design, the sub-woofer is very subdued, which in my opinion is the way it should be – hidden away in a corner not getting any attention. The cone and the driver are actually pointing downwards. Not forward, not backwards. Which is a little different but really good in performance. Downward facing drivers for subwoofers are perfect for wooden or concrete floors.
The soundbar like the subwoofer is quite subdued in terms of design, but honestly a lot of soundbars tend to be very plain looking but this is quite simple. But my favorite thing is definitely the signature Klipsch horns on either sides. It just makes everything look really classy.
Both the Klipsch Cinema 400 and the Polk Signa S3 are pretty classy and decent looking and can be used in both formal and informal settings. But I personally love the subtlety of the Klipsch and of course its signature horns over the more basic (although sleek) design of the Signa S3.
THE FINAL VERDICT
The Polk Signa S3 works well a lot of settings. Its long size looks really good placed in any living room, while the Klipsch Cinema 400, attributing to its subwoofer’s downward facing driver performs extremely well on wooden and concrete floors. Overall, I will say the Polk Signa S3 is a worthy contender that sounds amazing with music and is a huge improvement for movies and TV over the speakers that come with the TV, although not a true surround sound substitute. So, if music is what you’re going to be listening mostly, then this might be your go-to product. But if you’re looking for a more practical soundbar that has great music capabilities, but also gives you the cinematic vibe at home, and an overall engulfing experience, the Klipsch Cinema 400 ticks all the boxes!