If you’ve been wavering on whether it’s worth spending money on better sound for your TV, the TCL Alto 6 Plus makes the decision much easier. This does exactly what you want from a soundbar: It greatly improves on the quality of the sound you hear compared to your TV’s built-in speakers. It’s also dead simple to setup and use, and it costs just $99.
Speakers: 2 x full range drivers, 1 x subwoofer
Ports: 3.5mm aux in, optical in, USB-A in, HDMI ARC
Size: 31.5 x 4.2 x 2.4 inches (soundbar), 12.8 x 7.9 x 7.9 inches (subwoofer)
Weight: Not stated
The Alto 6 Plus also sounds impressive, delivering a much bigger sound than you expect at first glance. It’s simplicity has a downside: you can’t adjust the audio — what you hear is what you get. But for the money, you get more than you paid for in improved sound. Keep reading our TCL Alto 6 Plus for the full verdict.
TCL Alto 6 Plus review: Price and Availability
The TCL Alto 6 Plus lists for $129.99, but you can find it for $99.99 at Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Target and elsewhere. That makes it even more affordable than one of the other high-quality, low-price soundbar and subwoofer combos we’ve tested recently: the Creative Stage V2.
TCL Alto 6 Plus review: Design
The Alto 6 Plus is a relatively small package. The 31.5 x 4.2 x 2.4 inch soundbar has two drivers inside and features rounded edges instead of the more traditional rectangular aesthetic. The wireless subwoofer doesn’t take up much space either, at 12.8 x 7.9 x 7.9 inches.
You can connect to your TV via HDMI ARC, or use optical digital or 3.5 mm. There’s a USB port for playing music and you can stream wirelessly using Bluetooth.
The Alto 6 Plus doesn’t have many special features, so there aren’t many buttons on the soundbar itself: just power, input, Bluetooth and volume. There are five LED lights on the front: one that is always on and switches color to indicate the input, and four that flash in various combinations to show you which sound mode you’ve switched to, as well as indicate the volume when you change it.
The remote also keeps it simple, with buttons for power, mute, input and Bluetooth. There’s a wheel that controls the volume and has play/pause, skip and back buttons for controlling music. You can also select from three sound modes.
TCL Alto 6 Plus review: Performance
The Alto 6 Plus produces a surprisingly big sound given its size and price. It makes dialog easy to hear, thanks in part to the extra resonance that the subwoofer punches in. The subwoofer also provides oomph on low-end effects, though it isn’t very detailed.
While watching March Madness basketball games, the announcers were easy to understand, and Lady Whistledown’s voiceovers in Bridgerton sounded clear. In the action-heavy opening scene of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the subwoofer gave extra power to the punches and gunfire. When Thor brings the lightning down on Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War, the room rumbled satisfyingly — though it was a muddy rumble.
The Alto 6 Plus was just okay for playing music. Some of its TV and movie strengths still applied, with the vocals on Black Pumas’s “Fire” sounding clear and the bass rich. But the system lacks punch in the treble tones, which made the horns on the song sound flat. Similarly, The Weeknd’s voice was full on “Bright Lights,” but the rest of the instrumentation was muted.
The little system gets plenty loud for most rooms, maxing out around 94 decibels. But it distorted significantly at that level, and the sound was much more pleasant at 85 decibels — which should still be loud enough for most situations.
TCL Alto 6 Plus review: Setup
The repeating theme here is simplicity. Because the Alto 6 Plus doesn’t have many features, there’s not much you need to do, or can do, during setup.
I connected the Alto 6 Plus to my TV via HDMI, and the soundbar’s HDMI audio return channel (ARC) provided a one-cable connection (the system comes with an HDMI cable in the package). After the connection, I was able to use my TV’s remote to control the level of the soundbar.
TCL also makes TVs that run Roku TV, like the excellent TCL 6-Series Roku TV (R635), and the Alto 6 Plus is “Roku TV Ready.” That means if you have a Roku TV, it will walk you through setting up the soundbar and you can use your Roku remote to control it. I didn’t test this feature, but setup was easy even without a Roku TV.
The Alto 6 Plus has no way to adjust to subwoofer level, which may bother some people who would prefer more or less bass. There’s also no mobile app. In some ways the lack of features was refreshing, as soundbars get more complicated and throw in more ways to complicate the setup process, but if you want the ability to adjust sound output to your tastes, then the Alto 6 Plus is not for you.
You can select one of three sound modes — Movie, Music and TV — but they don’t actually change the sound much. Movie has a little more bass; TV has a little more vocals; music sits between the two.
TCL Alto 6 Plus review: Verdict
For about $100, it’s hard to beat the Alto 6 Plus. It has a big sound and dialog is easy to understand. The subwoofer adds a lot to the audio and gives oomph to action scenes. The Alto 6 Plus simply does the job without any fuss.
The lack of customization is a shame, but few soundbars in this price range offer much in the way of audio adjustments. Vizio’s SB3820-C6 has better overall sound at the same price, but lacks a subwoofer. If, then, you like bass and don’t want to spend more than $100, the Alto 6 Plus is definitely worth a listen.
- More: The best soundbars at any price