116

TCL Alto 3 Review

True Score

76
74
1

Experts

82
1,227

Consumers

Product Awards

GR Certified

Customer Favorite

Expert Rankings

The TCL Alto 3 Bluetooth Soundbar is an upgrade from built-in TV audio, but connection limitations and setup complexities should be considered before purchase. Overall, it’s a budget-friendly solution but won’t satisfy those who want true audio enhancement.

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Product Snapshot

Overview

Released in 2020, the TCL Alto 3 is an entry-level soundbar that boasts a loud stereo soundstage to fill large living rooms. Similar to the best speakers out there, it touts a flat frequency response slope that helps deliver crystal-clear dialogues, vocals, and high-pitched notes with a balanced and neutral sound profile. But unlike the most popular soundbars, the Alto 3 does not feature any dedicated subwoofer unit for thumping low bass.

And unlike the best wireless soundbars, this model does not support the more advanced lossless audio codecs like Dolby Atmos or DTS: X for a wider soundstage, as it only supports Dolby Digital over optical audio. But if you need PCM support, check out our Vizio SB2020n-G6 review. It does not come with a built-in microphone for voice assistants to double as a smart speaker.

In terms of wireless connectivity, this soundbar only features Bluetooth but lacks Wi-Fi, Chromecast, or Apple AirPlay. And its wired connectivity options only consist of an optical port, a 3.5 mm auxiliary audio jack, and a USB port.The audio latency over optical is also just okay, which isn’t great for gamers.

Consensus

our Verdict

The TCL Alto 3 Bluetooth Soundbar only supports Bluetooth connections, was tested to have subpar latency, and doesn’t provide the option for Chromecast, Apple Airplay, or WiFi connections.

The soundbar offers better sound than the quality of built-in TV speakers, but it has weak bass that disappoints both for movie effects and bass-heavy music genres. However, its balanced mid-range suits vocal-centric content, benefiting TV shows and podcasts. The inclusion of EQ presets allows for sound customization.

Ultimately, the soundbar falls short regarding soundstage, volume, and support for advanced formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS. There are also complexities in setup, limited controls, and the need for manual AUX cord reconnection, which hinder user experience. In terms of build quality, the soundbar is sturdy plastic, but the fabric can rip easily.

ReasonS to Buy

  • Bluetooth compatibility for wireless audio streaming
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Balanced mid-range suitable for vocals
  • EQ presets for sound adjustment
  • Simple interface and remote control
  • Affordable price
  • Supports Dolby Digital over optical
  • Compact design for small spaces
  • Enhances sound quality compared to built-in TV speakers
  • Bluetooth connectivity for wireless playlist access

Reason to Avoid

  • Lacks low bass
  • Limited soundstage
  • Doesn’t support Dolby Atmos or DTS
  • Doesn’t get very loud
  • Bluetooth setup complexities
  • Requires manual reconnection of AUX cord
  • No automatic power-on
  • Not ideal for Roku TV users due to Bluetooth issues
  • Additional remote control needed
  • Limited improvement for movie content

TCL Alto 3 Specs

Bluetooth EnabledBluetooth EnabledYes
DepthDepth3.7"
Dialogue Enhancement FeatureDialogue Enhancement FeatureYes
Energy Star CertifiedEnergy Star CertifiedNo
HDMI ARCHDMI ARCNo
HeightHeight2.4"
Number of Audio ChannelsNumber of Audio Channels2.0
SubwooferSubwooferNo
Surround Sound SupportedSurround Sound SupportedDolby Digital, Virtual Surround
Voice AssistantVoice AssistantNo
Wall MountableWall MountableNo
WeightWeight3.7 lbs
WidthWidth23.6"
Wireless ConnectivityWireless ConnectivityBluetooth
Wireless Subwoofer ConnectivityWireless Subwoofer ConnectivityYes
Works WithWorks WithBluetooth, Remote Control

All Specs

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Product Comparison

TCL Alto 3 Review

TCL Alto 5 Review

True Score

76
62
54
83

Ranking

#

116

/

149

#

145

/

149

#

150

/

149

#

38

/

149

Market Context

Released in 2020, the TCL Alto 3 is an entry-level soundbar that boasts a loud stereo soundstage to fill large living rooms. Similar to the…

Released in 2020, the TCL Alto 3 is an entry-level soundbar that boasts a loud stereo soundstage to fill large living rooms. Similar to the best speakers out there, it touts a flat frequency response slope that helps deliver crystal-clear dialogues, vocals, and high-pitched notes with a balanced and neutral sound profile. But unlike the most popular soundbars, the Alto 3 does not feature any dedicated subwoofer unit for thumping low bass.

And unlike the best wireless soundbars, this model does not support the more advanced lossless audio codecs like Dolby Atmos or DTS: X for a wider soundstage, as it only supports Dolby Digital over optical audio. But if you need PCM support, check out our Vizio SB2020n-G6 review. It does not come with a built-in microphone for voice assistants to double as a smart speaker.

In terms of wireless connectivity, this soundbar only features Bluetooth but lacks Wi-Fi, Chromecast, or Apple AirPlay. And its wired connectivity options only consist of an optical port, a 3.5 mm auxiliary audio jack, and a USB port.The audio latency over optical is also just okay, which isn’t great for gamers.

The TCL Alto 3 soundbar and the TCL Alto 5 both feature a 2.0 channel speaker setup, and as a result, both have remarkably similar…

The TCL Alto 3 soundbar and the TCL Alto 5 both feature a 2.0 channel speaker setup, and as a result, both have remarkably similar performance in almost all aspects. However, the TCL Alto 5 does have a slightly better build quality, and it boasts a marginally wider stereo soundstage than the Alto 3 soundbar. To learn more about the TCL Alto 5 soundbar, visit our TCL Alto 5 review today.

Both the TCL Alto 3 and the TaoTronics TT-SK026 soundbar feature a 2.0 channel speaker setup and perform similarly in all regards. But the Alto…

Both the TCL Alto 3 and the TaoTronics TT-SK026 soundbar feature a 2.0 channel speaker setup and perform similarly in all regards. But the Alto 3 soundbar does have a slightly tighter frequency response slope than the TT-SK026, which results in clearer vocals and dialogues. On the other hand, the TaoTronics model can get a lot louder than the Alto 3 soundbar. We’ve delved deeper into the TT-SK026 soundbar in our TaoTronics TT-SK026 review.

The TCL Alto 3 and the Sonos Ray soundbar both feature a 2.0 channel speaker setup, resulting in similar stereo soundstage performance. While the Alto…

The TCL Alto 3 and the Sonos Ray soundbar both feature a 2.0 channel speaker setup, resulting in similar stereo soundstage performance. While the Alto 3 only touts Bluetooth for wireless streaming, the Sonos Ray soundbar has both Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay 2.0 with Spotify Connect. But the Alto 3 gets the upper hand in terms of audio latency. We’ve covered the Sonos Ray soundbar in more detail in our Sonos Ray review.

Bluetooth Enabled

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Depth

3.7"

3.3"

3.74"

Dialogue Enhancement Feature

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Energy Star Certified

No

n/a, No

No

No

HDMI ARC

No

No

No

Height

2.4"

2.6"

2.6"

2.79"

Number of Audio Channels

2.0

2.1

2.0

Subwoofer

No

Optional (sold separately)

Build-in

Dig Deeper

Taotronics TT-SK026 Review →

Sonos Ray Review →

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  • Save $22
    $59.99
    $37.99

    Availability

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    Free Shipping

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Score Card

E

Expert Score

74

*.75

We place a 75% weighted value on Expert Test Scores

C

Customer Score

82

*.25

We place a 25% weighted value on Customer Scores

True Score

76

Any product with a True Score above 60 is a Meh

Expert Scores

  • Rtings
    103

    Category Trust Rating

    53
    The TCL Alto 3 is bad for mixed usage. Its uneven sound profile is lacking… Read More

    By:

    John Panoryios, Becca Fischer, And Yannick Khong

Customer Scores

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