TCL’s 2024 Dolby Atmos soundbars have room calibration and start at $180

After a disappointing showing in 2023, when TCL didn’t announce any Dolby Atmos soundbars, the company came roaring back at CES 2024 with an entirely new lineup featuring Dolby Atmos on every model — including a new 7.1.4 Q Class flagship. At this point, we know a lot more about the two new series (S Class and Q Class), including details on a surprise feature: the S Class now offers automatic room calibration via the TCL Home mobile app — something was previously only available on the Q Class.

The entry-level S45H comes in at $180, while the top-of-the-line Q85H has been priced at $1,000. The two S Class models are available immediately, while the two Q Class soundbars will be released during the summer, but we don’t have exact timing.

The details of the 2024 soundbars were released alongside the reveal of the company’s full 2024 TV lineup.

TCL says its 2024 soundbars are designed to complement its newest TVs in two ways. The design itself is meant to pair well with the look of TCL TVs, but under the hood, there’s also a new TCL TV Ready feature that enables a “TV as Center Channel Mode.”

It’s similar to Sony’s implementation in that TCL’s TVs can send center channel content through their built-in speakers, for clearer dialogue that feels like it’s coming from the screen. Unlike Sony’s version, TCL appears to have achieved this without the need for an extra analog connection from the TV to the soundbar.

All models are also Roku TV Ready, which means that if you own a Roku TV (regardless if it’s made by TCL or another company), you’ll be able to control these soundbars using the TV’s remote and see deeper settings on-screen inside the Roku interface.

Other than those features these new soundbars will work with any Dolby Atmos-capable TV. Each speaker comes with a wall-mount kit, an HDMI cable, and a remote control.

2024 TCL S Class soundbars

The new S Class models have an updated cabinet design with rounded corners and a brushed-metal look. These speakers are simple and easy upgrades for TV audio, and they feature Dolby Atmos, Auto Room Calibration, DTS Virtual:X, HDMI ARC/eARC, and Bluetooth 5.2.

TCL S45H, $180

TCL 2024 S Class S45H soundbar.

TCL’s S45H is a 2.0-channel, 100-watt Dolby Atmos soundbar. It’s 31.8-inches wide and has a built-in bass reflex port, which will help boost low-end frequencies. In addition to HDMI ARC/eARC and Bluetooth, there’s also an optical input and a 3.5mm analog input. There’s also a USB-A port that can be used to play digital music files from a connected storage device. Supported file types are MP3, WMA, FLAC, and WAV.

Dolby Atmos is the standout feature from a surround sound point of view, but the S45H also supports DTS 5.1, an unusual option on soundbars, plus DTS Virtual:X as an optional upmixing mode for non-surround audio sources.

With just two front-firing speakers, the S45H will be making extensive use of virtualization — software signal processing that tries to mimic the presence of additional speakers like overhead height channels. It remains to be seen how effective the S45H’s virtualization proves to be.

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TCL S55H, $220

TCL 2024 S Class S55H soundbar.

TCL’s S55H takes the same soundbar as the S45H and, for $40 more, adds a separate wireless subwoofer with a 5.5-inch driver for a more powerful and cinematic low-end experience.

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2024 TCL Q Class soundbars

TCL’s Q Class soundbars are fairly big jump up from its S Class. They offer true multichannel sound thanks to multiples drivers in the main soundbar, plus separate surround speakers in the case of the Q85H. In addition to Dolby Atmos, they also work with DTS:X, a less commonly used object-based surround sound format that has been making progress lately thanks to support of IMAX Enhanced by Disney+.

They also have an HDMI input, which means you can connect external devices like streaming media players, Blu-ray players, or game consoles, and the soundbar will send the video portion of the signal back to your TV.

Q Class soundbars will passthrough 4K video with Dolby Vision, but they don’t support advanced HDMI 2.1 formats like variable refresh rate (VRR) or high frame rates like 120Hz, so gamers who value these features may want to take that into consideration.

Wi-Fi is available on the Q Class, but it’s limited to just two functions. It supports Apple’s AirPlay 2 media streaming, and it can be used to receive software updates. Like the S Class, the Q Class have optical, analog, and USB inputs, and they also support Bluetooth streaming, but the Q Class products use the slightly older Bluetooth 5.1 specification.

TCL Q75H, $900

TCL 2024 Q Class Q75H soundbar.

The TCL S75H is a 620-watt, 5.1.2-channel soundbar that measures 41.5 inches in width. Under its metal and fabric skin are 11 discrete drivers, including two dedicated up-firing units to bounce Atmos height channel audio off the ceiling and back to your listening position. It also uses TCL’s Ray Danz side-firing acoustic reflectors, which similarly direct sound outward with the intent of bouncing it off side walls — this is how the S75H delivers its surround channels.

For more powerful low-end, the S75H comes with a dedicated wireless subwoofer with a 6.5-inch driver.

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TCL Q85H, $1,000

TCL 2024 Q Class Q85H soundbar.

If you take the S75H and add $100, you get the S85H — a 7.1.4-channel, 860-watt beast that will likely prove to be a more affordable alternative to flagship systems from Samsung, LG, and Vizio. The extra four channels are contained in the included wireless satellite speakers, which deliver left/right rear surround and left/right rear height audio.

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