PWI–Parenting While Intoxicated

…on good food, questionable judgment, and making life work

Reviewed: The Polk Audio N1 Gaming SurroundBar – A PWI Merch Moment

Rich, Corinthian plastic and smells of mahagony

Rich, Corinthian plastic and smells of mahagony

I won’t get into what I do for a living, but I will tell you that frequently get free things that are awesome.

And the week of Thanksgiving was no exception.  I came home on Black Friday to find a HUGE box waiting for me at the house.


Festivus pole?

After what was an insane week, that was probably the coolest thing that could have ever happened.  I mean, unless I had come home from work and there had been the giant box and my wife wearing a fetching frock and at the same time she was holding a frosty gin cocktail for me.

But hey, back to the real world.  Inside the box was the Polk Audio N1 Gaming SurroundBar.  At a paltry $299, it is the first soundbar ever designed with video games in mind, but it also has built-in settings for movies/TV and music.  Microsoft came to Polk a few years ago and were interested in having some high-end audio products designed for their next-generation console, the Xbox One.   Their love child is this soundbar.  The deal is that most “gaming” related accessories are really cheap stuff; there are tons of weak-ass headsets in garish neon colors and are exorbitantly priced.  This is not one of those products; Polk makes some amazing audio equipment and this may be the first-ever “grown up” gaming accessory ever.

But the cool thing is that you don’t have to use it just for gaming – I’m currently using mine as part of my DVR in my upstairs area and we are also streaming audio to it wirelessly from my wife’s computer via Bluetooth.



Looong boxes

Looong boxes

Inside the box is the soundbar, a nice remote, a 6 foot fiber optic audio cable, and a power supply that is really nice because it plugs into a standard plug (no power pack).  Setup was a snap because of the included fiber optic cable.  It sounded very, very good with the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One; I’d use it in my gaming setup, but I already have a 1200W receiver and 7.1 surround sound rig, so the surroundbar is a little outgunned here.  Two of the sound  fields were designed for gaming; one for first-person shooters that was designed with the Halo team and one for racing games that was designed with the Forza crew.  I tried both racing games and FPS titles and it truly made a difference.  Very rich and deep sound profile to be sure.

There are a number of inputs in addition to fiber optics – there is also a digital co-ax input and an analog 3.5mm minijack that one could use with a line-in or a splitter to input RCA left and right audio.  The N1 also has a built-in Dolby Digital decoder as well.

From left to right: Input 1 - Fiber Optic Input 2 - Digital Co-ax Input 3 - Analog minijack (splitter not included) Subwoofer Power Supply

From left to right:
Input 1 – Fiber Optic
Input 2 – Digital Co-ax
Input 3 – Analog 3.5mm minijack (splitter not included)
Power Supply

As  I mentioned before, not only have we been using this for our DVR (which by the way, how did I ever live with the puny TV speakers prior to getting this beast?), we have also been using it to stream audio via Spotify and others.   Not sure what the limitations are, but it picks up the computer just fine from another room 40 feet away.  And I will say that this unit pumps out some SERIOUS volume.  The room it is currently in is a large space with 20 foot ceilings and we haven’t really been able to put the volume up past the halfway mark without potentially damaging our home and possibly killing the dog or children.  Seems like there is plenty of bass out of the box, but I’m curious to see what an additional powered device would do.  It also can be mounted on a wall as well and all of the cables are set up to be hidden.

Fits nicely under the toob

Fits nicely under the toob

In addition to the provided remote, the bar also has a learning function, so you can get it to learn the commands of your existing remotes.  I have mine set up through a Logitech Harmony remote, and a word of advice is that you’ll want to make sure you leave a few moment delay in the power-on sequence as it takes a few seconds for the SurroundBar to power up before you can change inputs/etc.

Nice subtle buttons

Nice subtle buttons

All in all a fantastic product, I would have absolutely purchased one myself if I had not be given one.


– Very solid construction; this feels like a nice piece of furniture
– Multiple sound input options
– Includes not only a remote, but also a learning function


– Takes a second to warm up at the beginning
– God save us if anyone were to crank this up to full blast, let alone to 11
– People who buy cheap crap from WalMart or who require a “b” on their substandard fashion statement headsets may have difficulty adjusting to this product


About Sparky

Sparky is a salaryman for an unspecified Fortune 200 company. But more importantly, he has a smoking jacket and entertains fellow bon vivants in his secret lair, The Manitarium. He believes in booze, charcuterie, bbq, bourbon, villainy, craft cocktails, ascots, the Oxford comma, and freedom. He is married to a beautiful attorney who is a life-long vegetarian and was raised as an experiment by her meddling nutrition scientist parents. He can be found trying to save his kids from a life of vegetables...

One comment on “Reviewed: The Polk Audio N1 Gaming SurroundBar – A PWI Merch Moment

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This entry was posted on December 16, 2013 by in Generally Bad Advice and tagged , , , , , .
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