Representatives tell us that the reference design is relying on a lossless audio codec, so you should still expect high quality sound. It offers solid audio/video synchronization, which is a potential concern with all wireless hardware. Naturally, you can also add those Roku TV speakers as rear channels with one of the wireless soundbars.
While Roku could easily build its own wireless soundbar at this point — it’s now become the top smart TV OS in the US — the reference design helps the company offload the burden of building and distributing more audio hardware. Roku just released the Streambar, a $130 wired soundbar, and last year unveiled the $180 Smart Soundbar, both of which include streaming player capabilities. TCL plans to announce its own wireless soundbar using the reference design at CES on January 12th, Roku says.
The company also announced that Element will soon be launching 2.0 and 2.1 Roku TV Ready soundbars (the latter includes a subwoofer). Roku also plans to bring the TV Ready initiative international later this year, though it isn’t announcing partners or hardware just yet.