The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround soundbar is a 5.1 system that uses ‘Multibeam’ technology to improve surround performance without using rear satellites. Its sound profile features punchy and boomy bass suitable for action movies and EDM music. It also has room correction and the ability to stream music to the bar using various wireless options. However, it does not support Dolby Atmos and has only a few EQ options.
The ability to immerse yourself in a movie’s audio world by simply placing a couple of rechargeable speakers behind your couch is the Bar 5.1’s best feature. The musical reproduction range is underwhelming, with weak mids and a noticeable ‘gap’ between what mids there are and the bass produced by the subwoofer. The speakers can have room-shaking volume while maintaining clarity. The dedicated voice driver ensures that dialogue is never overpowered, which is a holy grail in TV audio.
It’s also not the most visually appealing design, appearing significantly less expensive than the price would imply. If you want a simple 5.1 system, the soundbar is frequently on sale, so it’s worth considering. It also includes a subwoofer, which is wired to a power supply but wirelessly connects to the soundbar, similar to those found in more traditional ‘wireless’ setups. Each satellite speaker has a 10-hour battery life and can be charged by plugging it into the soundbar. If your TV doesn’t support Atoms and you want something that will knock your socks off with bass, the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround soundbar could be the right fit — as long as you have room for the subwoofer and don’t mind fiddling with the unit to get it set up properly.
What you will see here?
- Structure of the JBL Bar 5.1
- JBL Bar 5.1 Specifications – Converts from 2.1 to 5.1
- JBL Bar 5.1 performance – An exhilarating experience
- Advantages of JBL Bar 5.1
- Disadvantages of JBL Bar 5.1
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Structure of the JBL Bar 5.1
JBL’s new Bar 5.1 speaker takes a unique approach to 5.1 surround sound. The previous model included wireless surrounds that could be detached and positioned behind you to create a true 5.1 system. The new version, Bar 5.1 Surround, keeps all speakers in the main soundbar and builds virtual surround sound with “Multibeam” technology. The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround soundbar has a small as well as a large footprint. It’s mostly made of plastic, and while it feels sturdy, the buttons and screen aren’t as smooth as competitors like the Bose Sound Touch 300. The JBL Bar 5.1 appears to be a bargain for its high price.
The main soundbar is 40 x 3.94 x 2.28 inches in size and has a charcoal-colored case that matches most TVs. The soundbar employs five racetrack-style drivers and two side-firing 1.25-inch tweeters to deliver five 50-watt channels behind the grille, while the 300-watt sub employs a 10-inch down-firing woofer. The overall system has a power output of 550 watts and a switching frequency of 40H-20KHz.The sound bar’s back panel includes HDMI (video in for 4K resolution pass-through), HDMI ARC, optical, USB, and the included power cable. A power/pairing button is located on the subwoofer’s rear panel, just above the connection for the included power cable. There is an HDMI cable but no optical cable.
The JBL Bar 5.1 remote control is light, plastic, and, to be honest, cheap. Nonetheless, it works well and keeps the number of buttons to a minimum while still providing all the functionality you could want. I appreciate how simple it is to access the audio sync timing, including a plus and minus option. The entire system was simple to install. Getting everything out of the box was the most challenging part – a step that comes with its own set of instructions.
JBL Bar 5.1 Specifications – Converts from 2.1 to 5.1
Switch between 2.1 to 5.1 sound system
The ability to switch between a 2.1 and 5.1 sound system is the JBL Bar 5.1’s standout feature. This system works well as a soundbar with a subwoofer, providing room-filling sound for those who want to keep their setup as simple as possible. The system comes with a calibration microphone, so you can let it auto-calibrate the sound in seconds. Remove the end speakers, which are in place by magnets, and place them at the back of the room if you want true surround sound. If the rear speakers are always placed in the same location at the back of the room, you only need to do this once. When you detach these speakers, they automatically switch to 5.1 mode – no need for additional action.
Wireless surround sound
The wireless surround sound capabilities of the JBL Bar 5.1 soundbar are, without a doubt, its most appealing feature. Unplug the satellite speakers, place them in your room, plug a small black microphone into the main soundbar, and then run auto-calibration, which will fill your room with short bursts of loud and unpleasant white noise for a short period of time. With Mad Max, you can clearly hear the various murmur voices and soundtrack elements to immerse you in Max’s insanity. The balance was very satisfying and instantly immersive, as it should be with a good surround sound system. Because the sound quality favors trebles and bass, the echoing chamber of Rey’s reveal in Star Wars felt expansive but not quite real, which was disappointing.
A few basic sound mode options provide a quick way to adjust the sound setup to match what you’re watching. Film, voice, music, sports, and standard are among the categories. With the remote, you can also easily adjust the bass or wireless surround, so most people should be able to find the perfect audio setup. Also, switching back to 2.1 for regular TV makes a movie feel more special – the simple setup process heightens the anticipation of what’s to come.
A night mode essentially squishes the dynamic range to avoid abrupt volume spikes. This reduces noise in the house and allows others to go about their lives without any frustration by hordes of the undead putting pressure on their ears while you witness the Walking Dead in the other room. In reality, it does not appear to alter the sound notably to the listener, which appears to be a good thing – how well it works for others is a different story.
JBL Bar 5.1 performance – An exhilarating experience
The JBL Bar 5.1 soundbar is ideal for watching movies and listening to music. It sounded better than less expensive alternatives such as the Yamaha YAS-209, but it can’t compete with more expensive Atoms units such as the Sonos Arc. 5.1 gallons Surround’s virtual surround sound worked surprisingly well, resulting in a rich, all-encompassing sound. The voices were clear and understandable, though the treble was a little harsh in some places. As a result, if you go loud or crank up the bass, the 510W of power at your disposal will provide a room-shaking experience. This is significantly higher than the Philips Soundbar speaker’s maximum power output of 210W.
The problem arises when trying to achieve the same balanced sound at lower volume levels. Unless you are specifically in voice mode, lowering the volume below a certain threshold makes it difficult to hear voices. However, this isn’t ideal: voice mode isn’t available. If audio quality is important to you, a system like the Samsung HW-MS650 is a good choice. It lacks the Bar 5.1’s surround sound features, but it has an impressive dynamic range. On the other hand, if you don’t have the space for a wired-in surround sound system or prefer the flexibility of not always having satellite speakers sitting behind you.
Advantages of JBL Bar 5.1
- Wireless connectivity options are exceptional.
- There is still room for growth.
- True wireless 5.1 surround sound
- Setup and use are simple.
- Very clear vocals.
- Lucid conversation of largemouth bass
- The virtual surround sound system is quite impressive.
- Wireless subwoofer
- Make a plan for your soundbar setup.
Disadvantages of JBL Bar 5.1
- Voice levels can be challenging to manage.
- Inadequate performance in quiet listening
- Additional EQ controls and/or audio modes could be included.
- It’s a lot harder to set up than it should be.
- Excessively large subwoofer Music appears to be flat.
- There is a gap between the mids and the bass in a plastic design.
- There are only two EQ presets available.
- No support for Atmos.
- There are thumping and compression artifacts at maximum volume.
The JBL Bar 5.1 is a difficult device to evaluate definitively. On the one hand, one will hesitate to recommend a device that performs poorly with music. Still, one can’t help themselves after looking at the ease of converting a soundbar into a completely wireless surround sound system. If you want the minimalism of a soundbar but the immersion of a surround sound system and a Bluetooth speaker, the JBL Bar 5.1 is for you. It has a big, bassy sound that adds to action films and sports ferocity. People who want a more subtle, balanced sound will use you. If you’re going to use a subwoofer as your main car stereo in your lounge room, it is not the device for you.