We have had the pleasure of using the JBL Bar 5.1 soundbar for the past month as part of our premium TV testing regimen. It packs 510W of excellent sound and impressive bass starting at 40Hz.
This sound bar is unique. It has a 3.1 (Left/Centre/Right) soundbar, wireless subwoofer and two rechargeable wireless satellite L+R speakers. It also passes through 4K Ultra HD sound. After launch, it was so popular that it is sold out until September!
All that it is missing is Dolby Atmos sound. But that is reliant on 4K Blu-ray content that supports it. It will decode it to 5.1 anyway.
Review: JBL Bar 5.1 soundbar
In the box (the nice L-shaped box that may fit in a small car)
- Wireless subwoofer
- 2 x Wireless surround sound speakers
- Remote control with battery
- Power cables for unit and subwoofer
- HDMI cable
- AUX cable
- Optical cable
- Calibration microphone
- Wall mount bracket kit
- Quick start guide
- Warranty card
The first impression is, well, like almost any soundbar. It is nice, but in the basic perforated gunmetal grey, it could pass for any brand.
Where it gets interesting is that you plug the wireless satellites into each end to recharge. You can use them to provide 3.1 wider surround sound or unplug and place them behind you for 5.1 sound. The satellite batteries last about 10 hours between charges. Charging takes about three hours on the soundbar dock.
We did ask JBL if there was a separate left and right charging dock so that the satellites could be left in place.
Well no there is no dock, but there is a micro-USB port. So, you can charge and use at them separately at the same time- Eureka – that is great. We did not test full recharge time this way, but we expect a 5V/2A (or 3.4A) would be similar to the dock. There is also a screw hole mount (unsure of size – looks about 10mm) at the back.
The speakers go into standby when not used and automatically reconnect when the soundbar is turned on. There is also a reconnect button if for any reason it does not do so.
The subwoofer also automatically pairs once it has power.
Setup is uber easy
Soundbars are simple to set up. Either plug it into the HDMI ARC cable from the TV or use an Optical Toslink cable. The main difference is that HDMI ARC can usually use the TV remote to control volume and power to the sound bar.
We experimented with layouts. The subwoofer can be anywhere in the room as it provides the deep, floor-shaking sub-bass. It is best on either side of behind where you are sitting.
The satellites are good placed closed to ear height slightly behind where you are sitting.
How do we know? The unit comes with a calibration microphone to set automatically up your room for the best sound. No app is needed – press a button on the remote.