Price (RRP): $1499.95
Before you get excited at the prospect of 9.1 Dolby Atmos – it is not. JBL Bar 9.1 with Dolby Atmos refers to the number of audio channels, so it is a 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar.
The JBL Bar 9.1 with Dolby Atmos is also one of the lower-cost ‘genuine’ Dolby Atmos soundbars as it has separate left/right rear up-and-front-firing speakers. None of that psychoacoustic trickery here!
That trickery applies to most soundbars that get the five Dolby surround channels and two/four height channels from the one soundbar. Confused? Our Dummies Guide to Dolby Atmos is mandatory reading before you buy an Atmos anything!
So, we expect a lot from this soundbar, and so far it has delivered in spades.
Australian review – JBL Bar 9.1 with Dolby Atmos
- Website here
- Price: $1499.95 (you may find it online for less)
- Elevator Pitch: Add Dolby Atmos and DTS to any Dolby Vision/Atmos capable 4K TV
- Country of Manufacture: China
- Warranty: 2-years
- JBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing as well.) Now it’s part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung.
We use FAIL, PASS and EXCEED against test paradigms suited to a soundbar of this style and price.
What is the JBL Bar 9.1 with Dolby Atmos?
Despite the 9.1 nomenclature, it has a separate 300W (0.1.0) 10” sub-woofer, a 400W (3.0.2) soundbar and a pair of detachable 60W (2.0.2) rear speakers. If you add those numbers up, it is 5.1.4 or a step up from the basic 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos. It offers a massive 820W at 1% THD.
Speakers include 4 x racetrack drivers and 3 x 20mm tweeters in the soundbar and two each up-firing drivers and tweeters in the detachable rear speakers.
It is capable of decoding
- Dolby Atmos Dolby Digital subsets like 5.1 (most streaming is now 5.1) with full 4K Dolby Vision/Atmos and HDR10+ passthrough
- DTS:X 3D sound and subsets
- PCM 1.0, 2.0 and multichannel
- Wi-Fi 5 AC 2.4 and 5Ghz bands
- BT SBC and AAC – A2DP V1.2/ AVRCP V1.5 Tx/Rx
- Chromecast and Multi-room playback via Google Assistant
- Airplay 2
- Voice assistant via smart external speaker and smart TV
- HDMI 2.0 eARC out – HDCP 2.3
- HDMI 2.0 in with passthrough
- Optical in
- Ethernet (Over the air firmware updates via this or Wi-Fi)
Now, it may not be as big or heavy as some soundbars, but it punches well above its weight as a Dolby Atmos soundbar.
In the box – EXCEED
- 2 x 240V power cables
- Remote control and battery
- Wall mount bracket kit (supplied)
- HDMI 2.0 cable
It is relatively light (3.64kg) and small (884 x 62 x 120mm) plus each detachable speaker is 173 x 60 x 120mm (.72kg). It should fit under most TVs or between the stand legs. The 10” sub-woofer is 305 x 440 x 305mm x 11.1kg – that is nice bass.
Setup – EXCEED
It comes in a ‘chair’ style box that opens on one side to reveal the bar and sub-woofer. Keep the box just in case you need to get a warranty or move home.
First are calibration tones to set up your room. For example, it can compensate for various ceiling heights, sound-absorbent materials etc. Once set up, you can change the 3D effect from low to mid to high – not that you need to.
You can then link it to Google Home (Chromecast) or Apple Airplay. This is really the setup app to connect to Wi-Fi or Ethernet!
Those rear speakers – EXCEED
They are detachable. They can work attached to the soundbar using psychoacoustic trickery or detached and placed behind you.
The Catch 22 is that they require charging (about 3 hours) for 10 hours use. Charging is automatic when docked.
What you don’t know is that they each also have micro-USB port so you can place then permanently behind you and power from a standard 5V/2A charger.
The remote – simple but all you need – EXCEED
The remove is uber-simple. TV/HDMI, Atmos height (low/mid/high), Bass level (1-5) and rear speaker levels. Pressing longer on keys invokes calibration etc.