Nobody wants to waste their money on a product that delivers a low-quality sound. Are you sure you’re getting the best value for your money with your JBL soundbar? In this review, our experts will compare the two hottest soundbars — the JBL Bar 9.1 vs 5.1.
JBL Bar 9.1 or 5.1?
Features of JBL Bar 9.1 and 5.1
Design and Size
When comparing the design and size of the JBL Bar 9.1 vs 5.1, there isn’t much difference at first glance as they have a very identical appearance.
The JBL Bar 9.1 has a black color and soundbar measurement of 34.8 x 2.4 x 4.7 inches. It weighs approximately 8 lbs. The JBL 9.1 also has a detachable surround speaker with dimensions of 6.8 x 2.4 x 4.7 inches per piece and includes a 24.5 lb 12.0 x 17.3 x 12.0 subwoofer.
Meanwhile, the JBL Bar 5.1 is not very much far ahead as the size of its soundbar is 45 x 2.3 x 3.7 inches. The surround speakers of the JBL Bar 5.1 are not detachable and are smaller when compared to the 9.1.
Our team prefers the JBL Bar 9.1 because of the flexibility and versatility its detachable speakers bring.
Looking for soundbars fit for small room? Here are the top soundbars for small room to try.
Channels: JBL Bar 9.1 and 5.1
In terms of audio channels between the JBL Bar 9.1 vs 5.1, the former is far superior. The JBL 9.1’s audio channels are more high-end, plus it has a built-in Dolby Atmos  which makes your viewing or gaming experience extraordinary.
Subwoofer: JBL Bar 9.1 and 5.1
Now let’s take a look and compare the subwoofers of the JBL Bar 5.1 vs 9.1.
The JBL Bar 9.1 has a wireless subwoofer with a size of 12.0 x 17.3 x 12.0 inches and a weight of 24.5 lbs. It also has a maximum power output of 300 W for pulse-pounding bass.
On the other hand, the JBL Bar 5.1 has a wireless subwoofer and a size of 16 x 12 x 12 inches and a weight of 28.7 lbs.
While both subwoofers have identical dimensions, ported enclosures, and physical inputs – the team still prefers the JBL Bar 9.1 due to it being slightly larger and lighter when compared to the JBL 5.1.
Drivers and Tweeters
The drivers and tweeters are responsible for the sound quality of these home theater sound systems. The drivers in the JBL 5.1 have five racetrack-style drivers and two side-firing 1.25-inch tweeters delivering five channels of 50 watts each.
The JBL Bar 9.1 has a 400-watt soundbar that houses four racetrack-style drivers and two up-firing full-range drivers. It also has three 1-inch tweeters, 2-side speakers that are the Dolby atmos drivers.
Sound Format Supported
Next, let’s find out the sound formats these devices support.
For the JBL 5.1, it only supports Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus, much to our experts’ disappointment. The JBL Bar 9.1 also has the aforementioned sound formats supported, but also several others like Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS:X, and many more.
Audio Modes of JBL Bar 9.1 and 5.1
When comparing the audio modes of both the JBL Bar 9.1 vs 5.1, the clear winner in this area is the former by a wide margin. The JBL Bar 9.1 has 3 three EQ presets to improve the sound, such as ‘smart mode,’ ‘standard,’ and ‘night mode’. Meanwhile, the JBL Bar 5.1 has no audio mode selections.
Overall Sound Quality
Looking at their maximum power output, the 5.1 only produces 550 W compared to the 820 W of the JBL 9.1. Though the JBL 5.1 makes a powerful and crisp bass, it is hard to compete with a 9.1 audio channel with surround speakers and Dolby Atmos.
Wireless Connectivity: JBL Bar 9.1 and 5.1
The wireless connectivity and playback for both the JBL Bar 9.1 and 5.1 are pretty much the same. Both have wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Chromecast built-in, and Apple AirPlay.
Setting up a 5.1 home theater speaker in an enclosed area can be overwhelming, thus, read this guide about 5.1 speaker setup in a small room next!
Remote Control and Inputs
Both the JBL Bar 9.1 and 5.1 have remote controls with dedicated buttons for Power, TV, Bluetooth, Atmos Driver Volume, HDMI, Volume Up/Down, Mute, Bass Volume, and Rear Speaker Volume.
The only notable difference is that the JBL Bar 9.1 has a dedicated button Apple AirPlay and Google Cast. It also supports Bluetooth 4.2 and AAC codes, making Bluetooth pairing swift and straightforward.
For more options, you can also check the best RCA soundbars here.
Prices of JBL Bar 9.1 and 5.1
In this category, the more affordable choice is the JBL 5.1. But if you’re looking to get the most out of your money, then the JBL Bar 9.1 is the intelligent choice. With all of the features mentioned in this review, you could see why we prefer the JBL Bar 9.1.
Overall Winner: JBL Bar 9.1
The clear overall winner is the JBL Bar 9.1. It dominates almost all of the features mentioned in this review. Yes, it costs more than the JBL Bar 5.1, but what you’re about to experience with the JBL bar 9.1 is better sound quality and audio channel. It also supports a wide array of sound formats, and is more flexible than the JBL 5.1.
You can also check how JBL 9.1 pitted against Sonos Arc here.