Soundbars are becoming more popular, and cheaper — but the options do not necessarily offer the surround sound you want.
So, our experts did the leg work and handpicked the two topnotch soundbars: Sonos Arc vs JBL 9.1. Our experts tested and reviewed both speakers to help you have the best pick.
Sonos Arc or JBL 9.1?
Features of Sonos Arc and JBL 9.1
Design and Material
JBL 9.1 is the representation of a soundbar — it’s bland and has a minimal physical presence. It comes only in black color and is made up of dense plastic materials.
Sonos Arc, on the other hand, has an exciting design that comes with a matte black or white finish. The system is contained in a single soundbar named ARC.
Design wise, Sonos Roam and Sonos One can impress you, as well.
Size and Setup
JBL 9.1 has a dark grey plastic housing, it is 47 inches long, and 35 inches when on a detached setup, with 2.5 inches height. Once plugged and connected through the HDMI-out port of your TV, all you need to do is to calibrate it, and you’re done!
On the other hand, the Sonos Arc has a width of a 55-inch TV. The setup for the system is through the companion Sonos S2 app. The Sonos Arc only has a few inputs. It has an HDMI ARC port and optical port, but you must use the included HDMI adapter.
Power: Sonos Arc and JBL 9.1
When fully charged, the satellites on the JBL 9.1 will give you 10 hours’ worth of sound time. Each satellite has its micro USB ports that can be used to juice the satellites. Full charging might take 3 hours at least.
Meanwhile, Sonos Arc’s power usage is not labeled on the package.
Channels: Sonos Arc and JBL 9.1
JBL 9.1 has an audio channel of 5.1.4. If you’re playing a stereo file, it plays from the bar’s front and top speakers, as well as from the front and top of its satellites. On the other hand, Sonos Arc has a 5.0.2 channel that offers a virtual surround system. Both are great at delivering quality sounds.
JBL 9.1 offers to deliver a powerful yet beautiful theater experience with either a Dolby Atmos  soundtrack, or a Dolby 5.1 track when it comes to movies or shows. The five-point one (5.1) is the most commonly used layout in home theatres. It is the traditional left, right, center channel, and 2 surround channels, and an additional low-frequency channel designed for a subwoofer
Sonos Arc is still a very impressive sound in a plain 5.1, yet it also boasts the theatrically sound Dolby Atmos sonic when paired properly. Atmos is achieved through the bouncing of sounds from the ceiling and the floor, making a perfect 3D virtual surround without the need for bulky setups. The unit must be connected to HDMI ARC or HDMI eARC to enable the Dolby Atmos features of the ARC.
Frequency Response of Sonos Arc and JBL 9.1
The JBL Bar 9.1’s stereo frequency response is great. It is precise and neutral. If you don’t like how it sounds, you can use the EQ presets to find the best sound for your needs. The system combines for a frequency range of 34Hz-20kHz.
The stereo frequency response of the Sonos Arc is good. When its room correction feature is powered, this soundbar has a fairly neutral, although it can have a bright sound profile. It has a frequency range of 47.6 Hz-19.9 kHz
Sound Format Supported
JBL 9.1 supports all common audio formats as well as Dolby Atmos and DTS content.
Meanwhile, the Sonos ARC supports all common audio formats and needs to be connected with eARC TV to experience Dolby Atmos surround.
Subwoofers of Sonos Arc and JBL 9.1
JBL 9.1 has the 10-inch downward firing sub that will rattle your fillings when you let it. The bulk of it gives room for a hefty 25cm down-firing drive unit. In total, these drivers amount to a 5.1.4 surround system that completes the “theater-like system” making those Oscar and Grammy award-winning movies and performances play with clear audio for dialogue and music.
On the other hand, the Sonos Arc doesn’t have a subwoofer but can be paired with one.
Connections of Sonos Arc and JBL 9.1
The JBL Bar 9.1’s input and output ports sit in a rear central cavity, and you get a fairly standard set of connectors.
The Sonos Arc can connect to TVs with eARC, ARC, or optical outputs. For the greatest compatibility, eARC is recommended.
Voice Control & App
JBL 9.1 has a Google Home app feature. The settings are pretty much relegated to the Atmos, Bass, and Rear buttons, and the ability to toggle between Smart and Standard.
Sonos Arc has a Voice Control method through the built-in Amazon Alexa, making it completely hands-free.
Remote Controls of Sonos Arc and JBL 9.1
JBL 9.1 has a simple-to-use remote control with minimal configuration access. It fits perfectly on top of the unit.
Sonos Arc, as is the case with every other Sonos speaker, uses the excellent Sonos app to configure and control the system.
Do you own a Sono One device? Here’s how you can setup Sonos One properly.
Overall Winner: JBL 9.1
After hours of testing, our winning verdict goes to JBL 9.1. With its simple design, easy setup, a 5.1.4 channel and great stereo frequency response, JBL 9.1 is your partner for your next sonic experience. It also has Dolby Atmos and DTS content support and easy connectivity.
We also compared JBL 9.1 against JBL 5.1. Find out which soundbar is better!