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What is the Best 5.1 Soundbar?

TV set

5.1 soundbars are guaranteed to give you surround sound, or are they? Despite being the industry standard for producing immersive sound, we have come across models that just don’t cut it. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, we have compiled the best 5.1 soundbars for you to choose from below.

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Reviews of the Best 5.1 Soundbars

1. JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar

The JBL is unique in its versatile design. The detachable wireless speakers can be placed around the room and instantly turn your 3.1 soundbar into a 5.1 surround sound system.

It is built together with Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS, so your movies can come to life like never before. The JBL Bar also fully supports 4K and Ultra HD TVs and can relay content through multiple connections including HDMI.

Moreover, it comes with a wireless subwoofer that adds deep and thrilling bass into the mix. You shouldn’t worry—lower tones are equally emphasized.

Pros

  • Has detachable rear speakers
  • Comes with a separate subwoofer
  • Capable of Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS
  • Supports high quality passthrough
  • Supports HDMI connection
  • Affords flexible placement
  • Works with universal remotes
  • Bluetooth-capable
  • Features JBL SoundShift technology

Cons

  • The remote feels light and unstructured
  • The soundbar defaults to HDMI ARC

2. VIZIO SB3651-E6 5.1 Soundbar

The SB3651-E6 is one of the best 5.1 soundbars in terms of design and functionality. It features a separate subwoofer and two smaller satellite speakers that can produce layered sounds.

The subtle silver accents on a black metal grille will make the Vizio soundbar a beautiful addition to your space. You can wall-mount the soundbar and place speakers around your room for optimal sound. 

For convenience, you can download the Vizio app or pair the soundbar to any Chromecast-enabled music streaming apps via built-in Wi-Fi. This can turn your mobile device into a command central for your Vizio SB3651-E6 soundbar.

Pros

  • Wi-Fi enabled
  • Sleek and modern design
  • Allows flexible placement
  • Has rear satellite speakers
  • Comes with a wireless subwoofer
  • Enabled with Dolby and DTS audio technology
  • Less than 1% harmonic distortion at any volume
  • Compatible with many apps

Cons

  • The setup can take some time
  • The soundbar takes a few moments to recognize the TV

3. VIZIO SB36512-F6 5.1 Soundbar

The Vizio SB36512-F6 is one of the most impressive surround sound soundbars we have come across. It brings the theater right into your home through Dolby Atmos technology and multi-directional speakers.

You can enjoy your favorite content from every room in the house if you set up your system with Vizio SmartCast and connect all the components via Wi-Fi. Setting up the SB36512-F6 soundbar is very easy, as you can go from unboxing to enjoying cinematic sound in just a few minutes.

The added wireless subwoofer and satellite speakers also raise the bar for all soundbars that produce 3D surround sound.

Pros

  • Dolby Atmos-capable
  • Has a wireless subwoofer
  • Comes with Satellite speakers
  • Features multi-directional speakers
  • True cinematic sound
  • Compatible with Vizio Smartcast
  • Wi-Fi enabled
  • Easy to set up
  • Allows flexible placement
  • Streamlined design

Cons

  • Works better with the Vizio Smartcast app than the remote
  • No display

5.1 Soundbar Buyer’s Guide

How do you ensure that you are truly getting the best 5.1 soundbar? Let’s take a look at some important features to look for.

Alternatively, you can also read all about our roundup of the best soundbars regardless of the number of channels.

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Size

A soundbar should be closer in size to your TV [1] as much as possible.

It can be difficult to find a soundbar that’s perfectly aligned with the width of your TV, so we suggest going a few inches shorter. You can check our list of soundbars best for 70-inch TVs, for reference.

Placement

Decide where you would like to place your soundbar. As a rule of thumb, the soundbar should be close to your TV and have no obstructions. Mounting the soundbar and satellites on your wall can save a lot of space.

Having the freedom to place the components around the room to accommodate your setup also increases the chances of producing exceptional sound.

Audio Technology

A 5.1 channel soundbar cannot solely produce cinematic sound without advanced audio capabilities. These will aid the soundbar in fully utilizing the acoustics and objects in the room to propel sound.

When shopping around, you should look for audio technologies such as Dolby and DTS. You may also find brand-specific technologies such as S-Force and Harman Kardon.

Soundbars don’t necessarily need 5.1 channels to decode such technologies. The LG NB4543 that can decode both Dolby Digital and DTS is a soundbar with 4.1 channels.

Satellite Speakers

A 5.1 channel soundbar will most likely come with rear satellite speakers. This is to make sure the sound is fired from all directions. 

Wireless rear speakers offer more potential to achieve layered sound and placement flexibility. With contrasting placement, your home soundbar system will be able to simulate surround sound with the help of these satellite speakers.

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Subwoofer

A subwoofer is part of a 5.1 system, but it can be wireless or built into the soundbar. 

For full and rich bass tones, we suggest going for an external subwoofer. Embedded subs can make a difference in bass, but they are nowhere near as powerful as separate ones. 

Wireless Connectivity

Wireless connectivity in a soundbar can come in two forms: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Bluetooth connection is more of a basic feature which allows you to stream content from your mobile devices effortlessly. With a compatible TV, the Bluetooth can also facilitate a wireless setup and reduce the need for wires.

Wi-Fi is capable of streaming content but it takes convenience to the next level by allowing users to build upon their soundbar system. It also allows you to take control of the system through your phone when you use compatible apps.

HDMI

HDMI is a necessary connection for 5.1 soundbar systems because it is capable of high quality 4K and HD passthrough. Only HDMI can relay higher definition audio for content such as Blu-Ray with crystal clear audio and no delays.

Durability

The best 5.1 soundbars should last for many years. To guarantee this, it should be securely built. Check the seams of the product to make sure everything is sealed tightly. Soundbars made from tough aluminum can handle the heat and dissipate heat buildup through the grille.

Can you settle for soundbars with fewer channels or are 5.1 models what you really need? See how our recommedations fare against soundbars with 2.1 channels.

FAQ

Are 5.1 soundbars worth it?

Yes, 5.1 soundbars are worth it, especially if you are looking for true cinematic surround sound. Keep in mind that the incorporated technology contributes just as much as the channels a soundbar has to expansive sound.

Is 5.1 surround sound good enough?

Yes, 5.1 surround sound is good enough for expansive sound that can fill the room. A 5.1 system comes with 2 rear speakers, a subwoofer and drivers in the soundbar to channel audio from different directions for immersive acoustics.

Does Netflix have 5.1 surround sound?

Yes, Netflix has 5.1 surround sound as well as Dolby Atmos which allows subscribers to enjoy high definition audio.

How do I get 5.1 surround sound on my TV?

You can get 5.1 surround sound on your TV by syncing it to a 5.1 surround sound soundbar. You should also stream content from programs that support 5.1 surround sound such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Our Top Pick: JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar

The JBL Bar takes the top spot on our best 5.1 soundbar list. With the flexibility of a 3.1 or 5.1 system plus Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS technologies, you can customize the system to your own sound preferences.

Enjoying rich and thundering bass with the wireless subwoofer is a breeze as the JBL Bar comes with everything you need and is easy to set up. It also supports 4K and HD TV passthrough with HDMI to recreate a theater experience.

Have a budget you need to follow your home audio purchase? Check our recommendations for soundbars priced five hundred and under.

Willie Greer

Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.
Willie Greer

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