JBL Bar 5.1 Review

The JBL Bar 5.1 is one of the only sound systems that can be converted from a 3.1 into a true 5.1 system instantly. But are you only paying a high price merely for the innovative design or will you also be able to enjoy amazing audio? Our experts are here to make sure you are making the right decision with this JBL Bar 5.1 review.

Pros

Cons

JBL Bar 5.1 Design

One of the most appealing aspects of the JBL Bar 5.1 is the design. The sound bar can transform from a regular 3.1 into a 5.1 surround sound setup that delivers audio effects enveloping the room. 

It is one of the best wireless home  theater system that has a matte finish that blends in subtly with your interior. It will match well with other equipment you have in your setup and won’t steal the focus. The 40-inch soundbar is compatible with larger sized TVs and the sub complements the audio effects of the soundbar. Both ends of the soundbar can be detached to become smaller rear speakers to round out the system.

Embedded inside the sturdy main soundbar sits 2 side-firing tweeters for the high notes that make up the 5 channels. The wireless subwoofer is downward-firing for the low tones. The entire system has a 550W total output power and a standard frequency range that sits at 40Hz-20kHz.

All the connections can be found on the back of the main soundbar and on the top are buttons for power, volume and input source. Your audio input settings are displayed on the front in the form of bright indicator lights and a small display screen. 

The soundbar can be wall-mounted, but our experts suggest to just placing on a flat countertop for easy access when you want to detach the rear speakers. You also get the remote with buttons for power, volume, bass levels, and other HDMI input settings for your system included with your purchase.

Features of the JBL Bar 5.1

Sound Quality of the JBL Bar 5.1

To get an accurate JBL Bar 5.1 review, our audio team has tested the sound quality of the JBL Bar 5.1 surround by putting it to the test in two common categories: movie and music.

After choosing a film with plenty of audio effects, we found that the bass levels were impressive, but nowhere near as efficient as the tweeters. All the high notes were accentuated and the dialogue was crystal clear. If you set the subwoofer bass level at the maximum effect, you will find yourself pleasantly enveloped in fully balanced sound.

When we took a look at movies with heavy explosions and deep thunderous rumbles, the wireless subwoofer bass more than matches up to your expectations. It delivers the thunderous lows that are punctuated by the tweeters to create balanced sound effects.

When the Bar 5.1 wireless surround speakers were detached, our team didn’t feel it took anything away from the center channels because the volume and bass levels didn’t change also. Instead, it created a more 3D surround sound experience in our room. 

With the help of Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS advanced technologies, every movie and music we played was enhanced by these bonus features.

When our team decided to play music, even without the Dolby Atmos feature, we were again pleasantly surprised at the superior performance of the subwoofer for deep bass tones as we easily get into the mood of every genre of music. 

All in all, our team was thoroughly impressed by the balanced sound this Bar 5.1 surround soundbar delivered to our living room. 

For other options with impressive sound quality, you can check our review of Sonos Arc and JBL 9.1 here

Channels

The channels refer to the points of sound emission on the main soundbar surround sound system. In the case of the JBL Bar 5.1, it is originally a 3.1 channel soundbar. However, because of its unique design with the detachable satellite speakers, it can convert to a 5.1 system to bring you a true 5.1 surround sound with amazing quality.

The digit before the decimal point refers to the audio channels and the number after it pertains to the number of subwoofers. 

Think about all your favorite 4k HDR and Blu Ray content that will be enhanced by this sound system. 5.1 is the industry standard for true surround sound and this soundbar sound system delivers the experience flawlessly.

The speech will be enhanced from the center channels of the soundbar to give you crystal clear dialogue regardless of the volume. For audiophiles and cinephiles, our experts highly recommend a 5.1 channel soundbar.

Sound Mode Options on the JBL Bar 5.1

Many top soundbar sound systems come with sound modes ready to go. Sound modes are preset audio settings that make sure you get the best acoustics, bass levels, and sound effects for certain content. 

A surround system with audio modes will bring you a dynamic range of sound from the lowest to the highest. It will also create a much better experience than your regular TV speakers.

The sound modes on a soundbar are labeled clearly to show you what content they can optimize. For example, the JBL Bar 5.1 surround comes with standard,  music, voice, movie, sports and night mode.

It’s easy to switch between these modes with a button on the remote. With or without satellite speakers, the JBL Bar 5.1 surround system can bring amazing effects to your screen even with low frequency transmissions. 

All the sound modes are straightforward on what content they optimize, but the night mode may be confusing for some. This mode is used for quiet environments and your JBL Bar 5.1 surround will tune the effects to a more subtle delivery. For those that like to enjoy a late night movie and spend time alone in their room, this is the best sound mode for you to use.

JBL Bar 5.1 Battery Life

The JBL Bar 5.1 itself isn’t run on battery power, but the rear wireless speakers do. No one wants to watch their favorite movie and worry about when the speakers will cut out at the same time. This won’t happen with this because it has 10 hours of play time ready to go on a full charge.

When and if the battery life runs out in the middle of your movie, you can just reattach the components to the original soundbar to recharge.

The other components of this Bar 5.1 surround sound bar need to be close to a power source to run, but the connection between all the parts is wireless.

Wired and Wireless Connections

Without the right connections, your JBL Bar 5.1 or even other high-quality speakers such as SoundTouch 20 and 30just won’t work. No matter how many special features the system can boast of, you won’t get to enjoy it without compatible cable or wireless connections.  

For wired connections, the JBL Bar 5.1 surround supports HDMI arc input or digital optical for higher definition content. Our experts always suggest going for HDMI cable [1] when you use a soundbar because it supports the highest feature content and is easy to use with few clicks on HDMI button on the remote. The HDMI arc port is one that can send and receive both sound and video signals, which is highly recommended by our experts.

The HDMI cable and digital optical cable are included in your purchase, which makes the setup incredibly easy to connect to the HDMI arc and optical port. The HDMI arc inputs and optical cable inputs are found on most TVs. However, the Bar also has analog 3.5 mm connections for headphones, a Micro USB port and analog devices.

As for wireless connections, the Bar 5.1 surround features Bluetooth 4.2 rather than with Wi Fi connection. Compared with Wi Fi and other wireless connections, bluetooth is the easiest form of wireless connection because almost all devices have it enabled. For easy streaming from any room of the house, all you have to do is pair them together and control it using your TV remote to enjoy a cableless setup.

Our team of experts advise not placing both Bluetooth devices too far apart. Anywhere within 30 feet is enough to guarantee a stable connection.

Inputs and Outputs

Now that we know what types of connections the Bar 5.1 surround offers, the next question is to ask yourself how many inputs and outputs do you need? The difference between the two is the output receives and the input sends out the signals.

Look at the back of your Bar 5.1 surround device. A good number you want to have is how many devices you plan on connecting plus one or two more, just for good measure. Since the sub is wireless, you can eliminate that. Take into account receivers, and sound devices you want to connect.

Also make sure the ports aren’t too close together. If they are, you would only be able to use every other port to ensure easy access.

Control

Like some other brands including Bose SoundTouch 30 or Sonos Play 5the JBL Bar 5.1 surround can also be controlled via the remote control. The volume levels, input, and any other settings you want will be displayed on the small screen at the front of the soundbar.

The display screen is a great way to see exactly what your preferred controls are for music, subwoofer settings and volume among others. The screen also makes the soundbar much more easy to use when you are trying to play your content.

JBL Bar 5.1 Setup

Everything you need comes right out of the box. The setup looks like a single cable plug-in design that allows you to go from unboxing to enjoying your favorite music that permeates the room at any volume in a matter of seconds with JBL Bar 5.1 surround. 

Look on the back of your TV and soundbar to determine what connections are compatible. This is a great way to eliminate unneeded wires and ports. 

The next part is the placement of the soundbar. It looks like you will have a tough time with so many components, but it’s quite easy.

Our team suggests aiming the devices in the direction of your listening spot in the room. It doesn’t matter how large the room is, the JBL Bar 5.1 surround soundbar can more than handle itself in any setting.

If you like your content played at a high volume, you won’t have to tweak the positioning as much. However, if you are a picky cinephile or audiophile that loves deep bass level, our team suggests placing the subwoofer as low as possible, preferably on the ground to belt out the low bass notes effectively.

For seamless setup, you can check how to properly setup up a 5.1 speaker in a small room here

Performance

The JBL Bar 5.1 surround ranks very high on performance level. The frequency response is very efficient and it doesn’t matter what volume you play your content at, there will be minimal to no harmonic distortion. For those that like heavy bass you can add the best floor standing speakers under 2000 to your soundbar. Yet, the Bar 5.1 surround is still an excellent choice because the subwoofer is powerful yet accurate with the bass tones.

JBL Bar 5.1 Price

Since the JBL Bar 5.1 surround sound bar has a unique design, you can expect a higher price tag than you would like. However, the amount isn’t outrageous and is still reasonable for a worthy investment. 

FAQ

Is JBL a good soundbar?

Yes, a JBL is a good soundbar. More specifically, the Bar 5.1 surround soundbar is one of the best on the market for those who like deep bass, accurate acoustics and versatility.

Are 5.1 soundbars worth it?

Yes, 5.1 soundbars are worth it. In fact, we would say they are more worth it than any other soundbar with lesser channels. 5.1 is the industry standard for surrounding audio.

JBL Bar 5.1 Review Conclusion

After a careful and unbiased JBL Bar 5.1 review, our experts highly recommend this soundbar for accentuated bass and overall performance. The soundbar is powerful and offers users versatility that transforms the 3.1 to a 5.1 by detaching the rear speakers.

You can go from minimal bass to emphatic bass in less than a minute and the setup is exceptionally simple with everything you need right out of the box. The JBL Bar 5.1 surround audio system can be wall-mounted or placed on a flat surface to deliver amazing acoustics.

If you are considering using a soundbar as a center speaker, you should be aware of the pros and cons of making your soundbar function as a center speaker here. 

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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