The JBL Cinema SB160 is an entry option sound system to leave your TV with cinema sound. The product features Bluetooth connectivity, functioning as a wireless speaker, has 2.1 channels and promises strong bass, bringing a separate subwoofer. The product has a power of 110 Watts RMS and offers HDMI ARC input for faster synchronization with the TV, with a complete remote control.
JBL 2.1 soundbar included with this sound system design ranks between the all-in-one solution, i.e. sound bar with built-in subwoofer, and the 5.1 model. For 350 euros, Harman promises an authentic cinema experience – including deep bass. This promise is also reflected in the model name: Bar 2.1 Deep Bass.
However, the associated subwoofer is not unusually large with dimensions of 24 × 24 × 38 centimeters. Thanks to its rather simple design, it should find its right to exist in most living rooms.
What we immediately like about the JBL Bar 2.1 is the soundbar’s housing, which looks more high-quality than its predecessor and which hides four racetrack drivers and two tweeters in this model. Slimmer design paired with powerful sound – does JBL’s plan work out? Check out more details about the JBL Cinema line soundbar and find out if it’s worth it to you.
Specification of JBL Cinema SB160
- Power: 110 Watts RMS
- Channels: 2.1
- Bluetooth: 4.2
- HDMI: Yes
- Maximum SPL: 82 dB
- Frequency response: 40 Hz to 20 kHz
- Bar dimensions: 900 x 67 x 63 mm
- Subwoofer dimensions: 170 x 345 x 313 mm
- Bar weight: 1.65 kg
- Subwoofer weight: 5 kg
The JBL Cinema SB160 soundbar has a simple, sober design and is only available in black. The device consists of a rectangular box that holds the subwoofer, which is heavier and more powerful, and a long sound bar, which features four drivers and the system control buttons, allowing you to adjust volume and equalization.
To obtain a more cohesive and immersive sound propagation, soundbars are usually positioned in front of the TV in traditional installations, with the subwoofer on the floor, on the side. Thus, the user must have a sense of immersion when watching movies and series, even if the system does not have the 5.1 channels of a standard home theater.
According to the technical sheet on the manufacturer’s website, the JBL SB160 soundbar has 110 Watts RMS of power, adding box and boom. The longest part is composed of two speakers with 26 Watts RMS each, and the subwoofer, responsible for the bass, features 58 Watts RMS.
The device has a maximum SPL of 82 dB – it is worth remembering that the human ear can suffer minor damage from 110 dB. This indicates a device with pleasant sound, even at a higher volume. The frequency response is 40 Hz to 20 kHz, which should represent good bass, mid and treble.
The JBL SB160 promises to deliver good bass with the subwoofer, which, if properly adjusted and positioned, tends to offer good immersion in games and movies. According to the official description of the set, the device has Dolby Digital installed, the same sound quality protocol used on DVDs and Blu-Ray, for example.
The brand’s website indicates that the soundbar features Bluetooth 4.2, but it also has an optical input that should propagate the sound with more quality and precision. It is worth mentioning that the most recent wireless connection standard is 5.0, which tends to be faster and more reliable.
In addition, there is the HDMI ARC, which will facilitate use with the TV. Another interesting possibility is to use the soundbar as a kind of wireless speaker, since Bluetooth allows you to pair a cell phone or computer to listen to music quickly.
Soundbars are quick and easy to install, according to the theory. At least as often, however, the setup process may involve a little more effort. That is not the case here. In addition to the power from the socket for the bar and sub, we simply lay an HDMI cable to the TV (ARC) and off we go.
If you prefer to connect the Blu-ray player directly, you can use the HDMI input (unfortunately only version 1.4), alternatively nothing stands in the way of the optical cabling. The bar can be operated reliably with the help of the small remote control. There is no app.
There are not many setting options. Only the sub-intensity can be adjusted via low, middle or high. The connection via WLAN is reserved for the larger model, we play music wirelessly via Bluetooth. We make these settings using the eight available buttons on a small but fine remote control. Alternatively, the volume as well as the source and of course the power status can be set on the top of the bar.
Right in the middle there instead of just
It starts with the popular Mad Max Fury Road test strip. The confused voices in the opening scene are easy to locate, and the slender bar masters the spatial division very well. There is a “thumbs up” for the surround decoder.
Despite the limited possibilities that a soundbar offers, it clearly gives an idea of the promised mid-range experience. Another plus point: Despite the virtualization, the events in no way seem artificial.
But what about the “Deep Bass” promise from Harman International Industries? For the necessary oomph in the living room, it is advisable to use the “middle” or “high” setting of the sub. Then action fans will get their money’s worth.
If you apply audiophile standards, we still lack a bit of punch and cleanliness, which is particularly noticeable at high volumes. For this, the subwoofer goes deep into the level basement, its lower limit frequency is 33 Hertz. JBL has not promised too much here.
We would have liked musical pearls like Adele’s “Hello” to be a little more brilliant and transparent. For a soundbar without its own center channel, however, her voice sounded clear and distinct.
JBL Cinema SB160 – Conclusion
JBL Cinema SB160 including JBL soundbar 2.1 works without an app, voice control or various sound modes. Film fans will be delighted with the deep bass. For this price range, the JBL Cinema SB160 is an excellent value. You get extremely powerful sub-bass, crisp highs, the ability to adjust the bass balance—essentially the complete package. It may not be as powerful as the more expensive Bar 3.1, and yes, it can distort at absolute top volumes, but at normal listening levels, the Bar 2.1 is a beast with the lows and graceful with high frequency clarity. If you’re looking to spend even less, we’re big fans of the $200 Polk Audio Signa S1. If you have more room in your budget, meanwhile, the Sony HT-NT5, the LG SJ7, Polk Audio Signa S2 and the JBL Bar 3.1 are all worth your attention.
Positives of JBL Cinema SB160
- revised design
- deep bass
- Powerful audio performance with strong, adjustable bass and bright highs.
- Useful remote.
- Various sound modes, including virtual surround.
- Bluetooth streaming.
Negatives of JBL Cinema SB160
- somewhat low precision
- unclean transition between sub / bar
- Light on accessories.
- Optical cable doesn’t stay in place well.