Reviews

Review: JBL Bar 1000: 7.1.4-Channel soundbar

Review: JBL Bar 1000: 7.1.4-Channel soundbar- The Bar 1000 has a lot to offer. For a slightly lower price than many top models
4.8/5 - (5 votes)

As one of the biggest audio brands, JBL can’t be missed regarding soundbars. With the Bar 1000, the American company has a new top model with detachable wireless speakers and a sturdy subwoofer. But is that the best recipe for a successful TV evening?

The JBL Bar 1000 is a high-end 7.1.4 soundbar that promises an enveloping sound while watching a movie or series with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. To achieve this, JBL deploys several things. For example, the Bar 1000 comes with the Multibeam technology, which we already know from the previously tested Harman Kardon Citation Multibeam 700 and 1100. This is also a next-level soundbar equipped with detachable side speakers that you place at the back of the room. JBL is also a brand that attaches great importance to a solid bass layer under soundtracks. The Bar 1000, therefore, comes with a sturdy wireless subwoofer.

Thanks to the separate speakers of the Bar 1000, you should get a real surround experience. After all, sound effects at the back of the mix are not reflected from the walls but are delivered by confirmed speakers. You can leave those side speakers in place on a regular TV evening. In this way, they contribute to the sound that comes from the soundbar.

Some soundbars now follow the same soundbar plus separate speakers concept, such as the Samsung HW-Q990B . But with those devices, the wireless speakers always remain in place. There are also several soundbars that you can expand with separate wireless speakers, such as the Sonos Arc or the Sony HT-A7000 . But with this JBL, you can choose. That makes it an exciting choice for those who do not want to clutter their living room with speakers.

What7.1.4 soundbar
CodecsDolby Atmos (one layer), DTS:X (one layer)
StreamingJBL One-app, Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth
InputsHDMI-eARC, 3 x HDMI-in, optical, Bluetooth
Extra’sCalibration function, Multibeam, detachable rear speakers
Dimensions119,4 x 5,6 x 12,5 cm (soundbar)
Weight3,7 kilogram
Dimensions30,5 x 44 x 30,5 cm (subwoofer)
Weight10 kilogram

There is another more extensive Bar

Under normal circumstances, the $999 Bar 1000 would be the boss of JBL’s soundbar division. However, the brand presented an even higher model in late autumn, the Bar 1300, from 1,499 euros. Does that suddenly make the JBL Bar 1000 obsolete? Not quite. The Bar 1000 belongs to the same generation as the Bar 1300. Both soundbars, therefore, offer essentially the same features and functions. The software platform and app operation are also identical. Even the design hardly differs because both come with detachable side speakers. However, the Bar 1000 is much less comprehensive. This device fits (with the speakers attached) ideally with a 55-inch TV. The larger Bar 1300, on the other hand, is designed to fit a 65-inch screen. The included subwoofer with a 10-inch down-firing woofer is identical on both units.

Bigger is better? Two reservations: that ‘fit’ is purely aesthetic, and if you remove the side speakers to place near the sofa, the soundbar becomes much smaller. The extra width of the Bar 1300 also provides better stereo separation on paper because the speakers are a bit further apart.

Better finish

In the past, we found the JBL soundbars to lag behind the competition regarding materials and design. This was the case, for example, with Bar 9.1, the predecessor of Bar 1000. It was never severely done, but something was missing. Samsung, in particular, which is the parent house of JBL, managed to make its higher soundbars tighter and more luxurious for the same price. The Bar 1000 essentially makes up for that design deficit, although JBL continues to cherish a preference for gray plastic. Apart from that, the device presents quite handsome. The rounded lines, discreet speaker grilles, and the absence of flashy elements provide a streamlined result. This year JBL is also working with a top panel that is slightly darker and appears to be recessed into the housing. You will find a few buttons here, very discreetly arranged.

At first glance, there is no display on the Bar 1000. However, there is a screen hidden behind the grille at the front. You will discover it when you adjust the volume or start the video with a specific format. For a moment, you will see, say, ‘Dolby Atmos’ scrolling by. We think seeing such a screen that lights up temporarily is a positive thing. It has the advantage that you are not distracted while watching in a darkened room.

The supplied remote is sleek and futuristic. Fits nicely in the hand and does its job exactly as it should. Again, It feels a bit cheap due to the choice of lighter plastic. It is positive that JBL provides separate keys for the volume level of the subwoofer and the wireless speakers.

We can mainly tell you about the subwoofer that it is significant. The woofer points downwards, which should make placement easier. However, there is also a bass port on the back. That means it’s best not to put it against the wall or too close to a corner.

Plenty of streaming options

All entrances are located in a niche at the back of the Bar 1000. Discreetly concealing cables is, therefore, easy and always fun. The soundbar is well-equipped in this area. In addition to an HDMI eARC port for connecting to the television, there are three HDMI 2.1 inputs for next-gen consoles and media players. Optical input allows the connection of an audio source, such as a CD player.

If you want to stream music, there are other options: Chromecast, AirPlay 2, and Bluetooth. Spotify Connect is also there. That makes playing music on the Bar 1000 easy with that service. It’s not on the box, but the Bar 1000 also appears DLNA-compatible.

Smart accessories

The unusual thing about this JBL is that the ends can be disconnected. They no longer function as side speakers of the soundbar but as wireless speakers that provide sounds in the surround mix next to and behind you. With the Bar 1000, you even get devices that each take care of two channels: a surround (left or right) and a rear height channel (left or right). You need that last extra channel for the 3D experience with Dolby Atmos or DTS: X.

The intention is that you place those detachable speakers near your seat. To keep things tight, four cover caps are in the box: two to click on the soundbar and two to fit on the wireless speakers. This way, you don’t have to look at bare connectors. Removing and installing the side speakers on the JBL 1000 is very easy by using magnets. With the first soundbars with this feature, it was often a hassle with plugs that had to click into place and more nonsense. Here it goes very smoothly, which will also convince you faster to use those speakers in their disconnected position.

With this JBL Bar 1000, you can choose, depending on your mood, whether you decouple the side speakers or leave them in place. They work entirely wirelessly and with a battery. If you find that pulling loose, moving to the back, and connecting it again later is tiring, you can give the side speakers a permanent place. You provide them with permanent power via a USB-C cable. Handy is the presence of screw thread on each speaker so that you can hang them.

Set in three ways

There are several ways to set up the JBL Bar 1000. Installing the new JBL One app (iOS and Android) is an obvious one. The app automatically detects the Bar 1000 and will guide you through a step-by-step plan to connect the device to the WiFi network. An Ethernet cable remains an option, sometimes lacking in a soundbar. There is a good chance that you will have to install an update immediately after setting it up, a job that takes about fifteen minutes.

You can also choose to first set up the Bar 1000 with the Google Home app. Even then, there is a step-by-step plan to connect it to the wireless network. You must be in the Home app to activate Chromecast, even if you first set it up via the JBL One app. Finally, option three is to set up the JBL One via AirPlay on your iPhone or iPad. Whichever option you choose, connecting the Bar 1000 to the network is easy. Nowadays, this is rarely a problem with

The JBL One app is designed to control multiple JBL products. You will notice this when setting things up and when you want to adjust things. When you tap on the Bar 1000 in the app, you indeed end up in settings. However, the app also has streaming services baked in (including Deezer, Qobuz, and Tidal). You do not see it when working with the soundbar, only when you return to the main screen. You can then search for music and play favorites at a logged-in service. We are surprised that JBL does not offer any sound modes, not even a night mode. It also seems that everything is being mixed.

Calibration is a must

The JBL Bar 1000 is packed with drivers to create a surrounding field. The actual soundbar has four wide speakers that provide left and right, plus the same oval woofer and a tweeter for the center channel responsible for dialogues. There is again a tweeter at the two ends. This is mounted diagonally in a deep recess that is a waveguide to send sound to the sides. At the top, you will find two speakers that radiate tilted upwards. The detachable speakers contain an overhead speaker and a tweeter in one of the corners.

So many speakers, but luckily there is Harman Multibeam technology to control them intelligently. The Multibeam function works best if the soundbar knows more about the shape and characteristics of your living room. To determine those things, the soundbar performs a room calibration. That doesn’t sound very easy, but you are well taken by the hand in the JBL One app. Test tones are played twice during calibration, which you must do with the side speakers disconnected. The first time you have to place the wireless speakers on the left and right of you on the sofa, and the second time, in their final parking spots. Based on what is measured, the sound reproduction is adjusted to compensate for acoustic problems in the living room. Too predominant bass tones, for example.

We found the calibration to do its job reasonably well. The result made the basses a little less woolly. But we did find lower-mid frequencies a bit too much, making voices sound nasal. Fortunately, a small adjustment via the equalizer in the app was enough to fix it.

A little later, it dawned that we had mishandled the first measurement. The speakers must be placed next to your seat, with the right side facing Bar 1000. So we did that wrong. After a second calibration, the result was better, with a more even surround field.

It is also the intention that the wireless speakers will ultimately be placed just behind the seat (on a side table, for example) or on the back of the sofa. With other soundbars, you can often park those speakers next to or diagonally behind the couch. That is not appropriate here. The wireless speakers are not that powerful, so we don’t think placing them far away on a windowsill or cupboard is a good idea.

Does that sound restrictive? When we dive into the manual, we notice that JBL describes quite strictly how the Bar 1000 may be used. For example, the distance between the seat and the soundbar should be 2.5 to 3 meters. It is good that the manufacturer indicates this because soundbars are often sold as very flexible to place. However, they are designed to perform well in particular conditions. Often in what the designers think is the average living room.

Powerful, but also fresh dialogues

The first thing we always do with a new soundbar is run through a series of Dolby demos. The Bar 1000 comes out convincing. In the ‘Audiosphere’, there is a sizeable sound bubble, with sound effects from the height channels reverberating relatively high. The difference between the front and rear height channels is not as pronounced. Also, ‘Amaze’ is handled well. The thunderclap is impactful but clean, the birds move through the air (although incorrect positioning), and the sounds are well defined. That low predominant tone at the end also sounds clean, indicating that the calibration has done well.

You quickly notice that the Bar 1000 is a real JBL focusing on a powerful movie experience. If that large subwoofer has not convinced you yet, you will notice it when you play a spectacular movie scene. Like dinosaur whisperer, Owen Grady in ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’, for example, chasing a herd of dinosaurs as a modern-day cowboy. The scene opens with a herd of Parasaurolophus (yes, we googled this) charging into a snowy landscape behind the camera. That sudden opening is brought very effectively: with the right-moving sound effects and a catchy dynamic bass explosion. Imaging around the TV is also excellent. The cries of the captive dino come from the screen, and there is a lot of detail to be seen. Dialogues – and we notice this repeatedly – are delivered with clarity and an out-of-the-screen feeling that is so important.

It is a unique mix of properties that the Bar 1000 possesses: with action films, you have a subwoofer that does its job very prominently, while the soundbar with the television focuses just a little more on detail. A little unbalanced, perhaps, but as long as you place the subwoofer close to the TV screen, it’s not a big deal.

Slightly weaker we find those rear speakers. They do their job, but it’s a bit less convincing than, for example, the HW-Q990B that we tested a while back. We especially miss a bit of definition, they seem a bit duller than we like. In a chaotic scene, such as the fight between Rey and Kylo Ren on the water moon in Star Wars IX, there is so much going on audio-wise that it goes unnoticed. But in the bombing run at the finale of ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ a little more clarity would have conveyed the fast-paced frenzy of the dogfights just a little sharper. It’s a bit of a deliberate choice, we think, not so much something that falls short technically. Yes, action films have that mighty wall of sound feeling; there is a lot of immersion, but there is also fresh detail upfront.

We watched ‘Black Widow’ (Dolby Atmos) with the side speakers connected, and it struck us that the experience was actually not that much different. The soundstage was even wider – logical because the extra speakers were at the front.

Where sometimes sound effects at the end of action films were not so convincing, the Bar 1000 did provide a lot of atmosphere at the ‘Dawn FM Experience’ of the weekend on Amazon Prime Video (DD +, 5.1). The soundbar remained the dominant reproducer, but those two rear speakers made it more three-dimensional, which resulted in a beautiful sound bubble. In an episode of ‘Fight The Power,’ a fascinating BBC documentary about the rise of hip-hop, the underlying soundtrack is also placed as a thick layer under the clear speech. No lack of body!

Conclusion

The Bar 1000 has a lot to offer. For a slightly lower price than many top models, you get a real surround experience through detachable speakers and a good calibration function. There are many streaming options, and the powerful subwoofer ensures a convincing movie experience, especially with spectacular action movies. It also performs at its best when the volume turns up a bit. Does that sound like a brutal experience? Not quite, because JBL has also taken good care of the center channel. That also makes this soundbar strong in dialogue playback. With the speakers connected to the soundbar, you get a grand and detailed surround experience supported by solid bass (which you can dim via the remote). With the side speakers disconnected, there is immersion, but we miss some definition and power at the back. The real envelope is missing a bit. Maybe that’s why you’re quickly tempted to leave them in the front anyway.

Pros

  • Prima dialogenweergave
  • Good bombastic performance in action movies
  • Easy to arrange yourself
  • Room calibration
  • With attached speakers, a grand soundstage

Negatives

  • The rear speakers don’t play very loudly
  • Placing rears is not possible everywhere