The JBL Bar 5.1 is not just a nice soundbar. The manufacturer has wanted to do something unique for this package. At the ends of the soundbar there are two detachable speakers that you can place behind you – for a truly wireless surround system. The Bar 5.1 has a suggested retail price of 749.00 euro.
Where the most manufacturers release a soundbar with some sound options and a stylish design, JBL, as part of Harman, takes a different approach. The manufacturer not only focuses on the things that use the majority of the soundbar, but also wants to shake the market a bit by adding two fully wireless speakers. These speakers sit on the sides of the soundbar and can be used for an easy to install surround system. Do not forget to charge them.
JBL Bar 5.1 – design
At first glance, the JBL Bar 5.1 looks just as stylish as many other subwoofers, so the system does not it will quickly go wrong in your living room – regardless of the style of your living room. It is a very wide colossus, which may cause a problem if you want to put it between the legs of your television. Fortunately, you can also hang it on the wall if you want to, since JBL has supplied the necessary parts for it in the box. You do not have to buy additional accessories.
On the top we find four buttons. The power button, the two volume buttons and a button for selecting the source. Behind the grid of the speaker is a display in the middle, which indicates which source is selected, which mode you choose and how it is with the volume. That screen goes away immediately, so you will never be distracted by the words at the bottom of the screen. The subwoofer is impressive for this package and fortunately this is not just done for the decoration.
The advantage of this speaker is that you can loosen the sides and put them behind you for creating of a surround sound. Although that is an ingenious idea, it makes the soundbar a bit uglier. The sides are then suddenly open. It would have been nicer if you had some covers for that, so that you could change that view. Anyway, it is probably only during a movie (evening), so it is not a big obstacle. But when a manufacturer almost seems to have thought of everything, it’s a shame.
JBL Bar 5.1 – specifications
The JBL Bar 5.1 is an impressive package of specifications. A 5.1 channel sound is produced by a soundbar, a subwoofer and two totally wireless speakers, including an active amplifier. The system can spill 510 watts of sound in total, with a maximum decibel level of 104. DTS, Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic II are all supported. The wireless speakers are fully charged within three hours and can then be used for a total of ten hours.
The soundbar supports bluetooth 4.2, hdcp 2.2 and is capable of 4k signals through the three HDMI ports. The soundbar itself has three midrange drivers and six tweeters. The driver in the subwoofer is 10-inch in size. The only thing you could really miss is something like Google Wifi, for some extra convenience. But because you can do so many things with this set, the manufacturer Harman is forgiven. Also useful to know: there are also analog and optical connections on the back of this spaciously equipped soundbar.
JBL Bar 5.1 – installation and use
Installing the soundbar has been done like this. You plug in the soundbar and the subwoofer in the wall socket and take the included hdmi cable and connect the speaker to the television. Then you choose the right source and sound mode and you can immediately start looking. You can also connect a total of three other sources, such as a high-end game console or a Blu-ray player. If a 4k signal is signaled, it is simply forwarded to the 4k TV above the soundbar.
The speakers that sit on the side of the soundbar, which you can put behind you for a surround sound, you take it off with ease. They sit fairly firmly on the soundbar when necessary. But when you want to get hold of them, they will also be released quickly, even if it is difficult to do. They are also immediately on and are directly linked to the system, so you do not have to look at that. You put them down at the intended spot, perhaps give them some volume to bridge a possible distance and you can immediately enjoy the sound field.
The remote control has a nice size which makes it comfortable in the hand. The buttons are all easily accessible. With the available buttons you can quickly arrange many things, such as sound mode, source and the operation of the music. But you can also adjust the audio sync, the volume of the subwoofer and the sound of the wireless surround speakers. Unfortunately we find no further possibilities for adjusting the middle and higher tones, while the rest can be easily adjusted.
JBL Bar 5.1 – audio quality
For an amount of seven hundred euro you can really expect good sound quality. Fortunately JBL does not disappoint with the JBL Bar 5.1. When you hold the soundbar together (and therefore do not disconnect the speakers at the ends), you get a rich, deep and warm sound, whatever the sound mode you choose. The standard mode is a reinforcement of the television sound, supplemented by the spacious sounding subwoofer. That’s more than great for videos on YouTube, news broadcasts or other standard things.
If you put the wide speaker on the music mode, then feel that the depth is being investigated. The bass falls down a few layers, while the rest of the spectrum is pulled somewhat wider. The sound reproduction is also slightly higher compared to the standard mode. When you switch on the film mode, you really notice the power of the supplied subwoofer. That thing is a beast. Explosions are actually entering the room. But the ambiance in exciting films also fills the room with ease; your viewing experience will become more intense.
The voice mode removes almost all the extreme highs and lows, so that voices come out better. You can activate this mode, for example, when you listen to news programs with a debate or to series that mainly speak (and therefore not lean on special sound effects). This makes it easier to understand spoken text. Moreover, you can use this stand in combination with the evening mode, so that almost no one in the same house is bothered by your viewing habits.
The sports mode adds some nice effects and presents more depth in the sound, but the voice sound here is the worst delving. If you often watch sports games and want to use this mode, then you provide a lot of atmosphere at home. The noise from a stage comes right into your living room. You may have to put your TV a little bit harder to understand the commentator, but that will only contribute to the pleasure you experience while watching a match.
JBL Bar 5.1 – conclusion
It is always easy to use a system for things that are not present. For example, the JBL Bar 5.1 does not have support for Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio which may be a shortcoming for audio enthusiasts in a reasonably pricey soundbar. Also you can not adjust the middle and high tones and there are no network possibilities (or for example Google Wifi, or something in that direction). Fortunately, there is still plenty left to love, because for that 699 euros you get a very complete package.
When you connect the right source to the right sound mode, you almost always get a warm, broad and deep sound reproduction. In addition, it is nice that the device can transmit the 4k signal from sources and that there is support for other popular sound formats from Dolby and DTS. Harman’s biggest asset with the JBL Bar 5.1 are the disconnectable speakers for an easy to realize and fully wireless surround system. And those speakers also sound good.
In the box you will find all the necessary parts to be able to get started with the device. So we are pleasantly surprised that an HDMI cable is included; an aspect that other manufacturers can save on. We also find an optical and aux cable in the box and you can attach the soundbar directly to the wall. All in all JBL delivers with the Bar 5.1 a complete package that most consumers can use for the time being – and then adds a big shovel.