The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is a 5.1 setup that uses 'Multibeam' technology to improve its surround performance without having to use rear satellites. Its sound profile delivers a punchy and boomy bass suitable for action flicks and EDM music. It also has room correction and you can even stream music to the bar using a variety of wireless options. Unfortunately, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos and it has limited EQ options.
The JBL Bar 5.1 is alright for mixed use. This soundbar delivers a punchy and boomy sound suitable for bass-heavy music and action-packed movies. However, it only has two EQ presets and it doesn't support Atmos. While it can also get loud enough for a large or crowded room, there's also thumping and compression artifacts at max volume. On the upside, you can use this bar as a hub between your TV and other devices. It also has room correction to help improve its sound.
The JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar is okay for dialogue and TV shows. It can produce fairly clear and accurate dialogue. However, it lacks a dialogue enhancement feature to further improve vocal clarity. On the upside, it has an auto-volume mode available. You can also stream your favorite podcasts or audiobooks to the bar with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Chromecast built-in, and Apple AirPlay.
The JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar is fair for music. It has a boomy sound suitable for your favorite EDM songs. However, its treble is a bit dark and veiled, and there's only two EQ presets, so there's not a lot of customization available. It has room correction though, which can help improve its sound depending on your room. You can also stream albums using a variety of different wireless connectivity options. While it can get loud enough for a large or crowded room, there are thumping and compression artifacts at max volume.
The JBL Bar 5.1 is okay for movies. Although this soundbar doesn't support Atmos, it has a punchy and boomy sound profile suitable for action flicks. It also comes with one EQ preset designed to further bring out sound effects.
The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is a 5.1 setup from this manufacturer's 2019 lineup. Unlike the JBL Bar 5.1 and other JBL soundbars released that year, the 5.1 Surround uses 'Multibeam' technology to improve its surround performance without the need for satellites. It competes with Samsung HW-Q60T, the JBL Bar 3.1, and the Samsung HW-Q70R.
The JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar is a sleek soundbar with a matte black finish. Its front and sides are covered by a fine metal grille.
The subwoofer of this soundbar sits on four plastic pegs as the speaker is located underneath. This subwoofer is made from black melamine which makes it look sleek.
This soundbar most likely won't fit between the legs of a 55" TV. However, it's not very tall so it shouldn't block the bottom of your TV screen unless it sits flush to the table.
The subwoofer is a bit tall since it has small legs to elevate it from the ground. However, it's about as large as a standard desktop PC.
There are no satellites in this setup.
The back of this bar has one opening for its power cable as well as its inputs. There are also universal holes on its underside so that you can wall-mount it.
The back of the subwoofer is pretty plain. It has a port on the top of its back and the power cable is located below it.
The JBL Bar 5.1 has a great build quality. It has a sturdy plastic body with a fine metal grille to protect its front and sides. In comparison, the subwoofer's body is made of melamine and has four legs to raise the sub since the speaker is located underneath it.
This soundbar's stereo frequency response is decent. It can produce a punchy, boomy bass suitable for action flicks or EDM music. Although its treble is a bit dark and veiled in comparison, it should still be suitable for most audio content. That said, if you want to tweak its sound, there's a 'Smart Mode' EQ available.
The JBL Bar 5.1's stereo soundstage is alright. It's a little bit wider than the bar but the bar doesn't do any tricks to make it sound any wider. The soundstage doesn't seem very focused either and objects seem to be coming from a general area rather than coming from precise pinpoint locations.
The JBL Bar 5.1 has decent stereo dynamics. While it can get loud enough to fill a large or crowded room, if you push this bar to its max volume, there's pumping and compression artifacts, especially in the bass range.
The JBL Bar 5.1 has a great THD performance. It has a low amount of THD at a normal listening volume. While there's a small jump in THD if you push this bar to its max volume, it's quite little. Most people may not even hear any harmonic distortion with their real-life content.
The JBL Bar 5.1 has an excellently-performing center channel. Since it has a dedicated center channel, it can reproduce clear and accurate dialogue.
Update 02/18/2021: We updated the results to reflect that this soundbar has phantom front-firing speakers.
The JBL Bar 5.1 has a mediocre surround performance. It uses phantom front-firing speakers to simulate a surround object in the soundstage, but this doesn't sound as real as discrete surround speakers.
This soundbar doesn't have height channels and doesn't support Atmos.
The JBL Bar 5.1 has okay sound enhancement features. It has only two EQ presets: 'Smart Mode', which helps improve sound effects, and 'Standard', which turns Smart Mode off. There's also room correction as well as night mode. While there's no dialogue enhancement feature available, the manufacturer recommends using 'Standard' mode for vocal-centric content to reduce sound effects. Consider the Monoprice SB-600 if you want a 5.1.2 setup that comes with four EQ presets and a dialogue enhancement feature.
Night mode isn't mentioned anywhere in the manual. However, it can be triggered by pressing 'Mute' on the remote for two seconds followed by pressing the volume down button to toggle this feature on and off.
This soundbar has a wide array of physical inputs. You can even use the bar as a hub for multiple devices like your TV and gaming console. USB playback is only available via the US version of this soundbar. Other regional variants can only use this USB port for updating the soundbar's firmware.
Update 01/13/2021: We re-evaluated our methodology for ARC support and concluded that DTS and Dolby Digital+ support should be reported the same over an ARC connection as over an HDMI IN and Optical connection, so we updated our results for DTS support from "Yes" to "No". Some TVs, like the one we initially used for testing, may convert this content, but other TV brands may not. Ultimately, your experience may vary depending on your TV.
This soundbar has good audio format support via its HDMI ARC port. While it doesn't support eARC or Dolby Atmos, it can play content like Dolby Digital content, which is commonly found on Blu-ray discs.
The JBL Bar 5.1 has fair audio format support via its Full HDMI In port. It can play Dolby Digital content, which is commonly found on Blu-ray discs. However, for this bar to play Dolby Digital Plus content, it has to encode and downmix it into DD 2.0.
This soundbar only supports Dolby Digital content via its Optical In port. This format is found on many streaming platforms as well as Blu-ray discs.
This bar has fantastic wireless playback options. This soundbar supports all common wireless playback options without a problem, so you can stream your favorite tracks or albums to the bar wirelessly.
The JBL Bar 5.1 can passthrough the highest bandwidth signals when connected between your PC and TV. The result is text that looks crisp and clear on your TV.
The subwoofer wirelessly connects to the bar but you still need to connect it to a power source.
The interface is located on the right side of the bar, behind the metal grille. It displays your volume level, inputs, and subwoofer level. It also lets you know when you're on standby mode.
This bar has controls on its top side. You can turn the bar on/off, adjust volume, and switch inputs.
The JBL Bar 5.1 has a simple remote that controls all of the bar's functions. However, it doesn't have play/pause or track skipping.
This soundbar doesn't have a companion app.
The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround comes in one color variant: Black. You can see its label here. Note that JBL also manufactures another soundbar called the JBL Bar 5.1 which comes with two detachable wireless satellites. However, we have not tested this variant and we expect it to perform differently than our test unit.
If you come across a variant of this soundbar that's different from our test unit, please let us know and we'll update our review.
The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is a 5.1 setup from this manufacturer's 2020 lineup. Compared to the JBL Bar 5.1, this soundbar doesn't use any satellite speakers and instead, uses 'Multibeam' technology alongside discrete speakers in the bar itself to improve the bar's surround performance without satellites. However, unlike many other 5.1 setups, it doesn't support Atmos. It also has limited sound enhancement features. Check out our recommendations for the best soundbars for music, the best soundbars 5.1, and the best soundbars with subwoofer.
The JBL Bar 9.1 is a better performing soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Bar 9.1 is a 5.1.4 setup with detachable wireless satellites and a more neutral and balanced sound profile. Its center and surround performances are much better too, and it supports Atmos as well as eARC. It also supports a wider array of audio formats over its physical inputs.
The Samsung HW-Q60T and the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround are both 5.1 setups but you may prefer one over the other. The Samsung offers a graphic EQ plus presets and supports more audio formats via its Optical In port. However, the JBL has a more balanced sound profile. It also has room correction.
The Samsung HW-Q70T is a better overall performing soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung is a 3.1.2 setup with a better-balanced sound profile. It can get louder with fewer compression artifacts and it supports Atmos as well as eARC. It also has a graphic EQ and a companion app. However, the JBL is a 5.1 with a room correction feature and an Ethernet port.
The Sony HT-Z9F is a better overall soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Sony is a 3.1 setup that supports Atmos and offers a full array of physical inputs that support common audio formats. However, the JBL is a 5.1 setup with room correction. You can also stream audio to it using Apple AirPlay.
The LG SN9YG is a better soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The LG is a 5.1.2 setup that supports Atmos and has a better-balanced sound profile. It offers more sound enhancement features and it supports more audio formats across its physical inputs. The JBL, on the other hand, has a better center channel performance. You can also wirelessly stream audio to it using Apple AirPlay.
The Samsung HW-Q70R is a better overall soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung is a 3.1.2 setup that has a better-balanced sound profile, supports Atmos as well as eARC, and has a graphic EQ. It can support all common audio formats over its HDMI In and Optical In ports. However, you can wirelessly stream to the JBL using Chromecast built-in or Apple AirPlay.