Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.

JBL Bar 5.1 Surround Soundbar Review

Tested using Methodology v1.2
Review updated Nov 15, 2022 at 01:14 pm
Latest change: Writing modified May 05, 2023 at 10:02 am
JBL Bar 5.1 Surround Picture

The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is a mid-range soundbar released in 2020. It's not a "true" surround setup with rear speakers, so it plays back surround sound content virtually, using its MultiBeam technology to bring a more cinematic feel to your living room. There are some premium features, like a room correction tool to optimize audio based on your room's unique acoustics, as well as built-in Chromecast and Apple AirPlay support. However, it can't support Dolby Atmos content, which is found on many streaming platforms.

Our Verdict

N/A Mixed Usage

The JBL 5.1 Bar is a pretty versatile soundbar, making it a decent choice for mixed usage. Dialogue in your favorite TV shows is clear and easy to follow, and voices and lead instruments in music sound detailed and pleasant. Its sub adds rumble in the bass, great for bass-heavy music and action-heavy movies. While it can playback surround sound, unfortunately, you can't enjoy object-based content like Dolby Atmos, which is more and more common on streaming platforms.

Pros
  • Outstanding wireless connectivity options.
  • Room correction available.
Cons
  • No Atmos support.
  • No bass and treble adjustments.
N/A Dialogue/TV Shows

The JBL Bar 5.1 reproduces dialogue with clarity and detail, meaning you can enjoy everything from sitcoms to podcasts to audiobooks. Its discrete center channel improves vocal reproduction, too, which is great. You can even use its night mode feature to balance the volume level across different programs and commercials, which is really handy if you don't want to disturb those around you.

Pros
  • Outstanding wireless connectivity options.
  • Room correction available.
Cons
  • No dialogue enhancement feature.
N/A Music

The JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar reproduces a fairly balanced sound right out of the box, making it suitable for listening to lots of different music genres. Voices and lead instruments are clear in the mix, and its sub offers a solid amount of bass for genres like EDM and hip-hop. Plus, its room correction tool is designed to optimize its output based on your room's unique acoustics, which is a nice touch. However, you won't find a lot of customization tools, so you can't switch up its sound based on your preferences.

Pros
  • Outstanding wireless connectivity options.
  • Room correction available.
Cons
  • No graphic EQ.
  • No bass and treble adjustments.
N/A Movies

The JBL Bar 5.1 reproduces clear and accurate dialogue, and its subwoofer brings some rumble during action-packed movie scenes. You can even use its smart mode feature to enhance sound effects in the mix. It can playback 5.1 surround sound formats that are commonly found on streaming platforms, like Dolby Digital, though it doesn't perform as well as setups with discrete surrounds. There's no Atmos support, either.

Pros
  • Outstanding wireless connectivity options.
  • Room correction available.
Cons
  • No Atmos support.
  • No bass and treble adjustments.
  • N/A Mixed Usage
  • N/A Dialogue/TV Shows
  • N/A Music
  • N/A Movies
  1. Updated May 05, 2023: Updated Audio Format Support results for greater clarity on Smart Mode's performance.
  2. Updated May 05, 2023: Updated Audio Format Support and Video Passthrough To TV results with new methodology.
  3. Updated May 05, 2023: Converted to Test Bench 1.2. Updated the results for audio format support via ARC/eARC, HDMI In, and Optical. Added Video Passthrough to TV results as well.
  4. Updated Mar 08, 2023: Added cable lengths to In The Box.
  5. Updated Mar 06, 2023: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. With this update, we've added a Mounting test and added information aboutSubwoofer Output, Spotify Connect, and Microphone Mute.
  6. Updated Nov 15, 2022: Rewrote text for greater clarity. No changes in test results.
  7. Updated Feb 18, 2021: Updated Surround score to reflect that the bar has phantom surround.
  8. Updated Feb 09, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  9. Updated Jan 13, 2021: Due to a change in our methodology, we updated DTS support via ARC to 'No'.
  10. Updated Oct 29, 2020: Review published.
  11. Updated Oct 23, 2020: Early access published.

Check Price

Black Bar 5.1 Surround
Searching
Finding Store
Black Bar 5.1 Surround
Searching
Finding Store
Black Bar 5.1 Surround
Searching
Finding Store

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

It 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 haven't tested this variant and 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.

Compared To Other Soundbars

The JBL Bar 5.1 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.

You can also check out our recommendations for the best soundbars for music, the best 5.1 soundbars, and the best soundbars with subwoofer.

Sony HT-G700

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sony HT-G700 or the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The JBL is a 5.1 setup that's better built and supports more wireless playback options. It reproduces a more extended low-bass and offers a better surround performance. Also, it comes with a room correction feature, unlike the Sony. However, the 3.1 Sony supports Dolby Atmos content, making it a better choice for some movie fans.

Sonos Arc

The Sonos Arc is a better soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Sonos offers better soundstage and Atmos performances. It can also be upgraded to the Sonos Arc with Sub + One SL Speakers for better performance. However, the JBL's dedicated sub reproduces a more extended low-bass, and it comes with EQ presets and a Full HDMI In port.

Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

The Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Sonos is a better-built 5.0 setup that supports Atmos content, unlike the JBL. It also has a better soundstage and built-in voice assistant capabilities. That said, the 5.1 JBL has a dedicated sub and can reproduce a more extended low-bass. It's also better suited to users who want to use a Full HDMI In port for high-quality passthrough.

Sonos Beam

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Sonos Beam or the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Sonos is a 3.0 setup that offers a better soundstage performance. It also comes with a dialogue enhancement feature and built-in voice assistant support, unlike the JBL. However, the 5.1 JBL comes with a dedicated subwoofer, so it reproduces a more extended low-bass. It also offers a better surround performance and comes with EQ presets, a Full HDMI In port that supports high-quality passthrough, and more wireless playback options.

Bose Smart Soundbar 700

The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 is a bit better for mixed usage than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Bose is better-built, with better soundstage and surround performances. Also, it has built-in voice assistant support. That said, the JBL reproduces a more extended low-bass and supports more wireless playback options. It also comes with EQ presets and a Full HDMI In port, unlike the Bose.

Klipsch Cinema 600

The Klipsch Cinema 600 is a better soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Klipsch reproduces a more extended-low bass. It has a better soundstage, and it gets louder. That said, the JBL is better built with a Full HDMI In port and more wireless playback options. It has a better surrounds performance, and unlike the Klipsch, it offers EQ presets and room correction.

Samsung HW-Q800B

The Samsung HW-Q800B is more versatile than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. Unlike the JBL, the Samsung supports Dolby Atmos content, so you can enjoy more immersive object-based formats commonly found on streaming platforms. It has a better soundstage, too, and more sound enhancement features on hand.

Samsung HW-Q700A

The Samsung HW-Q700A is a better soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung supports Dolby Atmos content and comes with more sound customization features, including a graphic EQ and bass and treble adjustments. It also gets louder and offers a better soundstage. It has a more neutral sound profile than the JBL, which some users may prefer. That said, the JBL reproduces a more extended low-bass, and it has a room correction feature. The JBL also has a better surrounds performance.

JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround or the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam. The 5.1 Surround comes with a dedicated subwoofer, so it can reproduce a much more extended low-bass. The 5.0 MultiBeam has a more compact design, as well as better soundstage and Atmos performances.

JBL Bar 9.1

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.

Samsung HW-Q800A

The Samsung HW-Q800A is a better soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung is a 3.1.2 setup with a better soundstage performance that gets louder with less compression at max volume. Unlike the JBL, it supports Dolby Atmos content, and it comes with a graphic EQ and built-in Amazon Alexa voice assistant support. However, the 5.1 JBL has a better surrounds performance, and it comes with a room correction feature and more wireless playback options.

Vizio M Series M512a-H6

The Vizio M Series M512a-H6 is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Vizio comes with discrete satellite speakers and has better soundstage and surround performances. Unlike the JBL, it also supports Dolby Atmos content. That said, the JBL is better built with more wireless playback options.

Samsung HW-Q950A

The Samsung HW-Q950A is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung gets louder with less compression at max volume. Unlike the JBL, it has discrete satellite speakers, supports Dolby Atmos, and has built-in voice assistant capabilities. It also has better soundstage and surround performances. There are even more sound enhancement features, such as a graphic EQ. That said, the JBL is better-built.

Bose Smart Soundbar 300

The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is better than the Bose Smart Soundbar 300. The JBL is a 5.1 setup with a dedicated sub that helps reproduce a more extended low-bass. It has a better surrounds performance, and it comes with a room correction feature and EQ presets. Also, it supports Chromecast built-in. That said, the 3.0 Bose has a better soundstage and built-in voice assistant support.

Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module

The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 with Speakers + Bass Module is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Bose is a better-built setup with discrete satellites. It has better soundstage and surround performances. Unlike the JBL, it also supports Atmos content. Also, it can get louder with less compression at max volume.

Yamaha YAS-209

The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is a bit better for mixed usage than the Yamaha YAS-209. The JBL is a 5.1 setup that's better-built, and offers better center and surround performances. It supports more wireless playback options, and it comes with a room correction feature. However, the 2.1 Yamaha has a better stereo soundstage, and it has built-in voice assistant support.

Samsung HW-Q600A

The Samsung HW-Q600A is a better overall soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung supports Dolby Atmos content, and it offers a better soundstage performance. It also comes with more sound enhancement features, including a graphic EQ, a dialogue enhancement feature, and bass and treble adjustments. However, the JBL offers a better surround performance and supports more wireless playback options. It also comes with a room correction feature, unlike the Samsung.

LG SP9YA

The LG SP9YA is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The LG supports Dolby Atmos content, unlike the JBL. It also has a better soundstage and more sound enhancement features, like bass and treble adjustments as well as dialogue enhancement. That said, the JBL has a better surround performance.

LG SP8YA

The LG SP8YA is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The LG has a better soundstage and more sound enhancement features. It also supports Dolby Atmos content, unlike the JBL. That said, the JBL is better-built, and it has a better surrounds performance.

Samsung HW-Q900A

The Samsung HW-Q900A is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung is a 7.1.2 setup that supports Dolby Atmos content and has built-in voice assistant capabilities. It gets louder than the JBL, and it has a better stereo soundstage. It even comes with more sound enhancement features, such as a graphic EQ. That said, the 5.1 JBL is better-built.

Polk Audio Signa S4

The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is a bit better for mixed usage than the Polk Audio Signa S4. The JBL is a 5.1 setup with a better surrounds performance. It can reproduce a more extended low-bass, and it also comes with more sound enhancement features, including room correction. That said, the Polk is still a pretty versatile 3.1.2 setup. It has a better soundstage than the JBL, and it even supports Dolby Atmos content.

Bose Smart Soundbar 900

The Bose Smart Soundbar 900 is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Bose is a better-built 5.0.2 setup with Dolby Atmos support, and has better soundstage, center, and surround performances. Unlike the JBL, it also has built-in voice assistant support. While the JBL's dedicated sub helps it to reproduce a more extended low-bass than the Bose, you can always upgrade the Bose with a separate sub down the line.

Vizio M Series M51a-H6

The Vizio M Series M51a-H6 is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Vizio comes with dedicated satellites, and it supports Dolby Atmos content. It gets louder with less compression at max volume, and it has better soundstage and surround performances. That said, the JBL is better built with more wireless playback options.

Samsung HW-A650

The Samsung HW-A650 is a bit better for mixed usage than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung has a better soundstage, and it comes with a few more sound enhancement features like a graphic EQ and dialogue enhancement. That said, the JBL has a better surround performance, and it supports high quality passthrough via Full HDMI In.

Sony HT-X8500

The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is better than the Sony HT-X8500. The JBL is a 5.1 setup with a dedicated subwoofer that can reproduce a more extended low-bass. It's better built, and it has better soundstage, center, and surround performances. That said, it doesn't support Dolby Atmos content like the Sony.

Samsung HW-Q800T

The Samsung HW-Q800T is a better soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung is a 3.1.2 setup that supports Atmos content and comes with a graphic EQ. It has a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box and a better soundstage performance. It also gets louder with less compression at max volume. That said, the 5.1 JBL has a better surrounds performance and comes with a room correction feature and more wireless playback support.

Vizio V Series V51-H6

The Vizio V Series V51-H6 is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Vizio has better soundstage and surround performances, and it gets louder. That said, the JBL is better built, and it comes with a Full HDMI In port that supports high-quality passthrough.

LG SN8YG

The LG SN8YG is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The LG has built-in voice assistant support and it supports Dolby Atmos content, unlike the JBL. It also has a better soundstage and more sound enhancement features, like dialogue enhancement. However, the JBL is better built with more wireless playback options. It also has a better surrounds performance.

Samsung HW-Q60T

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 default sound profile. It also has room correction, and it supports more wireless playback options.

Klipsch Cinema 400

The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is a bit better for mixed usage than the Klipsch Cinema 400. The JBL is a 5.1 setup that's better built and offers better center and surround performances. Unlike the Klipsch, it even has a Full HDMI In port for high quality passthrough. That said, the 2.1 Klipsch can reproduce a more extended low-bass.

Sony HT-S350

The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is better than the Sony HT-S350. The JBL is a 5.1 setup that can reproduce a more extended low-bass than the Sony. It has better center and surround performances, too. That said, the 2.1 Sony is still a solid choice for vocal-centric content like TV shows. It even has a better soundstage than the JBL.

Polk Audio Signa S2

The JBL Bar 5.1 Surround is better than the Polk Audio Signa S2. The JBL is a 5.1 setup that can reproduce a more extended low-bass. It has better soundstage, center, and surround performances, too. Also, you can find more sound enhancement features, such as room correction.

LG SP7Y

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the LG SP7Y or the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. Both 5.1 setups are decent choices for mixed usage. The LG offers a better soundstage, and unlike the JBL, it supports DTS content. However, the JBL is better built and can reproduce a more extended low-bass. Its surround performance is better, too, and it supports more wireless playback options.

Samsung HW-A550

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround or the Samsung HW-A550. The JBL is a 5.1 setup that's better built. It has better center and surround performances, and it can reproduce a slightly more extended low-bass. That said, the 2.1 Samsung has a better soundstage.

LG SPD7Y

The LG SPD7Y scores a bit better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround for mixed usage, but depending on your listening habits, you may prefer one over the other. The LG has a better soundstage, and unlike the JBL, it supports Dolby Atmos content. However, if you mostly watch surround content, you may prefer the JBL since it has a better surround performance. The JBL is also better-built with a more extended low-bass.

LG SN9YG

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 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.

LG SN10YG

The LG SN10YG is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The LG supports Dolby Atmos content and has built-in voice assistant capabilities, unlike the JBL. It also has a better stereo soundstage and more sound enhancement features, such as dialogue enhancement. However, the JBL has a better surrounds performance.

Samsung HW-Q70T

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.

Samsung HW-Q950T

The Samsung HW-Q950T is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung is a 9.1.4 setup with discrete satellites that supports Dolby Atmos content. It has better soundstage and surround performances, and it comes with a graphic EQ. Also, it has built-in voice assistant support. That said, the JBL is better-built, with more wireless playback options and a room correction feature.

Samsung HW-T650

The Samsung HW-T650 is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung is a 3.1 setup with a better soundstage. It has less compression when you play it at max volume, and unlike the JBL, it supports DTS content. That said, the 5.1 JBL has a better surrounds performance. It also supports more wireless playback options.

Polk Audio MagniFi MAX SR

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround or the Polk Audio MagniFi MAX SR. The JBL is better built, and it comes with a room correction feature and a better surrounds performance. It also supports more wireless playback options. That said, the Polk Audio has a better soundstage and a unique adjustable dialogue enhancement feature.

Yamaha YAS-408

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Yamaha YAS-408 or the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Yamaha is a 2.1 setup with a better soundstage. It also gets louder with less compression at max volume. However, the 5.1 JBL is better built, with better surround and center performances. It comes with room correction and Chromecast built-in support, unlike the Yamaha.

Samsung HW-Q70R

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.

Sony HT-Z9F

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.

Bose Smart Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module

The Bose Smart Soundbar 700 with Speakers + Bass Module is better than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Bose is better built, and its discrete satellites help create a better surround performance. It has a better soundstage and built-in voice assistant support. Some listeners may also prefer its more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box. That said, only the JBL has Chromecast built-in support.

Denon Home Sound Bar 550

Depending on your listening habits, you may prefer either the Denon Home Sound Bar 550 or the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Denon has a standalone design that's ideal if you don't have a lot of space. Unlike the JBL, it supports Dolby Atmos content, too. That said, the JBL can reproduce a more extended low-bass. It has a better center channel performance, too.

Samsung HW-Q65T

The Samsung HW-Q65T is a better soundbar than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. The Samsung comes with discrete surround speakers that offer a better surrounds performance. It also has a better soundstage performance and more sound enhancement features, including a graphic EQ, bass and treble adjustments, and a dialogue enhancement mode. However, the JBL comes with a room correction feature and more wireless playback options.

+ Show more

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style - Bar

It's a sleek soundbar with a matte black finish. Its front and sides are covered by a fine metal grille.

Design
Style - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
Locked
Enclosure
Locked

The subwoofer sits on four plastic pegs, and the speaker is located underneath. This subwoofer is made from black melamine, which makes it look sleek.

Design
Style - Satellites
Satellite Wireless
Locked
Design
Dimensions - Bar
Width Lock" (Lock cm)
Height Lock" (Lock cm)
Depth Lock" (Lock cm)

This soundbar is a bit wide, so it doesn't fit between the legs of most 55-inch TV stands. However, it's not very tall, so it won't block the bottom of your TV screen unless it sits flush to the table.

Design
Dimensions - Subwoofer
Width Lock" (Lock cm)
Height Lock" (Lock cm)
Depth Lock" (Lock cm)

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.

Design
Dimensions - Satellites
Width N/A
Height N/A
Depth N/A
Design
Mounting
Mountable Bar
Locked
Bar Brackets Included
Locked
Mountable Satellites
Locked
Satellite Brackets Included
Locked
N/A
Design
Build Quality

It has a great build quality. The body is made of sturdy plastic 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.

Design
In The Box

  • Remote with 2x AAA batteries
  • HDMI cable (3.9 ft / 1.2m)
  • 2x Power cables (4.9 ft / 1.5m)
  • Mounting brackets and screws
  • Mounting template
  • Manuals

Sound
N/A
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response
Tested Preset
Locked
Slope
Lock
Std. Err.
Lock dB
Channels
5.1
Low-Frequency Extension
Lock Hz
High-Frequency Extension
Lock kHz

This soundbar's stereo frequency response is very good. Its sound is fairly balanced, especially in the mids, where most voices and lead instruments are reproduced. There's a touch of extra punch in the bass range to bring action-packed scenes and bass-heavy music to life, though the treble can sound a bit dull. It's still suitable for most types of audio content, which is great.

The manufacturer recommends that you use the smart mode feature when you want to enjoy rich sound effects in your TV shows. However, for more vocal-centric programs like the news or weather forecasts, they suggest switching it off and returning to the standard mode. For our tests, we kept the smart mode off, which took away a touch of bass in the mix, resulting in a slightly mono sound. Turning it on emphasizes effects, though it can sound a bit overprocessed at times. Of course, your preferences can vary, so you can try both modes to see which makes the most sense for you.

N/A
Sound
Stereo Frequency Response With Preliminary Calibration
Suggested Preset
Locked
Suggested Bass Setting
Lock
Suggested Treble Setting
N/A
Slope
Lock
Std. Err.
Lock dB
Low-Frequency Extension
Lock Hz
High-Frequency Extension
Lock kHz

The bar's bass feature allows you to adjust the subwoofer level based on your preferences. It's set to '3' as its default, and we recommend maintaining this setting if you prefer a more balanced sound with stereo content.

N/A
Sound
Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
Lock dB

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.

N/A
Sound
Stereo Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
Lock dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
Lock dB

While this soundbar can get loud enough to fill a large or crowded room, if you push this bar to its max volume, there are pumping and compression artifacts, especially in the bass range. You aren't likely to notice any issues if you listen at an average volume level, though.

N/A
Sound
Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 80dB
Lock
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
Lock

The JBL Bar 5.1 has a great THD performance, so audio reproduction is clean and pure whether you're listening at normal volumes or with the volume cranked up. The sound isn't distorted, which is great.

N/A
Sound
Center
Localization
Locked
Slope
Lock
Std. Err.
Lock dB
SPL @ Max Volume
Lock dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
Lock
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
Lock

The bar's discrete center channel improves vocal reproduction. Its frequency response is especially balanced in the mids, where most voices are reproduced, making it easy to follow the action on screen.

N/A
Sound
Surround 5.1
Localization
Locked
Slope
Lock
Std. Err.
Lock dB
SPL @ Max Volume
Lock dB SPL
Weighted THD @ 80dB
Lock
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
Lock
7.1 Rears
Locked

This soundbar doesn't come with discrete surround speakers. Instead, it uses front-firing drivers built into the bar itself to simulate sound effects in the space around you. Unfortunately, this doesn't provide a very clear or real feel, and sound effects seem like they're focused in the space in front of your couch rather than stretching all around you.

N/A
Sound
Height (Atmos)
Localization
Locked
Slope
N/A
Std. Err.
N/A
SPL @ Max Volume
N/A
Weighted THD @ 80dB
N/A
Weighted THD @ Max Volume
N/A
N/A
Sound
Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
Locked
Dialogue Enhancement
Locked
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
Locked
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
Locked
Bass Adjustment
Locked
Treble Adjustment
Locked
EQ
Locked
Surround Level Adjustment
Locked
Rear Level Adjustment
Locked
Height Level Adjustment
Locked
Virtual Surround
Locked

The bar doesn't offer a lot of customization tools for the price. You can adjust its subwoofer levels, but it has only two EQ presets: 'Smart Mode', which helps emphasize sound effects, and 'Standard', which turns smart mode off. The manufacturer recommends turning smart mode on with more action-packed content but keeping it off with dialogue-focused shows like the news and the weather report. However, you can't adjust its bass and treble, and you can't use a graphic EQ to switch up its sound, so you're pretty limited if you want to adjust its output.

That said, you may find that you don't need these additional features. The bar comes with a room correction tool, which uses a microphone built into the bar itself to analyze your room's unique acoustics and adjust its output accordingly. It's called Automatic Multibeam Calibration, and you can access it by pressing and holding the HDMI button on the remote. To access the night mode feature that balances the volume level across different programs and commercials, simply hold the MUTE button for two seconds, then press the volume down button.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Inputs/Outputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
Locked
HDMI Out
Locked
HDMI 2.1 Class Bandwidth
Locked
Full HDMI In
Locked
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
Locked
RCA In
Locked
USB for Files
Locked
Ethernet
Locked
Subwoofer Output
Locked

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 with the US version of this soundbar. Other regional variants can only use this USB port for updating the soundbar's firmware.

N/A
Connectivity
Audio Format Support: ARC/eARC
Dolby Atmos
Locked
Dolby Digital
Locked
Dolby Digital Plus
Locked
Dolby TrueHD
Locked
DTS
Locked
DTS:X
Locked
DTS-HD MA
Locked
PCM Channels
Locked

This soundbar has a unique virtual surround feature called Smart Mode that impacts its implementation of surround sound formats like Dolby Digital. With Smart Mode on, the side-firing surround drivers are enabled, but when you turn Smart Mode off, those side-firing drivers turn off, too. Since Smart Mode is a virtual surround feature, it doesn't playback 5.1 content as intended by the initial sound engineers—rather, it relies on psychoacoustics to simulate a more immersive sound. It's disappointing for those who want a true 5.1 experience, as the bar can't deliver that, even with Smart Mode on.

N/A
Connectivity
Audio Format Support: HDMI In
Dolby Atmos
Locked
Dolby Digital
Locked
Dolby Digital Plus
Locked
Dolby TrueHD
Locked
DTS
Locked
DTS:X
Locked
DTS-HD MA
Locked
PCM Channels
Locked

Again, because the bar relies on its Smart Mode virtual surround feature, it can't play 5.1 audio like Dolby Digital as intended. Turning on Smart Mode activates the side-firing drivers, but the reliance on psychoacoustic principles means that content isn't reproduced as intended by the original engineers.

N/A
Connectivity
Audio Format Support: Optical
Dolby Digital
Locked
DTS
Locked
PCM Channels
Locked

The bar has the same performance with Dolby Digital over Optical. As Smart Mode is designed to enable the side-firing drivers, you'll need to turn it on to hear the right and left surrounds with this content. Still, it isn't able to reproduce true 5.1 surround.

N/A
Connectivity
Latency
- SAMPLE -
Get Insider Access for videos & test results
JBL Bar 5.1 Surround Latency Video Sample
ARC
Lock ms
Optical
Lock ms
Full HDMI In
Lock ms

Latency can vary depending on many factors, like the app or TV you use. With this soundbar, it's best to connect it over HDMI In to ensure that the audio you hear appears in sync with the video you see on your screen. ARC and Optical connections have a noticeable delay, which is unfortunate.

N/A
Connectivity
Video Passthrough To TV
1080p Max Refresh Rate
Locked
1080p @ 4:4:4 Max Refresh Rate
Locked
4k Max Refresh Rate
Locked
4k @ 120Hz @ 10-Bit
Locked
4k @ 4:4:4 Max Refresh Rate
Locked
8k Max Refresh Rate
Locked
HDR10 Passthrough
Locked
HDR10+ Passthrough
Locked
Dolby Vision Passthrough
Locked
HDMI Forum VRR Passthrough
Locked
FreeSync Passthrough
Locked
G-SYNC Passthrough
Locked
ALLM Passthrough
Locked

You can use the bar as a hub between different devices, like your TV and your PC, for video passthrough. The bar doesn't support HDMI 2.1, so you can't passthrough higher resolutions like 4k @ 120Hz. Plus, you can't benefit from any variable refresh rate technologies, which is disappointing if you want a tear-free gaming experience.

N/A
Connectivity
Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
Locked
Wi-Fi Playback
Locked
Chromecast built-in
Locked
Apple AirPlay
Locked
Spotify Connect
Locked

This bar has fantastic wireless playback options. This soundbar supports all common wireless playback options without a problem, meaning you can stream your favorite tracks or albums to the bar wirelessly.

Additional Features
Additional Features
Interface
Display
Locked

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.

Additional Features
Bar Controls

This bar has controls on its top side. You can turn the bar on/off, adjust the volume, and switch inputs.

Additional Features
Remote

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.

Additional Features
Voice Assistants Support
Amazon Alexa
Locked
Google Assistant
Locked
Apple Siri
Locked
Microphone Mute
Locked