The JBL Link Bar is a pretty straightforward 2.0 soundbar that offers a decent sound quality with stereo content. It lacks quite a bit of sub-bass as it doesn't have a dedicated subwoofer and doesn't perform well with surrounds or Atmos content either. On the upside, its sound profile is well-balanced and the bar can get pretty loud. Unfortunately, pushing the bar to its max volume isn't recommended as the bass will be compressed. Nevertheless, the Link Bar is a great option if you have plenty of devices to plug in like a Blu-Ray player and gaming consoles since it has many ports. It also acts as a Google Home speaker and an Android TV Box, which adds to its versatility, although we haven't tested them so we can't comment on how well these features work.
The Link Bar is part of JBL's 2018 soundbar lineup. It's one of the simplest options from their soundbars with a 2.0 speaker configuration. It doesn't come with a dedicated subwoofer, but you can get a separate one or buy a bundled bar with a sub, like the JBL Bar 3.1 or even the JBL Bar 5.1 with surround speakers. The JBL Link Bar's main competitors are the Sonos Beam, the Bose Solo 5, and the Sony HT-S100F.
The JBL Link Bar looks nice and is entirely made out of plastic and surrounded by fabric, though it doesn't feel cheap. There's a port on each side of the bar. It's a fairly low-profile soundbar.
The bar is rather long and might not fit between the legs of most TV stands. On the upside, it's not very high, so it won't block the bottom part of your screen unless it's sitting directly on the table.
There are no satellite speakers.
The back of the bar is fairly sleek and straightforward. You have a long hole for all your inputs and two holes for mounting the bar to a wall. The soundbar comes with mounting brackets.
The JBL Link Bar feels decently well-made. It's not as great as other models that are made out of solid plastic. The bar is covered by fabric that can easily be damaged or become dirty. On the upside, the plastic still feels somewhat durable. It's quite similar to Sony soundbars or the Klipsch Bar 48. It's also a 3-in-1 product: a soundbar, a Google Home Speaker, and an Android TV box.
The Link Bar's stereo frequency response is decent. It doesn't have a very deep bass, due to the lack of a dedicated wireless subwoofer, which is disappointing. On the upside, the rest of the response is fairly neutral and well-balanced, which is great for music.
The JBL Link Bar's soundstage is decent. It sounds a little wider than the bar itself, but not by much and it won't be as natural as a home theater setup with dedicated tower speakers. On the upside, the sounds are accurate and come from a pinpoint location.
This soundbar can get pretty loud, more than enough for casual listening. However, when pushing the bar to its max volume, there's some noticeable compression, especially in the bass range.
The JBL Link Bar's stereo THD performance is great. The THD is within good limits at a moderate volume, but does get a bit elevated at max volume. This can result in harsh and impure frequencies.
The JBL Link Bar's center channel performance is mediocre. This is a 2.0 stereo setup, which means it doesn't have a dedicated center channel for voices and dialogue. The bar uses the left and right drivers to simulate a phantom center, which won't be as clear and detailed.
The JBL Link Bar's surrounds performance is pretty bad. Due to the 2.0 configuration, there are no speakers for surround content, meaning the bar can play the content but downmixes it to stereo. This greatly affects the general immersion of surround sounds.
This soundbar doesn't have height channels and can't play Atmos content.
The JBL Link Bar doesn't have many sound enhancement features. You can enhance dialogue when using the EQ preset called 'Voice' and adjust the bass. Other than that, the bar is pretty straightforward and doesn't allow much customization.
The JBL Link Bar has plenty of inputs, including three Full HDMI In, making it easy to use the bar as a hub for your different devices. There's also an AUX cable jack if you want to plug in a cell phone or MP3 player.
Via the ARC port, you'll be able to play Dolby Digital and DTS content, which should cover most streaming services and Blu-ray disc content.
Just like via ARC, you can easily use one of the three Full HDMI In ports to play Dolby Digital or DTS content, on streaming platforms and Blu-ray discs.
Via optical, like most soundbars, both Dolby Digital and DTS are supported.
This soundbar has amazing wireless playback capacities as you can easily cast content to the bar via Bluetooth, or even use your home network too. Additionally, the bar itself is a Google Home speaker and has Chromecast built-in.
Although it accepts the signal for 4:4:4, the result on TVs isn't very crisp and clear, and seems to be subsampling down to what looks like 4:2:2. On the upside, it can do 4k @ 60Hz and HDR10 passthrough, which can be useful for Xbox One users.
The JBL Link Bar's interface is quite simple as it's only four lights that are hidden behind the fabric. On the upside, the bar connects the TV via HDMI ARC, and since it's an Android TV Box, there's a visual display on the screen that tells you a lot more information than the lights do.
The buttons are situated on the top of the bar and let you control the input you're on, the Bluetooth pairing, on top of having volume up and down buttons. There's also a switch that lets you mute the microphone if you don't want the soundbar to be constantly listening.
The remote is small, sleek, and fits well in the hand. It lets you control pretty much every feature of the bar and you even have a quick access button for Netflix too. Strangely enough, via HDMI ARC, we were able to use that remote to power off the TV, but couldn't turn it back on.
The Google Home app is pretty barebones and doesn't control the bar itself other than the volume output and a few settings. It also has a screen mirroring feature, but casting content from dedicated apps will result in better performance.
The JBL Link Bar can automatically enter a power-saving feature and it can be set in the settings. You can either completely turn it off or set it from 30 minutes to up to 6 hours. The bar also supports HDMI CEC, which means you'll also be able to control some aspects of the bar with the TV remote.
The JBL Link Bar is a straightforward 2.0 soundbar that performs quite well when compared to other 2.0 soundbars we've reviewed. The JBL has a decent and well-balanced sound profile that's suitable for music and dialogue. However, it lacks a bit of sub-bass when compared to 2.1 systems that have a dedicated subwoofer. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best budget soundbars, and the best soundbars with subwoofer.
The Sonos Beam is a better soundbar than the JBL Link Bar. It's easily upgradable, and its 3.0 configuration means it has a dedicated center speaker, which makes dialogue and voices even clearer. It also has way more features like room correction and a night mode. On the other hand, the Link Bar supports DTS and can play content via Bluetooth and has Chromecast built-in. It also acts an Android TV box and a Google Home Speaker.
The Bose Soundbar 700 is a better soundbar than the JBL Link Bar. It's easily upgradable, but even the bar itself performs better. It has a dedicated center channel, has a better sound quality and offers more sound enhancement features like a room correct. Its soundstage is also very wide due to the speakers' positioning and reflects the sounds off the walls to the listeners. On the other hand, the JBL Lik Bar has a bit more ports and connectivity options. It has three full HDMI In ports and an audio jack for an AUX cable, which the Bose lacks. However, it isn't as well-built as the Bose 700.
The JBL Link is a better soundbar than the Bose Solo 5. The Solo 5 is rather straightforward, doesn't have many features, and is more of a plug-and-play type of soundbar. The JBL Link is also an Android TV Box and a Google Home speaker. Its stereo soundstage is also wider, and it has more inputs like full HDMI In ports and an HDMI ARC. It also supports wireless playback via Wi-Fi, on top of Bluetooth.
The JBL Link Bar is a better 2.0 soundbar than the Sony HT-S100F. It has a noticeably better audio reproduction and has more bass. Its stereo soundstage is also noticeably wider, and it has more inputs for you to use it as a hub for your devices. It supports DTS content and can cast content wirelessly via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and it has Chromecast built-in. The JBL Link is also an Android TV Box and a Google Home speaker. On the other hand, the Sony compresses less at max volume and has a better phantom center performance for clearer voices and dialogue in movies.
Decent for mixed usage. It has a decent sound profile that's accurate and well-balanced but lacks a bit of bass. This won't be great for movies and bass-heavy music, but that's about it. If you're simply watching TV and listening to music from time to time, it's a decent option.
Very good for dialogue and TV shows. The sound profile is well-balanced and fairly neutral, which is great. There's also a 'Voice' EQ preset which makes dialogue and voices clearer and easier to understand. It'll also be easy to cast content like audiobooks or podcasts wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Decent for music. This soundbar has a decent audio reproduction but is a bit light on bass. It won't be the best option for bass-heavy music, but other than that, the well-balanced sound profile is fairly versatile for all types of music. It also gets loud enough for a large room and crowded environments, but you might get compression in the bass range if you push it to its max volume.
Mediocre for movies. Due to its speaker configuration, everything will be downmixed to stereo and the listening experience won't be as immersive as what other soundbars that support Atmos can offer.