JBL has had an extended historical past in audio, however its current soundbars have been somewhat inconsistent, starting from the bold however deeply flawed JBL Hyperlink Bar to the essential however excellent-sounding JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass. The JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam has ambitions of its personal, taking up streaming-centric, compact soundbars just like the Sonos Beam. The JBL appears good, provides superior bass to the Sonos and it could possibly sound particularly spectacular with motion pictures. I additionally like that JBL’s digital Dolby Atmos, ample Wi-Fi connectivity and second HDMI port supply further flexibility. 

Like

Wonderful sound high quality, particularly for moviesNumerous streaming featuresTwo HDMI inputs

Do not Like

Comparatively expensiveNeeds tweaking to sound its greatest.Controls make setup tough

A few of JBL’s design selections are somewhat perplexing nonetheless. There is not any devoted app, like Sonos has, and incongruous button enter mechanics make it tougher to adequately tune your system. As well as, there isn’t any improve path so as to add a subwoofer or further audio system. There’s additionally the truth that it prices a bit an excessive amount of for what you get.

Ultimately I appreciated the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam effectively sufficient, however the counterintuitive controls and excessive(er) value are off-putting. I believe most patrons will probably be higher served shopping for rivals such because the more-polished Beam or cheaper Polk React.

What’s within the field?

The Bar 5.0 shares the same look to all current JBL soundbars — they type of remind me of tongue depressors — and the Bar 5.0 can be a really related dimension and form to the rival Sonos Beam. The highest of the gun-metal bar features a set of controls for quantity, energy and supply, and the grille-covered entrance consists of an alpha-numeric LED readout which is comparatively simple to learn.

There’s a number of “stuff” onboard the MultiBeam, however essentially the most uncommon is its skill to make use of Amazon Multi Room Music. JBL is the second soundbar producer to implement it after Polk. Not like the cheaper Bar 2.1 Deep Bass, the MultiBeam additionally consists of Wi-Fi streaming from Chromecast built-in in addition to AirPlay. Ports embrace optical digital, Bluetooth, and two HDMI inputs (together with one ARC). 

Ty Pendlebury/Proinertech

The principle soundbar’s audio system comprise 5 (therefore the identify) 48mm, 2-inch-by-3-inch racetrack drivers — three alongside the entrance and two side-mounted. Although the speaker provides Dolby Atmos processing, there are not any ceiling-pointing peak drivers on this product, which is a disgrace. As an alternative there are two 3-inch-wide passive radiators.

Not like the cheaper Polk React, the Sonos and quite a few different single-speaker soundbars, the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam is unfortunately not upgradeable. Polk allows you to add rears and a subwoofer in order for you, whereas the JBL lacks the potential. It is one thing that the in any other case inferior JBL Hyperlink Bar allowed, with its devoted SW10 subwoofer, and it could have been nice to have the ability to add that hefty sub to the MultiBeam too.

Easy distant, complicated setup

Ty Pendlebury/Proinertech

The distant management appears cool however is just too bare-bones. The paucity of buttons makes some setup actions too complicated, requiring long-presses and different nonintuitive actions. It is like JBL needed to take the Apple route and current a simplified expertise, however acquired all of it improper.

For instance, there are not any conventional sound modes like Film, Music and Voice, only a management for Dolby Atmos — which provides Atmos-like results to non-Dolby Atmos materials — and a hidden toggle for the always-on Good mode. To show it off you need to press and maintain the mute button for 4 seconds then press Quantity Up. The show will then learn “Off Smartmode.” Sadly, the Good mode will interact once more in case you flip the soundbar off, so it is a good factor it does not damage the sound.

Do not count on an excessive amount of assist from the controls on the bar itself.

Ty Pendlebury/Proinertech

Likewise, the distant hides its skill to allow you to modify the bass — you need to maintain the “TV” enter button for 3 seconds after which “-“. You learn that proper, and sure, it is simply plain bizarre. The one good factor is that when it is set, you will not want to the touch the bass management once more. Lastly JBL claims the distant has the power to calibrate sound — holding down “HDMI” till “Calibration” is displayed — however I used to be by no means in a position to get it to work correctly.

Talking of issues that did not work, it is value mentioning I had two separate JBL Bar items, the primary of which was rather more uncooperative than the second. As an illustration, the primary mannequin would not improve to the newest firmware it doesn’t matter what I attempted, and I skilled different technical points with it as effectively. After a lot to-ing and fro-ing, I swapped it for the second unit, which labored as anticipated.

How does it sound?

Ty Pendlebury/Proinertech

As soon as I managed to wrangle this soundbar into submission, it was able to excellent sound. The JBL is at its greatest with an motion film like The Matrix, the place it could possibly assist droop disbelief higher than any compact soundbar I’ve examined. In contrast towards the Sonos Beam, the film’s foyer scene stuffed the room with ricocheting bullets and spent casings. The synth bass rating was by no means pushed to the background and helped drive the kinetic really feel the film calls for. By comparability the Beam was a bit subtler — significantly when it got here to falling casings, but it surely lacked the JBL’s cohesion and did not have the identical deep bass response.

Good mode can actually add depth to a film’s sound, one thing I heard throughout Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (42:40) when Spider-Man and Miles determine to crew as much as flip off the collider. After a little bit of strolling on partitions, Peter Parker heads down the alley wall, towards the viewer and out of the body, and the sound follows him. With Good mode on you possibly can hear this impact, however not with it turned off. 

Although the soundbar is sweet with movies out of the field, it wants somewhat little bit of tweaking to get proper with music, particularly in case you like heavier kinds like dance or rock. Most tunes sounded good with wonderful separation of the devices, however this got here undone after I performed Alt_J’s 3WW. By default the bass drum sounded actually bizarre — like somebody beating moist sheets with a wood spoon. In contrast the Beam did not have the ever-present bass mattress that the JBL may seize, however as a counter the drum did not sound distorted and damaged. I did handle to repair the JBL by altering the default bass from stage 3 to 2, however as famous above, making that adjustment wasn’t as simple as urgent a quantity button. 

Must you purchase it?

Most of my hesitation about recommending the Bar 5.0 MultiBeam comes all the way down to the controls. The distant is counterintuitive in the best way it makes changes which might be essential to get the perfect sound. As well as, it could have been nice if what look like ceiling-pointing peak drivers really have been, provided that this mannequin has Atmos functionality.

With perseverance, the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam is able to wonderful sound however on the finish of the day it is not very simple to arrange, and it is dearer than fashions with subwoofers just like the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass.

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