JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam review: Compact soundbar with better bass, worse controls

Maria J. Danford

JBL has experienced a extensive background in audio, but its the latest soundbars have been a little inconsistent, ranging from the ambitious but deeply flawed JBL Backlink Bar to the primary but superb-sounding JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass. The JBL Bar five. MultiBeam has ambitions of its very own, using on streaming-centric, compact soundbars like the Sonos Beam. The JBL appears to be good, offers outstanding bass to the Sonos and it can audio specially outstanding with videos. I also like that JBL’s virtual Dolby Atmos, ample Wi-Fi connectivity and 2nd HDMI port offer added flexibility. 

Like

  • Great audio good quality, specially for videos
  • Numerous streaming features
  • Two HDMI inputs

Don’t Like

  • Fairly highly-priced
  • Requirements tweaking to audio its most effective.
  • Controls make setup difficult

Some of JBL’s style decisions are a little perplexing having said that. You can find no committed app, like Sonos has, and incongruous button enter mechanics make it harder to adequately tune your system. In addition, there is no update path to incorporate a subwoofer or added speakers. You can find also the simple fact that it charges a little bit as well a great deal for what you get.

In the finish I appreciated the JBL Bar five. MultiBeam well sufficient, but the counterintuitive controls and significant(er) cost are off-placing. I feel most potential buyers will be superior served shopping for rivals this kind of as the far more-polished Beam or cheaper Polk Respond.

What is actually in the box?

The Bar five. shares a similar appear to all the latest JBL soundbars — they form of remind me of tongue depressors — and the Bar five. is also a extremely similar sizing and condition to the rival Sonos Beam. The major of the gun-metal bar consists of a established of controls for volume, ability and supply, and the grille-lined front consists of an alpha-numeric LED readout which is fairly simple to study.

You can find heaps of “stuff” onboard the MultiBeam, but the most unconventional is its capacity to use Amazon Multi Home Songs. JBL is the 2nd soundbar company to employ it just after Polk. Not like the much less expensive Bar 2.1 Deep Bass, the MultiBeam also consists of Wi-Fi streaming from Chromecast constructed-in as well as AirPlay. Ports include optical electronic, Bluetooth, and two HDMI inputs (including a person ARC). 

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The most important soundbar’s speakers comprise five (consequently the title) 48mm, 2-inch-by-3-inch racetrack motorists — three alongside the front and two aspect-mounted. Though the speaker offers Dolby Atmos processing, there are no ceiling-pointing peak motorists on this product or service, which is a disgrace. As an alternative there are two 3-inch-huge passive radiators.

Not like the much less expensive Polk Respond, the Sonos and several other one-speaker soundbars, the JBL Bar five. MultiBeam is sadly not upgradeable. Polk permits you to incorporate rears and a subwoofer if you want, when the JBL lacks the functionality. It really is something that the usually inferior JBL Backlink Bar authorized, with its committed SW10 subwoofer, and it would have been terrific to be ready to incorporate that hefty sub to the MultiBeam as well.

Simple distant, sophisticated setup

jbl-bar-5-4

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The distant management appears to be neat but is basically as well bare-bones. The paucity of buttons can make some setup activities as well sophisticated, requiring extensive-presses and other nonintuitive actions. It really is like JBL needed to consider the Apple route and current a simplified working experience, but obtained it all erroneous.

For illustration, there are no classic audio modes like Film, Songs and Voice, just a management for Dolby Atmos — which adds Atmos-like results to non-Dolby Atmos materials — and a hidden toggle for the normally-on Intelligent manner. To convert it off you have to push and keep the mute button for four seconds then push Volume Up. The display will then study “Off Smartmode.” Unfortunately, the Intelligent manner will engage yet again if you convert the soundbar off, so it is a good issue it will not hurt the audio.

jbl-bar-5-5

Don’t assume as well a great deal support from the controls on the bar itself.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Furthermore, the distant hides its capacity to permit you alter the bass — you have to keep the “Tv” enter button for 3 seconds and then “-“. You study that right, and indeed, it is just simple unusual. The a person good issue is that once it is established, you won’t want to touch the bass management yet again. Lastly JBL promises the distant has the capacity to calibrate audio — holding down “HDMI” until finally “Calibration” is shown — but I was by no means ready to get it to perform appropriately.

Speaking of items that failed to perform, it is worth mentioning I experienced two separate JBL Bar models, the very first of which was a great deal far more uncooperative than the 2nd. For occasion, the very first model would not update to the most current firmware no make any difference what I tried using, and I experienced other technical concerns with it as well. Immediately after a great deal to-ing and fro-ing, I swapped it for the 2nd unit, which worked as anticipated.

How does it audio?

jbl-bar-5-2

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Once I managed to wrangle this soundbar into submission, it was capable of extremely good audio. The JBL is at its most effective with an motion movie like The Matrix, exactly where it can support suspend disbelief superior than any compact soundbar I have examined. In contrast from the Sonos Beam, the movie’s lobby scene crammed the place with ricocheting bullets and expended casings. The synth bass rating was by no means pushed to the qualifications and aided drive the kinetic feel the movie calls for. By comparison the Beam was a little bit subtler — specifically when it came to falling casings, but it lacked the JBL’s cohesion and failed to have the similar deep bass response.

Intelligent manner can genuinely incorporate depth to a movie’s audio, something I heard during Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (42:40) when Spider-Man and Miles choose to staff up to convert off the collider. Immediately after a little bit of going for walks on partitions, Peter Parker heads down the alley wall, toward the viewer and out of the frame, and the audio follows him. With Intelligent manner on you could listen to this impact, but not with it turned off. 

Though the soundbar is good with movies out of the box, it demands a little little bit of tweaking to get right with music, specially if you like heavier models like dance or rock. Most tunes sounded good with superb separation of the devices, but this came undone when I played Alt_J’s 3WW. By default the bass drum sounded genuinely unusual — like an individual beating moist sheets with a picket spoon. By contrast the Beam failed to have the ever-current bass bed that the JBL could capture, but as a counter the drum failed to audio distorted and broken. I did regulate to take care of the JBL by shifting the default bass from degree 3 to 2, but as famous earlier mentioned, earning that adjustment was not as simple as pressing a volume button. 

Need to you obtain it?

Most of my hesitation about recommending the Bar five. MultiBeam will come down to the controls. The distant is counterintuitive in the way it can make adjustments that are vital to get the most effective audio. In addition, it would have been terrific if what surface to be ceiling-pointing peak motorists essentially were, supplied that this model has Atmos functionality.

With perseverance, the JBL Bar five. MultiBeam is capable of superb audio but at the finish of the working day it isn’t really extremely simple to established up, and it is far more highly-priced than products with subwoofers like the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass.

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