JBL soundbars: bringing cinema home

(Image credit: JBL)

When it comes to movies and TV shows, audio is half of the experience. That’s why we always recommend saving some space in your budget for a soundbar. Even relatively affordable models will far outgun most TVs’ audio, and they don’t take up too much space either.

In other words, they’re small, discreet, convenient, and give a lot of enjoyment.

But how do you know which one is right for you? JBL has been in the audio game since the early 20th century, when its founder started innovating sound tech for cinemas. And it’s been making home theatre speakers since the 1950s, so it knows a thing or two about immersive movie experiences. Its current range is sure to have something for you.

JBL Bar 300: a first step into soundbars


(Image credit: JBL)

The JBL Bar 300 is the brand’s entry-level model. It’s a 5.0-channel, all-in-one soundbar that takes up minimal space, yet provides a huge improvement on TV sound.

It might be an all-in-one model, but it can still fill a room with sound. That’s thanks to Dolby Atmos, a virtual surround sound technology that includes virtual height channels to ‘place’ sound in three dimensions. JBL’s MultiBeam tech widens the soundfield so the audio reaches every corner of your room, while the built-in bass port provides plenty of low-end rumble without the need for a separate subwoofer.

But it’s not all about the bass notes. PureVoice dialogue enhancement technology is onboard too – this uses JBL’s unique algorithm to bring the dialogue to the fore, so you can make out what characters are saying even when the action gets frantic.

The 260W of total power transforms your movies, music and games into immersive sound experiences, while it’s one of the most versatile soundbars around, with wi-fi, Apple AirPlay, Alexa Multi-Room Music and Chromecast built-in wireless technologies giving you plenty of choice of what to watch, listen to or play. It also brings over 300 online music streaming services through AirPlay, Alexa MRM and Chromecast built-in, so you can enjoy all your favourite podcasts, playlists and internet radio in superb quality.

It integrates seamlessly into your home audio setup too, as it can connect wirelessly to smart speakers and be controlled by Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant for streaming direct to it. And the HDMI eARC with 4K Dolby Vision passthrough lets you enjoy uncompressed Dolby Atmos surround sound through a single HDMI cable.

The audio calibration feature will analyse your room and optimise the audio perfectly, so it’ll sound superb whatever your setup, while the JBL One app lets you tweak the equaliser, set up the soundbar, personalise settings, and browse music services to find some new tunes. And all in a package that sits below your TV.

Buy the JBL Bar 300

JBL Bar 500: all that plus a separate sub


(Image credit: JBL)

The next step up is the JBL Bar 500. This adds a separate subwoofer to the mix, making for even more room-shaking bass.

The 10-inch wireless sub delivers thrilling, precise bass, adding action to your movies and emotion to your music. And because it’s wireless, you can position it wherever suits you (though it will need to be plugged into a power socket).

The addition of the subwoofer also ups the power output to an engrossing 590W. That’s more than twice as much power as the JBL Bar 300, so it’s a real advancement if you’re getting serious about home cinema.

Along with this, it has all the same features and abilities as the JBL Bar 300, including Dolby Atmos, JBL MultiBeam, voice controls and PureVoice for enhancing dialogue.

Buy the JBL Bar 500

JBL Bar 1000: power with precision


(Image credit: JBL)

The JBL Bar 1000 is the best of the best. As well as the wireless subwoofer, it adds detachable surround speakers and more audio technologies for the ultimate in home cinema performance.

Two up-firing drivers within the soundbar itself plus more inside the detachable speakers mean the JBL Bar 1000 delivers true Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound. Add MultiBeam, and you’ve got a completely immersive home theatre experience.

The wireless speakers are battery-powered, so can be placed wherever is convenient to your setup without worrying about cables acting as trip hazards. And you don’t have to worry about the soundbar looking a little odd when they’re detached – just clip the side caps onto each end to make the bar look more aesthetically pleasing. The wireless speakers come with caps too, so they’ll never look out of place.

The JBL Bar 1000  features the same 10-inch subwoofer as the JBL Bar 500, but ups the total power output to an incredible 880W. Despite all this power, it delivers a refined performance, with PureVoice technology able to pick out the dialogue among the action.

Of course, you get all the same technologies and features as the other two models in the range, including voice assistant controls, compatibility with all the major wireless technologies, HDMI eARC with 4K Dolby Vision pass-through, room calibration and app controls. If you’re serious about home cinema, the JBL Bar 1000 is for you.

Buy the JBL Bar 1000

Whichever JBL soundbar you choose, it will be a significant step up from your TV’s sound, and make for a wholly more immersive viewing experience. You owe it to yourself and your love of movies.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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