“This single-speaker soundbar is the best manner so as to add Dolby Atmos to your TV.”

Easy and simple to make use of

Dolby Atmos

AirPlay

Chromecast

No EQ settings

Bass cannot compete with subwoofers

Because the soundbar class quickly grows, with an increasing number of choices and costs, there’s a bent for these gadgets to get difficult. Wi-fi subwoofers, satellite tv for pc encompass audio system, and even voice assistants are all a part of the combination now, making your buy determination tougher than ever.

The $350 JBL Bar 5.zero Multibeam is, by comparability, comparatively easy and reasonably priced, and but it’s nonetheless filled with helpful options and stable sound high quality. Better of all, it provides one of many best methods to dip your toes into Dolby Atmos, the immersive, 3D encompass sound format that’s quickly turning into a typical for each streaming motion pictures and streaming music.

Is it the fitting soundbar for you? Let’s test it out.

What’s within the field?

Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

JBL throws in every part you want: The soundbar, an influence cable, an HDMI cable, a slender distant with two AA batteries, a set of wall-mount brackets with a mounting template, and a quick-start information. There are just a few items of nonrecyclable foam, however the majority of the packaging gained’t want to enter the native landfill.

Design

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The JBL Bar 5.zero Multibeam is straightforward to love: At 27.9-inches extensive and a couple of.Four-inches tall, it’s very compact for a house theater soundbar and will be capable to sit in entrance of most TVs with out obscuring the underside of the display.

Its satin-finish black plastic housing disappears totally when the lights go down and barely attracts any consideration to itself when the lights are on. To me, that’s the best design for a soundbar.

There are 4 top-mounted controls for energy, quantity, and supply choice, however you’ll probably find yourself utilizing the included distant more often than not.

Far too many soundbars require that you just surrender one in all your TV’s HDMI ports, however not the Bar 5.zero.

Hidden behind the speaker grille is an LED show that truly scrolls full-text messages or numbers so you’ll be able to see precisely what’s happening (in contrast to some soundbars from Vizio, which use a sequence of coloured dots). There’s no strategy to alter the show’s brightness, but it surely mechanically turns itself off inside just a few seconds of any settings modifications, so it gained’t be a distraction whereas watching your exhibits or motion pictures.

The distant is a bare-bones affair. Extremely-lightweight, and with solely a handful of buttons, it’s simple to make use of and comfy to carry.

My solely small gripe is that the labels are small and there’s no backlight, so you could have to spend just a few moments memorizing what the buttons achieve this you should use them when it’s darkish.

Controls and connections

Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

Across the again of the JBL Bar 5.zero Multibeam, you’ll discover a USB port that can be utilized for music playback from exhausting drives or flash drives. It additionally pumps out 5 volts at 5 milliamps, which could simply be sufficient to energy a streaming stick like an Amazon Fireplace TV Stick or a Roku gadget.

You’ll additionally want to make use of the USB port for doing firmware updates. Provided that the soundbar can connect with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, I don’t know why JBL forces you to make use of the USB port, however I assume you’ll be able to’t have every part at this worth.

There’s an optical enter and a pair of HDMI ports. This can be a good contact: Far too many soundbars require that you just surrender one in all your TV’s HDMI ports for his or her HDMI ARC or eARC connection, and so they don’t present an HDMI enter to make up for it.

The Bar 5.zero’s HDMI enter can passthrough 4K and Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR, which is strictly what you’ll want if you wish to join a streaming media gadget that may accommodate these video codecs.

As I indicated above, the soundbar can connect with Wi-Fi (2.Four and 5GHz bands), and it has Bluetooth Four.2 for receiving audio streams from a cellphone, pill, or different Bluetooth gadgets.

Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

Utilizing these wi-fi capabilities is totally non-obligatory and gained’t have an effect on the Bar 5.zero’s fundamental performance in any manner. JBL doesn’t make a smartphone app for this soundbar, so even should you do arrange Wi-Fi, it gained’t provide you with any additional settings or controls.

Getting going with the Bar 5.zero couldn’t be simpler.

Nevertheless, I do strongly advocate establishing Wi-Fi, because it provides much better sound high quality for music streaming than Bluetooth. Extra on that later.

If your property Wi-Fi isn’t particularly good, otherwise you occur to have an Ethernet cable close by, there’s an Ethernet port, too.

Organising

Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

Getting going with the Bar 5.zero couldn’t be simpler. Plug it into your TV’s HDMI ARC or eARC port with the included HDMI cable, then plug it into an influence outlet, and also you’re completed. In case your TV doesn’t assist HDMI ARC, you’ll want to purchase an optical cable. If you happen to go the optical cable route, needless to say you’ll be restricted to Dolby Digital 5.1 audio out of your TV, as a result of Dolby Atmos isn’t suitable with optical connections.

JBL has designed the Bar 5.zero to be suitable with all three main wi-fi sensible dwelling ecosystems, which is good.

However don’t be too alarmed: If you happen to plug an Apple TV 4K, Amazon Fireplace TV Stick 4K, or some other streamer that helps Dolby Atmos into the soundbar’s HDMI enter, you’ll be able to nonetheless get Dolby Atmos sound — you merely gained’t get it from any sources which are plugged into your TV instantly.

Chromecast, AirPlay, and Alexa

Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

JBL has designed the Bar 5.zero to be suitable with all three main wi-fi sensible dwelling ecosystems, which is good. Higher but, you aren’t pressured to decide on one; the soundbar will be added to Google Dwelling, Apple Dwelling, and the Alex app, and you may change forwards and backwards between all three should you select. Most folk will choose only one.

I discovered it solely took a minute or two so as to add the Bar 5.zero to Google Dwelling in order that I might use Chromecast, and setting it up as an AirPlay 2 speaker took solely seconds.

Going by way of this course of is straightforward and completely price it for the improved audio high quality but it surely’s additionally very useful should you already personal a wise speaker. The Bar 5.zero gained’t allow you to discuss to Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant, however it may be managed by all three when you’ve got one other strategy to difficulty voice instructions.

Sound high quality

Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

The JBL Bar 5.zero Multibeam delivers clear, well-balanced sound that may simply fill a medium-sized bed room or dwelling area. A easy and simple room calibration perform lets the soundbar alter its settings to match your room’s particular acoustic properties.

Sadly, although you’ll be able to alter the Bar 5.zero’s bass properties, there aren’t any different EQ settings for the treble or midranges.

However whereas it’s miles higher than your TV audio system, the shortage of a devoted subwoofer means you could have to hold your expectations in test.

All issues thought-about, the bass response is superb. You’ll be able to alter the quantity of bass by way of a five-level setting, however even at degree 5, you gained’t get the form of rumbling low finish that we are likely to affiliate with devoted dwelling theater techniques.

It’s not a deal breaker by any means. There’s nonetheless greater than sufficient energy within the low finish to get pleasure from motion film soundtracks. It might probably even shock you at occasions: In an early scene in Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise Of Skywalker, Kylo Ren has his first assembly with Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine’s voice resonates with otherworldly energy and appears to come back from throughout the room. It’s thrilling and allows you to imagine that Ren would possibly simply be a bit of intimidated by Palpatine’s menacing presence regardless of his present of bravado.

Sadly, although you’ll be able to alter the Bar 5.zero’s bass properties, there aren’t any different EQ settings for the treble or midranges. Likewise, there aren’t any preset sound modes for motion pictures, music, speech enhancement, or nighttime, which have grow to be pretty commonplace on the latest soundbars.

Consequently, the louder you push the quantity, the extra shrill the upper frequencies grow to be, and there’s not a lot you are able to do to fine-tune it. I discovered degree 19 on the quantity scale to be the candy spot. It’s loud sufficient to essentially immerse you within the content material, with out getting painfully sharp within the highs.

One of many Bar 5.zero’s spotlight options is its assist for Dolby Atmos. Technically talking, it makes use of Digital Dolby Atmos, which signifies that as an alternative of possessing up-firing drivers that bounce Atmos’ signature top channel sounds at you, the soundbar’s 5 racetrack-style drivers mix to create a simulated top impact.

No, it’s not as efficient as a devoted Dolby Atmos soundbar just like the Sonos Arc, however you’ll be able to positively inform the distinction, particularly once you toggle the Digital Dolby Atmos processing on and off utilizing the distant.

With Digital Atmos on, the soundstage turns into wider and taller. Sounds don’t fairly zip across the room the way in which they might with devoted Atmos audio system, but it surely actually is a extra immersive expertise than you’d get with a non-Atmos-capable soundbar.

Talking of Atmos, I strongly advocate discovering a strategy to stream Dolby Atmos Music to the Bar 5.zero. That is best when utilizing an Apple TV 4K.  Not solely does the Tidal app ship Atmos Music (should you subscribe to Tidal’s HiFi tier), however quickly, the Apple Music app will do the identical.

And listening to Dolby Atmos Music tracks is a pleasure.

As an experiment, I performed The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights 4 methods utilizing Tidal: First with Bluetooth, then with Chromecast, then with AirPlay, and eventually a Dolby Atmos Music model by way of the Apple TV 4K.

Over Bluetooth, the observe sounded skinny and even a bit tinny. I discovered this was true of all Bluetooth streams whatever the supply. Chromecast launched a giant bump in high quality, and I might hear the complete vary of the music. AirPlay truly sounded higher nonetheless. However probably the most satisfying model was the Dolby Atmos Music combine, which took full benefit of the soundbar’s immersive capabilities.

When chilling on the sofa listening to your favourite tunes, it’s exhausting to beat a Dolby Atmos combine.

Our take

The JBL Bar 5.zero is well-priced and has an excellent set of helpful options. It lacks the power to regulate its EQ, and it will probably’t compete with techniques which have devoted subwoofers, however I feel most individuals will love the way in which it provides an additional dimension to their motion pictures and music, particularly when introduced in Dolby Atmos.

Is there a greater various?

If you’d like a extra thrilling Dolby Atmos expertise, the Vizio M-Sequence 5.1 multi-speaker soundbar is price a glance. It’s the identical worth ($350) because the JBL, but it surely has a number of parts to position round your room, making it rather less handy. It additionally lacks Chromecast, AirPlay, and Alexa compatibility.

If Dolby Atmos isn’t as essential to you, the marginally dearer Bose Sensible Soundbar 300 provides higher-quality sound, particularly for music, and has the additional benefit of working as an Alexa or Google Assistant sensible speaker.

However if you would like the simplicity of a single speaker with most of the advantages that Dolby Atmos provides (and a wealth of connection choices) ,we have now but to discover a soundbar that may ship what the Bar 5.zero Multibeam provides on the similar worth.

How lengthy will it final?

JBL makes a top quality product, and I anticipate the Bar 5.zero Multibeam will final so long as you want it to. The power to replace its firmware can be indicator that JBL will hold its sensible options alive for a few years to come back.

Must you purchase it?

Sure. As a easy resolution for significantly better TV sound for small-to-medium-sized rooms, the JBL Bar 5.zero Multibeam is a really stable selection.

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