JBL has had a protracted historical past in audio, however its current soundbars have been slightly inconsistent, starting from the formidable however deeply flawed JBL Hyperlink Bar to the essential however excellent-sounding JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass. The JBL Bar 5.zero MultiBeam has ambitions of its personal, taking over streaming-centric, compact soundbars just like the Sonos Beam. The JBL appears good, affords superior bass to the Sonos and it might sound particularly spectacular with films. I additionally like that JBL’s digital Dolby Atmos, ample Wi-Fi connectivity and second HDMI port supply further flexibility.
LikeExcellent sound high quality, particularly for moviesNumerous streaming featuresTwo HDMI inputs
Do not LikeRelatively expensiveNeeds tweaking to sound its finest.Controls make setup tough
A few of JBL’s design selections are slightly perplexing nonetheless. There is no devoted app, like Sonos has, and incongruous button enter mechanics make it more durable to adequately tune your system. As well as, there is no such thing as a 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 favored the JBL Bar 5.zero MultiBeam effectively sufficient, however the counterintuitive controls and excessive(er) worth are off-putting. I believe most patrons might be higher served shopping for rivals such because the more-polished Beam or cheaper Polk React.
What’s within the field?
The Bar 5.zero shares an identical look to all current JBL soundbars — they sort of remind me of tongue depressors — and the Bar 5.zero can be a really related measurement 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 contains an alpha-numeric LED readout which is comparatively simple to learn.
There’s plenty of “stuff” onboard the MultiBeam, however probably the most uncommon is its capability 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 contains Wi-Fi streaming from Chromecast built-in in addition to AirPlay. Ports embrace optical digital, Bluetooth, and two HDMI inputs (together with one ARC).
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 affords Dolby Atmos processing, there aren’t any ceiling-pointing top drivers on this product, which is a disgrace. As a substitute 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.zero MultiBeam is unfortunately not upgradeable. Polk allows you to add rears and a subwoofer if you would like, 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 will have been nice to have the ability to add that hefty sub to the MultiBeam too.
Easy distant, advanced setup
The distant management appears cool however is just too bare-bones. The paucity of buttons makes some setup actions too advanced, requiring long-presses and different nonintuitive actions. It is like JBL needed to take the Apple route and current a simplified expertise, however received all of it incorrect.
For instance, there aren’t 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 Sensible 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 Sensible mode will have interaction once more should you flip the soundbar off, so it is a good factor it does not damage the sound.
Do not anticipate an excessive amount of assist from the controls on the bar itself.
Likewise, the distant hides its capability to allow you to alter the bass — you need to maintain the “TV” enter button for Three 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 flexibility 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 price mentioning I had two separate JBL Bar items, the primary of which was far more uncooperative than the second. For example, the primary mannequin would not improve to the most recent 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?
As soon as I managed to wrangle this soundbar into submission, it was able to excellent sound. The JBL is at its finest with an motion film like The Matrix, the place it might assist droop disbelief higher than any compact soundbar I’ve examined. In contrast in opposition to 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, however it lacked the JBL’s cohesion and did not have the identical deep bass response.
Sensible 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 resolve 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 Sensible mode on you might hear this impact, however not with it turned off.
Although the soundbar is sweet with movies out of the field, it wants slightly little bit of tweaking to get proper with music, particularly should you like heavier types like dance or rock. Most tunes sounded good with wonderful separation of the devices, however this got here undone once I performed Alt_J’s 3WW. By default the bass drum sounded actually bizarre — like somebody beating moist sheets with a picket spoon. Against this 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 degree Three 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.zero MultiBeam comes all the way down to the controls. The distant is counterintuitive in the way in which it makes changes which are essential to get the most effective sound. As well as, it will have been nice if what look like ceiling-pointing top drivers truly have been, provided that this mannequin has Atmos functionality.
With perseverance, the JBL Bar 5.zero 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.