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

JBL has had a extended background in audio, but its latest soundbars have been a minor inconsistent, ranging from the formidable but deeply flawed JBL Backlink Bar to the fundamental but superb-sounding JBL Bar 2.one Deep Bass. The JBL Bar 5. MultiBeam has ambitions of its very own, taking on streaming-centric, compact soundbars like the Sonos Beam. The JBL appears good, gives remarkable bass to the Sonos and it can sound specially spectacular with videos. I also like that JBL’s digital Dolby Atmos, ample Wi-Fi connectivity and 2nd HDMI port offer further overall flexibility. 

Like

  • Outstanding sound quality, specially for videos
  • Many streaming attributes
  • Two HDMI inputs

Don’t Like

  • Relatively expensive
  • Needs tweaking to sound its best.
  • Controls make setup hard

Some of JBL’s structure choices are a minor perplexing having said that. You can find no committed app, like Sonos has, and incongruous button input mechanics make it more difficult to adequately tune your system. In addition, there is no enhance route to incorporate a subwoofer or further speakers. You can find also the point that it prices a bit too a lot for what you get.

In the conclude I preferred the JBL Bar 5. MultiBeam well sufficient, but the counterintuitive controls and large(er) value are off-placing. I believe most buyers will be better served obtaining rivals these kinds of as the more-polished Beam or cheaper Polk React.

What is in the box?

The Bar 5. shares a related seem to all latest JBL soundbars — they form of remind me of tongue depressors — and the Bar 5. is also a really related sizing and form to the rival Sonos Beam. The leading of the gun-metal bar consists of a established of controls for quantity, electric power and source, and the grille-coated front consists of an alpha-numeric LED readout which is somewhat easy to study.

You can find lots of “things” onboard the MultiBeam, but the most unusual is its skill to use Amazon Multi Place Music. JBL is the 2nd soundbar manufacturer to put into action it just after Polk. Unlike the less expensive Bar 2.one Deep Bass, the MultiBeam also consists of Wi-Fi streaming from Chromecast developed-in as well as AirPlay. Ports contain optical electronic, Bluetooth, and two HDMI inputs (which includes a person ARC). 

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The primary soundbar’s speakers comprise 5 (hence the name) 48mm, 2-inch-by-3-inch racetrack motorists — three along the front and two aspect-mounted. However the speaker gives Dolby Atmos processing, there are no ceiling-pointing peak motorists on this products, which is a shame. Alternatively there are two 3-inch-vast passive radiators.

Unlike the less expensive Polk React, the Sonos and several other one-speaker soundbars, the JBL Bar 5. MultiBeam is unfortunately not upgradeable. Polk allows you to incorporate rears and a subwoofer if you want, although the JBL lacks the functionality. It is a thing that the in any other case inferior JBL Backlink Bar allowed, with its committed SW10 subwoofer, and it would have been terrific to be able to incorporate that significant sub to the MultiBeam too.

Straightforward distant, elaborate setup

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The distant regulate appears awesome but is basically too bare-bones. The paucity of buttons tends to make some setup functions too elaborate, requiring extended-presses and other nonintuitive actions. It is like JBL preferred to get the Apple route and current a simplified working experience, but acquired it all erroneous.

For instance, there are no traditional sound modes like Film, Music and Voice, just a regulate for Dolby Atmos — which adds Atmos-like consequences to non-Dolby Atmos material — and a concealed toggle for the normally-on Sensible method. To change it off you have to press and hold the mute button for four seconds then press Quantity Up. The show will then study “Off Smartmode.” Regrettably, the Sensible method will have interaction again if you change the soundbar off, so it can be a good factor it will not damage the sound.

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Don’t hope too a lot support from the controls on the bar alone.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Furthermore, the distant hides its skill to allow you regulate the bass — you have to hold the “Tv set” input button for 3 seconds and then “-“. You study that suitable, and sure, it can be just simple weird. The a person good factor is that as soon as it can be established, you will not have to have to touch the bass regulate again. Last but not least JBL claims the distant has the skill to calibrate sound — holding down “HDMI” until finally “Calibration” is displayed — but I was never ever able to get it to do the job thoroughly.

Talking of items that failed to do the job, it can be truly worth mentioning I had two independent JBL Bar units, the initial of which was a lot more uncooperative than the 2nd. For instance, the initial model would not enhance to the most current firmware no subject what I tried out, and I skilled other specialized difficulties with it as well. Immediately after a lot to-ing and fro-ing, I swapped it for the 2nd device, which labored as anticipated.

How does it sound?

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Ty Pendlebury/CNET

When I managed to wrangle this soundbar into submission, it was capable of really good sound. The JBL is at its best with an action movie like The Matrix, the place it can support suspend disbelief better than any compact soundbar I have tested. As opposed towards the Sonos Beam, the movie’s foyer scene filled the place with ricocheting bullets and put in casings. The synth bass rating was never ever pushed to the track record and aided generate the kinetic come to feel the movie demands. By comparison the Beam was a bit subtler — significantly when it came to slipping casings, but it lacked the JBL’s cohesion and failed to have the very same deep bass reaction.

Sensible method can really incorporate depth to a movie’s sound, a thing I read in the course of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (42:40) when Spider-Man and Miles choose to crew up to change off the collider. Immediately after a bit of walking on partitions, Peter Parker heads down the alley wall, towards the viewer and out of the body, and the sound follows him. With Sensible method on you could hear this effect, but not with it turned off. 

However the soundbar is good with movies out of the box, it desires a minor bit of tweaking to get suitable with tunes, specially if you like heavier designs like dance or rock. Most tunes sounded good with superb separation of the instruments, but this came undone when I played Alt_J’s 3WW. By default the bass drum sounded really weird — like somebody beating moist sheets with a wood spoon. By distinction the Beam failed to have the ever-current bass mattress that the JBL could seize, but as a counter the drum failed to sound distorted and damaged. I did deal with to correct the JBL by switching the default bass from amount 3 to 2, but as mentioned higher than, earning that adjustment wasn’t as easy as pressing a quantity button. 

Really should you invest in it?

Most of my hesitation about recommending the Bar 5. MultiBeam will come down to the controls. The distant is counterintuitive in the way it tends to make adjustments that are essential to get the best sound. In addition, it would have been terrific if what appear to be ceiling-pointing peak motorists really had been, specified that this model has Atmos functionality.

With perseverance, the JBL Bar 5. MultiBeam is capable of superb sound but at the conclude of the working day it is not really easy to established up, and it can be more expensive than styles with subwoofers like the JBL Bar 2.one Deep Bass.