JBL’s most powerful single soundbar is capable of delivering surround sound without the need for additional speakers, thanks to its Multibeam technology.
Sound bars have become essential companions for our new television. Their great advantage is that they do not take up much space, we can install them under the TV and they offer great sound; however, they usually have the disadvantage that, physically, they cannot surround us with the sound they reproduce.
However, in recent years we have seen many advances in surround sound algorithms and technologies, which can work wonders with the speakers built into the bar. JBL has shown me with one of its most sought after models, the Bar 5.0 Multibeam , priced at 399 euros .
Very simple installation and use
The JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam is a five channel sound bar and therefore has five speakers without a subwoofer; But in reality, all the speakers are built into the same bar, with three pointing forward and two pointing up. The result is a relatively large bar, which takes up more background space; if you have a narrow table for the TV, it can be a problem. JBL offers the necessary parts in the box to hang the bar on the wall, and that may be the best alternative. Interestingly, despite how big it is, it doesn’t really weigh too much and the installation is extremely simple.
We have a number of connections at our disposal, starting with an HDMI input and output, the latter compatible with eARC; therefore, we can connect another device through the input (such as a video game console), and use the output with eARC to connect the TV to fully exploit its potential. We also have an optical input, Ethernet port and even a USB, although the latter is used to update the firmware of the device. The power cord does not have a power adapter, so we can plug it into any available outlet.
This sound bar also has wireless connectivity , via Bluetooth and 802.11 WiFi; in fact, it is compatible with technologies such as Chromecast, AirPlay and Alexa Multi-Room Music; the first two will allow us to play sound directly from our mobile or tablet, and the second allows synchronization with our Echo devices to listen to music in all the rooms of the house. However, it does not have microphones, so it cannot be used to control our personal assistants.
This simplicity reaches the included remote: we only have buttons to select the different connections, the volume control, and that’s it. All in all, the installation of this bar should only take a few minutes, and that’s when the good stuff begins.
How do you get this surround sound?
As we have pointed out before, all the speakers in this bar are pointing forward or upward. And yet they achieve surround sound very similar to that obtained with individual speakers (although it does not reach that level, of course).
The key is in JBL’s MultiBeam technology, which projects sound throughout the room; it bounces back and reaches our ears, giving the appearance that it has come from different sources. In my tests, it is something that I have noticed especially with the sound that came from behind, although I have not noticed as much the lateral sound; The big problem with this technology seems to be in the shape of our living room, if the side walls are somewhat further away than normal, for example.
Still, the experience is terrific. Just by playing a movie with Dolby Surround sound, we can instantly enjoy an experience that is normally reserved for more complex installations. I especially liked the ‘atmosphere’, that reverberation that remains in some scenes and that makes you get into the situation, as if you were with the characters.
We can enjoy this sound even if the original source does not have it. With a button we can activate Virtual Dolby Atmos, and in my tests I have noticed a big difference; Although the effect can sometimes seem too ‘artificial’, in some videos it has managed to create a more ‘immersive’ feeling. The sound expands and gives the feeling that it is closer.
That this sound bar is 5.0 tells us that it does not have a subwoofer; Which is a bit odd, because the sound it delivers boasts amazing bass. I will not say that it is the same as having a subwoofer, because it is not; it is clear that the most profound impacts would benefit if we did.
But if you don’t miss those impacts, the rest of the bass range is very well represented. The explosions are powerful, and we have that extra ‘vibes’ that we sometimes miss in equipment without a subwoofer. According to JBL, the key is in four integrated passive radiators. In addition, the total power of 250 W ensures that the sound fills the entire room even if it is large, so we will not have problems in that regard.
It is also clear that JBL has used all its experience in correctly setting up these speakers to achieve the desired effect; although I would have liked to find more options. I have praised the simplicity before, but the truth is that at times it can play against you; We don’t have any option to modify the sound, for example, so if we don’t like the JBL treatment, we have to put up with it. Fortunately, I don’t think that is a problem for many people, but it is important to consider it if you are one of those who prefer to leave everything to your liking.
If you’re looking for a soundbar, the JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam is one of the easiest options to recommend. It’s an easy choice for ease of use and results, especially in surround sound and with Virtual Dolby Atmos. It is also very complete, being compatible with all the main intelligent platforms of today, and with a wide variety of ports.
On the other hand, this ease of use comes at the sacrifice of having few options, without the ability to change the sound on our own, for example. The Dolby Atmos implementation is good, but it is not the best we have heard, perhaps because it is “virtual” as it does not have the necessary ‘hardware’ for the full experience.
Still, for the 399 euros it costs, the JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam should be at the top of your list of possible purchases.