“This single-speaker soundbar is the easiest way to add Dolby Atmos to your TV.”
Simple and easy to use
No eq setting
Bass cannot compete with subwoofers
As the soundbar category grows exponentially, these devices tend to get complicated, with more options and prices. Wireless subwoofers, satellite surround speakers, and even voice assistants are now part of the mix, making your purchasing decision more difficult than ever.
The $ 350 JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam is, by comparison, relatively simple and affordable, and yet it is still packed with useful features and solid sound quality. The best part is that it offers one of the easiest ways to dip your toes into Dolby Atmos, an immersive, 3D surround sound format that’s fast becoming a standard for both streaming movies and streaming music .
Is this the right soundbar for you? let’s find out.
What is in the box
JBL throws everything you need: a soundbar, a power cable, an HDMI cable, a slim remote with two AA batteries, a set of wall-mount brackets with mounting templates, and a quick-start guide. There are a few pieces of non-recycled foam, but most packaging will not need to go to the local landfill.
The JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam is easy to like: 27.9-inch wide and 2.4-inch tall, it is very compact for a home theater soundbar and should be able to sit in front of most TVs without obscuring the bottom of the screen.
Its satin-finish black plastic housing disappears completely when the lights go down and hardly attracts attention when the lights are on. For me, this is the ideal design for a soundbar.
There are four top-mounted controls for power, volume, and source selection, but you’ll end up using the included remote most of the time.
Too many soundbars require you to leave one of your TV’s HDMI ports, but not Bar 5.0.
Hidden behind the speaker grille is an LED display that actually scrolls full-text messages or numbers so you can see what’s going on (unlike some of Vizio’s soundbars, which use a series of colored dots). . There is no way to adjust the brightness of the display, but it automatically turns off within a few seconds of any setting change, so it won’t be distracting while watching your shows or movies.
The remote is a bare bones case. Ultra-lightweight, and with only a handful of buttons, it is easy to use and comfortable to hold.
My only small thing is that the labels are small and there is no backlight, so you may have to spend a few moments remembering what the buttons do so that you can use them when it is dark.
Control and connection
On the back of the JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam, you will find a USB port that can be used for music playback from a hard drive or flash drive. It also pumps 5 volts at 5 millimeters, which may be enough to power a streaming stick such as an Amazon Fire TV stick or Roku device.
You will also have to use a USB port to update the firmware. Given that the soundbar can connect to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, I don’t know why JBL forces you to use the USB port, but I think you can’t have everything at this price .
There is an optical input and a pair of HDMI ports. That’s a nice touch: Many soundbars require that you leave one of your TV’s HDMI ports for their HDMI ARC or EARC connection, and they don’t provide HDMI input to compensate for this.
The HDMI input of Bar 5.0 can surpass 4K and Dolby Vision HDR, which is exactly what you want to connect to a streaming media device that can accommodate these video formats.
As I mentioned above, the soundbar can connect to Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz bands), and has Bluetooth 4.2 to receive audio streams from a phone, tablet, or other Bluetooth device.
Using these wireless capabilities is completely optional and will not affect the basic functionality of BAR 5.0 in any way. JBL does not create a smartphone app for this soundbar, so even if you set up Wi-Fi, it will not give you any additional settings or controls.
It may not be easy to go with bar 5.0.
However, I strongly recommend installing Wi-Fi, as it provides better sound quality for music streaming than Bluetooth. More on that later.
If your home Wi-Fi is not particularly good, or you have an Ethernet cable, there is also an Ethernet port.
It may not be easy to go with bar 5.0. Plug it into your TV’s HDMI ARC or EARC port with the included HDMI cable, then plug it into a power outlet, and you’re done. If your TV does not support HDMI ARC, you will need to purchase an optical cable. If you go the optical cable route, keep in mind that you will be limited to Dolby Digital 5.1 audio from your TV, as Dolby is not compatible with the Atmos optical connection.
JBL designed Bar 5.0 to be compatible with all three major wireless smart home ecosystems, which is fantastic.
But don’t worry too much: if you plug in Apple TV 4K, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, or any other streamer that supports Dolby Atmos to the HDMI input of the soundbar, you can still get Dolby Atmos sound – you Just won’t get it plugged directly into your TV from any source.
Chromecast, Airplay and Alexa
JBL designed Bar 5.0 to be compatible with all three major wireless smart home ecosystems, which is fantastic. Better yet, you are not obliged to choose one; The soundbar can be added to the Google Home, Apple Home and Alex apps, and you can switch back and forth between the three if you wish. Most people will choose just one.
I found that it only took a minute or two to add Bar 5.0 to Google Home so that I could use Chromecast, and it only took a few seconds to set it up as an AirPlay 2 speaker.
It is easy and completely worth going through this process for better audio quality but it is much easier if you already have a smart speaker. Bar 5.0 will not let you talk to Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant, but if you have another way of issuing voice commands it can be handled by all three.
The JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam provides clear, balanced sound that can easily fill a medium-sized bedroom or living space. A simple and easy room calibration function lets the soundbar adjust its settings to match the specific acoustic properties of your room.
Unfortunately, even though you can adjust the bass qualities of Bar 5.0, there are no other EQ settings for Treble or Midrange.
But while it’s miles better than your TV speaker, the lack of a dedicated subwoofer means that you may need to control your expectations.
All things considered, the bass response is very good. You can adjust the volume of the bass through a five-level setting, but even at level five, you won’t find the kind of thunderous low end that we associate with a dedicated home theater system.
This is not a deal breaker by any means. The low end still has more than enough power to enjoy the action movie soundtrack. It can sometimes surprise you: in an opening scene Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, Kylo Ren’s first meeting with Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine’s voice resonates with otherworldly power and comes from around the room. It is thrilling and convinces you that Ren can be a little intimidated by Palpatine’s dangerous appearance despite his appearances.
Unfortunately, even though you can adjust the bass qualities of Bar 5.0, there are no other EQ settings for Treble or Midrange. Similarly, there are no predetermined sound modes for movies, music, speech enhancement, or nighttime, which have become quite standard on the latest soundbar.
As a result, the harder you press the volume, the higher the frequencies are, and there’s not much you can do to fix it. I found level 19 to be the sweet spot on the volume scale. It is loud enough to really immerse you in the material, without painless sharpness at a high level.
One of the key features of Bar 5.0 is its support for Dolby Atmos. Technically speaking, it uses virtual Dolby Atmos, meaning that instead of having up-firing drivers that let you hear the sound of Atmos’ signature height channel, the soundbar’s five racetrack-style drivers are a simulated height. Combine to make an impact.
No, it’s not as effective as a dedicated Dolby Atmos soundbar like the Sonos Arc, but you can definitely tell the difference, especially when you turn virtual Dolby Atmos processing on and off using a remote.
With Virtual Atmos turned on, the soundstage becomes wider and longer. The sounds don’t zip around the room the way they do with a dedicated Atmos speaker, but it’s actually a more immersive experience than a non-Atmos-capable soundbar.
Speaking of Atmos, I strongly recommend finding a way to stream Dolby Atmos music to Bar 5.0. This is easiest when using Apple TV 4K. The Tidal app not only offers Atmos Music (if you subscribe to Tidal’s HiFi tier), but soon, the Apple Music app will do the same.
And it’s a pleasure to listen to Dolby Atmos Music Tracks.
As an experiment, I played The Weeknd Blinding lights Four ways to use Tidal: first with Bluetooth, then with Chromecast, then with AirPlay, and finally the Dolby Atmos Music Edition via Apple TV 4K.
On Bluetooth, the track also seemed thin and a bit thin. I found that this was true for all Bluetooth streams regardless of source. Chromecast introduced a big boom in quality, and I could hear the entire series of songs. AirPlay actually sounded better still. But the most satisfying version was the Dolby Atmos Music Mix, which took full advantage of the soundbar’s immersive capabilities.
Dolby Atmos Mix is hard to beat when you chill on the couch listening to your favorite tunes.
JBL Bar 5.0 is well priced and has a large set of useful features. It lacks the ability to adjust its EQ, and cannot compete with systems that have dedicated subwoofers, but I think most people would like it to have an extra dimension in their movies and music. Adds, especially when presented in Dolby Atmos.
Is there a better option?
If you want a more exciting Dolby Atmos experience, the Vizio M-Series 5.1 multi-speaker soundbar is worth a look. It is the same price ($ 350) as the JBL, but has many components to keep around your room, making it a little less convenient. It also lacks Chromecast, Airplay and Alexa compatibility.
If Dolby Atmos is not that important to you, then a bit more expensiveProvides high quality sound specifically for music, and has the added benefit of working as an Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker.
But if you want the simplicity of a speaker with the many benefits Dolby Atmos offers (and a wealth of connection options), then we have yet to find a soundbar that can provide the same price of a Bar 5.0 Multibeam.
How long will it last?
JBL makes a quality product, and I hope Bar 5.0 Multibeam lasts as long as you need it. Its ability to update its firmware is also a good indicator that JBL will keep its smart features alive for many years to come.
Should you buy it
Yes. As a simple solution for better TV sound for small to medium sized rooms,Is a very solid option.