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JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam Review

This is a decent soundbar that doesn't quite live up to its high price tag
JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam
Credit: JBL
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Price:   $400 List | $399.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Dialogue carries well, easy setup, compact footprint
Cons:  Bass sounds lack definition and can be overpowering, limited audio customization
Manufacturer:   JBL
By Michelle Powell and Matt Bento  ⋅  Nov 11, 2021
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 11
  • Sound Quality - 45% 6.3
  • Ease of Use - 35% 6.1
  • Volume - 15% 7
  • Style/Design - 5% 7.3

Our Verdict

The JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam creates an immersive home theater experience through Dolby Atmos supportive content and does a much better job at projecting a sense of height than less expensive Atmos-enabled models. It is fully featured with WiFi, Bluetooth and has full smart speaker capabilities with Google or Alexa. While it has many the features found on much more expensive models from Bose and Sonos, it doesn't sound quite on par, and we wish it had more sound customization options, but if you're on a budget and audio quality is a priority, this soundbar is worth checking out.

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JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam
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Price $400 List
$399.95 at Amazon
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Pros Dialogue carries well, easy setup, compact footprintGreat sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwooferCompact design great for smaller rooms, seamlessly integrates with other Sonos products, excellent musical sound qualityEasy setup, great price tag, subwoofer includedLow price, includes subwoofer
Cons Bass sounds lack definition and can be overpowering, limited audio customizationNo wifi connection, no EQ controlsNot the loudest, Sonos app required for set up, no plug and playNot the best overall sound qualityNo HDMI connection, weak low end
Bottom Line This is a decent soundbar that doesn't quite live up to its high price tagThis is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we testedThis a great sounding little bar that excels with musical content, and packs plenty of punch as part of a home theater systemThis soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good valueThis model is affordable and fairly easy to set up, though there are similarly priced options that deliver much better sound quality and advanced connectivity
Rating Categories JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam Sony HT-S350 Sonos Beam Vizio V-Series 2.1... Samsung HW-A450/ZA...
Sound Quality (45%)
6.3
7.1
7.0
5.6
4.1
Ease Of Use (35%)
6.1
5.8
6.5
6.9
5.0
Volume (15%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Style Design (5%)
7.3
6.8
6.9
5.4
4.0
Specs JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam Sony HT-S350 Sonos Beam Vizio V-Series 2.1... Samsung HW-A450/ZA...
Dimensions 2.3" x 27.9" x 3.9" Bar: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13"
2.72" x 25.625" x 3.94" Bar: 2.28" x 36.00" x 3.20"
Sub: 9.9" x 8.25" x 8.25"
Bar: 2.1" x 33.9" x 2.9"
Sub: 13.5" x 7.1" x 10.7"
External Subwoofer No (optional) Yes No (optional) Yes Yes
Inputs (wired) Digital audio in (optical), ethernet, HDMI (ARC), HDMI in, USB Digitcal audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC) Digital audio in (optical), Ethernet, HDMI (ARC) Digital audio in (optical), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX VA, 3.5mm AUX, USB Digital audio in (optical), USB
Supported Audio File Formats Dolby Atmos, PCM Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual mono, LPCM 2ch Stereo PCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos (Dolby Digital Plus), Dolby Atmos*, Dolby TrueHD*, Dolby Atmos (True HD)*, Multichannel PCM*, Dolby Multichannel PCM* DTS Dolby 2ch, DTS 2ch
WiFi-enabled Yes No Yes No No
Bluetooth Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Voice Assistants Alexa, Google Assistant n/a Alexa, Google Assistant None, but has a dedicated 3.5mm AUX port to connect a VA device n/a
App n/a n/a Sonos n/a n/a
Remote control? Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Max Volume 92dB 102dB 85dB 95dB 91dB
Syncs with: Chromecast Built-In and Alexa Multi-Room-Music enabled devices None Sonos None Samsung Wireless Surround Rear Speakers

Our Analysis and Test Results

With mid-level performance at a mid-level price, the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam has something for everybody, including WiFi connectivity, laggless Bluetooth, Apple Airplay, and support for both Alexa and Google voice assistants. Setup is quick with an HDMI connection, though sound customization is limited to adjusting the bass level via the not-so-intuitive remote.

Performance Comparison


This JBL bar looks about is as good as it sounds, and has a metal...
This JBL bar looks about is as good as it sounds, and has a metal grill typically found on high-end models.
Credit: Laura Casner

Sound Quality


We've reviewed many portable speakers from JBL and are generally impressed with their sound quality, especially considering their size and price. With their mid-priced Bar 5.0 MultiBeam, JBL ups the ante, approaching the quality of the big dogs like Sonos and Bose. Well-balanced mids and highs make for excellent dialogue clarity, but this model struggles when it comes to the low-end.


Cinematic quality


This soundbar has an impressive sound stage when playing Dolby Atmos-supported content. We could easily discern sounds coming from above, directly in front, and moving in three dimensions. The effect is more dramatic than the less expensive soundbars in our review and does a decent job of showcasing the Atmos Technology.

This model does a good job showcasing Dolby Atmos, as we could...
This model does a good job showcasing Dolby Atmos, as we could easily discern sounds from different heights.
Credit: Laura Casner

While this model lacks any dialogue enhancement settings, dialogue sounds excellent in general, cutting easily through a busy and chaotic mix of explosions and gunfire found in every action sequence viewed during our tests. Unfortunately, this soundbar struggles to produce the powerful low-end that adds excitement and emotional gravitas to the home theater experience.

Music


Thanks to this model's compatibility with Chromecast, Amazon's Multiroom music, and Bluetooth connection, there are a lot of ways to blast your favorite tunes through this soundbar. In terms of quality, its strengths and weaknesses fall in line with our viewing experience, though when listening to particularly bass-heavy music, with the lows sounding muddy and ill-defined. This can be remedied somewhat by cycling through one of the five different bass levels.

Ease of Use


This soundbar has a quick and simple set up process, but possesses few customization options. Connectivity is strong in this one, and you're in luck if you enjoy using smart speakers from Google or Amazon.

The remote is required to change many settings, and some of the...
The remote is required to change many settings, and some of the functions are sadly less than intuitive.
Credit: Laura Casner

Set up


The JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam is a great option for folks who like going from unboxing to enjoyment in as little time as possible. If you aren't looking to tool around with any customization settings, you can be on the couch enjoying an immersive home theater experience in around 10 minutes. All you need to do is plug in the HDMI connector and you're ready to go. Connecting to WiFi and enabling voice assistance is somewhat more involved and depends on which app you are using, but not especially difficult or time-consuming.

Connectivity


WiFi connectivity allows this soundbar to communicate with your Google or Amazon smart speaker, while the super-fast Bluetooth 5.2 ensures a laggless connection to your laptop, projector, or phone.

JBL keeps the on-bar controls to a minimum, with only power, volume...
JBL keeps the on-bar controls to a minimum, with only power, volume, and Bluetooth buttons.
Credit: Laura Casner

Sound Customization


This model is sorely lacking in customization options, and what adjustments you can make aren't intuitive to find via the simple-looking remote. There aren't any modes to enhance dialogue or optimize the settings for home theater or listening to music. As we mentioned, there are five levels of bass, but to toggle through them, you need to hold down the "TV" button on the remote for 3 seconds, then press the "-" button as described in section 6.2.3 of the owner's manual. Not exactly intuitive.

Volume


Plenty powerful to get your living room rockin', this bar is capable of 92 dBa when cranked all the way up. This is plenty of power to fill a living room, even at 80%, creating a real feeling of "being there," especially when play content with Dolby Atmos.

Design/Style


The JBL Bar 5.0 looks great with its sleek all-metal housing. This makes it feel a little heavy, but you shouldn't need to move it around once it's set up, and the metal is very durable and easy to clean. We much prefer this to the cloth covering found on cheaper models.

Simple looking, but not always simple to use, we recommend keeping...
Simple looking, but not always simple to use, we recommend keeping the remote and the manual handy.
Credit: Laura Casner

Value


Despite some quality sounds, great connectivity and nice housing, this soundbar isn't a killer deal. We've had the pleasure of purchasing several other models that wowed us just as much for a much lower price.

Using a single HDMI or optical cable to connect to your television...
Using a single HDMI or optical cable to connect to your television is one of the many advantages of choosing a soundbar.
Credit: Laura Casner

Conclusion


The JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam represents a significant step up in quality from many cheaper, entry-level soundbars. The Dolby Atmos is effective and impressive, and we love the connectivity options, but it's far from our favorite and it's not the best value.

Michelle Powell and Matt Bento

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