JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam Review
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JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam
$249.95 at Amazon
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|Pros||Dialogue carries well, easy setup, compact footprint||Great sound for the price, bluetooth, external subwoofer||Compact design great for smaller rooms, seamlessly integrates with other Sonos products, excellent musical sound quality||Easy setup, great price tag, subwoofer included||Compact footprint, simple setup, versatile physical inputs|
|Cons||Bass sounds lack definition and can be overpowering, limited audio customization||No wifi connection, no EQ controls||Not the loudest, Sonos app required for set up, no plug and play||Not the best overall sound quality||No smart features, minimal EQ customization|
|Bottom Line||This is a decent soundbar that doesn't quite live up to its high price tag||This is the best sounding entry-level soundbar, and the loudest model we tested||This a great sounding little bar that excels with musical content, and packs plenty of punch as part of a home theater system||This soundbar is loaded with great features and has an enormous sound, making it an exceptionally good value||This soundbar sounds great for its size, but can't hold a candle to higher-end models|
|Rating Categories||JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam||Sony HT-S350||Sonos Beam||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker|
|Sound Quality (45%)|
|Ease of Use (35%)|
|Specs||JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam||Sony HT-S350||Sonos Beam||Vizio V-Series 2.1...||Bose TV Speaker|
|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: 2.6" x 35.5" x 3.5"
Sub: 15.4" x 7.5" x 15.13""
|External Subwoofer||No (optional)||Yes||No (optional)||Yes||No (optional)|
|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), HDMI (ARC), 3.5mm AUX|
|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|
|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|
|Syncs with:||Chromecast Built-In and Alexa Multi-Room-Music enabled devices||None||Sonos||None||Bose Simplesync enabled 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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