Reviews You Can Rely On

JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam Review

This is a decent soundbar that doesn't quite live up to its high price tag
gearlab tested logo
JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam Review
Credit: JBL
Price:  $400 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   JBL
By Michelle Powell and Matt Bento  ⋅  Nov 11, 2021
64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 10
  • Sound Quality - 45% 6.3
  • Ease of Use - 35% 6.1
  • Volume - 15% 7.0
  • 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.
REASONS TO BUY
Dialogue carries well
Easy setup
Compact footprint
REASONS TO AVOID
Bass sounds lack definition and can be overpowering
Limited audio customization

Compare to Similar Products

 
jbl bar 5.0 multibeam
Awards  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $400 List
$399.95 at Amazon
$280 List$449 List
$449.00 at Amazon
$190 List
$148.99 at Amazon
$279 List
$199.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
64
69
67
64
61
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Bottom Line Though this model is a decent step up from entry-level soundbars, it's far from our favoriteWhile this model doesn't have a lot of features, it sounds excellent at an excellent priceThis soundbar delivers excellent sound for its diminutive size and has plenty of connectivity options to keep your house rockin'This is hands down the best choice for folks on tight budgetAn easy to use and compact bar with below-average sound quality
Rating Categories JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam Sony HT-S350 Sonos Beam Vizio V-Series 2.1... Bose TV Speaker
Sound Quality (45%)
6.3
7.1
7.0
5.6
5.6
Ease of Use (35%)
6.1
5.8
6.5
6.9
5.9
Volume (15%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
Style/Design (5%)
7.3
6.8
6.9
5.4
9.0
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
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 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.

Performance Comparison


jbl bar 5.0 multibeam - 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.

jbl bar 5.0 multibeam - 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.

jbl bar 5.0 multibeam - 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 bar 5.0 multibeam - 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.

jbl bar 5.0 multibeam - 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.

jbl bar 5.0 multibeam - 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