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    JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam review: Compact soundbar with better bass, worse controls

    JBL has had an extended historical past in audio, however its latest soundbars have been a bit of inconsistent, starting from the formidable however deeply flawed JBL Link Bar to the fundamental however excellent-sounding JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass. The JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam has ambitions of its personal, taking up streaming-centric, compact soundbars just like the Sonos Beam. The JBL appears to be like good, affords superior bass to the Sonos and it will probably sound particularly spectacular with films. I additionally like that JBL’s digital Dolby Atmos, ample Wi-Fi connectivity and second HDMI port provide further flexibility. 

    LikeExcellent sound high quality, particularly for moviesNumerous streaming featuresTwo HDMI inputs

    Don’t LikeRelatively expensiveNeeds tweaking to sound its finest.Controls make setup troublesome

    Some of JBL’s design choices are a bit of perplexing nonetheless. There’s no devoted app, like Sonos has, and incongruous button enter mechanics make it tougher to adequately tune your system. In addition, there is no such thing as a improve path so as to add a subwoofer or further audio system. There’s additionally the truth that it prices a bit an excessive amount of for what you get.In the tip I preferred the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam nicely sufficient, however the counterintuitive controls and excessive(er) value are off-putting. I feel most consumers shall be higher served shopping for rivals such because the more-polished Beam or cheaper Polk React.

    What’s within the field?The Bar 5.0 shares an identical look to all latest JBL soundbars — they sort of remind me of tongue depressors — and the Bar 5.0 can be a really related dimension and form to the rival Sonos Beam. The high of the gun-metal bar features a set of controls for quantity, energy and supply, and the grille-covered entrance consists of an alpha-numeric LED readout which is comparatively straightforward to learn.There’s numerous “stuff” onboard the MultiBeam, however probably the most uncommon is its potential to make use of Amazon Multi Room Music. JBL is the second soundbar producer to implement it after Polk. Unlike the cheaper Bar 2.1 Deep Bass, the MultiBeam additionally consists of Wi-Fi streaming from Chromecast built-in in addition to AirPlay. Ports embrace optical digital, Bluetooth, and two HDMI inputs (together with one ARC). 
    Ty Pendlebury/CNET
    The predominant soundbar’s audio system comprise 5 (therefore the identify) 48mm, 2-inch-by-3-inch racetrack drivers — three alongside the entrance and two side-mounted. Though the speaker affords Dolby Atmos processing, there are not any ceiling-pointing peak drivers on this product, which is a disgrace. Instead there are two 3-inch-wide passive radiators.

    Unlike the cheaper Polk React, the Sonos and quite a few different single-speaker soundbars, the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam is unfortunately not upgradeable. Polk allows you to add rears and a subwoofer if you would like, whereas the JBL lacks the potential. It’s one thing that the in any other case inferior JBL Link Bar allowed, with its devoted SW10 subwoofer, and it might have been nice to have the ability to add that hefty sub to the MultiBeam too.Simple distant, complicated setup
    Ty Pendlebury/CNET
    The distant management appears to be like cool however is just too bare-bones. The paucity of buttons makes some setup actions too complicated, requiring long-presses and different nonintuitive actions. It’s like JBL needed to take the Apple route and current a simplified expertise, however obtained all of it mistaken.For instance, there are not any conventional sound modes like Movie, Music and Voice, only a management for Dolby Atmos — which provides Atmos-like results to non-Dolby Atmos materials — and a hidden toggle for the always-on Smart mode. To flip it off you must press and maintain the mute button for 4 seconds then press Volume Up. The show will then learn “Off Smartmode.” Unfortunately, the Smart mode will have interaction once more when you flip the soundbar off, so it is a good factor it would not harm the sound.Don’t count on an excessive amount of assist from the controls on the bar itself.
    Ty Pendlebury/CNET
    Likewise, the distant hides its potential to allow you to regulate the bass — you must maintain the “TV” enter button for 3 seconds after which “-“. You learn that proper, and sure, it is simply plain bizarre. The one good factor is that when it is set, you will not want to the touch the bass management once more. Finally JBL claims the distant has the power to calibrate sound — holding down “HDMI” till “Calibration” is displayed — however I used to be by no means in a position to get it to work correctly.Speaking of issues that did not work, it is price mentioning I had two separate JBL Bar models, the primary of which was far more uncooperative than the second. For occasion, the primary mannequin would not improve to the newest firmware it doesn’t matter what I attempted, and I skilled different technical points with it as nicely. After a lot to-ing and fro-ing, I swapped it for the second unit, which labored as anticipated.How does it sound?
    Ty Pendlebury/CNET
    Once I managed to wrangle this soundbar into submission, it was able to excellent sound. The JBL is at its finest with an motion film like The Matrix, the place it will probably assist droop disbelief higher than any compact soundbar I’ve examined. Compared towards the Sonos Beam, the film’s foyer scene crammed the room with ricocheting bullets and spent casings. The synth bass rating was by no means pushed to the background and helped drive the kinetic really feel the film calls for. By comparability the Beam was a bit subtler — notably when it got here to falling casings, nevertheless it lacked the JBL’s cohesion and did not have the identical deep bass response.Smart mode can actually add depth to a film’s sound, one thing I heard throughout Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (42:40) when Spider-Man and Miles determine to crew as much as flip off the collider. After a little bit of strolling on partitions, Peter Parker heads down the alley wall, towards the viewer and out of the body, and the sound follows him. With Smart mode on you would hear this impact, however not with it turned off. Though the soundbar is nice with movies out of the field, it wants a bit of little bit of tweaking to get proper with music, particularly when you like heavier kinds like dance or rock. Most tunes sounded good with glorious separation of the devices, however this got here undone once I performed Alt_J’s 3WW. By default the bass drum sounded actually bizarre — like somebody beating moist sheets with a wood spoon. By distinction the Beam did not have the ever-present bass mattress that the JBL might seize, however as a counter the drum did not sound distorted and damaged. I did handle to repair the JBL by altering the default bass from stage 3 to 2, however as famous above, making that adjustment wasn’t as straightforward as urgent a quantity button. Should you purchase it?Most of my hesitation about recommending the Bar 5.0 MultiBeam comes all the way down to the controls. The distant is counterintuitive in the best way it makes changes which can be essential to get one of the best sound. In addition, it might have been nice if what look like ceiling-pointing peak drivers truly have been, on condition that this mannequin has Atmos functionality.With perseverance, the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam is able to glorious sound however on the finish of the day it is not very straightforward to arrange, and it is dearer than fashions with subwoofers just like the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass.

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