A wireless home theater like no other
Until JBL showcased their Bar 5.1 sound bar system here at CapitalSound.ca, I'd never seen anything like it. Sure, plenty of other sound bars use a sub and surround speakers to create full wraparound sound. But this is the first system to include battery-powered surround speakers that are 100% wire-free.
Our JBL trainer detached the left and right surround speakers from either side of the bar, then walked them to the back of the room. He placed them right behind our seating area and fired up a home theater demo with truly wireless surround sound. No cables running to the back speakers — and no need to plug them into the wall.
How this system works
The surround speakers recharge when they are connected to the sound bar. A full charge gives you full surround sound for up to 10 hours of binge watching. Deep bass is provided by the down-firing 10-inch subwoofer.
The sub also receives signals wirelessly from the bar, so you can place it off in a corner or out of the way. But unlike the surround speakers, you will need to connect it to an AC outlet — this is a big, bad woofer that needs more power to deliver lots of thump.
JBL Bar 5.1 system
Recharge the wireless surround speakers by attaching them to the sound bar.
How this system sounds
We were shown a clip from the movie Mad Max: Fury Road. This sound bar system sounded as solid and seamless as a wired 5.1 system — no weird audio delays or dropouts. The scene started with creepy voices "worming their way" through the main character's brain. They seemed to swarm around my head — from behind, right next to me, even off in the distance.
Our training room is a pretty large space, and this system had no trouble bringing the heat. When motors cranked up to start a wild car chase, I could feel the impact. There wasn't much dialogue in the scene, but I was able to clearly hear and understand characters when they shouted over the revving engines and spontaneous blasts.
Space-friendly design with versatile connections
The bar is slim enough to fit under most TVs on a stand, but JBL included a bracket for wall-mounting. They even threw in brackets for the surround speakers.
You'll find convenient home theater connections to go with this system's bona fide home theater performance. There are three 4K/HDR-ready HDMI inputs and one output for connecting the latest gear. Or you can simply connect your TV using the single included optical digital audio cable.
Substantial remote control options
For some sound bar manufacturers, the remote is an afterthought. Not so, here. The JBL remote gives you control over the subwoofer, so you can dial in the amount of bass from your seat. I found this extremely helpful, because different shows and movies can call for more or less low-end.
The remote also lets you adjust the volume on the wireless surrounds — handy, since you may move the speakers around a bit. And my low-key favorite feature? You can adjust the audio using the remote, to ensure it syncs up with the screen. It was much more convenient than diving into the TV settings menu.