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REVIEW: JBL 3.1 Soundbar, Small But Where Do They Get All The Power From?

JBL has released a $699 3.1 4K soundbar that includes a wireless sub that gives one the ability to adjust the bass and while it has a small form factor the output is seriously big.

I hooked this bar up to a new LG OLED TV and I had it configured in minutes. This 4K Ultra HD soundbar has a dedicated centre channel and a 250mm wireless subwoofer which delivers excellent 4K Ultra High Definition sound.

Across the top panel of the soundbar, there are buttons for power, volume down, volume up, and sound source you also have a choice of connection options.
I chose two forms of connect to test this sound bar, HDMI ARC the ARC standing for active return audio channel and the Optical connection both delivered thumping impressive sound. The power cable connects to the rear panel, where there’s a pairing button to connect it with the soundbar, at first this refused to pair but after a couple of try’s it eventually connected.

This process is supposed to be automatic, but I ended up doing it manually. All you need to do is follow the instructions in the manual.

Apart from the HDMI ARC output, there are three HDMI inputs (an HDMI cable is included), an optical input but you will have to buy a separate cable, a 3.5mm aux input (a cable is included), and a USB port for playing music stored on USB devices. The speaker can stream audio via Bluetooth which comes in handy when you want to play streamed music from Google or Spotify direct to the soundbar.

The total Maximum Power is 450 watts which is excellent for the size of this device which extremly thin. A lot of the power is deliver by the 6 2.25″ soundbar transducers, 3 racetrack drivers 3 x 1.25″ tweeter.

The Soundbar weighs just 2.3 kg which is very light. However, the subwoofer is (W x H x D) 12” x 12” x 17.3” (305 x 305 x 440mm) and weighs 12.1 Kg so you need a reasonably large storage space or keep it on show. While there is a remote I was able to transfer the RF functions to the LG remote.

If you do use the JBL remote you can easily access the power, sound source, audio sync (plus and minus buttons to adjust delay with the video), bass boost/cut (levels range from 0 to 30), mute, sound mode (choose between Standard, Movie, Music, Voice, or Sports).

There is also a Bluetooth, sound shift (this allows for quick switching between sound sources when a Bluetooth device is paired), shuffle (for the USB audio mode), surround (a virtual surround effect), night mode (for decreasing transient louder sounds in a mix), and dim display (which makes the LEDs less bright).
There’s also a central playback pad for controlling play/pause, volume, and track navigation.

After easily setting this device up I did two things, I found a Netflix 4K UHD series and then played directly from a Blue ray player, the Blu-ray content was by far superior both in the vision to the TV and the sound output. The Blue ray sound was crisp and clear and when the bass kicked in with the latest Mad Max movie it felt like there was a hear of elephants in the room.

In Standard mode, the audio is good, with plenty of powerful bass effects, but it is in movie mode that you get your $699 worth of value.

For example, when we boosted the bass output it really delivered a rumbling effect which was excessive for the room and the soundbar which is small when compared to the $1,950 Samsung N950.

One thing I did notice is that audio clarity was never an issue compared to for example the more expensive Sonos Playbar which delivers muffled dialogue.

For the money this is a solid investment for any home or apartment. It’s made by Harman the owners of the JBL brand, this is one of the world’s leading audio Companies that was recently acquired by Samsung. Whether you’re watching movies, or you want to listen to some Sunday morning music this is an ideal solution. the fact that the bar is small and powerful makes it ideal attaching to today thin 4K UHD TV’s.

As for the subwoofer it is well worth the investment as it delivers some serious kick arse power. Bass lovers will love it and while you can adjust the bass levels I suspect that the bulk of owners will simple take what comes out of the box.

This JBL Bar 3.1 delivers both great design, functionality and above all when it comes to delivering sound clarity and big thumping action audio.

RATING 9.5/10

Total Maximum Power 450W
Soundbar Transducer Size 6 x 2.25″ racetrack drivers 3 x 1.25″ tweeter
Subwoofer Transducer Size 10″
Bluetooth Version 4.2
Max SPL 103db
Frequency Response 35Hz to 20KHz
Audio inputs 1 Analog, 1 Optical, Bluetooth, USB
Soundbar dimension and weight (Wx H x D) 40” x 2.3” x 3.1” (1018 x 58 x 78mm)/ 2.3 Kg
Subwoofer dimension and weight (W x H x D) 12” x 12” x 17.3” (305 x 305 x 440mm)/ 12.1 Kg
HDMI Video Inputs 3
HDMI Video Output (with Audio Return Channel) 1
HDMI HDCP Version 2.2