Do you find it difficult to hear the dialog during your favorite shows? JBL’s new 9. 1 soundbar is designed to enhance speech clarity and enable you to hear dialogue as if you were sitting in the studio audience.
It is designed to be a simple solution for those who have had difficulty hearing the dialogue during television shows, movies, and even music due to the amplifier layout.
The JBL 9.1 soundbar review will show you the product’s specs, features, and warranty information. It has got to be one of JBL’s best soundbars ever.
- 1 Pros and Cons of JBL 9.1
- 2 What is JBL Bar 9.1?
- 3 Design
- 4 Connections And Control
- 5 Specs And Features
- 6 Set Up And Operation
- 7 Movie Performance
- 8 Music Performance
- 9 What Are Alternatives?
- 10 FAQs
- 11 Conclusion
Pros and Cons of JBL 9.1
- Powerful audio with powerful bass depth
- Dolby Atmos drivers
- Wireless rear channel speakers
- Simple setup
- More precise EQ controls could be used
What is JBL Bar 9.1?
The JBL soundbar 9.1 is a 5.1.4 channel soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It also has an active wireless subwoofer and wireless rear speakers attached to the soundbar for charging. Although Philips did it many years ago, this isn’t new – it makes for an easy solution.
The JBL BAR 9.1 can decode both object-based audio format and immersive listening experience. It’s not just the surround sound channels that make this possible but also the upward-firing drivers in the satellite speakers and soundbar. You will also find a good display, a decent remote, and an automated audio setup.
JBL bar 9.1 has focused on audio performance and essential features rather than on less critical things like multi-room capabilities or intelligent assistants. The company was able to keep the cost down by keeping the BAR 9.1 at PS899 (June 2020). Let’s find out of the box if this is the bargain it seems to be.
JBL’s secret? The Bar 9.1 uses a pair of detachable wireless. Battery-operated wireless surround speakers situated anywhere in the convenient room.
The JBL Bar 9.1 is sleek and modern, with clean lines and a black finish. Although the construction is mainly made of plastic, it was necessary to afford it. However, the build quality is still excellent. It is essential that the soundbar doesn’t draw attention, and it’s only 62mm high so that it won’t block your Tv screen.
The BAR 9.1’s top center will have a few basic touch-sensitive controls. These include power on/off and volume up/down. You can also select the source and hide it. A microphone is located to the right of the controls for audio calibration.
More details will follow. A proper bar’s display is located to the right of the rules, which makes a refreshing change from the mysterious lights.
You can attach the wireless satellite speakers to either side. If you don’t want them attached permanently, JBL bar 9.1 provides side caps. The detachable speakers also have Micro USB ports, which can charge your phone without connecting to the soundbar.
The soundbar measures 884x62x120mm (WxHxD) and weighs in the order of 3.64kg. Each of the detachable rear speakers weighs 0.72kg and measures 173x60x120mm. The central unit would have a total width of 1230mm if the rear speakers were attached. The active wireless subwoofer is 11.1kg in weight and measures 305x440x305mm.
Connections And Control
Although the JBL Bar 9.1 offers a good set of connections, you would expect more than one HDMI output at this price. The HDMI output supports eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), which allows you to connect other devices to compatible TVs and send lossless audio back via HDMI-ARC.
Although there is only one HDMI input, the HDMI output supports EARC.
If your TV does not support eARC, you will only use one lossless source. The HDMI connection can pass 4K/60p and HDCP 2.3. It also has a high dynamic range, including HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Although the BAR 9.1 cannot give HDR10+ and HLG (hybrid log-gamma), it is debatable if their absence is an issue.
There are two options for connecting other devices: an optical digital input and an Ethernet port that Dolby digital has a wired connection. JBL bar 9.1 has a USB port for firmware updates, but it is unnecessary. You can do this over the internet. Bluetooth 4.2 and dual-band Wi-Fi are also available. Also, support is provided for Apple’s AirPlay 2 and Chromecast.
As we mentioned, the top of the soundbar has a set of basic touch-sensitive controls. These include power on/off and volume up/down. Source selection is also available. Although there is no remote app for it, limited control via Apple AirPlay 2, Google Home, and a TV remote with HDMI-CEC is possible.
The BAR 9.1 includes a decent remote control that is large enough to be comfortably held and used with one hand. It is made of plastic and has the same quality as the rest. Although the JBL bar 9.1 has kept the number of buttons to a minimum, some regulators have multiple functions, proving frustrating.
The power button is located at the top. Below that, regulators are available to select TV (ARC), Bluetooth, or the HDMI input. You will also find the volume up/down and mute controls and buttons to adjust the Dolby Atmos (overhead), rear, and bass (subwoofer), levels.
Although the remote is decent for a soundbar, it can be challenging because of its dual function buttons.
To select Smart, Standard, or Night modes, press and hold for five seconds the mute button. You will run the auto setup if you do this with the HDMI button. Pressing and holding the TV button for five seconds can allow you to adjust for audio sync delays.
Specs And Features
The two 60-watt wireless surround speakers deliver audio via a single up-firing driver and a 1-inch tweeter. The JBL Bar 9.1’s main bar feature is its ability to deliver Dolby Atmos and DTS:X through a 5.1.4-channel speaker arrangement. Although many soundbars are capable of decoding Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, they seldom detachable wireless satellites speakers. This results in a soundstage that is extremely front-heavy.
The BAR 9.1 is not compatible with wireless speakers. You will need to connect them to mains power sockets. You can use the JBL rears with their rechargeable speakers nature to make it more convenient.
Wireless speakers provide surround sound channels and upward-firing drivers that produce front and back overhead channels when combined with the soundbar’s soundbar. JBL bar 9.1 claims three hours for the rear speakers to be fully charged. They should last for 10 hours before they need to be recharged – enough to play Lord of the Rings Extended Cut.
The 5.1.4-channel speaker layout makes this soundbar genuinely immersive.
The soundbar has three forward-firing wireless surround speakers, four racetrack drivers, and three 20mm tweeters. Two full-range upward-firing drivers are included, along with 400W of the amplifier. Each speaker has a 20mm tweeter, a full-range upwards-firing driver, and 60W of built-in amplification.
The active wireless subwoofer weighs more than what you would get from a soundbar and features 10-inch downward-firing speaker grilles and a rear bass port to add depth. The sub’s amplifier can produce up to 300W. This means it can provide a solid low-end foundation for your system. JBL claims a frequency response of 34Hz-20kHz.
The BAR 9.1 includes eARC and Bluetooth and Chromecast, and AirPlay 2. The BAR 9.1 also works with Google Home, but no JBL remote app is available. JBL has focused on providing immersive surround sound and object-based music instead of a proprietary multi-room system.
When they’re snapped into the main soundbar unit (which makes the Bar 9.1 feel like the Nintendo Switch of soundbars), the wireless surround speakers boost the audio of the soundbar’s primary drivers.
Set Up And Operation
The JBL Bar 9.1 comes complete with everything you need for installation, setup, and optimization. But before we move on, let me say that the two-pin power cables included for the soundbar or subwoofer at 0.9m are ridiculously short. If your power sockets are not close enough to the units (mine weren’t), you will need to replace them.
All you need for a functioning 5.1.4 sound system is there aside from that moan. The kits included an HDMI cable and the side caps, apart from the rears, sub, and soundbars. You will also find a template, wall mounts, mounts to attach the soundbar to the soundbar, and mounts to mount the rear speakers to be recharged when not in use.
Even though the power cables may be a bit short, everything you need to set up and optimize the BAR9.1 is included in the box.
For best results, a reflective ceiling is recommended. JBL recommends that you sit between 2.5-3m and the central unit and have a ceiling height of around 3m. To get the best sound, ensure that truly wireless surround speakers are located just behind you and at your ear level. The sub should be in the center of the room, either in the left or right-hand corner.
The provided cable can connect the soundbar to your TV’s HDMI-ARC input. The optical digital connection is required if your TV does not support ARC. You can send lossless audio via HDMI-ARC to your TV if your TV supports it.
This approach works well if your TV and 4K DVD player support HDR10+. However, if your TV does not support eARC or has many sources, you can use the HDMI input at the bar to send lossless audio.
To pair a Bluetooth device, press the appropriate button on the remote. To pair a Bluetooth device with another device, hold down the Bluetooth button and press it for three seconds. This will clear the device and connect to the new one. You have two options to connect to your home network: either you can use a wired Ethernet connection or set up a completely wireless connection with the Google Home app and AirPlay for iOS.
These are both simple, and you can enjoy Chromecast and AirPlay 2 while also updating the BAR 9.1’s firmware. However, the rear speakers must still be connected to the central unit.
After everything has been connected and battery powered surround speakers on, the subwoofer should be wirelessly connected. However, it can also connect manually if necessary. It will take approximately three hours for the rear speakers to charge fully.
They should also connect to your central unit when they are detached. You can set the rear speakers using Micro USB. However, you will need first to attach them to the primary device so that they wirelessly connect.
JBL includes an automatic audio calibration feature, not typical for soundbar manufacturers.
Once the rear speakers have been charged and are connected, place them on either end of the sweet spot. Then press and hold for five seconds the HDMI button on your remote. Before the audio calibration begins, there’s a countdown of five seconds. The listening zone has been successfully calibrated when ‘Calibration-1 Done” is displayed.
Next, place the rear speakers at the desired position and then press and hold for five seconds the HDMI button on your remote. The second audio calibration will begin once again. This time, there will be a countdown of five seconds to one. The position has been successfully calibrated when ‘Calibration-2 Done” is displayed.
This is a rare feature that very few soundbar manufacturers offer. If you don’t feel the effect is strong enough, you can adjust the Atmos setting to the middle. Depending on your room’s low-frequency response, you can change the bass setting to either 1 or 5.
Bright mode is the default setting. This automatically applies to the process of non-Atmos/DTSX content. You can also use the Standard mode, which does not apply to any processing.
Press the mute key for five seconds and then the remote button ‘+’. You can press the mute button for five seconds to activate Night mode, then ‘+’ on the remote. The BAR 9.1 will automatically switch to Smart mode when turned off or placed on standby. Conversely, if you want to engage the Night mode to not disturb others, press the mute button for five seconds and then ‘-‘ on the remote.
Other applicable dual controls include the ability to check the battery life of the rear speakers. To do this, hold the mute button down for five seconds before pressing the Atmos button.
For more than 10 seconds, hold down the power or source buttons on the soundbar. This will restore factory settings. If you need to see the software version of your Bar 9.1 without Google Home, hold the volume down and source buttons on the soundbar for 10 seconds.
To test, I connected a Panasonic DPUB820 4K Bluray player to the soundbar via the HDMI input. A Manhattan T3R Freeview set-top box was also connected to the TV. The audio was sent back via HDMI ARC.
To test the soundbar’s ARC ability with Atmos, I used the built-in Netflix/Amazon apps on an LG 77C9 and connected the UB820 directly to the C9 for lossless audio.
Maybe you want to know what wattage soundbar needs: https://hookeaudio.com/what-wattage-soundbar-do-i-need/
Blade Runner 2049’s crash scene in which Ryan Gosling is thrown from the sky in a vehicle that looks like a flying Lamborghini features multiple explosions. They can be quite loud through Bar 9.1 when the bass response has been raised high.
Maximum bass levels produce a rumble that is theatre-level intense. At 1 or 2, it can be tamed but never sounds thin. If the wireless surround channels are not correctly calibrated, they can appear too subtle.
However, it is easy to rectify this. You will experience the best sound quality by increasing their normal listening volume and the Atmos Driver levels.
The system’s clarity is excellent, with clear dialogue, sound effects, and scalable bass depth, which highlights the ominous score as much as the explosions.
Bar 9.1 is a powerful weapon when the Death Star explodes during Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
However, at high volumes and high bass levels, the most noticeable thing you’ll notice is the rich mix provided by the Atmos surround speakers and the rear channel speaker.
The placement of the back channels can vary widely due to their wireless nature. It is recommended that you calibrate them every time you move them. The truly wireless surround speakers system draws you in with an immersive surround speakers experience that is more like a combination of 5.1 Dolby digital and Dolby Atmos drivers.
We turned the bass down to the middle level (3), and the Dolby Atmos drivers were set to their lowest level. Then we played some music. The Bar 9.1 can produce powerful sub-bass tracks like Silent Shout by The Knife.
Mid-levels have a sub-bass-forward sound quality, while lower levels deliver a more balanced and bass-forward experience.
If you feel that something is missing, you can adjust the treble volume. It would be great to have the system balanced to your liking. While soundbars often have music or neutral modes that contrast with the audio output of movies, there are not many listening options.
There are only a few adjustable parameters. The audio quality is good enough not to be a problem.
Bill Callahan’s Drover is a track that has a much lower level of bass. This gives us a better idea of Bar 9.1’s bounce sound signature. The drums sound strong and amplified in the lows, even at bass level 3.
You get a more accurate sound quality at 1 and 2. At the highest levels, the track is unbalanced in its lows. Callahan’s vocals have a lovely low-mid richness that compliments his baritone delivery.
The higher-register percussive hits, acoustic strumming, and high-register percussive sounds have a bright, clear presence. This is especially evident when the bass volume is at a reasonable level. Listening to music is much more difficult for Atmos and detachable satellite speakers.
Jay-Z and Kanye West’s No Church in the Wild give the kick drum loop a solid amount of high-mid presence. This keeps its attack punchy but also gives it some bass thump.
Interestingly, the sub-bass synth hits that punctuate this beat are less potent than the thump, although this is not always true. The subvolume level may be adjusted to make the bass more prominent than the sub-bass synth hits, but it is often the reverse.
This shows that most sub-bass depth is concentrated on the lows and mids, with a slight decrease in the sub-bass realm. This system is not thin or fragile. It’s powerful and thumping, but the bass depth starts to fade as you reach lower frequencies.
This track has solid vocals with no noticeable sibilance and precise delivery. This track has a clear, detailed and immersive sound signature that is full of thump.
The subwoofer settings can make orchestral tracks sound natural, boosted, or silly, as in John Adams’ The Gospel According To The Other Mary. For jazz and classical music, we recommend that it be kept at 2-3.
The higher-register instruments will preserve their sharp detail while the lower-register tools play a vital anchoring function. Some listeners will enjoy dialing it up at this point, but the bass can start to disturb the balance of the mix at 4 and 5.
What Are Alternatives?
There are two options for soundbars: a slightly cheaper one and one that is somewhat more expensive. The Vizio SB36512F6 delivers a 5.1.2-channel soundbar thanks to two wired rear speakers.
This isn’t the best option for everyone. There’s no DTSX support or eARC. The performance isn’t as good, but the SB36512-F6 is three hundred dollars cheaper at PS599, so it’s worth looking into if you have a tight budget.
The Samsung HWQ90R is currently the only direct competitor to JBL Bar 9.1, and it costs PS1,199. The soundbar can also be equipped with wireless rear speakers and produce a complete 5.1.4-channel system.
The soundbar supports Dolby Atmos as well as DTS:X, dts hd ma. A recent firmware update added eARC. You also get helpful enhancement features such as dialogue enhancement Smart mode; the graphic EQ can adjust the bass and treble levels.
The design and construction are generally better, with a larger front soundstage and two HDMI inputs. The HW-Q90R is still the best immersive soundbar available, although the BAR 9.1 comes in close behind for PS300.
When did JBL Bar 9.1 come out?
JBL.com will sell the JBL Bar 9.1 starting in spring 2020 for EUR999.95. HARMAN at CES 2020: Visit the HARMAN stand during CES 2020 to see all divisions’ latest technology and products.
Is JBL Bar 9.1 capable of supporting 4K?
Bar 9.1 supports HDR/Dolby Vision passthrough. The JBL Bar 9.1 has a pair of HDMI ports, including an HDMI-ARC port that supports EARC, as well as an optical port, USB, and Ethernet ports.
Does JBL Bar 9.1 soundbar support eARC?
Although there is only one HDMI input, the JBL Bar 9.1 has a wide range of connections. The HDMI output supports eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), allowing users to connect others to compatible TVs and send lossless audio back via HDMI-ARC.
Is JBL Bar 9.1 worth the price?
Conclusions. Conclusions. The JBL Bar 9.1 has it all. The JBL Bar 9.1 is a high-end soundbar that costs $1,000. However, you get an immersive wireless rear channel experience with Dolby Atmos sound and a powerful sub. You can also adjust the volume using the remote.
The JBL Bar 9.1 soundbar has got to be one of JBL’s best soundbars ever. This is due to the excellent sound performance, low price, and sleek design.
This is one of those products you can easily afford to splash out on. I suggest that you get the JBL Bar 9.1 soundbar if you want to hear your favorite TV show and movie dialogue with improved clarity and sound performance.
If you consider buying a soundbar to enhance the immersive audio experience, JBL Bar 9.1 is excellent.
Hooke Audio hope you find the article helpful; please leave a comment below to know if you have any questions.