New JBL Bar 1300X Review: Immersive Audio Experience
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What’s that I hear? Another soundbar review? And it’s got some weird gimmick to it? Well you know me, I love a good party trick. This is the JBL Bar 1300X Pro. Complete with sound bar, wireless subwoofer, and rechargeable wireless rear speakers, this sound bar may be the perfect solution to getting surround sound where you never thought possible before. Let's find out exactly what makes this sound bar so unique.
If you’ve been following our YouTube channel for the past few years, you may have seen us talk about some of JBL’s other audio gear. From Bluetooth speakers to PartyBoxes, to the previous incarnation of this sound bar in front of me—they are no stranger to high-quality audio. And with almost 100 years of experience to back that up, I had high hopes for the 1300X.
What’s In The Box
When I first got to take the 1300X home for testing, I was immediately interested in experimenting with the wireless surround speakers, and we’ll get to that later, but I have to say I felt like a kid on Christmas opening up a shiny new toy. While unboxing the sound bar there were a few things I noticed right away. The soundbar itself is small enough to fit underneath a 55” TV, and the subwoofer is MASSIVE. We also have the two wireless surround speakers here, and a plethora of accessories; mounting brackets, power cables, an HDMI cable, and documentation for quick setup and warranties. We also get a remote and a pair of AAA batteries. Lastly, there are also these little covers that cap onto the ends of the sound bar when the wireless speakers are pulled off. Everything you could need to get started is in the box.
Keep in mind that if you keep the wireless speakers attached to the main segment of the sound bar for charging, it is wider than a 55” TV and may hang off your TV stand. I ran into that exact problem myself initially.
Design & Dimensions
Stylistically, JBL kept things simple. Easy to read buttons on the bar, sub, speakers, and remote. And everything is in that standard color of “AV gear greyish black.” No special party lights, orb-like center channel, or anything of that sort. Most people I work with want their sound equipment to disappear, and next to being truly invisible, I think this is the best job a sound bar could do, while packing in 16 discrete channels of audio. The Subwoofer has a 12” down firing driver, and a rather large flow port in the back. I would recommend keeping this guy at minimum of 1 foot off the wall for best performance. The sound bar and rear speakers have a total of 11 audio channels for the front, surround, and surround rear channels, while on the top of the bar and surround modules, we have 4 channels for Atmos overhead audio. So in total we have an 11.1.4 channel Dolby Atmos capable sound bar.
Connectivity & Setup
On the top side of the bar, we have volume up, down, and input selection. On the front of the bar, hidden behind the grill, there is an LED display that will give you visual feedback on volume level, power state, and source selection. Moving around to the back of the bar, we have what I would say to be a generous amount of IO for a sound bar. Moving from left to right we have the AC power input, a USB port used for charging or MP3 file playback, an Ethernet port for hardwired internet connectivity, 3 HDMI ports for video pass-through, and HDMI ARC/eARC port, and an optical port. I would say that all bases have been firmly covered by JBL here.
With all those ports it can be kind of daunting to know which to use and when.
- The USB port will most likely never be used by most people, unless you were desperate for a USB power supply, or had a lot of MP3 files you wanted to play back off of a flash drive.
- The Ethernet port is a good to have, but not 100% required. If you have a strong enough, and reliable enough wi-fi connection where the 1300 would go, I would probably stick to using that. The ethernet connection ensures a reliable and stable connection to the internet for those of you with spotty wi-fi though.
- The 3 HDMI ports for video pass through is a really nice feature to have. If you're like me, and have multiple gaming consoles, streaming devices, computers, and Blu-ray players, you may find yourself limited with the ports on your TV. It’s nice to have a few more options for connections with what is essentially a 4K 60hz HDMI switcher built into your sound bar.
- Lastly, you have 2 options when connecting to a TV for audio. I would strongly suggest that you pair this sound bar with a TV that supports Enhanced Audio Return Channel, or eARC for short. EARC is the best way to get dolby atmos playback on most home theater sound bars like the 1300. Optical connections are at this point a legacy connection for supporting old TV sets that simply lack ARC compatibility all together, and will deliver a sub par surround sound experience when compared to the full capabilities of eARC.
Sound Quality & Performance
When it comes to my impression of the sound quality and immersiveness of the Bar 1300X Pro, I was impressed by a lot of things, and let down by a few things. Number one, the actual surround sound and overhead audio effects were astounding. Most Dolby Atmos sound bars create the “illusion” of speakers in places where there are none by bouncing and reflecting sound off of your walls and ceiling. I set this up in my bedroom, with the sound bar below my TV, subwoofer to the side, and surround speakers on my nightstands on either side of my bed. I was really blown away at how realistic overhead effects sounded, the combination of 4 Atmos drivers and excellent room calibration played a big part of this. I was also able to tune the volume level using either JBL’s companion app or the remote control to fit my needs in terms of intensity of those effects depending on the time of day I was using this, as I didn’t want to disturb the neighbors TOO much.
Something I would really like to see JBL add is more granularity of control over those volume levels. The subwoofer for example has 5 levels of volume. Sometimes level 1 was not enough bass, but level 2 was way too much. The same goes for the surround speakers and Atmos channels. You only get 3 distinct levels for those, Low, Medium, and High. I would have preferred independent volume sliders for all of what I just mentioned, plus a master volume control. Maybe I’m just nitpicking here. But at times dialogue was a bit difficult to hear, and the inclusion of an adjustable speech enhancement feature would go a long way. JBL does have a speech enhancement algorithm called PureVoice, but with no manual adjustments that I could find. I’m happy JBL gives us the amount of control that we get already, and using the app or remote makes it very easy to make adjustments on the fly, but maybe just a smidge more customizability would make a big difference.
A few things I have yet to call out that I need to mention though. Number one, thank you so much JBL for adding support for charging the wireless speakers over USB-C. While these little guys do have up to a 10-hour battery life while being used, it sucks to have to remember to snap them back onto the sides of the bar to charge them at the end of the night. What if you forget in the middle of movie night and you have to miss out on all that sweet action happening behind you? Well, now you can charge and use them at the same time, provided you have access to an outlet and a long enough USB-C cable. Seriously though, this is a massive improvement over the situation so many people found themselves in with the JBL BAR 9.1.
One more cool trick with these little fellas is that they are fully independent Bluetooth speakers as well. So if you wanted to take one with you out on the deck for a little music playback while you fire up the grill, you can! You could even set them up as a little miniature stereo pair. How many people are going to use this function is anyone's guess, but it's really cool that it’s included!
Controls & App
Music playback is incredibly simple with the Bar 1300X as well. JBL has built-in compatibility with all the major casting options. Apple Airplay 2, Chromecast, and Alexa multi-room music. Add in Bluetooth 5.0 support and you have all your bases covered for getting your favorite music on the 1300X.
I’ve mentioned JBL's companion app a few times, it’s called JBL ONE (Android | Apple). It has a ton of control options for the sound bar, as well as a multitude of other JBL products. You can run the room calibration through the app, make adjustments to the volume levels of all the speakers, and initiate firmware updates using it. The app doesn't give you any greater control over volume than you already have via the remote, but it does give you a fancy UI to mess with.
The JBL Bar 1300X Pro comes in at $1699.95. Comparable to giants in the soundbar world like Sonos & Sony, you get a LOT of sound, and maybe one of the best all-in-one box systems for any easy-to-use surround sound setup. The flexibility alone with true wireless surround speakers is a leg up on anyone. Put 'em up when it's movie time, take ‘em down when it's over. No wires to run, an easy-to-use companion app, and reliable functionality. This is the perfect sound bar for people looking for surround sound in complicated situations. Bedrooms, open concept living rooms, multi-purpose basements, basically anytime that you want surround sound some of the time, but not all of the time. Flexibility is key with the JBL BAR 1300X, and since no room is perfect for surround sound, flexibility is also king.
JBL1300 Comparison ChartJBL1300 Comparison Chart
JBL Bar 1300X Pro 11.1.4 Soundbar with 12" Wireless Subwoofer
JBL Bar 9.1 Channel 3D Surround Sound Soundbar with Detachable Rear Speakers
JBL Bar 1000 Surround Sound System with 7.1.4 Channel Soundbar, 10" Wireless Subwoofer
Samsung HW-Q990B Soundbar with Wireless Dolby Atmos (2022)
Sonos Premium Entertainment Set with Arc Wireless Soundbar and Sub Wireless Subwoofer (Gen 3)
|Number of Channels||11.1.4||5.1.4||7.1.4||11.1.4||5.1.2|
|Audio Specs||JBL Bar 1300X Pro||JBL Bar 9.1||JBL Bar 1000||Samsung HW-Q990B||Sonos Arc and Sub (Gen 3)|
|Virtual Surround||MultiBeam||No||MultiBeam||3D Surround||Surround mode|
|Optical Digital Inputs||1||1||1||1||None|
|Optical Digital Inputs||1||1||1||1||None|
|HDMI ARC Input||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|HDMI eARC Input||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|USB Type-A Input||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Tweeters||5 (Dome Tweeters)||3 (1" Dome Tweeters)||3 (3/4" Dome Tweeters)||3 (Dome Tweeters)||3 (Soft-Dome Tweeters)|
|Midrange Speaker||4, Midrange Cone Speakers||None||2 (2.75" Cone Midrange Speakers)||6 (Up/Side-Firing Cone Midrange Speakers)|
|Woofer||6 (Oval Cone Speaker)||4 (Oval Cone Speaker)||5 Oval Cone Speaker||6 Front-Firing Cone Speakers||8 Elliptical Oval Cone Speakers|
|Subwoofer Driver||1 (12" Cone)||1 (10" Cone)||1 (10" Cone)||1 (8" Cone)||2 (3"x6" Oval Drivers)|
|Enclosure||Bass Reflex||Sealed Soundbar & Ported Subwoofer||Bass Reflex||Sealed Soundbar & Ported Subwoofer||Acoustic Suspension|
|System Frequency Response||33-20K Hz=||34-20k Hz||33-20K Hz||Not Given||Not Given|
|Sound Bar RMS Power||650||200||440||384||Not given|
|Audio Streaming||JBL Bar 1300X Pro||JBL Bar 9.1||JBL Bar 1000||Samsung HW-Q990B||Sonos Arc and Sub (Gen 3)|
|Bluetooth Connectivity||Built-in 5.0||Built-in 4.2||Built-in 5.0||Built-in 4.2||NA|
|Bluetooth Audio Playback||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Bluetooth Transmitter Mode||No||No||No||No||No|
|Online Music Sources||Chromecast, Alexa||Chromecast Built-In||Chromecast, Alexa||Amazon Alexa||Sonos App|
|Apple AirPlay||AirPlay 2||AirPlay 2||AirPlay 2||AirPlay 2||AirPlay 2|
|Amazon Music||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Amazon Music HD|
|Video Specs||JBL Bar 1300X Pro||JBL Bar 9.1||JBL Bar 1000||Samsung HW-Q990B||Sonos Arc and Sub (Gen 3)|
|HDMI Video Pass-through Resolution||4K||4K||4K||4K||N/A|
|HDR Video Compatible||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Control||JBL Bar 1300X Pro||JBL Bar 9.1||JBL Bar 1000||Samsung HW-Q990B||Sonos Arc and Sub (Gen 3)|
|Includes Remote||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||App Control|
|Voice Control||Alexa & Google Assistant optional||Google Assistant optional||Alexa & Google Assistant optional||Alexa built-in||Alexa & Google Assistant built-in|
|Control by App||Apple iOS, Android||N/A||Apple iOS, Android||Apple iOS, Android||Apple iOS, Android*|
|Remote IR Passthrough||No||No||No||No||No|
|Learns TV Remote||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Wi-Fi Specs||JBL Bar 1300X Pro||JBL Bar 9.1||JBL Bar 1000||Samsung HW-Q990B||Sonos Arc and Sub (Gen 3)|
|Built-in Wi-Fi Version||802.11ax||802.11ac||802.11ax||802.11n||802.11 b/g|
|Bands||2.4, 5.0 GHZ||2.4, 5 GHz||2.4, 5.0 GHZ||2.4, 5.0 GHz||2.4 GHz|
|Other Info||JBL Bar 1300X Pro||JBL Bar 9.1||JBL Bar 1000||Samsung HW-Q990B||Sonos Arc and Sub (Gen 3)|
|Mounting Bracket Included||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Sound Bar Size (inches)||2-9/16H x 39-15/16W x 5-9/16D||2-7/16H x 47-1/2W x 4-3/4D||2-5/16H x 36-11/16W x 5-9/16D||2-13/16H x 48-9/16W x 5-1/2D||3-1/2H x 45W x 4-1/2D|
|Sound Bar Weight||9.5 lbs||8.02 lbs||8.2 lbs||17 lbs||13.78 lbs|
|Subwoofer Size (inches)||18-7/8H x 14-1/2W x 16D||17-3/8H x 12-1/16W x 13-3/4D||17-1/4H x 12-1/16W x 13-13/16D||16-5/16H x 8-3/4W x 16-5/8D||15-3/8H x 6-1/4W x 15-7/8D|
|Subwoofer Weight||22 lbs||24.47 lbs||22 lbs||25.8 lbs||36.3 lbs|
|Parts & Labor Warranty||2 Years||1 Year||2 Years||1 Year||1 Year|