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Review: JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar with Dolby Atmos

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More on the Bar 9.1

This isn’t your dad’s soundbar. The JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar is the latest soundbar from JBL, delivering the ultimate 3D surround sound experience without a receiver or wired speakers. Two detachable surround speakers with built-in rechargeable batteries provide up to 10 hours of detailed playback. Place them at the back of your room on a flat surface, facing inwards towards the listening area, firing upwards toward the ceiling to provide Atmos effects. Gotta clean up for guests? Simply dock them to the soundbar, where they blend seamlessly with the soundbar’s design while they recharge. To complete the cinema-at-home experience, a 10” subwoofer is included to provide pulse-pounding bass.

With upward-firing drivers, detachable wireless surround speakers, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D sound, your system transforms into an authentic 3D audio experience in only seconds.

Features

  • 820W Output power
  • Ultra HD 4K Pass-through with Dolby Vision
  • Chromecast and AirPlay 2 built-in
  • Bluetooth Wireless Streaming
  • Detachable speakers that go anywhere

JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar with Dolby Atmos

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Video Transcript

"Hi, everyone, it's Adam with World Wide Stereo. Soundbars and Atmos, all these features that are coming out. This is from JBL. This is a 9.1 Atmos-enabled soundbar. Let's get into it. The JBL Bar 9.1 is a 9-channel surround sound system with a single woofer. That's how they come up with the 9.1.

And I'll explain all those channels in a minute here. Thank you, everyone, for subscribing to our YouTube channel and always communicating your questions and comments. I love it. Keep it coming. The JBL 9.1 powered soundbar, tons of power, 800-plus watts. And these are really, really cool. So these are detachable speakers.

You put them on the side if you don't want to have any rear kind of sounds going on and they click right in. The magnet's really strong, actually. But, when you want to have surround sound, forget running wires, just pull this thing off and take it to the back of your room. On a full charge, they will last for about 10 hours. So, you know, I don't see any problem with running out of juice there. The system also comes with a wireless subwoofer.

It's a 10-inch down-firing subwoofer and it has a lot of output, a lot of boom. As far as connectivity goes, on the back, you'll have an HDMI IN and an HDMI OUT and it is a 4K pass-through. So if you send a 4K signal through, it will go up to the TV. But you have to be careful if you have multiple sources, you may want to connect all of your sources to your TV.

Most of today's TVs have four HDMI inputs. One of those is labeled specifically ARC, which stands for Audio Return Channel. So if you connect that spot of your TV to the HDMI ARC on the JBL, all of your sound from all of those other sources will come into the soundbar. One of the things that makes this soundbar really special is it does Atmos.

Atmos is a new surround sound format that adds elevation to your soundstage or to your mix. So, for instance, when you hear a helicopter around you, you can actually hear the sound way up high, when if it scoops down then the sound will come down low. So now when you watch a movie, not only does sound go front to back, left to right, it goes up and down as well. And they do that by putting these Atmos-enabled speakers on top and, this is the really cool part, I haven't seen this yet.

I've seen soundbars that have Atmos speakers on top, I haven't seen speakers that have Atmos speakers on the rears. And these being battery-powered is even cooler. When setting up the rear JBL speakers, you want to first pull them off the bar. They're a little snug but not overly tight. And then place them in the rear of the room. You want to lay them flat as they were when they were connected to the soundbar, so that the Atmos speaker which is on the top will fire up into the room so you can get the rear Atmos effect. Start by taking the left speaker, pull it off, and then rotate it 180 degrees - that way the charging dock is now on the outside. You want to follow and do that again with the right speaker. So, pull the right speaker off, turn it 180 degrees, so that way the rear surround sound speaker is now firing back into the listening position and both of the Atmos speakers are firing up into the room. 

Those four speakers: your surround left, surround right, your Atmos rear-left, and your Atmos rear-right. That's 4 channels. Then, plus your front 3 speakers: your front left, center, and right. That'll make seven. And then, your front Atmos speakers, which are on top of the bar.  That's two more, which will make nine. Adding your 'woofer, a .1. This is again a full 9.1 surround sound experience in one, simple, easy-to-use, and convenient package.

I mentioned you have the HDMI input on the back for your HDMI ARC connectivity. And that's also the only way that you're going to be able to transmit Adobe Atmos soundtrack into that.

So if you're using your TV as a smart TV, and you're watching a movie that's in 4K in Atmos, if you run it to the optical connection, which this has as well, you will not get Dolby Atmos. You need to use the HDMI connection to get ARC. As well as using the HDMI connection, you do also need to make sure that your HDMI connection is compatible with what's called eARC or enhanced ARC. Enhanced ARC is the technology that allows Atmos to come from the TV down to a soundbar or a receiver.

The remote control, the supplied remote control, very handy. Normal things you'll find on it, you got power. You can switch between your inputs. You have TV. This does have Bluetooth as well. So you can Bluetooth music to it. As well as Bluetooth, it has AirPlay and Chromecast built into it.

So you can connect this thing to your network with a wired connection, which I always recommend. And it does have wireless built into it. But please, if you have a wired connection there or it's not hard to do, please do it. It's much more stable. Also, you have your HDMI input and then you have some adjustments. So your Atmos, this is how high your ceiling is. So if you have a low ceiling, a medium ceiling, or a high ceiling, that's the adjustments that are built onto this button.

And you'll see that displayed on the front. It'll say, low, medium, and high. You also have a bass adjustment and that's bass levels 1 through 5. And that's specifically telling how loud do you want this. On the back of your subwoofer here, there's no volume knob or dial. All of your adjustments for your subwoofer is on the remote control. Last, you have a rear channel setting.

So how loud do you want the rear speakers behind you in the mix? And that's also a low, medium, or high. I had the pleasure of taking this thing home. My family room is roughly 18 by 22. It's about a 12-foot ceiling. So I put the Atmos on the high channel. I had the rears at the very far back of the room.

So I put them on high as well again, fired them at the wall. Had those Atmos channels coming up. And from my room, because it's kind of wide-open and it's all ceilings, I found that a bass level of 3 was kind of where I liked it. I put it to 4 a couple of times and it was really loud. It really filled my family room with a ton of bass. So I backed it off to 3 personally.

But that's a personal preference, however much bass you'd like. But my point is is that this system had enough power to fill that volume of a room, which is a… it's a pretty good room. You know, 18, 22, 12-foot, that's a decent-sized room. And this had enough power to completely fill it with sound. So that caught my attention. That was very impressive.

There will be calibration built into this unit to help you set this unit up. It will be built into the remote control. And it's kind of a setup process where you bring the rears to you, and it'll set out some test tunes. And it uses the remote for that. And then after you do that, then you set them back where you want them and then you do another calibration, and then that'll help optimize the system for your room.

Overall, I'm really impressed with this product. Again, it filled my large family room with enough sound that I was pretty happy with it. At the time of this video, the retail price is slated to be around $1000.

It's going to be a fantastic product, one of the few, again, that has the battery-operated rears. I mean, who else is doing that? Nobody is doing that. I mean, that's awesome. You don't have to run any wires and it sounded great. This is the JBL Bar 9.1. It will be available online at worldwidestereo.com.

We offer free shipping, a 60-day return policy, and we are authorized dealers for everything that we sell here. If you have any questions about this, feel free to leave those in the comments section below or call or email us at any time. Please remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel. This is Adam with World Wide Stereo reminding you to listen to music every day. So long."

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