JBL goes wide with the JBL BAR 9.1
Lots of soundbars are hobbled in the surround experience they’re trying to deliver. Effective front left, centre and right channels are easy to achieve in a soundbar. Dolby ATMOS is doable with the inclusion of upwards-firing speakers in the bar. But effective sounds coming from the back of the room can rarely be produced by a soundbar. Unless the system is something like that used by the JBL BAR 9.1 soundbar.
The JBL BAR 9.1 offers, as the name suggests, nine channels plus the subwoofer/LFE channel. The nine channels are the five channels of the traditional surround system – left and right surround in addition to the front three – plus four upwards-firing full-range drivers. Thus it is a 5.1.4 system.
The surround channels are real surround channels because they can be physically placed in the proper position for surround speakers – to the sides of and slightly behind the listening position. When not in use, the surround speakers clip onto the end of the soundbar and charge up their internal batteries. A full charge gives them ten hours of operation. When deployed for surround operation, they receive their signal wirelessly. Each of them has an upwards-firing full-range speaker for rear height, plus a 19mm tweeter for regular surround work.
A wireless subwoofer with a 254mm driver handles bass. JBL rates the “total system power” of the JBL BAR 9.1 at 820 watts and its frequency response at 34 to 20,000 hertz.
The system has an HDMI input (plus optical digital) and an HDMI output. The latter supports the extended Audio Return Channel (eARC), so sound can be sent by the TV back to the soundbar for seamless joint operation. The HDMI system will pass through UltraHD resolution video encoded with Dolby Vision, so it’s ready for use with an UltraHD Blu-ray player.
The JBL BAR 9.1 also supports Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi. You can send music to it via Chromecast and Apple AirPlay 2.
The JBL BAR 9.1 is available now from Harvey Norman and JB HiFi and sells for $1,499.95 RRP.
Stephen Dawson started writing full time about home entertainment technology just weeks before the DVD was launched in Australia. Since then he has written several thousand product reviews amounting to millions of words for newspapers and magazines around Australia.