JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam review: Big sound can come in small packages!

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The JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam is a capable soundbar. The combination of Dolby Atmos and its Multibeam technology, creates a good surround sound experience with a wide soundstage. And for a small soundbar, it’s more than capable of reaching high volumes.

It can do everything you want a soundbar to, but it lacks customisation options. Other than the bass, you can’t change the sound to suit your needs. There isn’t an equaliser, and there aren’t sound modes you can switch between. 

With the Bar 5.0 you’re stuck with the default sound. If you don’t like it, you can’t do anything about it, and that can be an issue.

Pros

  • Good surround sound
  • Dolby Atmos!
  • Multibeam technology allows a wide soundstage
  • Affordable
  • Compact design

Cons

  • Can be hard to connect to WiFi
  • No sound customisation
  • Not as good as a full speaker, surround sound setup

Price

JBL’s Bar 5.0 Multibeam costs $600

Design

There isn’t anything unique about the Bar 5.0’s design. This is a soundbar that’s simple to use and simple in its design. It’s sturdy and well made and looks just as you’d expect a soundbar to look.

It’s a compact all-in-one soundbar that doesn’t come with surround speakers or a subwoofer, measuring only 709 x 58 x 101mm. 

The grille runs from end to end, and there’s a small strip for controls across the top for volume, source, and power.

On the inside, there are three drivers on the front, two drivers on the top (for height channels), and four passive radiators.

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Setup

Connecting the Bar 5.0 to your TV isn’t an issue. There are 2x HDMI ports (one compatible with eARC) and an optical output. However, due to the lack of a dedicated app and no menus on display, connecting the Bar 5.0 to WiFi can be tricky.

To set up WiFi, you need to use a virtual assistant. The Bar 5.0 is compatible with Google Home, AirPlay speaker setup, and Alexa. There are plenty of options here. However, it’s not as simple as it should be.

Fortunately, calibrating the soundbar to your room using JBL’s Multibeam technology is much simpler. All you need to do is hold the HDMI button for 5 seconds on the remote, and then follow the directions on the LED display. It’s simple and works well.

Sound

While it isn’t as effective as a multi-speaker surround sound system, the Bar 5.0 does an impressive job at creating 3D surround sound.

Its integrated Dolby Atmos software created a good sense of height, and horizontal sounds moved across the speaker. I did find it was most effective when sitting directly in front of the soundbar, and I needed to be relatively close for the effect to work at its best.

The Bar 5.0 is also surprisingly powerful. For a small soundbar, the audio it generates has a good amount of “oomph.” Although it lacks a subwoofer, I had no issues with the bass that came through.

To get the best out of the Bar 5.0 Multibeam soundbar, it’s important you calibrate the speakers. This is where JBL’s Multibeam technology shines. There’s a microphone inside the soundbar that helps calibrate the sound to the room that you’re in. The soundbar then sends audio sideways as well as forwards to give you a surround sound experience. This allowed for a wide soundstage in which there was a lot of depth in the mix. Combined with Dolby Atmos, the 3D sound works well.

I did struggle with the inability to customise the sound to my liking. Watching Invincible was a tedious affair in which I was constantly turning the volume up and down. The dialogue was hard to hear, forcing me to turn the volume up, then action scenes would blow my eardrums, forcing me to turn it down. Being able to adjust the centre balance could’ve fixed this problem, but that wasn’t an option with the Bar 5.0.

While it isn’t as effective as a multi-speaker surround sound system, the Bar 5.0 does an impressive job at creating 3D surround sound.

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Verdict

The JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam soundbar is a mid-range soundbar that prides itself on its simplicity. For a small soundbar, it produces strong audio, and it can generate an effective 3D surround sound with Dolby Atmos and its Multibeam technology.

However, its simplicity can be a double-edged sword. While it’s easy to connect to the TV it’s tricky to set up on WiFi and you better hope you enjoy the sound it produces because there aren’t any options to customise it to your liking.

The Bar 5.0 is better than internal TV speakers however, it doesn’t meet the capabilities of a multi-speaker setup. But, it’s significantly cheaper than a multi-speaker system and if you want to improve on your TV speakers, the Bar 5.0 will do a great job.

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