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JBL Bar 2.1 Soundbar UK Review: Good spec for the price

Written by  Ryan Cleeves Nov 22, 2017
Soundbars have made a big difference been home TV audio in recent years, with TVs getting thinner and thinner, fitting decent quality speakers in them is impossible.
With the boom in the soundbar market, most people investing in a decent TV are also looking to upgrade their audio too. 5.1 systems will always be superior but they require a the number of speakers. So inevitably soundbars have come to dominate the market.

The JBL Bar 2.1 is around middle of the range of this very competitive market, priced at an affordable £349.00. It is pretty good spec for this price too, one of the main selling points is the included wireless subwoofer, which is absent in many of its similarly priced competitors. The 2 speakers give you a room-filling 300W of output. You also get an impressive number of connections too, there is 1 HDMI in, 1 HDMI out with ARC, one digital, analogue, Bluetooth and USB.

It's an average sized soundbar, with the bass handled by the subwoofer the speaker is quite compact compared to some with dimensions of 965 x 58 x 68mm. This makes it just a little wider than my test setup which uses a 40” LG TV, so it should be less wide than most TVs larger than this.

The subwoofer is relatively petite in the world of subs with dimensions of 225 x 225 x 370mm. Thanks to it being wireless, you can tuck it away in the corner of a room. The wireless range seems to be more than adequate for even the largest of rooms.

Also see: Polk Audio Magnifi Mini UK Review: Small package, Big boom

Set-up

Setting up the system is straightforward, you literally just plug everything you need in. Attaching the HDMI cables was a little fiddly but no great issue. It is worth noting that there is no HDMI cable included.

The subwoofer is wireless and it appears to sync straight away without any intervention.

Once set up you can control the unit via the buttons on top of the speaker, or via the included remote. The remote itself is straightforward to understand and use, but feels a bit cheap.

Once set up I tried the system out using HDMI, Arc, Optical, and Bluetooth, from a variety of sources. All of these performed flawlessly, and having ARC is a great feature as it allows you to pass your audio from your TV in its original format.

Performance

The overall sound quality is decent for the price and size of this system. I found that speech, mids and highs were a little harsh in comparison to more expensive systems such as the Bose SoundTouch, but I would say it performs well for its price range. One of the main advantages of this speaker over the SounTouch and many others is the included sub. I did have to tweak the bass to get the sound I preferred, which worked well for both movies, TV and music. I particularly noticed the difference in movies.

It does lack some features like Spotify connect or app integration, but you do get Bluetooth and this works well, music sounds great and the range is good. Personally I would use Bluetooth over Spotify to connect.

Overall

This is a huge improvement over TV audio, and investing in this, or any soundbar even, is always a good idea. The JBL Bar 2.1 itself is in a crowded market and there is alot of competition. I would say overall the audio is good but not great, I would definitely choose this over a similarly priced soundbar that does not include a subwoofer. The range of connections are impressive for the money. Overall I think this is a well-priced and well specced speaker that will be a huge improvement over TV audio and it would make a great investment.


JBL Bar 2.1 Channel Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer £349.00 amazon uk

Also see: Creative Sound BlasterX Katana UK Review: A soundbar for your TVs and PCs

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