JBL Launches 9.1-Channel Soundbar

JBL has refreshed its Bar Series range of soundbars, including its first 9.1-channel wireless surround model.

The 820W Bar 9.1 ($1599.95) has two detachable battery-powered speakers and can decode both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D sound for a 5.1.4 experience.

JBL’s approach echoes that of Philips’ Fidelio series from a few years back. Unlike rival Dolby Atmos brands with satellite speakers, JBL’s are truly wireless: they don’t have to be plugged into a power source.

Instead, they charge when connected to the soundbar and have enough juice for up to 10 hours of playback, JBL claims.

The Bar 9.1 also comes with a 10-inch subwoofer, UHD-4K pass-through with Dolby Vision, and built-in Chromecast and AirPlay music streaming.

“The JBL Bar 9.1 soundbar might be expensive, but it delivers powerful, thunderous audio with detachable rear channels for an immersive listening experience,” said PC Mag.

Digital Trends wasn’t quite as enthusiastic:

The JBL Bar 9.1 is an innovative solution to an age-old problem: Getting better immersive sound without losing the simplicity of a soundbar. It works. With an effortless setup and wireless speakers you can place almost anywhere, it’s a very slick design. However, barebones input options, minimal audio settings, and lacklustre music reproduction are tough drawbacks to swallow at this price.

Said TechHive: “You’ll be pleased with the Bar 9.1’s sound signature if you’re a fan of tight, spare, and flat audio; if you’re looking for something else, the soundbar’s minimal sound settings won’t be much help. Still, the JBL Bar 9.1 has plenty to offer, assuming you can embrace its quirks.”

Also new from JBL are the Bar 5.1 ($899.95), with 4K pass-through, Chromecast and AirPlay 2, Bar 2.1 ($599.95) and Bar 2.0 ($299.95).

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