JBL unveils a trio of new soundbars at IFA 2019

JBL says its new MultiBeam technology delivers a surround-like experience without rear speakers.

Justin Jaffe Managing editor
Justin Jaffe is the Managing Editor for CNET Money. He has more than 20 years of experience publishing books, articles and research on finance and technology for Wired, IDC and others. He is the coauthor of Uninvested (Random House, 2015), which reveals how financial services companies take advantage of customers -- and how to protect yourself. He graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in English Literature, spent 10 years in San Francisco and now lives in Portland, Maine.
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  • Coauthor of Uninvested (Random House, 2015)
Justin Jaffe
2 min read

The Bar 5.1 Surround system.


We didn't love the JBL Link Bar sound bar: That model, which we reviewed last month, was $400 and weirdly integrated Android TV alongside Google Assistant. But hey, at least JBL was ahead of the pack: In the days since, Roku and Amazon have announced sound bars that incorporate their respective smart TV services, too. 

But what if you'd prefer a sound bar without a built-in smart TV system? Well, we have good news: JBL just announced three of them at IFA, the consumer tech trade show based in Berlin. Confusingly, the new $500 JBL Bar 5.1 Surround and $300 Bar 2.1 Deep Bass will not replace the current $600 Bar 5.1 and $250 Bar 2.1 systems, but will stand alongside them. The new $180 Bar 2.0, along with the existing $120 Bar Studio, will round out the company's lower-end tier. The three new models will ship later this fall.

Full details on the model line is below. Note that CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

Watch this: JBL's Android TV sound bar sounds good, still needs work

JBL Bar 5.1 Surround

The new king of JBL's soundbar lineup, the Bar 5.1 Surround ups the ante with 550 watts of power (compared with the current 5.1 model's 510 watts) and features JBL's MultiBeam technology, which helps the soundbar-and-subwoofer combo produce a surround-like experience without the need for rear speakers. It also follows the path of the company's expanding wireless speaker lineup by including support for streaming music via Chromecast and AirPlay 2, in addition to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Like the current version, the 5.1 Surround gives you HDMI 4K and Dolby Vision passthrough along with an optical port. The new JBL Bar 5.1 Surround starts at $500.

JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass

Starting at $300, the more compact midrange system offers 300 watts of power (same as the less expensive current 2.1 model) and substitutes JBL Surround Sound for the new 5.1 Surround's MultiBeam technology. But you still get Bluetooth connectivity (though no Wi-Fi), an optical connection and an HDMI input and output. 

JBL Bar 2.0 All-in-One

The $180 entry level system comes with a soundbar but no subwoofer (hence the All-in-One superlative). As such, it packs only 80 watts of power. And though there's Bluetooth and one HDMI output, you don't get an HDMI input or Wi-Fi connection. 

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