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JBL Cinema SB350 review: Punchy sound from movies, but barred from music

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The Good The JBL Cinema SB350 sound bar offers a separate wireless subwoofer and includes HDMI ARC for easy connection to a smart TV. Its home cinema sound is expansive and packs a punch. The main speaker offers an attractive design which will blend well with modern TVs.

The Bad Music replay is fairly harsh-sounding, especially via Bluetooth. The subwoofer loses sync occasionally and can sound a little out of step with the bar when playing music.

The Bottom Line The JBL Cinema SB350 produces a wide soundstage and packs a mighty wallop for maximum home theater fun, but can sound harsh with music.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

Review Sections

If you're buying audio for your TV, it pays to shop around, particularly if you're paying more than a couple of hundred bucks. The features you'll get for a little more cash include Bluetooth and HDMI connectivity plus a dedicated subwoofer.

The JBL SB350 has all of these extras. But at $400 (£350 in the UK; pricing in Australia was unavailable at this time), it also has plenty of able competition from the likes of Pioneer and Yamaha .

We liked JBL's styling and its sound for movie playback, but it does have its flaws. Like its more affordable brother, the Cinema Base , the SB350 isn't that good when it comes to music reproduction. You might want to try one of its competitors if you're looking for a more well-rounded sound bar, but if movie bombast is your main goal, it's definitely worth considering.

Design

Sarah Tew/CNET

From a distance the "bar" part of the SB350 looks like any other: long, thin and tapered at the ends. But close up some subtle, classy details become clear, such as the adjustable feet and the metallic trim.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The front of the bar features a metal grille that hides four 2.25-inch full-range drivers and a pair of 1.25-inch dome tweeters.The bar is one meter long, which handily is a yard plus a few inches, and it stands at a minimum three inches tall. The controls are top mounted, and the display is quite difficult to see from your seat, so some guesswork is required when switching inputs with the remote.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The separate wireless subwoofer is 9.5 inches square and a foot tall. The matte-black enclosure features a downward-firing 6.5-inch woofer with a bass extension port.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote control is so nondescript its own mother couldn't pick it out of a lineup among other credit card remote controls. It "works" for changing volume and adjusting the sub, but rivals such as Yamaha throw in better remotes with their products. Use your TV remote or get a decent universal instead.

Features

Sarah Tew/CNET

As the sound bar version of the company's Cinema Base the SB350 has a very similar feature set, even if they look quite different. The main unit is actually wall-mountable. It even comes with an EQ switch that supposedly lets you optimize bass response between wall or table mounting, but in practical terms it made a neglible difference.

The speaker supports Dolby Digital soundtracks -- though not DTS -- and comes with a couple of extra processing modes, including a virtual surround mode called Harman Display Surround and a "night-time" mode called Harman Volume. Like other modes of this kind, the latter is designed to compress the dynamic range of soundtracks so commercials aren't too loud and explosions won't wake your loved ones.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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