CNET First Look
JBL SB350 offers svelte design, ok soundThe JBL Cinema SB350 produces a wide soundstage and packs a mighty wallop for maximum home theater fun, but it can sound harsh with music.
If you buy a TV these days, it's likely that the salesman will try to push the corresponding sound bar on you. But there are many benefits to buying off brand when it comes to sound. For example, you can't buy a Yamaha or Pioneer TV anymore, but they make the best sound bars out there. You also can't buy a JBL tv, but sadly their sound bars aren't up there with the best. The JBL SC350 is an attractive looking sound bar with a mesh grille, adjustable thumbwheel feet, and a subtle metallic trim. This is a serious sound bar, and while it has virtual and ad squashing modes, it's not true surround. It comes with a separate wireless subwoofer. Which features a 6.5 inch down firing driver. Unusually the sound bar features a HDMI input, not a switch, and is designed to be used in conjunction with your TV's HDMI ARC feature by streaming audio from onboard tuner or smart TV. If you want to watch cable through this unit you'll need to use the optical digital port. Additionally, the SB-350 also has Bluetooth for streaming wirelessly from your phone. In use, as with most of these types of products, the JBL is better with movies than with music, and that's thanks to the efforts of the subwoofer. While you won't get surround or even DTS decoding, you can get the gist of most action movies with plenty of slam and clear dialogue. Music isn't as successful as it can sound a little too harsh. And there can be a lack of integration with the sub on rock and roll tracks. At $399, the JBL SB-350 is a decent sound bar with attractive looks, but it isn't a first choice for our money. This is Ty Pendelbury for Cnet.com.