Ty Pendlebury/Proinertech

The JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass retains issues easy. It is a single soundbar and wi-fi subwoofer combo with Bluetooth streaming. There is not any fancy video just like the Roku Sensible Soundbar or the flawed JBL Hyperlink Bar, no multiroom audio just like the Sonos Beam, no built-in Alexa or Google Assistant like, properly, just about each different speaker today. As a substitute it simply sounds good — largely due to, you guessed it, deep bass.

Like

Dynamic and detailed film soundLarge subwoofer goes deepTwo HDMI ports add flexibility

Do not Like

Not nearly as good with musicNo encompass or Digital:X processingSparse sound controls

The JBL places extra bombast in your TV viewing than both of its under-$300 competitors I’ve reviewed not too long ago, specifically the Polk Signa S3 ($250 at Greatest Purchase) and the Vizio V21 ($180 at Greatest Purchase). The bigger sub provides the JBL a powerful dynamic vary, which is most useful with blockbuster motion pictures. What this soundbar lacks in refinement and ambiance, it compensates with pure brawn.

Whereas the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass might not be nearly as good a deal because the Vizio V21, it undoubtedly kicks extra butt. When you have some additional money on-hand from not going to the flicks any extra, and also you crave that theater thump, this soundbar is the next-best factor.

Small bar, massive sub

Regardless of having an analogous identify, the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass is separate from (and does not change) the sooner JBL Bar 2.1, and it provides totally different options together with a brand new sub and easier distant management. The primary speaker is small, a popsicle stick-shaped, 28-inch bar clad within the firm’s customary gunmetal gray. It has a set of controls on high for quantity, energy and supply, and the grill-covered entrance consists of an LED readout which is comparatively simple to understand, particularly in comparison with Vizio’s.

Ty Pendlebury/Proinertech

Whereas some soundbars embody Chromecast or AirPlay Wi-Fi streaming, the JBL is restricted to Bluetooth for taking part in music out of your cellphone. It additionally has optical digital, two HDMI inputs (one with ARC) and Dolby Digital decoding. The primary soundbar’s audio system comprise 4 full-range drivers and two 1-inch tweeters. 

As you’d guess from the identify, the wi-fi subwoofer is a monster. It is 9 inches sq. and 14.6 inches tall with a rear-mounted port, homes a 6.5-inch driver and appears not not like the brand new Xbox Collection X. 

The management scheme is just too bare-bones for my style. The distant has nearly nothing to regulate at first look, simply the subwoofer stage and quantity. There aren’t any conventional sound modes like Film, Music and Voice, which I discover useful on different bars when listening to various kinds of content material. 

You may make one mode change nevertheless it’s not simple. The soundbar is ready in “good” mode by default, which boasts “wealthy sound results.” To show this mode off  you must press and maintain the mute button till “TOGGLE” seems on the show, then press Quantity Up. The show will then learn “OFF SMARTMODE.” Sadly the good mode will interact once more if you happen to flip the soundbar off, so until you wish to undergo that course of each time you are just about caught with it. 

How does it sound?

Audio system are restricted by the legal guidelines of physics — small drivers cannot reproduce the complete audio spectrum — so soundbars fill the ensuing gap within the backside midrange in quite a few methods. The JBL compensates by including some presence sparkle to its hefty bass response, which helps enhance the intelligibility of dialog in addition to the impression of element.

Whereas the cheaper Vizio V21 has a wider soundstage because of DTS Digital:X encompass processing, it is a a lot smaller speaker bodily and lacks the JBL’s muscularity. The Vizio can ship sound results whizzing round your room, however the JBL trumps it for house theater thrills — and it is all due to the large subwoofer. 

In comparison with the Vizio and the Polk, the JBL Deep Bass 2.1 sounded probably the most thrilling once I watched the Thanator chase from Avatar. The bigger sub was in a position to catch extra of the low-frequency results — from the pad of the creature’s footfalls to the mild roar of the waterfall — and the jungle got here alive with bugs and working water.  Whereas the Vizio was in a position to make the jungle appear three dimensional because of Digital:X, it could not match the JBL for the slam inherent on this frenetic scene.

Connectivity consists of two HDMI ports, optical and Bluetooth.

Ty Pendlebury/Proinertech

Setup was extra finicky than the Polk and Vizio soundbars attributable to that bigger sub. The one bass button has three ranges, and I felt that it wanted one other step between medium and excessive as the highest stage was overwhelming. This lack is not a problem with motion pictures however grew to become apparent once I listened to music.

On the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ breakout hit Maps, I used to be unable to get a passable mix between the sub and the ‘bar. The medium setting or above was too boomy and the midrange additionally sounded limp and lackluster. The problem additionally diverse per monitor. Transferring from Karen O’s soprano to Nick Cave’s tenor was certain to reveal the identical drawback, I assumed, however the JBL really dealt with Cave’s Pink Proper Hand higher, sounding each balanced and evocative. The bass line was somewhat muffled however distinct from Cave’s vocals whereas some soundbars might smoosh the 2 collectively.

When you actually wish to showcase what the JBL can do with music, pull out a replica of Useless Can Dance’s Yulunga (Spirit Dancer). The soundbar delivered the tune’s broad stereo results, glorious dynamics and deep, deep bass on the massive drums.

Do you have to purchase it?

The JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass provides a good approximation of your native cineplex within the consolation of your lounge — no masks required. The dearth of encompass sound (simulated or in any other case) is barely a minor letdown in contrast with absolutely the wallop that its hefty sub can put out. If you’d like a minimal of fuss, options and setup instances then, the JBL provides glorious sound high quality for an inexpensive worth.

First printed Sept. 21.

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