We’ve reviewed a lot of soundbars that cost up to the JBL Bar 3.1 and don’t include a subwoofer – and for good reason, because this speaker does! Yet bass lovers are in luck: the wireless subwoofer included with the system can produce all levels of bass, from thunderous to subtle We think the jbl Bar 3.1 offers some of the best bass in a soundbar for its purchase price, earning it our editors choice award.
Connectivity and Setup
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The soundbar of the Bar 3.1 measures 2.3 by 40.0 by 3.1 inches (HWD) and weighs 5.1 pounds, while a LED display on both sides allows you to know what sound source you’re hearing in big letters). Behind the front-facing grille, there are six 2.3-inch drivers and three 1.3-inch tweeters for a total of four hundred fifty watts of power.
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The sound bar can be controlled by a simple remote control or with the buttons on its face. Both offer several connectivity options. There are three HDMI inputs, one for connecting an ARC to TV set, and two others for adding more devices such as laptop computers or gaming consoles. It also has a 3.5mm audio jack input as well as an The soundbar also has Bluetooth and inputs for wires. In addition to these, JBL includes mounting brackets as well as helpful instructions for wall mounting.
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The wireless black subwoofer is pretty hefty at 12 by 12 by 17.3 inches and 26.7 pounds. It’s not very portable, though; it houses a 10-inch driver internally. A power cable connects to the back of the soundbar where there is a pairing button to hook it up with your TV. This is meant to be automatic, but we had to pair them manually by using a sequence of presses on the remote- this process is detailed in the manual.
The remote control is larger and features a variety of buttons that most people should be able to operate with ease. It provides a power button, option for sound sources, bass boost or cut (adjusted by the press of + or – buttons), mute, sound mode (choose between Standard, Movie, Music, Voice or Sport) Bluetooth mode; shuffle Controls for play/pause, volume, and track navigation.
Chapter 13 of the Pacific Rim Blu-ray is a good place to test your soundbar’s bass depth. In Standard mode, with a lot of bass rumble, it was very satisfying to listen to. Switching to Movie mode will increase the sound quality of the subwoofer significantly. The balance is also excellent with good clarity in mids and highs even at level 15. Boosting beyond that, though, can yield too much bass for some people’s tastes. A bass enhancer is included for those who are interest in a powerful low-frequency sound.
On Chapter 3 of Casino Royale, the JBL-BAR3.1 gives extreme power to punches, gunshots and other explosions in the soundtrack emphasizing bass levels at 20. Voice mode can come in handy when listening to movies or even dialogue on the TV, but Standard and Movie modes will give you the best audio quality.
For music tracks that include heavy bass, like the Knife’s Silent Shout, the jbl Bar 3.1 gives off a good sound with plenty of deep bass. Turning up the volume on their own self-recovery feature to 15 and listening closely ensures this is not lost in any way. If bass lovers crave more power, the sub sounds insane at level 30. I didn’t have all of the volume level up and it still shook my walls with minimal sound leakage. Even when turned to max levels, there is a sizeable amount of bass without any audible sound leakage! We recommend keeping the bass at 15, or a hair higher if you want an added oomph.
As this track by Bill Callahan shows, the Bar 3.1’s sound signature disappoints in terms of bass. Especially when the sub is on at only 15 watts, the overall sense is that drums are mild-rounder and fuller – but not nearly as powerful or live as they could be if the sub were turned up more often to a max Increasing the volume to level 20 mostly keeps the drums from sounding ridiculous, and almost any subwoofer does a good job of making them sound clear. The bass, vocals, and high-frequency percussive hits are delivered in a crisp manner. Some will dislike the sound to be a little too scooped out in the middle-with only treble and bass, less mids. It’s not a big issue, but most listeners will find the 3.1 Bar to be balanced and vibrant.
The drum loop on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s No Church in the Open gets plenty of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to stay sharp. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat can be delivered with mega thunder if desired at level 15. We heard the walls rattle again.
When listening to orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams The Gospel In line with the Other Mary, low register instrumentation sound excellent. In the center of the sound, lows are rich and full.
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The JBL Bar 3.1 sounds fantastic and the subwoofer gives it impressive power for such an affordable price, and it can be adapted to suit any individual’s taste between bass levels. At a great price point like this, we’re also fans of the Sony HT-NT5, LG SJ7, and Focal Dimension. But the Bar 3.1 wins out because of its value for cost ratio, which earns it our Editors Choice award.