Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

JBL’s Bar 5.0 Multibeam sends single-speaker surround to $599

Looking for a surround sound with Dolby Atmos that won’t break the budget? JBL might have the answer with beamforming sound.

There’s a lot of jargon in technology, much of it meant to confuse through marketing, but some of it can genuinely change how you experience the world. One of these is something you might automatically dismiss as yet more marketing jargon, but it comes in earphones and speakers: beamforming.

The idea means different implementations in different technologies, but it’s typically about aiming signals in different ways to improve responses. In WiFi technology, beamforming aims the radio waves for wireless networking to bolster signal reception, while in earphones, beamforming is often in the design of the microphone picking up on your speech by aiming the microphones through a channel meant to hear vocals you utter.

And in speakers, beamforming can be used to position sound in a room. You won’t realise it, but the tiniest fraction of a second can be used by audio gear to bounce the sound from one part of your room to the next, shaping the sound wave using that approach known as beamforming.

It’s a technology that makes a lot of sense when you’re talking about surround sound, an idea which typically requires more speakers being placed around you and your room to get that level of dimensionality surround sound requires. Step it up a notch and take it to the world of Dolby Atmos, and beamforming makes even more sense: rather than position actual speakers above you to create the 3D bubble that Dolby Atmos requires, a good speaker system can bounce the sound around you using beamforming.

That’s the idea when soundbars bring surround sound to the one device, such as in the case with the $1399 Sonos Arc, but it’s not the only soundbar touting surround sound from one speaker, as JBL introduces another with a very different price point.

At $599, the JBL Bar 5 Multibeam is not a thousand dollar soundbar, but it’s one touting speakers positioned up and out, using JBL’s take on beamforming in “Multibeam” to bounce sound around the room.

You’ll find seven speakers in the JBL Bar 5 Multibeam, two of which fire on the side and two of which fire up, while three are trained at the front, with subwoofers on the bottom.

The result is 250 watt soundbar with beamformed surround sound and support for Dolby Atmos, even if it’s not quite as large as what other Atmos soundbars might be able to get.

However, the Bar 5 is made to be a little smaller and supports 4K pass-through, allowing you to plug your source in through HDMI and back out to the TV, keeping everything in Ultra HD with Dolby Vision. There’s also support for Chromecast and AirPlay 2, as well as Bluetooth, meaning it offers wireless sound, as well.

“Built with industrial elements that exhibit a sleek, modern look, the JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam is a welcome addition to anyone’s household,” said Marcus Fry, General Manager, of Harman Lifestyle Audio, the company that owns JBL.

The JBL Bar 5 Multibeam soundbar is priced at $599.95 and available from major retailers across the country now.

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