The JBL Bar 2.1 is a slim and powerful sound bar with an impressive sound stage. There are four 2.25-inch midrange drivers and two 1.25-inch tweeters in the bar, packaged with 6.5-inch wireless subwoofer. Connect it to a TV with either an optical cable supplied in the retail packaging, or with an HDMI cable. It has one HDMI input and one HDMI output to send sound and UHD video to the TV if you prefer to plug a cable box or streaming device into the sound bar. The wireless subwoofer connects to the bar automatically and has a matte black finish that hides dust and fingerprints well.
We tested the audio performance of the JBL Bar by playing a two-minute movie clip with fast-panning action sequences and loud, booming effects. This sound bar has multiple sound profile presets for movies, music and sports. The JBL Surround was one of our favorites because it offered a surprisingly wide and immersive sound stage. It doesn’t support the newest vertical sound codecs, like Dolby Atmos, the LG SJ8 and Yamaha YAS-207 are the only products we tested with vertical channels.
The JBL Bar 2.1 has a few connectivity options for quickly sharing music from a mobile device. There is a 3.5 mm aux input to connect legacy music players and phones with a headphone output, or you can use the USB input to play high-quality lossless files from a portable hard drive. This sound bar also has Bluetooth connectivity for quick and convenient music sharing. It doesn’t connect to a home Wi-Fi network, which is the high-fidelity wireless streaming option, but Bluetooth connections don’t require any setup – just pair your phone or tablet, switch to the Bluetooth input and start sharing.
The sound bar has a helpful screen hidden behind the speaker grille which displays the selected input option and the volume level. You can control the volume, input options and custom sound profiles with the durable remote, or sync your current TV remote to control the volume of the sound bar.
The JBL Bar 2.1 projects accurate dialogue and surprisingly impactful bass from a sleek bar and compact wireless subwoofer. This is one of the most affordable sound bars we tested, and it held its own in our audio performance tests against products that cost almost twice as much.