JBL BAR 1300 – 1170 Watts, 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar (AV review)

The JBL Bar 1300 (soundbar, 2 x detachable rear speakers and subwoofer) brings an extraordinary sound experience to your home entertainment system. It is JBL’s best effort yet and up there with soundbars costing much more.

It is part of the new JBL 2023 soundbar range – 5 new Bar models with Dolby Atmos, including three with detachable rear speakers. The new sub-woofer (on four models) is a massive 300W, 10”, 10kg monster capable of room-shaking bass from about 30Hz.

The detachable rears are an interesting concept. When attached to the main body (which provides power for the rechargeable batteries), they are part of the 11.1.4 system and use psychoacoustics to bounce sounds (JBL calls this MultiBeam) off the adjacent walls and ceiling to create virtual Dolby Atmos (DA). Fine if you have the right room – so few do.

When detached and placed behind the listening area, they become true rear surround and up-firing speakers – no more MultiBeam – just as DA intended.

Who buys JBL BAR 1300?

It is important to qualify who buys this and why they buy it. The information is valid for the BAR 800 (5.1.2), BAR 1000 (7.1.4) and BAR 1300 (11.1.4), all with detachable rear speakers.

First, it is Dolby Atmos/DTS:X capable, which means that when you have DA or DTS:X content, these will give you some 3D spatial height sound (overhead) and surround (2D all around) sound.

Second, you need a DA-compatible TV that passes the DA metadata to the soundbar for processing. If you connect to a non-DA TV, you only have a Dolby Digital surround system without 3D height.

So, it is for those who want a great TV experience with free-to-air (SDR/PCM 2.0-5.1 sound), streaming (SDR/Dolby Digital 5.1 streaming) and Blu-ray or 4K streaming (HDR/HDR10+/Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos).

Almost any lower-cost soundbar will add value to your TV sound if you don’t need that.

Further reading

Australian Review – The JBL Bar 1300, 1170W, 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar

WebsiteSoundbar page, Product Page and Manual
FromJBL Online, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Betta, Bing Lee, Myer, Officeworks As it is a new product, you may have to order it.
Warranty1-year ACL
Made inChina
CompanyJBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing.) Now it’s part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung.
MoreCyberShack JBL news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass(able) rating that is not as good as it should be and a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

11.1.4 – what does that mean?

Dolby Atmos (in a home theatre sense) comprises 128 sound objects that are allocated to different soundbar channels after decoding its metadata. Put simply, you will hear sound from more 2D directions (a rifle shot behind you) and 3D overhead movement (e.g., a plane flying across the sky). The JBL BAR 1300 has a massive 22-speaker configuration for 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos channels.

Soundbar only

(The number in brackets corresponds to DA terminology 0.0.0, e.g., Front 0. Sub 0. Up .0)

  • 2 x Left 46x90mm racetrack forward-firing paired drivers (1)
  • 2 x Right as above (1)
  • 2 x Centre as above (1)
  • Centre 20mm Tweeter (1)
  • Left side-firing 20mm surround – not used when rears are attached (1)
  • Right side-firing 20mm surround – not used when rears are attached (1)
  • Left 45° angled 20mm surround (1)
  • Right 45° angled 20mm surround (1)
  • Left angled up-firing 70mm – paired to the up-firing channel (.1)
  • Right angled up-firing 70mm – pared to the up-firing channel (.1)
  • Left up-firing 70mm (0.0.1)
  • Right up-firing 70mm (0.0.1)
  • 2 x Passive bass radiators

The soundbar by itself is 650W, 8.0.2 (8.1.2 with the 300W subwoofer)

Detachable speakers 2 x 110W (right and left)

  • Forward firing 46x90mm racetrack (1)
  • Tweeter 20mm (1)
  • Up-firing 70mm (.1)
  • 2 x Passive bass radiators

That means the rear pair adds six speakers (4.0.2 configuration) when detached, making it 11.1.4, and some soundbar speakers are repurposed to reinforce the other existing speakers. Confused – you should be, but all I can say is that it works.

First Impression – big, solid, heavy, and wonderful specs – Pass+

A staggering 11.1.4 channels! The JBL BAR 1300 soundbar and rear speakers are made of high-quality black metal with perforated speaker grills, and the sub-woofer is composite wood. It is big at 1376 x 60 x 139 mm x 6.8kg and deserves to sit under a 65” or larger TV. The sub is large at 305 x 440.4 x 305 mm x 10kg.

Or you can detach the rears at 202 x 60 x 139 mm x 1.25kg each leaving the soundbar at 1 metre long. They are wireless and ideally should be set up behind the listening position. When attached, they draw power from the soundbar (4-hour charge). When detached, they use their inbuilt 3.6V/6.6A/24W batteries for up to 12 hours of sound. Or you can power and charge them with a 5V/1A/5W USB-A PD1 (or PPS smart) charger (5-6 hours).

Onboard controls are source and volume up/down/mute. These three buttons can also reset the soundbar to factory defaults – handy if you move to a different router or regift them.

On the rear are various ports, including three additional HDMI to attach games consoles, Blu-ray, or a Set Top Box (Fletch or Foxtel).

A nondescript, non-backlit remote completes the unit. It has

  • Source (TV, BT, HDMI 1/2/3)
  • Sound effects (DA/DTS:X) levels – low/middle/high
  • Bass (sub-woofer) levels – 1-5
  • Rear levels – muted/low/mid/high
  • Calibrate
  • Moment (programmable)
  • Volume – +/-
  • Play (for music playback)
  • Mute (also used as a function key for other settings)

Placement – detachable rears, so use them that way!

The soundbar can be wall mounted (it comes with brackets) or placed under the TV at desktop height. Correct placement can enhance the DA effect. For example, it is best (but not critical) to have the soundbar within 50mm of the bottom of the TV to ensure sound appears to come from the screen.

The ideal viewing distance (to sit inside the DA sound envelope) is 2.5-3 metres. The rear speakers should be behind the viewer at 1-1.4 metres high, at least 30cm away from listeners and angled at a 45° degree towards them. The rears have an M6 thread adapter for stand mounting. Take care that they are at the approximate head height and angled accordingly – it makes a huge difference.

The sub can be anywhere from 1-6m from the soundbar, but it is better upfront than behind the viewing position.

Ports – Pass+

  • HDMI eARC/CEC. HDMI 2.0, 18Gbps, 4K@50/60Hz, Pass through Dolby Vision and HDR10 (not 10+). Set the TV’s audio stream to Bitstream or Raw (not PCM) to enable DA and surround sound pass-through. You must use an HDMI 2.0 or later certified cable.
  • Optical-in (if you do not have HDMI and DA is reduced to surround only).
  • 3 x HDMI 2.0, 18Gbps (not suitable for DV/DA 4K@120Hz games consoles).
  • USB-A 2.0, 5V/.5A/2.5W (this is used for service purposes and is not enabled for audio or video playback.
  • Ethernet.
  • Wi-Fi 6 AX Dual Band (also used for wireless rear speakers).
  • BT 5.0 SBC and HD for Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Alexa Multiroom, and the rear speakers can be used as mono or stereo pair BT 5.2 speakers.
  • Soundbar power – 240V onboard transformer.

The App – Pass

The JBL One App requires an account. We have used the App before, and the terms and conditions are benign. Any personal data is likely stored in Singapore. It is a low privacy risk, but remember that OK Google, Alexa, Siri, audio, and video streaming have their policies.

It has a basic EQ (on/off) and three sliders (bass/mid/treble) which don’t do much. For example, if you ramp Bass up with the remote (L1-5), it does not seem to change the Bass EQ in the app. I would like to see a more granular control than three points.

It has rear speaker volume (low/mid/high), which we set to maximum. Again the App did not appear to change when the remote was used to set the volume.

Auto-sync from 0-250ms is for video lip-sync, and the calibration set ours at 50ms.

One setting called Moment allows you to select your favourite music streaming service and track and access it via the Moments button.

Other settings include a firmware update, Wi-Fi, streaming services, and an online product manual.

Apart from the firmware update, everything can be done with the physical remote control. Although the App can act as a remote control as well.

Calibrate – Pass+

Calibration is easy and quick. You should do it whenever the room layout or viewing distances change.

The JBL BAR 1300 has an inbuilt microphone to calibrate the soundbar and rear speakers to the room. You first place the rears where two viewers would sit, and the tones establish the DA sound envelope. Then you move the rears behind and beside where the viewers sit and calibrate for surround and 3D height.

How does it sound? Boom, Boom, shake the room! Exceed

Seldom does the bass hit me so soon – JBL claims from 33Hz, but I tested from 27. That means in-your-face, solid bass from the 300W, 10” sub. You can adjust this over five levels, but bass is for well, thumping bass – Good job JBL.

It immediately presents a flat, neutral sound signature to 18kHz with that slight drop at 7-9kHz to avoid harshness. You cannot ask for more. The EQ should be able to recess any portion of the frequency response, but the three-point adjustment makes little difference. JBL may have to work on that, as I would love to see more granular EQ control in the EQ.

The result is a Neutral sound signature – the audiophile standard that neither adds nor subtracts from the original music! The only issue here is garbage-in, garbage-out – the better the music quality, the better it sounds.

The maximum volume is 85dB (loud), and the sound stage is far wider than the TV (65” tested).

PureVoice – Pass

A PureVoice dialogue enhancement function (usually enabled by default for TV/video streaming) needs some work. It makes a small difference to speech clarity when on. By comparison, the Sonos Arc (with optional sub and rears) and LG S95QR (9.1.5 dedicated rears) offer better clear voice. Again, JBL can address this in firmware updates.

Music – Pass+

MP3 Test tracks are clean, bass is thumping, instrumentals are crisp, and the stereo separation is excellent. It does not matter whether it is via Wi-Fi or BT. The soundbar supports MP3 sample rates of 16-48kHz and 80-320kpbs, so you can play hi-res music. Music is best played with most sound effects off.

Dolby Atmos – the raison d’etre – Pass+ and could improve

With the caveat that rear speakers were behind the viewer (as they should be), we may have early firmware, settings can be further tweaked, and that DA content is not always consistent, we found the DA effect quite good but not great.

3D spatial height was quite forward-centric (to be expected from four up-firing soundbar speakers). The sound objects (like a plane flying overhead) were strong at the front, weaker in the middle and acceptable at the rear. There was not the smooth movement pass-over that we experienced with some other DA soundbars.

2D surround sound was also reasonably forward-centric. You could hear things moving outside the sound stage, then nothing, and then the rears cut in. For example, a sound moving from the rear to the front gathered intensity at the front.

3D Spatial sound effects are convincing and may improve with further firmware updates.

We need to experiment more with MultiBeam to learn how to get the best from this. We will update this review with further use over the next few months.

Rear BT speakers – music – Exceed

These are amazing BT speakers in mono or stereo mode. Low bass kicks in at 45Hz – unheard of in most BT speakers. It builds strongly to 100Hz, where it is flat like the soundbar – important for sound consistency from the front and rear speakers. The maximum volume is 85dB (same as the soundbar).

Stereo pairing is easy, and you get the advantage of 3.0.2 sound. With Dolby content, it has 3D height and some surround – impressive. I can see these as BT speakers of choice.

Multi-room Audio and Voice assistant – Pass+

You can pair the App with all voice assistants. This requires a compatible voice speaker. It can then be part of multi-room audio (Wi-Fi or Ethernet).

Energy – Pass

Even at full volume with DA content, it did not exceed 17W. Standby power is <2W. The rear speakers were detached during measurement and may add a few watts – negligible power use.

CyberShack’s view – JBL BAR 1300 is a worthy 11.1.4 DA contender

This is a beast (at least on paper), and that is what you want for the best DA experience. In practice, it is pretty good but does not knock off LG S95QR (9.1.5, 2022/current) and Sonos Arc 7.1.2 (we are testing the Arc with the new ERA 300 that may be incredible both in price and performance). We have yet to test the Samsung Q990B (2022) or Q990C (2023), so we cannot comment.

As I said earlier, this soundbar is capable of more, and I suspect it will come with firmware updates soon.

Would I buy it?

Yes. Our tests are well above the average user’s standards/requirements. As such, we perhaps expect more than we should. Joe and Jane Average will be deliriously happy. On that point, we would also recommend the $1499.95 JBL BAR 1000 7.1.4 (which we have heard).

The $999.95 JBL BAR 800 has detachable speakers, and while it decodes DA, it is more about the 2D surround sound (Dolby Digital 5.1) that most SDR streaming services and some free-to-air TV content use.

Rating Explanation – JBL Bar 1300

  • Features: 90 – a fully featured DA soundbar with detachable rears, remote control, and an app.
  • Value: 90 – its RRP is fine, but the price is slightly higher compared to the keen 2022 runout deals on LG now (April 2023).
  • Performance: 90 – With the caveat that DA nirvana and clear voice is still a work in progress, it offers an authentic DA experience. Using the rears as BT mono or stereo speakers is interesting, and the sound is impressive.
  • Ease of Use: 85 – It is easy to set up and use; the App is simple, but you need to experiment with speaker positions and calibration. Our test setup is two people on a couch that is front-on to the TV – larger seating areas may require experimentation with rear placement.
  • Design: 85 – It is well-designed and made. The detachable speakers look kind of ugly with exposed ends. JBL supplies two end caps for the soundbar – why not two more for the rears?

JBL BAR 1300 – 1170 Watts, 11.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar








Ease of Use





  • Serious sub-woofer bass for room-shaking effects
  • Detachable rears (use them that way) with USB-C charge.
  • Perfect, strong neutral sound signature
  • Convincing Dolby Atmos effects


  • 3D height could be more directional and immersive.
  • While loud at 85dB, distortion is evident – back off a few notches.
  • No HDMI 2.1 or 4K@120Hz gaming consle support.
  • Not the clearest ‘clear voice’ I have heard.