JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass – ramp up the thump (review)

The JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass is just what it says. A 2.1 soundbar with a 6.5”, 200W wireless sub-woofer that reaches down to 40Hz – quite deep in the low-bass spectrum.

Let’s explore that. The sound spectrum is usually 20Hz to 20KHz. It comprises

Deep-bass
20-50Hz
You most often feel it more in your body than you hear in your ears – that room-shaking rumble. A very good sub-woofer handles this.
Mid-bass
50-100Hz
The most critical bass where you get all the musically important bass. An average sub-woofer usually handles this.
Upper-bass
100-200Hz
Most small sound devices, like portable Bluetooth speakers and earphones, start here but lack the ‘oomph’ that mid-bass adds.
Mid
(low, mid, high)
200Hz to 4Khz
Where the action is, it covers the human voice (1-4khz), where our ears are most sensitive even as we age. This is the critical area for clear dialogue.
Low/mid-treble
4-10kHz
This defines sound character – without it, sound can seem dull. But too strong and sounds can be harsh.
High-treble
10-20kHz
Most cannot hear this, but it is vital to add a sense of sound direction and a feeling of “air”, a reality as though the music were really there.

Very few lower-cost sub-woofers can get below 50Hz, so you feel it. But before I shatter the dream of Jurassic Park dinosaurs stomping all over your lounge room, let’s just say that it is good low bass – you will both feel and hear it.

JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass

Websitehere
Price$549
FromJBL online and major CE retailers
Warranty1-year ACL
Country of ManufactureChina
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 and soundbar reviews

Consumer Advice

If you want to know more about soundbars, read our How to buy a soundbar that meets your needs? (guide). If you are tossing up about Dolby Atmos and have a Dolby Vision compatible TV, Five tips for better TV sound – Dolby Atmos for beginners (guide)


First impression – Exceed

The JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass costs $549. It is a 2.1 (Left/Right/Sub) soundbar without the frills and all you need to add terrific loud and bassy sound to any standard, non-Dolby Atmos TV.

It is a relatively light soundbar at 965 x 58 x 85mm x 2.16kg and sub-woofer 240 x 240 x 379 mm x 5.67kg. It should fit under most TVs between the stand legs or wall mount (bracket included). The sub-woofer is best on the floor about a metre away.

JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass

But there is a little more to this device than a 2.1 soundbar. It has four race-track drivers (2 x Left/Right channel and 2 x 25mm tweeters (total 100W). Those six speakers give it a more refined sound than a typical 3-speaker bar.

I wanted to review the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass because I tend to get the top-of-the-range soundbars and can lose track of what Joe and Jane Average want or need. Don’t confuse this with the JBL Bar 2.1 – they are totally different.

It is for free-to-air TV, DVD/Blu-ray, and streaming viewing (that transmits in PCM 2.0 and up to 5.1 PCM and Dolby Digital – No DTS), where it downmixes to the 2.1 channels.

Setup – Exceed

There is no App. Unpack the ‘chair’ style box that opens on one side to reveal the bar and sub-woofer. Please keep it if you need warranty or move home.

Plug in the power cables (one to each unit) and the HDMI 1.4 ARC or the Optical cable to the TV. Power on, and it finds the sub-woofer and TV and configures so the TV remote can control on/off/volume. If you have another HDMI device like a set-top-box, DVD, games console etc., there is an HDMI-in 1.4 port.

There is no room calibration as this is a straight 2.1 device – it is all about forward-firing sound enhancement. You can select Low, Mid and High for the sub-woofer. A Smart Mode applies relevant sound settings for different audio content.

It has Bluetooth 4.2 with the SBC codec to stream music from a smartphone.

How does it sound? Exceed

Despite the Deep Bass terminology, it is more refined than I expected. I expected head thumping bass but instead is clean, punchy, and well defined. I started on the Max setting but ended at Mid as my preference.

The sound stage is at least 130° wide – possibly more. You can detect separate L/R out to about five metres. After that, it is just a background sound source. Overall, the sound is pretty ‘tight’, and I like that.

The volume reaches 84dB, but it can get a little harsh. Back off a bit, and the top end is in control.

  • Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – nil
  • Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – climbing gently from 40Hz to 100Hz
  • High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat (good)
  • Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
  • Mid: 400-1000Hz – flat
  • High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat
  • Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat
  • Treble:4-6kHz – flat – flat
  • High Treble: 6-10kHz – slight dip to avoid harshness, but it does not quite work as it peaks up again too fast
  • Dog whistle: 10-20kHz – flat and strong to 16kHz then drops off to 20khz

What it does not do? No-frills – no deal-breakers

  • it is not a Dolby Vision/Atmos device. It will not pass through the 3D Dolby metadata from a connected 4K Blu-ray or 4K Games console. All sound is downmixed to 2.1
  • No inbuilt voice assistant, although there is no reason you could not use a smart speaker to turn on a smart TV and the soundbar.
  • No Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Firmware updates are via the USB-A port.
  • BT 4.2 is Rx only – a smartphone or other sound source can connect and cast music to it – not vice versa.
  • Pre-set EQ – Standard, music, movie, voice, or sports – no custom settings

Competition

At $549, it has some serious competition; not the least is the $599 JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam soundbar with virtual Dolby Atmos (Review). But these are chalk and cheese—big bass versus faux Dolby Atmos. I think front-oriented Big Bass wins for the average family.

LG (LG 2022 Soundbar range – something completely different) and Samsung (Samsung 2022 Soundbar range – something for everyone) have some 2.1 soundbars, but we can’t vouch for them without a review.

CyberShack’s View – JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass surprised me

Well, no, it did not, as I expect all JBL products to have the JBL sound signature. It does not disappoint. What surprised me is the incredible depth it adds to FTA TV and streaming.

It is an enjoyable experience. One that you should add to any 1K or 4K standard LCD TV to round out the experience – after all, the sound is 50% of the experience.

No centre channel for clear dialogue, but tweeters help.

JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass

$549
8.7

Features

8.0/10

Value

8.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Ease of Use

10.0/10

Design

8.5/10

Pros

  • An easy way to improve TV sound
  • Sub-woofer goes under the 50Hz for low bass
  • Size does matter

Cons

  • HDMI 1.4 in port only supports 4K@30fps passthrough
  • Not terrific with streamed music
  • No DTS support


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