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JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass review: Brawny soundbar brings theater thump home

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

The JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass retains matters very simple. It can be a single soundbar and wi-fi subwoofer combo with Bluetooth streaming. You will find no extravagant movie like the Roku Sensible Soundbar or the flawed JBL Hyperlink Bar, no multiroom audio like the Sonos Beam, no developed-in Alexa or Google Assistant like, effectively, pretty much each other speaker these days. Instead it just appears fantastic — in massive element due to the fact of, you guessed it, deep bass.


  • Dynamic and in depth motion picture audio
  • Big subwoofer goes deep
  • Two HDMI ports include flexibility

Don’t Like

  • Not as fantastic with new music
  • No encompass or Digital:X processing
  • Sparse audio controls

The JBL places much more bombast in your Tv set viewing than possibly of its underneath-$three hundred opposition I’ve reviewed just lately, namely the Polk Signa S3 ($250 at Best Buy) and the Vizio V21 ($a hundred and eighty at Best Buy). The bigger sub presents the JBL an amazing dynamic array, which is most practical with blockbuster movies. What this soundbar lacks in refinement and atmosphere, it compensates with pure brawn.

Whilst the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass may perhaps not be as fantastic a offer as the Vizio V21, it certainly kicks much more butt. If you have some extra funds on-hand from not going to the movies any much more, and you crave that theater thump, this soundbar is the future-greatest factor.

Compact bar, massive sub

Despite having a related name, the JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass is individual from (and will not replace) the before JBL Bar 2.1, and it delivers distinct features which includes a new sub and easier remote command. The primary speaker is compact, a popsicle adhere-formed, 28-inch bar clad in the company’s customary gunmetal grey. It has a set of controls on leading for volume, power and source, and the grill-protected front incorporates an LED readout which is somewhat uncomplicated to comprehend, particularly as opposed to Vizio’s.


Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Whilst some soundbars involve Chromecast or AirPlay Wi-Fi streaming, the JBL is restricted to Bluetooth for playing new music from your phone. It also has optical electronic, two HDMI inputs (just one with ARC) and Dolby Electronic decoding. The primary soundbar’s speakers comprise 4 full-array motorists and two 1-inch tweeters. 

As you’d guess from the name, the wi-fi subwoofer is a monster. It can be nine inches square and fourteen.six inches tall with a rear-mounted port, homes a six.5-inch driver and seems to be not in contrast to the new Xbox Collection X

The command scheme is as well bare-bones for my style. The remote has pretty much absolutely nothing to change at very first look, just the subwoofer stage and volume. There are no classic audio modes like Film, Music and Voice, which I obtain practical on other bars when listening to distinct types of information. 

You can make just one manner adjust but it can be not uncomplicated. The soundbar is set in “clever” manner by default, which features “wealthy audio consequences.” To change this manner off  you have to press and maintain the mute button until eventually “TOGGLE” appears on the display, then press Volume Up. The display will then read through “OFF SMARTMODE.” Unfortunately the clever manner will engage again if you change the soundbar off, so unless you want to go by way of that method each time you might be pretty much stuck with it. 

How does it audio?

Speakers are restricted by the regulations of physics — compact motorists are unable to reproduce the full audio spectrum — so soundbars fill the resulting hole in the bottom midrange in a amount of ways. The JBL compensates by incorporating some existence sparkle to its significant bass response, which assists strengthen the intelligibility of dialog as effectively as the impression of detail.

Whilst the more affordable Vizio V21 has a broader soundstage many thanks to DTS Digital:X encompass processing, it can be a much scaled-down speaker bodily and lacks the JBL’s muscularity. The Vizio can deliver audio consequences whizzing around your space, but the JBL trumps it for dwelling theater thrills — and it can be all due to the fact of the massive subwoofer. 

In comparison to the Vizio and the Polk, the JBL Deep Bass 2.1 sounded the most thrilling when I viewed the Thanator chase from Avatar. The bigger sub was in a position to catch much more of the very low-frequency consequences — from the pad of the creature’s footfalls to the gentle roar of the waterfall — and the jungle came alive with bugs and operating h2o.  Whilst the Vizio was in a position to make the jungle appear a few dimensional many thanks to Digital:X, it could not match the JBL for the slam inherent in this frenetic scene.


Connectivity incorporates two HDMI ports, optical and Bluetooth.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Setup was much more finicky than the Polk and Vizio soundbars because of to that bigger sub. The single bass button has a few concentrations, and I felt that it desired a different stage amongst medium and substantial as the leading stage was overwhelming. This deficiency isn’t an situation with movies but became noticeable when I listened to new music.

On the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ breakout hit Maps, I was not able to get a satisfactory blend amongst the sub and the ‘bar. The medium location or higher than was as well boomy and the midrange also sounded limp and lackluster. The situation also various for every keep track of. Transferring from Karen O’s soprano to Nick Cave’s tenor was positive to expose the very same problem, I imagined, but the JBL essentially dealt with Cave’s Pink Ideal Hand superior, sounding both equally balanced and evocative. The bass line was a tiny muffled but unique from Cave’s vocals whilst some soundbars may perhaps smoosh the two jointly.

If you seriously want to clearly show off what the JBL can do with new music, pull out a duplicate of Lifeless Can Dance’s Yulunga (Spirit Dancer). The soundbar shipped the song’s extensive stereo consequences, excellent dynamics and deep, deep bass on the massive drums.

Ought to you purchase it?

The JBL Bar 2.1 Deep Bass delivers a respectable approximation of your regional cineplex in the comfort and ease of your residing space — no mask demanded. The deficiency of encompass audio (simulated or usually) is only a insignificant letdown as opposed with the complete wallop that its significant sub can put out. If you want a least of fuss, features and setup moments then, the JBL delivers excellent audio top quality for a reasonable price.