The Bar 300 is a sound bar from JBL’s 2022 range. Despite its sleek configuration, it aims to deliver an immersive sound experience thanks to its “Multibeam” surround/3D virtualisation technology and support for Dolby Atmos streams.
- Well balanced and even sound quality
- Generous extension in the low frequencies
- Easy to use
- Fairly average sound accuracy
- No decoding of DTS signals, no VRR and 120 Hz
The Bar 300 is a sound bar that aims to provide an all-in-one solution, without the need for a subwoofer, for people who don’t want to bother with a more extensive and often more expensive system. It has six speakers in a 5.0 configuration, and uses JBL and Harman/Kardon’s own Multibeam surround/3D virtualisation technology to reproduce multi-channel streams, including Dolby Atmos.
The JBL soundbar is straightforward and includes Wi-Fi connectivity to extend its functionality and usability. The Bar 300 was released at the end of 2022 for £349.99. We tested it with firmware version 188.8.131.52.00.
On the back of the bar is the connectivity section, which consists of an HDMI input, an optical S/PDIF port and an eARC-compatible HDMI output. The bar can decode Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos streams and multi-channel LPCM signals. Unfortunately, it is entirely silent when receiving DTS streams. The Bar 300 also has a Bluetooth chip that allows you to connect your smartphone, tablet or other devices to play music. This link involves a relatively measured latency of 141 ms.
As mentioned in the User Experience section, the Bar 300 is configured with the surround virtualisation mode (called ‘Smart Mode’) enabled by default. We strongly recommend that this is turned off to optimise the bar’s audio performance.
Indeed, with this mode activated, the reproduction of high frequencies by the side speakers is very clearly boosted. The intention here is to support the room effects and to artificially extend the sound stage well beyond the physical limits of the bar, but this is done at the cost of a real inaccuracy in the placement of the sources and a significantly distorted reproduction of the timbres. Therefore, this model is to be avoided for music listening and television or film content. As for the quality of the 3D virtualisation, it’s best to pass: without loudspeakers dedicated explicitly to reproducing the height channels for Atmos streams, the bar started with a handicap.
Once the surround virtualisation is deactivated, the Bar 300 is capable and shows a nice balance. The soundstage remains wide, and the appreciation of surround effects is much more pleasant and accurate. In addition, the bar is surprisingly energetic when reproducing bass, even without a remote subwoofer. Explosions, as well as impacts, are well felt, and the comfortable seating is appreciated. Nevertheless, the bass and low mids overflow a little on the rest of the frequencies, and their relative inaccuracy gives a boomy aspect to the sound.
The midrange and treble are reproduced homogeneously, even if the precision is not the best. The removal of the extreme highs can impact the sound rendering by veiling specific harmonics found on cymbals or other brass instruments.
The bar shows an excellent dynamic range and a solid reserve of power, unfortunately, tarnished by distortion in the midrange, around 1.5 kHz. It is, therefore, necessary to be careful not to “harden” the sound level and thus deteriorate the rendering.
Finally, the Bar 300 has a calibration function that allows the sound to be adapted to the size and layout of the furniture in the room. We did not notice any difference between before and after this calibration.
The JBL Bar 300 is a versatile and easy-to-use all-in-one soundbar that will appeal to users who want to improve the sound of their TV and take a small step into the world of home cinema. However, the quality of the experience is subject to two major conditions: disabling the surround virtualisation mode and not pushing the speaker too far in terms of sound power.
JBL SoundBar 300 Speaker, 5.0 Channel 260 W All in One Surround Sound Home Entertainment Bar with Dolby Atmos, MultiBeam and Built-In WiFi, in Black
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