Update: JBL Bar 5.1 (JBLBAR51) Soundbar — Atrocious Software Ruins Good Hardware

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By Douglas Black, last updated on August 29, 2023

September 18, 2020: I ended up replacing the JBL bar with a different set of speakers and sub. Scroll to the end to see what I got!

May 31, 2020: With four months of usage under my belt, I’m updating this article with a bit of a rant.

I originally rated the JBL Bar 5.1 wireless surround soundbar fairly highly, citing it’s good sound quality and unique feature set as the main highlights while commenting on a cheap remote and some annoyances here and there. My original update was going to be much more profanity-laden, and it would have been “**** this ****ing piece of ****” if I didn’t make myself wait a day to calm down before I wrote this.

JBL has earned a reputation for excellent concert speakers and studio monitors on the professional side, but I can’t say that I’ve seen this quality trickle-down to their consumer products. The longer I use the JBLBAR51, the more I find that this ~$500 USD soundbar’s behavior seems governed completely by gremlins. Reoccurring issues include constant random changing of input (with no cables for that input connected), an inability to control the volume over PC using BT, amd inconsistent BT pairing/unpairing function. The Bluetooth drivers are buggy, but I also have to use them half of the time because the optical and HDMI seem to have lower sound quality than BT for some reason — not to mention the fact that the soundbar randomly insists on using a different input depending on the day of the week.

My research and troubleshooting over the past month leads me to believe that these are both driver (software) and firmware (onboard the soundbar) issues, and the fact that there have been no software updates from JBL at all for this product is more than disappointing. The speaker hardware itself is of good quality, but it’s hamstrung by malfunctioning firmware and software. A user should not need to spend an hour trying to troubleshoot their suddenly malfunctioning speakers so they can relax with a movie on Saturday night.

This is purely my conjecture, but I would guess that JBL, like many companies, is making its software/firmware development an afterthought, and probably also sub-contracting it out to the lowest bidder. No DJ or audiophile worth their salt is going to put up with speakers that don’t work 10% of the time, and I’m no different.

Sorry, JBL, but something designed for consumers also still needs to work. Consumer product reviews have gotten past the point where we give out five-star reviews for a product that mostly does what it’s supposed to 90% of the time. People rely on technology as tools, and “mostly” working is not going to work anymore.

Original review published April 15, 2020 follows:

If you like your film, games, and music, you’re definitely not going to want to settle for the paltry built-in speakers on your TV or notebook. Even the best TV or laptop speakers aren’t going to be able to pack the punch needed to fill all but the smallest of closets with accurate, full-spectrum sound. The problem is that, when it comes to audio, there’s such a wide range of equipment to pick from that figuring out how much you really need to spend and what features you actually need is quite daunting.

I knew I wanted a fairly convenient setup with minimal wires and bluetooth, thanks to my naughty rabbit’s proclivity for chewing on cables when she’s in a mood, but also because my laptop, an XPS 15 7590, is known for having an absolutely terrible DAC leading to poor 3.5mm audio-out quality. A few hours of research narrowed my search to just a few options, all in the sub-$500 USD range.

What sealed the deal for me on the JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD 5.1 Channel Soundbar with True Wireless Surround Speakers (no gold star for the marketing intern who came up with that one) was the robust 10-inch subwoofer and the option to break away or dock its wireless satellite speakers as you please. This meant that I could have a surround-sound experience when I wanted to, but I wouldn’t be committed to having a complex setup with wires going everywhere.

I was a bit worried that the wireless speakers might be a gimmick when I first ordered it, but I’m happy to report that the JBL Bar 5.1 Soundbar doesn’t disappoint in the sound department. It does have a few issues that you’ll want to be aware of before going ahead and ordering it, though, and those issues and their impact on the day-to-day experience with this soundbar are what I’m going to focus on in this review.

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The “JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel Soundbar with True Wireless Surround Speakers”, also known as the JBLBAR51, is a mid/high-end soundbar designed for home theatres.


Total Maximum Power 510W
Soundbar Transducer Size Soundbar Transducer Size: 6 x 2.25″
racetrack drivers, 3 x 1.25″ tweeter
Subwoofer Transducer Size 10″
Max SPL 104dB
Battery (when satellite speakers are wireless) 10 hours w/ 3-hour charge time
Connectivity 3 HDMI Video Inputs, 1 HDMI ARC Output (HDMI 2.2), 1 3.5mm audio in, 1 USB Type-A, and Bluetooth 4.2
Size 59.06 x 39.37 x 35.43 inches (149.9 x 100 x 90 cm)
Weight 37.3 lbs (16.9kg)
Extras Wall mounting brackets, wireless surround calibration antennae, HDMI cable, 3.5mm cable, and optical cable

Measuring at 59.06 x 39.37 x 35.43 inches (149.9 x 100 x 90 cm) and weighing in at 37.3 lbs (16.9kg), it’s worth noting that this comes in a very large and awkwardly shaped box when it arrives. It’s not that its too heavy to carry, but as a single person it’s extraordinarily difficult to pick up and carry about 400 m in the rain and up 4 flights of stairs (ask me how I know). Seriously, if you end up wanting to buy this and you live alone, consider asking a friend to help if you need to carry it a long distance. Just don’t forget to wear a mask.


Installing the JBL Bar was quite straightforward as far as home audio setups go. The subwoofer connects to the rest of the audio with Bluetooth, and unlike some other wireless soundbars I’ve had in the past, I’ve yet to have any problems with the subwoofer losing connection to the central unit. There are two power supplies included, with one for the sub (larger) and one for the base. The package also comes with mounting racks, but I elected just to leave it resting on top of my TV table.

jbl 2

Once the physical setup was complete, all that’s left to do is connect the JBL Bar with your choice of method: HDMI (through ARC, to allow for control of PC audio with TV and soundbar remotes), optical, 3.5mm, or Bluetooth.

There is an included antenna that can be used to re-calibrate the base to better estimate the location of the satellite speakers when they are used wirelessly, but I have not found it necessary to use it. It’s good to have, though, should you opt for a less traditional location for them.


So, how does the JBL Bar sound? Overall, between a scale of “1” as “terrible” and 5 being “excellent” and near studio-quality, I’d give it a 4. The highlight of the system is its excellent bass/lower-frequency performance, with fairly good mids and highs for a relatively mainstream solution. The higher frequencies don’t aren’t as good as a nice set of studio monitors, but once the subwoofer has joined in, you will be very much enjoying yourself. This is all with a big caveat, though: I had to use Bluetooth to get the best sound quality from it.

jbl 1

In order of best to worst, the sound quality seems to be best over Bluetooth, followed by optical, then HDMI, and 3.5mm last. I think this is where your TV and notebook come into play somewhat. The 3.5mm jack was a no-go, and filled the room with horrible static that molested every bit of sound produced by the soundbar. This seems to be an issue with the DAC on the XPS 15, the grounding of the wire, or both. The HDMI cable was my next attempted connection method, but I found that the bass seemed quite underwhelming even turned to maximum (30). I checked all the options on my TV related to sound, but couldn’t find any reason for the lowered bass response. Switching to optical (from TV to soundbar) gave me much better bass, and I was fairly happy with the way it sounded overall. Strangely, though, Bluetooth seems to produce by far the cleanest sound quality with the best bass response. With the subwoofer at 15, the bass sounded much more full and clean than over optical with the subwoofer at 30. The downside of using Bluetooth as your connection is additional latency and the need to use the remote to adjust volume rather than system volume (system-wide adjustments in Windows have no effect on the output from the soundbar over Bluetooth, it seems).

So, if you want to get the best possible experience with this soundbar, Bluetooth seems to be the way to go.

jbl 3

How does the heralded wireless surround feature fare, then? Pretty good, pre-tty good, to quote Larry David. They aren’t quite as loud once disconnected, but they make up for that by adding the additional dimension of depth. JBL advertises up to 10 hours of operation while wireless, and I think that’s exactly what I’ve been able to get out of them so far. I did notice one problem with the setup, though: the speakers do not charge while the soundbar is still “on”. If you want the satellites to charge, you will need to turn off the soundbar, meaning it cannot be used. This is a bit of a disappointment, especially because it’s not listed anywhere that I could see on the product page.

Is it worth it to have wireless surround as an option over a more traditional single-piece soundbar? I think so, as they really add to the atmosphere of a movie, game, or music session. It feels like you’re immersed in the sound, and after having experienced surround sound for a media center, I wouldn’t go back to regular stereo.

Overall Experience

The feature set of the (deep breath) JBL Bar 5.1 4K Ultra HD 5.1 Channel Soundbar with True Wireless Surround Speakers is great, especially for the price. You get very good sound quality, a lot of different inputs, and a cool wireless surround feature for a mid-range price. The problems with the JBL Bar lie in the little incongruities and annoyances, however. Having to use bluetooth to get the best sound quality despite having 3 other options is a bit ridiculous, the speakers not charging until the unit has been turned off can be a major bother if you forget to do it, and as a last nitpick, the remote is quite cheap and the buttons are very difficult to press. I hope that JBL can address these issues in the next iteration, and then I would say it would be a near 5/5 for its price range. However, based on the comments I’ve read below for this product, I don’t hold great hope for JBL to fix this product to make it reliable.

September 2020 Update:

I recently moved, and that gave me an opportunity to rid myself of most of my belongings and reevaluate what I wanted to have. I ended up going for the Klipsch R51-PM Powered Bluetooth Speaker along with a Polk Audio PSW108 10″ Powered Sub. Both of these together were roughly the same price (or less) than the JBL Bar, but they also have much better sound quality and functionality for me. The mids and highs of the Klipsch R51 speakers are outstanding, and they even provide enough bass for everybody but bass-heads. They also have aux, optical, USB, RCA, and Bluetooth output, which means I can use them with my mixing decks (the excellent Pioneer XDJ-RX2). I threw in the Polk Audio subwoofer, and not only the mids/highs but also the bass far surpasses the quality of the JBL bar. There are drawbacks, however: the bluetooth connection occasionally drops, so I wouldn’t go with the Klipsch speakers if you are always going to be wirelessly connected. And of course, they don’t have the function of the wireless satellite speakers, which were a fun novelty.

However, the overall sound coverage of the Polk/Klipsch setup I have now provides much more even sound coverage of the room and a more balanced sound profile (the JBL Soundbar was mostly bass with only “adequate” highs/mids). If you’re looking for a media/theatre/audio setup that is under $500 USD or so and you’re mostly going to be wired, I’d suggest these over the JBL bar.

Disclaimer: Our content is reader-supported. If you buy through some of the links on our site, we may earn a commission. Terms.
Author at Ultrabookreview.com
Article by: Douglas Black
Douglas Black - Editor. Douglas is a technical writer, educator, DJ, and music producer based in Florida, USA.


  1. Nishant

    May 19, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    Hi there,
    Great review and very well written too.
    The marketing department at jbl could indeed use a stick as their product names are so confusing!
    Please, can you help me with this 5.1 bar against this one?
    What are the differences, which would you suggest I buy? I would want it to be loud and decent 5.1 surround sound as much as is possible in a soundbar anyway.
    Also please consider doing a VS review against these 2, or at least the review of this newer bar would be nice to have from you guys.

    • Douglas Black

      May 19, 2020 at 10:40 pm

      Ah — it looks like that soundbar's main difference is that it lacks the disconnectable satellite speakers. It also looks a bit smaller. So, if you want the "surround" experience, you'd want the one I reviewed here. If you just want a decent soundbar with a good bass kick, the one you linked would be better.

      • nishant

        June 19, 2020 at 8:40 am

        the notifier only informs you of the newer comments? and not replys lol.
        Thank you so much for responding to my comment/ questions.
        I just read the update, and it is really a huge shame that JBL does not seem to care about the customers as much once the product is sold, I.E simply 0 after sails service.
        This is making me reconsider JBL.
        I like the base that JBL offers, but if there's no way around these issues, I may have to look for something else.
        Would you have any recommendations? similar wall shaking base as JBL, around same price? logitech or soni etc?
        Thank you once again.
        P.S. if you guys do more audio speaker reviews, specially you, is there a way to get to them?

  2. LHPSU

    June 1, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    Seems like audio hardware companies are notoriously bad in terms of their software development.

  3. Bruno

    June 9, 2020 at 4:02 am

    Have you noticed a low quality in voice? mine just arrived today but I can hear some buzz sometimes in some voices… Music sounds really good, only voices faces this problem. Tried multiple devices and connections, but the buzz doesn’t go away. Could this be a specific problem?

    • Douglas Black

      June 9, 2020 at 4:08 am

      I have not – can you link to a video or audio file where you hear the buzz?

      • Bruno

        June 9, 2020 at 7:28 pm

        Thank you Douglas for answering.

        Check the two links below, one is for the soundbar, and the second is the default TV audio. Note how the sound is clearer while in the TV audio. You can better see the issue I'm talking about at seconds 2 (when it says "No") and second 8 (when it says "You")

        Video 1 (Soundbar): https://www.dropbox.com/s/wpn51kf8b33o4br/IMG_9396.MOV?dl=0
        Video 2 (TV): https://www.dropbox.com/s/sfx9d8wnj2aphj8/IMG_9400.MOV?dl=0

        I tried multiple devices and multiple inputs, but this issue always happens. I can't tell if it's occurring during other audio types, it sounds ok for music, but it's really prominent in voices.

        Ps.: This video is from Episode 6 from Space Force series at Netflix, between 9:30 and 9:40

      • Douglas Black

        June 9, 2020 at 7:37 pm

        That definitely sounds like high frequency distortion. I don't have netflix so I can't check out the original audio. I have heard intermittent distortion with this bar on some music, however — but it seems to come and go. Not great for a $500 soundbar, is it.

      • Bruno

        June 9, 2020 at 7:55 pm

        Ugh. Sounds bad. Any tip or any fix for it? I'm complaining with the seller to get a refund or a replacement… I loved the idea and solution of the detachable driver for the surround system, and I was really liking the audio system overall (for musics, audio tests and demo content). But when I took the time to watch a movie (Iron Man 3), the voice issue really disturbed the experience and completely bothered me. And this soundbar here in Brazil, due to taxes and such, costed me around US$900, so I was really expecting something top-notch

      • Douglas Black

        June 9, 2020 at 8:53 pm

        You could try a replacement. But there's no guarantee it won't happen again later..

      • Bruno

        June 9, 2020 at 9:42 pm

        Ok…. after factory resetting it and after removing all connections off and leaving just the bluetooth, the issue stopped. I tried all connections individually (meaning I disconnect all other cables) and the issue only happened while in HDMI ARC. The fun part, is that it keep occurring (even over bluetooth) if I left the HDMI cable connected (maybe this was the reason for the false positives I mentioned early). I've removed the HDMI cable and will be using just the Optical connection with the TV and will do more tests (I have more 6 days to issue a refund, so I'll spend this time for more tests). Thanks for all your help. If you know any type of video/demo/tests to reproduce and try benchmark the system, I'll appreciate.

      • Bruno

        June 10, 2020 at 11:11 pm

        Ok, one update, as I guess it can be helpful for other users and you (which also complained of low quality per input).

        As I told you, I noticed issues only in chat talks (more particularly in movies), music sounds good, and the issue only happened when in HDMI ARC. Revising everything, I discovered that my TV doesn't support Dolby (which I thought it did), only DTS. The soundbar is compatible with both, so this isn't the issue. I also discovered that Dolby only works at it's fullest via HDMI ARC, I've also discovered that Dolby is supported by Netflix, Amazon and iTunes (which are the ones I usually use), but DTS is not. So, I guess I can't have Dolby due to lack support of my TV and I also can't have DTS because of it's lack of content (basically only Blu-Rays have it).

        I still can get 5.1 standard (which is still pretty good, but I specifically choosed the soundbar and TV (yes, I choosed wrong) to have the dolby experience), but that's not the point. The point is: for some reason, when in HDMI ARC, and when seeing a 5.1 content, I can read on the soundbar the Dolby message, which leads me to believe that it's trying to use Dolby codec in a content which is not Dolby encoded. The netflix app says that it's smart enough to send to the TV just the content that it can play, it specifically says in the content's description which audio it's using (if just stereo, 5.1 or Dolby… in my case, it always says 5.1), but when the audio comes to soundbar while in HDMI ARC, it triggers the Dolby message. I believe that's the reason only videos had the issue and only by HDMI ARC.

        I can't say if the TV lack of Dolby is the main issue or if Netflix is reading the soundbar and trying to send the Dolby content or if the soundbar is simply trying to convert the 5.1 content in Dolby content.

        Right now I'm not inclined to make a replacement anymore, but I would love to make a final test: using the soundbar with a TV with Dolby, but due to the Covid issue it will not be easy to do by now. I will eventually replace my TV with a proper Dolby TV (it was a must when I was looking for TV, I'm not sure how this detail passed in the end :( )

      • Francisco Sousa

        July 19, 2020 at 9:43 am

        Hello Bruno. I think a good solution to get Dolby even if your TV doesn't support it. It's to get content (Netflix, prime, etc) from another device such as PS4 or Google Chromecast, connected directly to the Sound Bar. This might solve the problem… If what's causing it, is the codec conversion of course.

  4. Fatih Gok

    June 14, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    I have a jbl bar 5.1 and really really have an annoying problem the woofer is popping so its soooow iritating me. And the speakers loses connection does any body in this world has the same problem?

  5. jivesh

    June 18, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    After being redundant on BT for long time, it will change input source.please turn off shound shift, it will not change input source.
    when playing from optical or HDMI input keep surround speakers detached, the quality will be better than BT.hope this will help.

    • Douglas Black

      June 18, 2020 at 5:18 pm

      Thank you for these tips! They are ridiculous, to be honest. Keeping the speakers detached isn't an option, as they'd run out of battery (I keep music going 10 hours a day). Perhaps I can switch to optical when using wireless.

      • Francisco Sousa

        July 19, 2020 at 9:48 am

        I am not sure if keeping the speakers detached really helps with quality. But I personally have them always detached connected with a micro USB and always charging behind my couch. This way you can keep the music going forever.

  6. Prasad

    June 18, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    Hi there,
    Nice review. I too bought this a week back and when I conmect via hdmi arc port volume is too low even when in 17 ican barely hear. Also when some of the channels I receive support dolby and sound is too too too low in dolby . I have to change my tv settings from dolby to pcm. I have a 4k UHD TV so it supports dolby
    Any advise on this please . How to get high volume .

    My connection is like this . From set top box to TV normal hdmi and soundbar to tv is through hdmi arc
    But at last bass is awesome in jbl.

  7. Antonio Delgado

    June 19, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Doug, people,
    After years of complicated setups with Receivers and wired speakers (and pretty good sound) I decided to make things simpler and swapped over to Sound bars. I liked the JBLBAR51 because it had a whole bunch of HDMI ports, which allowed me to plug the Fire Stick, Apple Tv, Xbox, to the bar, leaving only one HDMI cable from the BAR-HDMI-ARC to the TV-HDMI-ARC. All seemed perfect, but then it hit me: only Netflix and Apple TV give me amazing sound from the bar. If I open anything on the fire stick, I have to swap to TV speakers. If I open Plex Media, TV speakers. Have any of you experienced this? How did you go around it? Is my only option go to Option B and have everything plugged to the TV?
    Thanks for your opinions.

    • Douglas Black

      June 19, 2020 at 11:34 pm

      I do everything through my PC, but yes if you have a more recent TV, the TV software will allow pairing to the soundbar through different methods.

  8. Jason B.

    June 30, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    As they say, you only hear from the people with problems. I'm not an exception, but I've been mostly really happy with my JBL 5.1 sound bar with TRUE wireless surround. That being said, I still haven't installed the mounts for the surrounds, and we rarely have an urge to use them that way. The sound has been awesome, though the bass from the subwoofer seems to vary from barely sufficient to ridiculously excessive depending on the content. Pro-tip, try watching the History Channel's Alone if you really want to experience bass!

    My only issue was a one-time thing (so far) where the subwoofer was outputting gibberish bass. I had to turn it off and back on again (using ARC, I did this by turning off the TV.) My only source is HDMI ARC from a TCL TV, and for me it's been really great. We just use the TV remote 98% of the time, except when we're watching Alone and have to reduce the bass about 5 levels.

    The mounting system is nice; I was very happy with the installation of the sound bar itself. Setup really was as simple as plugging in the one HDMI wire, the power cord, and… turning the TV on!

    We've had this system since late February 2020, and replaced a big old 5.1 system (Onkyo and much much Polk) with this minimal system, and I rarely miss the old system, except when the bass is too excessive and/or uneven.

    • Jake

      July 4, 2020 at 7:47 am

      Hello, fellow JBL 5.1 users.
      I just received and set up my new sound bar and love the sound. There's one negative though: when I plug the two wireless speakers back into the sound bar it switches into some other mode (there is a short moment of silence after plugging in the speakers) and it makes the entire sound bar sound extremely muffled and distorted. The only problem is that I don't know if there is a user error on my part or if this is just how the bar functions normally. Is it normal to sound totally different when the sound bar is all in one piece?

      • Douglas Black

        July 4, 2020 at 7:50 am

        That sounds like you have a broken product, sir.

      • Jake

        July 4, 2020 at 8:03 am

        Great… No settings or configuration that I can try? Everything else works great, including when the speakers are detached

      • Douglas Black

        July 4, 2020 at 8:24 am

        Nothing I can think of, unfortunately

      • Bruno Cantuaria

        July 4, 2020 at 6:24 pm

        This is exactly the problem that I had, but inverted. Mine sound muffled and distorted while the wireless speakers were unplugged. Tried multiple tests and setups but couldn't fix it. It really seems like a software-issue and not a hardware issue, because it worked really great with wireless plugged. Anyway, I had to returned mine, and the store had no replacement unit (it's seems that a lot of stores are saying that this bar is now outdated and JBL is not making them anymore – but there are stores with a stock saying that's not the case, but I haven't seen any statement from JBL itself). But I'm still considering to buy another one of the same, because it's sounds really great when working… but defective units seems to be more common than usual. Also, the new 9.1 with Atmos seems exciting, so maybe worth look for the new refreshed one.

      • Eli

        July 8, 2020 at 2:14 am

        I had to exchange it, the new unit will be in tomorrow and im seriously hoping everything works. If not I'll have to go Bose and spend more than I'd like. I'll get back with a follow up for the new soundbar

  9. Louis

    July 8, 2020 at 12:38 am

    I purchased this soundbar after reading through extensive reviews. Out of the box, it worked perfectly, and the sound quality is amazing. 3 months in, and my BT does not pair. Any suggestions or fix? I have tried the factory reset – doesnt help.

    • Udrea Cristian

      June 5, 2021 at 1:26 am

      Restart the soundbar

  10. Alfredo

    August 28, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    Hey, i have the Bar 5.1 Surrounds and works perfectly… then i realized that it only support Dolby Digital (AC3)! my bad for not checking but i thought year 2020 will have everything except Atmos or DTS:X.
    So i was at JBL website and find out that this soundbar has an (auto) update and everyone was complaining about the volumen + bass level. I belive its the same update as BAR 5.1.
    Then JBL did a 2nd update but never release the details of that update.
    Fortunately i never connected my soundbar wifi so i skiped this.

    Wrote many times bu JBL is very disappoing. I dont know what JBL is trying to do here but ill never buy another JBL product that has cero costumer support.

    • Douglas Black

      August 28, 2020 at 9:32 pm

      I couldn't even find a way to connect this to the internet. I agree on JBL, I will never purchase a product of theirs again

  11. Andre

    August 29, 2020 at 6:21 pm

    Hey everyone! First of all – great post. I have had this soundbar for 6 months. In general, I actually quite like it for the price. I have one issue though – my bar is connected via HDMI ARC cable, it turns on nicely via the TV remote, and turns off nicely too. BUT it would then randomly turn itself on (even when the TV is fully off and nobody is touching any of the remotes). It would then stay on continuously until I notice that it's on and turn it off physically myself. This may happen at night (and the bar would be on for many hours, even getting warm by the time I recognize this). Sometimes, it may happen just 5-10 minutes after I turned it off. During this time, the surround speakers (connected to the bar) have a white light on, which means the speakers are not charging at this time, as the bar is technically active instead of being in StandBy. When I unplug the HDMI ARC cable from the bar, it does not have this problem and it stays properly in StandBy. I tried resetting it to factory settings – same issue. I also tried to connect via a different port on the TV and via a different cable – same problem. It seems that somehow the bar picks up a random HDMI signal and turns itself on arbitrarily even though that signal is not sent. Just in case, my TV is Philips The One 70PUS7304 (if that helps). I am still wondering if maybe it's the TV that is really doing something funky and sending some strange signal to the bar even while TV is in standby. But I cannot try it with a different TV, as the cables are connected so far in the back (I would have to take half a wall apart to disconnect it from the TV now). Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks a lot in advance!

    • Matt

      October 21, 2020 at 4:09 pm

      I also have seen the same issue that it switches to an input not being used. Something is plugged in but not active and always seems to go the same HDMI input. Did it four times last night while I was playing Xbox. Still within return dates so might end up going back to job depending on what product support says.

      Did yours ever get fixed?

      • Douglas Black

        October 21, 2020 at 4:20 pm

        I've not been able to stop this behaviour without unplugging all extraneous cables.

  12. Francisco Sousa

    August 31, 2020 at 11:15 am


    Been using the speaker for over a month now.

    I connected a chromecast directly on the soundbar. This way I can listen to music on spotify even though I might be watching something else on TV. And with the google home connected there is the added value of voice commands.

    One thing I noticed… The remote it's a absolutely trash. They could have done better on that regard. What intrigues me is that I can use the TV Remote to control playback (Play, Pause, Stop…), but can't do the same with the JBL remote, when playing from the chromecast or other source connected to the JBL. The only time those controls are useful is when playing Bluetooth content from the JBL.

    Am I doing something wrong or is this the way way things should work.


    • Douglas Black

      August 31, 2020 at 3:14 pm

      It is a totally rubbish, chintzy remote indeed. If you use ARC you can control some features with your TV remote, but the bass and surround can't be.

  13. Eduardo Lacagnina

    September 11, 2020 at 9:55 pm

    Not being able to control the BT sound using a PC is a windows problem. I fixed the issue with the following link:

    Hope this helps!

  14. Enzee

    November 12, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    Hello all, this is a great review. I'm on my second unit and has the same problem as first unit. First unit was purchased back in spring and was great until unit just won't power on anymore. So I contacted jbl and they gave me a replacement. Replacement came in, plug it in and nothing. Its not my wall plug because everything else that's plugged into it works.
    I was wondering where can I can get an update if there's one for this sound bar. Does anyone else have this issue?

  15. Alfredo

    November 13, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    Not me. Update is Wifi only. You can´t even download the file.

  16. mple dikefalos

    December 15, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    After reading your review you got me reconsidering. I have ordered this bar and waiting for delivery. I'm confused as I am finding generally very good reviews about this bar but now this!

    Any news on any firmware updates to sort the problems? Can you use JBLs application to update firmware?

  17. Alfredo

    December 15, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    Do not connect the SB to wifi…

  18. Bruno Cantuaria

    December 15, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    It have good reviews because it's a great bar. In fact, I never had such good quality sound before, but I got unlucky of receiving one bar that had one of the speakers with a minor defect, but even with this I was very impressed. I returned mine and switched to the 9.1 version which Dolby Atmos, waiting for it.

  19. Douglas Black

    December 15, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    I couldn't find a way to connect the JBL Bar 5.1 to wi-fi or update it. Nothing was listed in the manual or website.

    • ASWIN S

      May 17, 2022 at 3:07 pm

      Hi Douglas please download the latest firmware from jbl.com and transfer it to a pen drive . Use it to the usb drive and follow the instructions as in the product manual. It is very much possible and I have done it 👍🏻

  20. Alfredo

    December 15, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Update is automatic through wifi.

    check page 8: https://manuals.plus/harman/jbl-bar-5-1-surround-soundbar-and-subwoofer-manual

    although i would not recommend this. All bad reviews came after updates… low volumen, low bass…

    • Udrea Cristian

      June 5, 2021 at 1:37 am

      I dont think that updating firmware will efect the performance

      • Alfredo

        June 5, 2021 at 7:01 pm

        just read JBL comments…


        September 24, 2021 at 9:06 pm

        Due to an oversight I updated my bar via wifi and it's really bad! The bass is much quieter and so is the volume. Positives: More dialogue in movies…

    • Bruno Mendes

      September 24, 2021 at 9:09 pm

      I would like JBL to provide me with the factory firmware so I can get back to it, but they don't help me.

      • Douglas Black

        September 24, 2021 at 9:22 pm

        That sounds awful. How did you get your firmware updated, anyway? I have never seen any instructions for how to update FW or how to avoid updating FW.

      • Bruno Mendes

        September 25, 2021 at 1:23 am

        Douglas, dont connect wifi..

      • Alfredo

        September 27, 2021 at 3:16 pm

        Thats one of the reasons im not buying another JBL product!

  21. Enzee

    December 15, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    I got my second unit working. It turned on and it seems like when the surround sound speakers gets fully charged, the unit powers off and will not come on til it detects that the surround sound speakers needs a recharge. Which I thought it was awkward.

    I had contacted jbl and they said that I could get a replacement but would only be with a refurbished unit. So i passed on it. As far as how to update, still looking for answers. Good luck to whoever purchase this bar. Sound quality is superb but I think it still needs alot of work.

  22. Mike

    December 19, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    I have that system for a year now
    The BT connection to the sub stopped after 2 months
    Can't get it working whatsoever I tried
    Lost many hours for that shit software and firmware problem they have
    Now I will send them back for repair
    And after I will sell them and buy something reliable
    Sound is great when works
    But Jbl won't see me ever again

  23. Simon

    March 22, 2021 at 7:01 pm

    I have the same problems with my JBL 5.1 subwoofer keep popping up and disconnecting.mind you my speakers are permanently detached..tht is they are not tht to be charged.despite changing the settings on my TV to pcm and changing from hdmi, optical cable or using Bluetooth,the problem persists.am very annoyed with this 4k 5.1 JBL sound bar.what can solve these issues?

  24. Plocha

    March 24, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    If I plug in my piano to Aux input, does it gonna make noticeable latency?

    • Douglas Black

      March 24, 2021 at 10:03 pm

      Seems less than bluetooth, but I have not measured in ms

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