Top positive review
A little expensive, but a good upgrade with unique features
28 January 2019
Update 2: Lately, the below mentioned freeze issue has become more frequent, so I just contacted the JBL support to see if it is something they could fix it.
Update: after using for a while, I can see a consistent issue that repeats every few weeks. Unless I power cycle it, it wouldn't turn on so it seems to go into some sort of a freeze. At the current frequency it is not bothering me too much so I am still leaving 4 stars. I will try to contact their super and see what they have to say.
The built-in speakers and the analog Aux audio output of my 55" TV stopped working, but luckily the optical output is still functional so I have been using the TV with a couple of old desktop speakers connected to it through a toslink to analog RCA converter. This setup worked and the audio quality was good (they were a good quality Yamaha speakers), but they didn't really fit and my wife complained of the clutter and the difficulty to clean. There is also the pain of not being able to control the audio via remote, so I had been researching for a soundbar with the below features and this one is the cheapest with all the features I looked for. Though it was over the budget I had in mind (5k), I got more features than I was looking for so I went for it. Here is what I was looking for:
- Optical input
- Auto on/off
- Remote control
This soundbar not only has the above features, it also comes with couple of additional features that are very useful for me:
- It recognizes my existing TV remote for audio control (volume buttons and mute), so it integrates well into the TV and won't feel like an addon.
- It supports Dolby Digital decoding, so I don't have to switch my TV optical output to PCM mode (unlike for the Optical to analog converter that I was using before).
- Supports bluetooth, so I am able to pair it with Google Home Mini and get a much better sound for playing songs.
I find the sound from this soundbar to be pretty good. Actually, I didn't have high expectations, as I was merely trying to replace the built-in audio from the TV, but these would have been a definite upgrade even otherwise. Audio clarity is good with reasonable bass and it fills my small room well even without having to go to the max.
Here are some gripes for which I reduced one star:
- LED indicator lights don't stay on. I would have liked an option to choose.
- There is no way to tell whether the Surround mode is currently on or off and the manual doesn't say
- When changing modes, the audio pauses for a second which is annoying. However, I plan to leave it in Movie mode with Surround on so this is not a big issue for me.
- I paid 7200 for it, which is a good deal compared to its MRP, but I think it it is still expensive for what it is. The Xiaomi Mi soundbar comes for 5k with a better sounding speakers if one didn't need a remote (and OK with white color).
- Power adapter is a big brick. A smaller adapter would reduce the clutter near the TV and frankly, JBL can afford to provide one at the premium they attached to it. Better yet, they could have built the adapter into the speaker itself.
- Manual clearly says that it should automatically wake up when it senses an audio signal from the last detected connection, but it didn't work for me for Bluetooth (yes, the manual clearly includes BT also). An hour after playing some music from Google Home Mini, I tried to play again and there was no music. Normally, Google Home falls back to built-in speakers, if the BT speaker shuts off, so in this case, the speaker didn't turn off, making Google Home play over BT, but since it is not turning on, the audio was getting lost.