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CES 2020 News: JBL launches Bar 9.1 Dolby Atmos soundbar

The rear satellites have to dock with the mothership for refuelling.

by Andy Bassett

JBL’s new Bar 9.1 is the company’s first Dolby Atmos compatible soundbar and features the novel detachable design first seen in its 5.1 Bar.

As a Dolby Atmos supporting soundbar, the Bar 9.1 contains 4 upward-firing speakers in the main speaker body which deliver the height channels by bouncing audio off the ceiling - those with high or vaulted ceilings should be aware this technique really benefits from a low and flat surface.

So that’s four of the ‘9’ accounted for. The ‘.1’ comes courtesy of a 10-inch powered subwoofer and the remaining five consists of the two detachable, wireless, battery-operated, rear channel speakers which, mathematically, leaves three audio channels (front left, right and centre) in the main soundbar to complete the immersive experience afforded by the Bar 9.1.

These battery-operated rear speakers can last 10 hours on a single charge before they need to be redocked with the main speaker for charging. And while this might not be terribly convenient all the time, if you are just using the full surround sound setup for the occasional blockbuster movie or flagship TV show, it might be just the ticket. Plus, not everyone has two conveniently placed power sockets just behind the listening position (which, let’s face it, is usually a sofa!).
Moving on from the nifty concept and design, the system uses a total of 820 watts and employs JBL’s Original Pro Sound. There’s also a 4K Dolby Vision input and streaming support via the built-in Chromecast and AirPlay 2 compatibility.

Dave Rogers, President, Lifestyle Audio Division at HARMAN, said, “The JBL Bar 9.1 True Wireless Surround Sound with Dolby Atmos sets a new standard for in home audio.” He went on, “At JBL, we are excited to offer Dolby Atmos for the first time to bring professional, cutting-edge audio technology right to consumers’ living rooms.

The JBL Bar 9.1 will be available on JBL.com in Spring 2020 for €999.95 and a reported $999.99 in the US.

How do detachable and rechargeable rear speakers sound to you? A convenient way to roll out full 5.1.4 surround sound when required or just a bit of a faff? Let us know what you think in the discussion thread.

Source: Press release
Image Source: Dolby
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