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JBL Bar 2.0 All-in-One Sound Bar - in-home entertainment system, with streaming capabilities, in black

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There’s wifi and Bluetooth streaming and Alexa voice control built-in, as well as Apple AirPlay 2, so it is easy to integrate into your existing setup. It also features “SpaceFit” sound, which like TruePlay with Sonos, uses microphones to tune the soundbar to the shape of the room. And if you are connecting to a new Samsung TV, you can take advantage of “Q Symphony”, which synchronises the TV's speakers and the soundbar to create a bigger, more immersive soundstage. At 115cm wide and 8.5cm tall, it is big. But, it is also sleek and looks superb under our TV, and all that width makes room for 11 speakers, two directed upwards, to create an immersive experience, especially if you’re playing films with Dolby Atmos, which puts you right in the heart of the action. If you thought Disney’s Coco was a tearjerker before, try watching it with the Sonos Arc, and be prepared to sing and sob in equal measure.

There’s also AirPlay 2 from Apple devices, which we’ve used to play the same album from our iPhone over a Roku Streambar in the living room, Apple HomePod Mini in the hallway and Sonos Roam outside – all fully synchronised. Weight and dimensions The Sonos Arc has been scooping up industry awards like they’re going out of fashion. It offers a wonderful combination of usability, features and brilliant sound performance, and if it’s within your budget, this soundbar should be very close to the top of your shopping list. There are nine drivers behind the stylish metal grille, and deep bass is taken care of by the separate, powerful, wireless subwoofer. Combined, they create a complete 3.1.2-channel system that slots elegantly into your living room. And if you’ve struggled to find a soundbar to sit beneath your TV, that doesn’t impede your viewing, this could be the one. Soundbars with this capability will often have upwards-facing (upfiring) speakers to help noise to rebound off the ceiling, as well as ingenious software that splits sounds between different speakers making it feel incredibly real – very clever considering it’s all coming from one box. A soundbar as small as this has no right to sound as big as it does. Measuring just 34cm wide, it features three drivers. The left and right channels get a small 19mm speaker, while the centre, mid-range driver is 51mm, and there’s a separate 37cm tall subwoofer. There are no upfiring speakers here, but clever Dolby Atmos software processing means the speakers do a great job of spreading audio to all corners of the room with “virtual” Atmos, without losing focus.Good looking with an understated grown-up design, the Bar 800 is a brilliantly conceived do-it-all soundbar with wifi connectivity, multi-room music streaming, Bluetooth, Dolby Atmos upfiring speakers, voice control and a beefy 10-inch wireless subwoofer included. For everyday TV viewing, the soundbar's strengths are its solid handling of dialogue, noticeable bass delivery and crisp, clean presentation of higher-frequency effects.
With a live football broadcast, the latter helps convey the crowd claps and whistles, and the scale of the stadium. Advertising jingles and TV theme tunes enjoy the extra bass weight so often missing from a flatscreen's speakers.

It comes with one HDMI eARC output so your TV will need to be able to process Dolby Atmos for you to benefit properly. There’s also an optical output, but again, this can’t handle the bandwidth needed for true Dolby Atmos. There’s also wifi, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2 and voice control via Alexa. With the Bar 2.0 All-In-One, JBL takes the concept of plug-and-play to extremes. This is a soundbar that's focused on ease-of-use, and one that eschews functionality that might make the owner experience complex. This is measured in wattage. The bigger the wattage number, the more powerful the sound (anything above 250W will be loud enough to wake the neighbours). However, not all brands provide sound output information, as it can easily be confused with sound quality. Dolby AtmosOne of the more important features if you care about surround sound, Dolby Atmos is a cinematic audio format that ensures sound bounces around the room to give you a truly cinema-like, immersive experience. This 2-in-1 device is a soundbar and TV streaming device combined, making it a good option if you’re looking to upgrade a basic home entertainment set-up, or want an inexpensive way to improve a second TV. It isn’t as powerful as a bigger or more expensive soundbar, but it makes dialogue sound clear and provides a good sense of bass. If you’ve been swayed by an extra-large TV set, you’ll need a soundbar to match. Few designs are better suited than the 130cm wide HT-A7000. With 11 speakers – two upward-firing speakers for Atmos, two tweeters, five forward-facing drivers and two built-in subwoofers – and 500W of power, it elevates your home movie watching, while also improving how sport sounds, and even gives I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here a welcome upgrade. If you have other speakers that use the same voice assistant or are from the same brand, you can connect them together through your wifi to play audio at the same time.

Before you hit the buy button, it’s worth understanding a little bit of the jargon used and the features available on the latest soundbars. We’ve outlined the most important factors below to help you make the right decision. Connectivity This Denon soundbar doesn’t have wifi connectivity and you can’t talk to it with a voice assistant, but it does have the latest “virtual” Dolby Atmos compatibility (albeit without upfiring drivers) and creates a big, impressive sound for not very much money. If you’re looking to upgrade your TV audio, this is a great place to start. Setup is therefore blissfully simple. To connect to a TV, use either the HDMI ARC connection (there's
no additional hookup for source switching) or digital optical audio input, and you're up and running. For other devices, there's the aforementioned Bluetooth provision (v4.2) ...and nothing else. Even the 3.5mm input of the Bar Studio has been left off the spec sheet. With the Sonos Ray and Arc also on this list, it’s safe to say we’re huge fans of Sonos and its multi-room brilliance. The latest version of the Sonos Beam (Gen 2) is also a superb option that we recommend, but if you want “real” Dolby Atmos via upward-firing speakers, this is one of the most affordable ways to get proper cinematic audio. It’s not a soundbar for everyone. This model is too big and cumbersome for many living rooms and TVs, but once in position, you’ll be transported to your own mini multiplex, as 5.1.4 channels of Dolby Atmos flood the senses with a deep and powerful, but controlled performance.Given the stripped-down spec, the Bar 2.0 All-In-One lives or dies on its performance. Thankfully, it proves highly accomplished, and reaps the rewards of an increase in onboard power over its forebear (now a claimed 80W rather than 30W), and, says JBL, improved driver design.

Sennheiser makes some very impressive soundbars, but not everyone has the space for its larger Ambeo Max paired to its subwoofer. That’s why we adore the Ambeo Mini: it’s a fraction of the size when compared to the brand’s full-size models but still gives you punchy sound quality, with a premium build, responsive touch controls and solid, booming bass. This is a soundbar that’s perfect for a main bedroom or a smaller living room. The subwoofer will take some hiding at home, but it’s a payoff you’ll probably accept given how small the soundbar is. In fact, it looks more like a speaker than a traditional soundbar, and with Bluetooth and wifi streaming, Apple Airplay 2 and Spotify Connect built-in, it happily doubles up as a music system. This means you can buy multiple speakers for a surround-sound setup or use the soundbar as a regular speaker and have music playing out into multiple rooms. Sonos speakers are particularly good at this, and if you already have one of their speakers for music, you won’t be disappointed if you add one of their soundbars too. For example, JBL's previous entry-level soundbar – the Bar Studio, reviewed here – offered a choice of five preset EQ modes (Standard, Movie, Music, Voice and Sport), plus user adjustment of bass output, and the option of instigating a virtual surround mode. Its replacement model throws all that away. The result is a supplied handset that's comically uncluttered, with just power, volume, mute and TV/Bluetooth source buttons.

JBL Bar 2.0 All-In-One soundbar review

We set it up in under five minutes – plug in the mains power cable, attach the HDMI cable to your TV and follow the steps on the brand’s Smart Control App to pair it to your home’s wifi network. From there, you tailor the sound output to your room using the four built-in microphones and we found the process to be seamless – with the soundbar examining the size and shape of our space and altering the output accordingly. Sound effects in films – bullets, rain, a speeding car, for instance – feel fantastically real, and put most other soundbars to shame. The size and power mean it feels more like a dedicated surround sound system, all squished into one box, and even films you’ve seen countless times - in our case, the Bond movie No Time To Die - are given a new cinematic lease of life.

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