The JBL Bar 5.1 – a transforming soundbar that could charge two detachable battery powered wireless rear speakers for true surround sound – was an underrated highlight of IFA 2017. Now, with CES 2020 opening its doors, JBL has given the concept a Dolby Atmos upgrade.
Offering a 9.1 channel setup, and coming with its own separate 10-inch wireless subwoofer, it's a 4K HDR compatible bar capable of taking audio streams from Google Chromecast, Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth sources.
It's the detachable rears that make this a unique Atmos proposition however – docking them with the main central bar unit allows them to charge, and when detached they automatically assign themselves as rear channels, and are good for 10 hours of playback.
It'll be music to the ears of anyone who's tried to wrestle with cabled home cinema systems, leaving wires trailing along skirting boards and behind sofas.
But it won't come cheap. You're looking at a £999.99/$999.95 (somewhere between AU$1,300 and AU$1,900) price tag for the convenience of this versatile soundbar when it launches in the spring.
Still, that's the price of innovation, and if you've been trying to get the best of overhead audio sources like Dolby Atmos, and aspire to the immersion of surround-sound rears, it's a fantastic-looking solution.
- Check out all of TechRadar's CES 2020 coverage. We're live in Las Vegas to bring you all the breaking tech news and launches, plus hands-on reviews of everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops and smart home gadgets.
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Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.