This cheap soundbar could be a great alternative to the Sonos Arc

JBL Bar 5.0
(Image credit: JBL)

JBL has announced its latest soundbar, the JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam, as the latest addition to its popular Bar series. 

The JBL Bar 5.0 will feature virtual Dolby Atmos – using digital signal processing to create the sensation of 3D overhead sound – and comes complete with JBL’s trademark MultiBeam beamforming technology, suggesting it may offer the sound quality found in larger, more expensive rivals like the Sonos Arc.

Built for those that value simplicity, the JBL Bar 5.0 looks set to be a compact, all-in-one addition to your home cinema set-up, by offering a better audio performance than your TV's built-in speakers can manage. Equipped with four passive radiators, the Bar 5.0 should have the muscle to deliver punchy bass and produce enough room-filling sound without the need for an additional subwoofer. 

Like many of its competitors, JBL has focused on connectivity and usability with its latest offering. The Bar 5.0 will be able to wirelessly stream music via Alexa Multi-Room Music (MRM), Apple Airplay 2, Chromecast built-in and, of course, Bluetooth, meaning users will be able to easily connect all iOS and Android devices to the soundbar (which, if we’re being honest, is a necessity these days).

JBL Bar 5.0

(Image credit: JBL)

Atmos on a budget

It doesn’t look half bad, either. Though not quite as sleek as other soundbars we’ve seen, the Bar 5.0 has an understated, industrial aesthetic that means it should sit pretty in most home cinema set-ups.

Dave Rogers, President of HARMAN Lifestyle Audio, said the soundbar is set to “round out the JBL Bar Series”, meaning the Bar 5.0 will be the last in this particular line of JBL offerings.

But perhaps the biggest selling point of the Bar 5.0 will be its price. The JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam will be available sometime between March and May 2021 for £349.99 (around $480 / AU$600, though global pricing is still to be confirmed), making it a whole £450 (roughly $600 / AU$800) less than the Sonos Arc. 

Of course, Sonos’ flagship soundbar comes with some bells and whistles that you won’t find with the JBL Bar 5.0 – but for the price, it’ll be interesting to see if it can hold its own as an affordable soundbar that doesn’t skimp on sound quality.  

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Axel Metz
Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.