The best surround sound with soundbars
It doesn’t always have to be a 9.1 sound system to enjoy a great surround sound. Even with 5.1 channels, a great enveloping sound is possible, where you do not have to make any compromises. But what then distinguishes this category from the Dolby Atmos best side? You don’t necessarily need the 3D sound format for an excellent surround sound, so soundbars are listed here that produce an impressive sound and sometimes even manage without Dolby Atmos.
The soundbars listed here all come with satellite speakers, so they put most Atmos soundbars in the bag anyway! Of course, that’s not to say that Dolby Atmos doesn’t bring added value with it. But since most soundbars can’t fully utilize the sound format, these soundbars aren’t necessarily better than soundbars without this feature. Therefore, here is our selection of the best 5.1 surround soundbars with satellite speakers!
Best 5.1 Surround Soundbar: JBL Bar 9.1
- 400W Soundbar, 300W Subwoofer
- 120W wireless battery satellites
- Impressive 3D surround sound
- Sound profile & room correction
- HDMI eARC, Wi-Fi & Bluetooth
- Dolby Atmos & DTS:X
- No Dialogue Enhancement Feature
- No Equalizer
Actually, the name JBL Bar 9.1 is a bit misleading, because it is technically a 5.1.4 channel soundbar. So it is a 5.1 soundbar with 4 Dolby Atmos/DTS:X height channels. But that alone isn’t what’s really unique about the sound system. It’s the battery-powered satellite speakers that are detachable from the soundbar and can be placed absolutely wirelessly in the room – and their sound quality is amazingly good.
The rear satellite speakers are equipped with up-firing speakers just like the soundbar, so the sound not only envelops the listener, but also reaches them from above. This creates a quite convincing 3D sound, which cannot be produced much better by most soundbars with even more channels.
In addition, the JBL Bar 9.1 has been equipped with clever features. The excellently implemented room correction feature improves the surround sound by quite a lot, as the soundbar adapts to the acoustics of the room. With Wi-Fi connectivity, Chromecast and Apple Airplay, content can be streamed easily and the traditional Bluetooth interface is also present.
Best 5.1 Standalone Soundbar: Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar
- Ambeo 3D Mode
- No external Hardware needed
- No Satellite Speakers
- No external Subwoofer
- Huge dimensions
The Sennheiser AMBEO soundbar doesn’t perform quite as well as the JBL Bar 9.1 in terms of immersion and surround sound, but it’s admittedly quite massive and impressive. But it manages to create an amazing level of immersion and surround sound without additional speakers with the help of the AMBEO 3D mode, which only a few other soundbars can produce.
Of course, the dimensions of the soundbar are quite large, but they are needed to generate the bass on the one hand and to provide enough volume for the numerous tweeters and midrange speakers for a rich, clean sound on the other.
With the Sennheiser Smart Control app, the soundbar can be controlled very conveniently with the smartphone. In addition, all common streaming services can be used via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The sister model: JBL Bar 5.1 Surround
- No up-firing speakers
- No Dolby Atmos
The JBL Bar 5.1 is a somewhat slimmed-down version of the JBL Bar 9.1, so to speak. It is also equipped with two detachable and freely placeable battery-powered satellite speakers, but it cannot create a quite as good soundscape since the satellites do not have up-firing speakers. Still, the surround sound is unmatched by other soundbars in this price category, making the JBL Bar 5.1 a really interesting option – even without Dolby Atmos.
Just like the JBL Bar 9.1, the 5.1 also has the room correction feature, which allows the soundbar to be adjusted to the room in question to optimize the room sound and the sound profile. Chromecast and Apple Airplay are also available, so that all content can be conveniently streamed with the smaller soundbar – but there is no app designed for the JBL Bar.
5.1 Surround Soundbars in comparison
Best 5.1 Surround Soundbar
JBL Bar 9.1
Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar
JBL Bar 5.1 Surround
|Channels||5.1.4||5.1.4||5.1 (5.1 virtual)|
|DTS||DTS HD-Master + DTS:X||DTS HD-Master + DTS:X|
|Room size||above 40 m2||above 40 m2||above 40 m2|
|Dimensions Height x Width x Depth||62 x 884 x 120 mm||133 x 1252 x 172 mm||58 x 1018 x 100 mm|
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