JBL Bar 300 test: a good soundbar, under conditions

As we mentioned in the User Experience section, the Bar 300 is configured with the surround virtualization mode (called “Smart Mode”) activated by default. We strongly recommend turning it off to optimize the sound performance of the bar.

Indeed, with this mode activated, the reproduction of the treble by the side speakers is very clearly boosted. The will here is to support room effects and to artificially extend the sound stage well beyond the physical limits of the bar, but this is done at the cost of a real imprecision in the placement of sources and a restitution of timbres significantly distorted. This mode is therefore to be avoided both for listening to music and for television or cinematographic content. As far as the quality of 3D virtualization is concerned, in other words, it will have to go its own way: without speakers specifically dedicated to the reproduction of height channels for Atmos streams, the bar immediately started with a handicap.

Once the surround virtualization is deactivated, the Bar 300 is quite capable and shows a nice balance. The sound stage remains wide and the appreciation of surround effects is much more pleasant and accurate. In addition, the bar surprises with the overflowing energy it deploys to transcribe the bass, even in the absence of a remote subwoofer. Explosions as well as impacts are well felt and we appreciate the very comfortable seat. Nevertheless, the lows and the low-mids tend to overflow a little on the rest of the frequencies and their relative inaccuracy gives an aspect boomy to sound reproduction.

The mids and highs are transcribed in a homogeneous way, even if the precision is not the best either. The removal of the extreme highs can tend to impact the sound rendering by veiling certain harmonics found on cymbals or other brass instruments.

The bar shows good dynamics and a solid reserve of power, which are unfortunately tarnished by the appearance of distortion phenomena in the mids, around 1.5 kHz. It is therefore necessary to be careful to remain wise on the sound level so as not to “harden” and therefore deteriorate the rendering.

Finally, the Bar 300 includes a calibration feature allowing the sound reproduction to be adapted to the dimensions and arrangement of the furniture in the room. We did not notice any difference between before and after this calibration.

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