JBL 5.1 VS 9.1 | Which Soundbar is Right for You?

When it comes to transforming your living room into a home theater, an excellent soundbar is essential for a premium experience. But wasting money on low-quality products will not give you a high-quality audio experience.

When we talk about high-quality soundbars, JBL is a brand that needs no introduction. It is a well-known brand that offers high-quality audio products, including a range of soundbars to elevate your cinematic experience.

JBL 5.1 Bar and JBL Bar 9.1 are two of its most popular products, and they offer a number of similarities and differences. In this blog post, we’ll compare JBL 5.1 vs 9.1 in detail to help you choose the best one based on your specific needs.

Quick Comparison

The JBL 5.1 is a 5.1-channel soundbar that offers a solid audio experience with a separate wireless subwoofer. If you want impressive sound quality without breaking the bank, JBL 5.1 is an affordable choice.

In contrast, JBL 9.1 takes the audio to the next level with a 9.1-channel setup, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X surround sound support, and detachable wireless subwoofers, providing an outstanding cinematic audio experience. If you’re looking for top-tier audio quality and a three-dimensional sound experience, JBL 9.1 is the perfect choice.

JBL 5.1 VS 9.1 – Comparison Table

FeatureJBL Bar 5.1JBL Bar 9.1
Channel Configuration5.1-Channel (Virtual Surround)5.1.4-Channel
Dimensions of the soundbar45 x 2.3 x 3.9 inches34.8 x 2.4 x 4.7″ inches
Weight6.4 lb/2.9 kg (Soundbar) 23.4 lb/10.6 kg (subwoofer)8 lb/3.6 kg (Soundbar), 24.5 lb/11.1 kg (Subwoofer), 1.6 lb/0.7 kg (Each Satellite)
Sound Format SupportDolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIDTS, Dolby Digital, Dolby Atmos,  DTS:X
Wireless ConnectivityAirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Chromecast, proprietary, and WiFiBluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, and Chromecast
SubwooferYes,  wirelessYes, wireless
Audio ModesStandard, Movie, Music, VoiceStandard, Movie, Music, Voice, Dolby Atmos
Connectivity TechnologyWired and WirelessWireless
Audio Return Channel (ARC)YesN/A
System Frequency Response34-20k Hz34-20k Hz
Input(s)HDMI, Toslink optical, USB Type AEthernet, HDMI, optical, and USB
EthernetLANNot Applicable
No. of HDMI outputs11
Works WithGoogle Assistant optionalGoogle Assistant, Siri
Wall MountableYes, with included hardwareYes, with included hardware

Detailed Comparison of JBL 5.1 VS 9.1

If you want to make the best decision based on your specific scenario, we recommend you read this in-depth comparison till the end.

Design and Size

JBL 5.1 VS 9.1 design

In the design comparison of JBL 5.1 vs 9.1, both have very identical appearances at first glance.

JBL 5.1 has a sleek and modern design that can easily complete most home theater setups. Its minimalist black design can blend with any room’s decor.

The dimensions of the JBL 5.1 soundbar are 45 x 2.3 x 3.7 inches, and it also has surround speakers. These surround speakers are not detachable and are smaller as compared to the 9.1. It can comfortably fit on most TV consoles without taking up too much space.

In contrast, the JBL 9.1 soundbar comes in black with measurements of 34.8 x 2.4 x 4.7 inches and a weight of 8 lbs. It takes a more stylish and premium approach to design. Its sleek metal grille and high-quality plastic construction give it an upscale appearance.

It also has detachable surround-sound speakers and wireless subwoofers. While it may demand more space, it also adds a touch of sophistication to your home theater setup. So, the JBL 9.1 is the winner in this area.

Build Quality

The JBL 5.1 has excellent build quality and uses durable plastic materials in its construction. It has a durable plastic body and is covered with a fine metal grille on the front and sides. The subwoofer that comes with JBL 5.1 is made of melamine and has four legs.

These legs raise the subwoofer, as the speaker is underneath. While JBL 5.1 might not have the premium feel of metal, its durable plastic body can withstand typical wear and tear, ensuring it will last for years.

The JBL 9.1 soundbar combines premium metal and plastic elements in its build. Its top and front are made up of metal, while the bottom and rear parts are made up of plastic. This plastic-metal build not only enhances its aesthetics but also adds to its durability.

JBL 9.1 also comes with a melamine subwoofer with four legs. The premium materials used in its construction justify its higher price point.

Overall Sound Quality

JBL Bar 5.1 offers impressive sound quality with its 5.1 channel setup. Its maximum power output is 550 W, and it delivers a rich and clear sound that can fill your room effectively. It has a bass-heavy sound profile, which is enjoyable for some people but can also make the mid-range sound muddy. While it may not have the advanced features found in the JBL 9.1, it provides a satisfying audio experience for most users.

JBL 9.1, on the other hand, takes the sound quality to the next level with its 9.1-channel system, Dolby Atmos support, and maximum power output of 820 W. This advanced Dolby Atmos technology creates an immersive 3D audio experience and makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the action.

If you’re a music enthusiast or a movie lover, the superior sound quality of JBL 9.1 will undoubtedly impress you.

Sound Format Supported

JBL 5.1 supports standard audio formats like Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus. These formats are suitable for most movies and TV shows, delivering a satisfying audio experience.

JBL Bar 9.1, on the other hand, not only supports the aforementioned formats but also advanced formats like DTS, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Dolby TrueHD, and many more. Dolby Atmos is a game-changer for audio enthusiasts, offering a realistic and truly immersive experience with sound coming from all directions.

Wireless Connectivity

Both the JBL 5.1 and the JBL 9.1 offer the same wireless connectivity, including Bluetooth, WiFi, Apple AirPay, and Chromecast built-in. This allows you to easily connect your devices and stream music wirelessly. They also support voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, enhancing their smart capabilities.


JBL 5.1 comes with a separate wireless subwoofer with measurements of 16 x 12 x 12 inches and a weight of 28.7 lbs. This subwoofer adds depth to the bass, enhancing your home theater experience. However, it may require some additional space in your room.

JBL Bar 9.1 offers an innovative solution with a detachable wireless subwoofer with a weight of 24.5 lbs. and a size of 12.0 x 17.3 x 12.0 inches. You can position these subwoofers in your room for optimal bass performance or remove them to save space when not in use. This flexibility makes them the preferred option for those with limited space.

Our team prefers JBL Bar 9.1 because of its slightly larger and lighter design as compared to JBL 5.1.


JBL 9.1 is far superior to JBL 5.1 in terms of channels. JBL 5.1 has a 5.1-channel system, which provides a better immersive audio experience for your home theater setup. It delivers a well-rounded soundstage that enhances your movie and gaming experience.

On the other hand, JBL 9.1 goes beyond with a 9.1 channel setup. It means you get more audio channels, which will deliver a more detailed and encompassing audio experience. If you’re looking for the ultimate in audio immersion, you can get JBL 9.1.

Drivers and Tweeters

Drivers and tweeters determine the sound quality of these sound systems. The JBL Bar 5.1 has five racetrack-style drivers and two 1.25-inch tweeters that are side-firing, delivering five channels of 50 watts each. This configuration provides well-balanced sound and impressive audio quality.

JBL 9.1 has two full-range up-firing drivers and four racetrack-style drivers delivering 400-watt power. JBL 9.1 also includes three tweeters, and each of these tweeters is 1-inch. There are also two side speakers that are Dolby Atmos drivers. These additional components contribute to its superior audio quality and Dolby Atmos capabilities.

Audio Modes

Both the JBL 5.1 and JBL 9.1 offer standard audio modes like music, movies, and voice. These audio modes allow you to tailor the sound to your specific content. However, JBL 9.1 takes it a step further by including Dolby Atmos mode.

This audio mode provides a 3D audio experience and provides the most immersive audio possible. JBL 9.1 is the clear winner in this category.

Remote Control and Inputs

Both the JBL 5.1 and 9.1 soundbars come with remote controls. There are dedicated buttons for Power, Volume Up/Down, Bass Volume, Mute, Atmos Driver Volume, Rear Speaker Volume, HDMI, and TV Bluetooth on these remote controls.

However, the JBL 9.1 differs in that it has dedicated buttons for Chromecast and Apple AirPlay. 9.1 also supports AAC codes and Bluetooth 4.2, making Bluetooth pairing quick and simple.


Both the JBL 5.1 and the JBL 9.1 are wall-mountable, offering flexibility in how you set up your home theater. Wall-mounting can save space and provide a clean, minimalist look in your entertainment area.


JBL 5.1 is the more affordable option, making it accessible to a wide range of people. If you are looking for a solid sound experience without breaking the bank, JBL 5.1 is a great choice.

JBL 9.1, on the other hand, falls into the premium category due to Dolby Atmos support and other advanced features. If you want the best value for your investment, the JBL 9.1 soundbar is an intelligent choice. It offers an unmatched audio experience that’s worth the investment for audio enthusiasts.

What’s in the Box?

JBL Bar 5.1

You will get the following things in your JBL 5.1 soundbar box:

  • JBL Bar 5.1
  • HDMI cable
  • 2x power cables
  • Mounting template
  • Manuals
  • Remote with 2 AAA batteries
  • Mounting brackets and screws

JBL Bar 9.1

You will get the following things in your JBL 9.1 soundbar box:

  • JBL Bar 9.1
  • Subwoofer
  • HDMI cable
  • Remote with 2 AAA batteries
  • Power cable for the subwoofer
  • Mounting template
  • Mounting screws
  • Manuals
  • 2x U-shape wall-mount brackets (for the satellites)
  • 2x L-shape wall-mount brackets (for the main bar)

Final Winner

In this JBL 5.1 vs 9.1 review, JBL 9.1 is the clear overall winner. It dominates and performs better in most aspects than JBL 5.1.

The choice between JBL 5.1 and JBL 9.1 ultimately depends on your budget and your desire for a premium audio experience. If you’re on a budget but still want better sound quality for your home theater setup, JBL 5.1 is a solid choice.

However, if you’re an audio enthusiast and want the ultimate in-home entertainment, JBL 9.1 is the clear choice. With its outstanding audio quality, Dolby Atmos support, and advanced features, it provides a realistic and highly immersive cinematic experience.

JBL 5.1 VS 9.1 Comparison Table

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

Is 5.1 or 9.1 better?

JBL 9.1 soundbars are better than 5.1 soundbars in terms of audio channels and surround sound performance. JBL Bar 9.1 has two additional channels, which are responsible for producing more immersive and realistic surround sound effects. In contrast, JBL 5.1 soundbars only have horizontal sound fields.

Is the JBL Bar 5.1 worth it?

The JBL Bar 5.1 is a good value for the price. It offers good sound quality and features for a mid-range soundbar. It is also relatively easy to use and set up. However, if you’re looking for the best possible surround sound experience, the JBL 9.1 soundbar is the best choice.

What is the difference between the 5.1 and 9.1 soundbars?

The main difference between 5.1 and 9.1 soundbars is the number of audio channels. There are five channels in the 5.1 channel system: left, right, center, right surround, and left surround. While 9.1 soundbars have nine channels with two additional front-height channels (upfiring speakers) that provide a more immersive and realistic audio experience, They can also be used to support Dolby Atmos, which can create a three-dimensional soundstage.

Does JBL 9.1 have 4K passthrough?

Yes, the JBL Bar 9.1 has a 4K passthrough. This means that you can connect it to a 4K TV, and it will pass through the 4K signal without any degradation.

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