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BL SB190: soundbar review

JBL SB190: soundbar review for complete sound immersion

We know this about smartphones and computers, and today we will talk about how well audio systems work. We tested the JBL SB190 soundbar, and it is interesting because it tries to go beyond the standard bass stereo for watching movies and becomes a replacement for the whole room occupying speaker system.

Let’s start with the design because for acoustics, it is essential. After all, as a rule, these items are not small and are before your eyes in the living room. SB190 is no exception, a soundbar with a length of almost 90 cm and a subwoofer with a height of 40 cm – visible objects. But they are both minimalists, made of excellent plastic. The subwoofer is relatively narrow, which will save you space if you place it next to a TV stand or between furniture. And no tacky stickers or logo graphics. Instead, an old-school, embossed metal plaque.

The front soundbar is made of corrugated plastic, which hides four speakers. The lid is also plastic but shiny. The color is intense, reminiscent of piano or piano nail polish; you can look at it with pleasure. There are also touch button icons to control without the remote. The system is usually installed in front of you, and you will see nothing but the black rectangle on the perforated front panel. At the bottom, it’s that bit indicator: it indicates the status (on / off) and the current connections (Bluetooth, HDMI, or optical audio).

The design is minimalist, with no unnecessary decorations or details; you can easily live on your own in the living room or office. Well, you can permanently hide it. The main thing is not to forget that sound waves should easily pass the obstacles that you put in the way of acoustics.


The whole system is quite powerful and loud, but it doesn’t set records. 200W in the subwoofer and 180W in the bar. This is easy enough for a party in any studio apartment.

Frequency response of 40Hz to 20kHz should be sufficient for almost the entire range: from bass tracks to classical music in the tone of Allegro. But I can’t help but notice that the SB190 regularly struggles to increase the bass. Good thing it’s easy to control with a couple of buttons on the remote. In addition to the standard switching between sources, there are plug-ins for sound, reading – equalizer. The configuration is standard, and you can add or remove bass (subwoofer power), increase the mid-range, amplify the sound of the voice, or maximize the excellent scene in movie mode.

There are also playback control buttons, as the JBL SB190 is the primary media player. At the rear, there is a USB port, as well as two HDMI IN and OUT. The first will help you watch a movie from a flash drive, and through the second, you can connect a game console or other media player.

HDMI output with eARC support is the latest generation and can produce sound with the newest bandwidth. And this is up to 32 channels of audio with speeds of up to 38 Mbps. Therefore, all kinds of Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, and variations on the theme of Dolby Atmos can be played on the JBL SB-190.

You can also connect a wireless player via Bluetooth 5.1. All in all, everything you need is on board, and it’s time to understand what it all sounds like.


A little overture. It is no secret that the line of these devices in the brand is comprehensive. I use a similar model, but earlier, and I can assure you that one thing is to listen to them all and see that the first chord’s audible is distinguished. So, it’s time to talk about the music scene.

Suppose you use the most standard speaker system possible and place it in front of your television. For example, my configuration looks like. And then, regardless of the content, the acoustics are placed in front of your stage.

You can look at it, or you can be in it. And that’s a big difference. After all, imagine a music scene with 5, 10, or 30 acoustic musical instruments. It is one thing to hear them all looking at the stage and quite another to be inside. This is the difference between stereo and surrounds sound.

And here, SB190 puts you in front of a scene. This feeling will not fool you. But JBL is trying hard. For testing, I ran a movie in Dolby Atmos with maximum surround sound. And you hear it even compared to standard YouTube or Spotify.

Even with your eyes closed, you can hear how a conventional airplane flies from the lower-left edge of the screen to the upper right. This changes the very principle of consuming quality content. After all, you start to look at the screen and look for the sound source exactly where it is about to appear before it happens. In other words, the two-dimensional image in front of you is that it quickly copies the TV screen. And you notice it.

The soundbar also tries to trick your ear by creating a muted point of sound in the reflections off the walls so that you can feel the sound with the back of your head. But it feels electronically in the same Dolby Atmos. But if you reject snobbery and enjoy the content, I’m even happy to be fooled by these digital tricks.

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