Following the JBL Bar 1000 test, here comes its big sister. While both soundbars share many technical elements – the subwoofer and detachable surround speakers – they offer noticeably different performance, primarily in terms of spatialization, where the JBL Bar 1300X outclasses its younger sibling.
JBL Bar 1300X Design
The JBL Bar 1300X measures nearly one meter and forty centimeters when its surround speakers are attached and exactly one meter when they are detached for use. It is a very large soundbar, but it does not exceed the standard dimensions of most TV furniture. Its lines, although curved at the edges, remain angular, which, combined with the massive presence of metal grilles, gives the speaker a somewhat industrial look. This is far from the fun and bold design of the manufacturer’s portable speakers or the year’s trends toward soft, cocooning materials (thick fabrics, curves, etc.).
The speaker is only available in a charcoal black finish, which combines plastic and anodized aluminum grilles. The top surface hosts a console with various control buttons, while the rear accommodates the connectivity niche. The front features a white LED alphanumeric display.
The surround speakers are attached to the soundbar with powerful magnets. Each has a power button and a USB-C port for recharging or powering from the mains if you decide to permanently install the surround speakers at their diffusion point. Wall mounting brackets are provided for both the soundbar and surround speakers.
The associated wireless subwoofer is imposing, with a height of 44 cm and a side width of 33 cm. It is equipped with a very large 26 cm diameter transducer, similar to those found on home cinema subwoofers. In other words, this subwoofer can play loud and reach very low frequencies, providing a physical sensation.
An infrared remote control is included to adjust most speaker settings. Only the initial setup requires the use of the JBL One app, at least if you want to use Wi-Fi audio streaming features.
The soundbar is easily disassembled, as JBL chose to use screws rather than glued joints to assemble the different parts of the speaker. As a result, its potential repair in the workshop seems assured. Inside, the various speakers are firmly attached, except for the vertical transducers, which are simply fitted onto pegs.
Acoustic wool to prevent resonances, glue on capacitors, thermal paste to cool amplification components – it’s all there.
The soundbar is equipped with 15 transducers distributed as follows:
- 6x 9×4.6 cm speakers on the front face
- 3x 2 cm tweeters on the front face, including one centered and two directed towards the edges of the listening area
- 4x 7 cm circular speakers on the top face
- 2x 2 cm tweeters on the sides, directed towards the edges of the listening area
The JBL Bar 1300X lacks a passive radiator or bass-reflex port, producing very few low frequencies (see our measurement curve later), which are then entrusted to the subwoofer.
Each surround speaker is equipped with 3 transducers:
- 1x 9×4.6 cm speaker
- 1x 2 cm tweeter
- 1x 7 cm speaker on the top face
- 1x passive radiator of approximately 7×5 cm (to amplify bass sounds)
As for the subwoofer, it operates using the bass-reflex technique, which features a resonating tube vent placed towards the listening area to amplify infrasonic frequencies.
JBL Bar 1300X Connectivity
The JBL Bar 1300X offers generous connectivity with no fewer than 4 HDMI ports. Three are inputs compatible with 4K HDR video signals up to 60 Hz, while the output is compatible with ARC and eARC audio return from the TV. If it’s an older model compatible only with ARC, only stereo and 5.1 programs will be played by the soundbar. With a recent eARC-compatible TV, HD or immersive multichannel audio programs (Dolby Atmos, DTS:X) will be supported. The CEC protocol is obviously managed, and it is possible to control the soundbar’s volume with a TV remote control.
A TosLink digital optical audio input is available for connecting older-generation sources (DVD player, CD player, HD TV), with support limited to stereo and 5.1 again.
The USB-A port isn’t particularly useful, as it only delivers 0.5 A and thus cannot power a TV stick (Amazon Fire TV 4K Max or Chromecast HD with Google TV, etc.). At most, you can use this port to play MP3 files from a USB stick. In the era of streaming, this seems quite useless.
Connection to the home network is possible via an RJ-45 Ethernet port or Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 6). Thus, the JBL Bar 1300X can be controlled by the JBL One app and used to listen to music from major streaming services via AirPlay 2 or Google Cast. Music playback control with Google Assistant and Alexa voice assistants is planned, through devices that integrate these assistants.
If you don’t have Wi-Fi at home, you can still use the built-in Bluetooth controller to listen to music directly from a smartphone or computer.
Supported Audio Formats
The JBL Bar 1300X soundbar ticks all the boxes and supports all Dolby and DTS audio formats, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X on its HDMI inputs. Dolby Atmos is supported via Wi-Fi from Tidal (Hi-Fi Plus subscription), provided you register your account in the JBL One app. However, Atmos tracks from Apple Music are streamed in simple stereo.
JBL Bar 1300X Features
Setting up the JBL Bar 1300X is as simple as it gets. Once the soundbar and subwoofer are connected to the power supply, the JBL One app guides you through connecting the speaker to the Wi-Fi network. As soon as the connection is established, it offers to perform an acoustic calibration, automatically adjusting channel levels according to the room’s characteristics.
- The JBL One app guides the user through the soundbar installation.
- Once detected, just press a button on the soundbar.
- The Wi-Fi connection is fast.
To do this, the detachable surround speakers are used, initially placed behind the listening point, then in their final location. The soundbar emits a series of sinusoidal sounds for about two minutes. Once calibration is complete, the established audio profile is automatically applied, with no option to revert (except by resetting the soundbar). Pre- and post-calibration acoustic differences are minimal and mainly concern spatialization, which is slightly improved afterward.
Too few settings
Few settings are available to modify the soundbar’s operation. The level of Atmos channels (vertical speakers) is adjustable on 3 levels, as is the level of surround speakers, and the subwoofer volume on 5 steps. In addition, there’s a basic 3-band graphic equalizer for adjusting bass, midrange, and treble. As with the JBL Bar 1000, the center channel level is not adjustable, which is a serious flaw.
Although the JBL Bar 1300X features a dialogue enhancement process, it objectively adds very little. To confirm this, just disable it by pressing the Power button for a few seconds, then a volume button.
- Aside from the 3-band equalizer, there are no options for tonal correction.
- To enjoy Dolby Atmos streaming, you must register a compatible app in JBL One.
- Playing Dolby Atmos from Tidal.
It’s a shame that essential features such as manual adjustment of the center channel level—to better hear dialogues—or dynamic range compression to reduce significant volume differences during late-night movie sessions are missing. JBL would do well to revise its firmware with an update, as the competition does not overlook these important features.
Automatic remixing on 17 channels
The JBL Bar 1300X’s 17 channels are always used, whether you’re listening to Dolby Atmos, DTS 5.1, or even stereo programs. Therefore, there is a systematic remixing of incoming signals towards all transducers.
Very reasonable power consumption
In network standby mode, the JBL Bar 1300X and its subwoofer consume a total of 1.8 W. As soon as the soundbar and subwoofer wake up, consumption rises to 16 W and remains at this level up to 25% of the volume scale. From 50%, consumption increases significantly to 32 W, then 60 W at 75%, and finally 65 W at maximum.
Power consumption of soundbar + subwoofer:
- Standby 1.8 W
- Under load 27 W
- Active (without music) 16 W
- Volume at 25% 16 W
- Volume at 50% 32 W
- Volume at 75% 60 W
- Volume at 100% 65 W
This is far from the 1,170 W of combined power announced by the manufacturer, who has a bad habit of adding up the peak powers of their amplifiers for a fraction of a second, while the only interesting power is continuous. Nevertheless, the measured power is suitable for a 30 m² room.
JBL Bar 1300X Audio
I listened to the JBL Bar 1300X (firmware 22.214.171.124.00) in a 30 m² living room, connected to an LG TV and various sources, including the Apple TV 4K (2022) and Chromecast HD with Google TV. To assess the soundbar’s qualities, I listened to various movie and series excerpts in Dolby Atmos, DTS, and even mono for some old films.
Sound signature and measurements
The behavior of the JBL Bar 1300X is very similar to that of the Bar 1000, which was expected and somewhat disappointing. Indeed, the sound is characterized by a lack of resolution and some apathy at low volume. This is particularly true for the subwoofer, which struggles to be heard until you really push the volume. This is the downside of using such a large speaker (26 cm) with modest amplification. Moreover, the bass lacks finesse, even though its extension is interesting.
The graphs above show the separate frequency responses of the subwoofer (orange) and soundbar (green) at default settings. The subwoofer generally plays louder than the soundbar, which wouldn’t be a problem if it did so with more precision.
Moreover, it is not sufficiently attenuated in the upper bass range (100-200 Hz), making it easily locatable in space. It is better to install it near the soundbar rather than in a corner, otherwise, bass sounds may seem to come from outside the scene. As for the soundbar alone (green curve), it emphasizes the lower midrange, benefiting human voices, but declines too much in the treble range, with a diminished brightness.
By using the equalizer, the sound can be clarified, but there is still a noticeable lack of resolution, likely due to the tweeters pointing sideways instead of towards the listener.
The graphs above show the soundbar (with surround speakers) and the subwoofer’s frequency responses. The tonal balance is maintained regardless of the listening volume. This is excellent and allows for a physical sensation at very high levels. In short, it packs a punch.
A very immersive surround soundstage
The spatialization is improved compared to the Bar 1000, thanks to the addition of extra transducers at the front and in the surround speakers. The soundstage is wider and denser.
With the surround speakers installed behind the listening position, there is a very convincing horizontal immersion, with effects moving naturally through space. For optimal performance, the rear speakers should be placed at least 1 meter away from the seating area.
However, doubling the vertical transducers does not add much to Dolby Atmos or DTS:X programs. Creating an overhead soundstage by reflecting sound off the ceiling remains mission impossible for a soundbar. If you enjoyed Dolby Atmos in theaters, with sound elements moving and appearing above your head, you won’t find it with the JBL Bar 1300X.
Dialogues lack precision
The reproduction of human voices is as debatable as with the JBL Bar 1000. The inability to adjust the center channel level and the lack of dialogue optimization mode do not help. Voices lack resolution and struggle to emerge from complex soundscapes. Watching movies from the 40s or 50s can be painful, as voices sound harsh and projected.
Declining musical performance
Again, the subwoofer’s muted low-level and volcanic high-level bass do not help produce a balanced sound. The low resolution of high frequencies, due to the misaligned tweeters, makes musical listening boring and additionally aggressive. Simply put, most JBL Bluetooth speakers are much more enjoyable to listen to.
In which room should it be installed?
The JBL Bar 1300X is designed to fill large living spaces up to approximately 40 m2. It will deliver the best results in these large spaces, positioning the surround speakers far behind the listening position.
It is possible to install the soundbar in a small room (10 m2, for example), but it is preferable to keep the surround speakers on the soundbar or accept that the rear soundstage will be excessively dominant. As for the listening position, a distance of 2 meters is a minimum, and the soundbar will be intelligible up to about 4 meters.
JBL Bar 1300X Price and Release Date
The JBL Bar 1000 soundbar is Available in USA and priced at $1,699 on Amazon.
Our opinion on the JBL Bar 1300X
The build quality is good, but the somewhat dated lines do not make it the most elegant soundbar. The same goes for the very imposing subwoofer. On the other hand, the detachable battery-powered surround speakers are ideal for enjoying rear surround sound.
With three HDMI inputs and an ARC/eARC compatible output, the JBL Bar 1300X can connect multiple sources. It’s a shame that the USB port does not provide enough power to run a TV stick (Fire TV Stick, Chromecast…).
The lack of center channel level adjustments and a night mode to limit dynamic range are rather incredible omissions for a soundbar, especially one priced at almost €1,500. On the positive side, the acoustic calibration improves spatialization.
The maximum volume is impressive, especially since the subwoofer does not reduce output and always plays deep bass, even at full volume. However, the overall resolution lacks refinement. As for spatialization, it is excellent horizontally but imperceptible vertically (Dolby Atmos).
Pros of the JBL Bar 1300X
- Excellent horizontal spatialization
- Detachable surround speakers with high autonomy
- Impressive maximum sound volume
- Acoustic calibration beneficial to spatialization
- All Dolby and DTS formats supported
- AirPlay 2 and Google Cast
- Generous connectivity
Cons of the JBL Bar 1300X
- Disappointing overall resolution
- Volcanic subwoofer
- No vertical soundstage (Dolby Atmos)
- Dialogues lack precision
- No center channel level adjustment
- No night mode to reduce dynamics
- Mediocre musical qualities
The JBL Bar 1300X soundbar is a noticeable improvement over the Bar 1000, at least in terms of spatialization. With more speakers, this soundbar deploys a wider and denser soundstage on the horizontal plane. The detachable surround speakers contribute significantly to this. There is little progress, however, for Dolby Atmos, as no overhead soundstage is established.
Essential settings like the center channel level or dynamic compression for late-night listening without disturbing neighbors are also missing. The wireless subwoofer is a real asset to this soundbar, bringing a physical dimension to home theater sessions, but it lacks precision and subtlety. Its volcanic character may appeal to video game enthusiasts seeking “brutal sensations.” Lastly, the streaming functions are complete, but the musical reproduction lacks generosity and resolution. The overall assessment is mixed.