JBL Bar 9.1 Tips & Tricks Soundbar Setup Guide

If you are reading this it is likely you are either a lucky new JBL Bar 9.1 owner or perhaps you are considering JBL and wondering how the setup will go. For those of you who are new owners, congratulations!

We've put together some quick tips and tricks that most people find very helpful.

Getting Started

The first step you’ll want to do is decide how you want to position your soundbar. The Bar 9.1 is designed to sit under your TV and it can also be wall-mounted. Wall-mounting brackets and instructions are included in the box. The easiest option, however, is to just position it under your TV on top of a piece of furniture — so if you want to mount the bar to your wall, we recommend just following the instructions included in the box. If you place the soundbar under your TV, we recommend separating the bar from the TV to give the upward-firing drivers enough clearance to direct sound up to your ceiling.

Setting up the Rear-Surround Speakers

There’s also rear-speakers that detach from the Bar 9.1, so you can place them anywhere in your room for an immersive experience. This next step is very important. JBL marks which rear-surround speaker is the left or right channel on the sides of each unit, so you’ll want to pay attention to that as that will affect the sound. When you detach the rear-speakers, it’s generally a good practice to place them on top of tables or even a pair of stands behind you. The JBL Bar 9.1’s detachable rear-surrounds are also wireless and rechargeable. They’ll give you about 10 hours of wireless playtime, and when it’s time to charge, a red light will blink on top of each unit to let you know it's time to recharge. When it’s time to charge them, just dock them into the Bar 9.1’s built-in magnets on the sides of the bar, and in about 3 hours they’ll be fully charged. 

Overview of All Connections On The Back Panel

Next, let’s quickly go over all the connections on the back of the bar. From left to right they are — a power connection, a USB Type-A port — this port will let you connect a USB storage device like a thumb drive, or a hard drive, which is pretty cool so you can play your collection of MP3’s from an external drive.

Moving on, next to this is an optical Toslink input, an ethernet port, (1x) HDMI eARC output and (1x) HDMI input. Your JBL Bar 9.1 supports the newer enhanced version of HDMI ARC called “eARC.” This is cool because eARC’s higher bandwidth allows for true Dolby Atmos to be transmitted out to compatible devices. A popular choice of compatible devices might be your Apple TV, for example. However, if you’re an Apple TV user, keep in mind the Apple TV 4K or newer are the only models that have an HDMI port capable of true Dolby Atmos — so if you want to experience Dolby Atmos to the full extent, you’ll want to make sure your hardware source is compatible with the newer eARC.

Finally, for the most stable performance with your WIFI network, we recommend connecting the soundbar directly to your router with a hardwired ethernet connection. Your Bar 9.1 also supports Chromecast, Apple AirPlay 2, and Bluetooth, so you can stream music from compatible phones, tablets, and computers directly to the bar. On top of the Bar 9.1 are four soft push-buttons that let you power the soundbar system on or off, raise and lower the volume, and cycle through each of the source inputs. You can also choose source inputs directly from the remote control that’s included with the product.

Making The Connections

Setting up the JBL Bar 9.1 is straightforward. After you plug in the power supply and make the necessary connections with your TV, the soundbar will automatically display helpful instructions right from the LED screen on the front of the bar.

Calibrating Your Soundbar

Next is the calibration process. At Audio Advice, we are big fans of room calibration and correction. Your new Bar 9.1 will capture the unique properties of your room and then tune its output based on the acoustic readings it gathers — and it does all of this in just two simple steps.

First, you’ll want to start the calibration process by placing the two detachable wireless rear-speakers behind you. When placing the rears around your room, we recommend positioning each one flat onto a tabletop or a speaker stand in the rear of the room so that the Atmos speakers can fire sound up towards the ceiling. Be sure nothing is in the way, such as a plant or a lampshade, that could obstruct the soundwaves from reaching your ceiling. It’s also important to angle each speaker so that the charging dock is pointing directly away from you. This will ensure the rear-channel speakers are directing horizontal surround sound properly.

Using the remote control that JBL includes in the box, hold down the button labeled “HDMI” for 3 seconds. The LED display on the front panel of the bar will count down the seconds for you. After this, Bar 9.1 will output a few test tones directly from the soundbar and the rears. The internal microphones built inside the Bar 9.1 will automatically capture the acoustic properties of your living space in less than a few minutes. It’s that easy.

Tailoring Your Sound 

While not the same as an EQ, the included remote control does offer some ways to customize the sound field. On the remote, there are tactile controls that will let you raise or lower the volume-levels coming out of the subwoofer (levels 1-4) and the rear surround speakers (low, mid, and high).

The sub is so powerful, level-3 was perfect for our room, but this will depend on your space and your preferences, so just play around with this until you are happy.

There’s also a dedicated button that lets you raise or lower the entire Atmos effect in your room depending on how high your ceilings are. Settings for “low,” “mid,” and “high” change the vertical Atmos sense of elevation in the sound field. “High” is best for ceilings higher than 10-feet, so we recommend selecting “mid” for rooms with 9-foot ceilings and “low” for anything less.   

If you want to make the dialogue in movies sound crystal clear, use the remote control to lower the bass coming out of the subwoofer. Also lowering the Atmos effect and the volume of the rear speakers will all help the dialogue to stand out clearer, and since your Bar 9.1 will be completely in tune with the specific acoustic properties of your room, all the adjustments you make at this point will be totally optimized — so just tweak to preference until you’re happy with the results. 

Pro Tip: How To Get Dolby Atmos Content

If you’re just getting started with Dolby Atmos, usually, a quick google search is the best way to see a list of all the great Dolby Atmos content available. However, we have a fun Pro tip: you can see all the movies and TV shows encoded with this new surround format on Netflix and Amazon Prime just by typing the words “Dolby Atmos” into the platform’s search field. If you have Disney+, you'll have to search google for a comprehensive list of Dolby Atmos content, but we’re really impressed by the large collection of Dolby Atmos content available on Disney+, so be sure to check that out for the most movies encoded with Dolby Atmos.

Have Fun!

This concludes our tips and tricks for the JBL Bar 9.1. This should get you up and running so you can start enjoying all the great movies in this exciting Dolby Atmos format. 

We hope this quick guide will help you achieve great results quickly.  As always, the team at Audio Advice is here to support you. If you have any questions at all, you can always reach out to us via chat, phone or email.

JBL Bar 9.1 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer Review

With 9 channels of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D surround sound plus a single channel for sub-bass frequencies, you get a soundbar, a sub, plus rear-surrounds for less than $1000. The rear-surrounds are optional add-ons in many other systems, so this makes the JBL Bar 9.1 stand out in terms of the value you get. We think the Bar 9.1 is priced to open the door into the Dolby Atmos experience for a great price.