If you're looking for the best soundbar then there's no shortage on offer. It'll often depend on how much you've got to spend, how big your TV screen is, and whether you want an all-singing, all-dancing system with separates or just a single box solution. JBL has brought its 2022 flagship, the Bar 1000, to IFA in Berlin. It brings lots of tantalising features that I think ought to make it a better buy than the Sonos Arc flagship.
The pricing of these two soundbars is very similar, as Sonos' pricing legacy holds close to RRP long after initial release, and while you'll need to pay £999 in the UK for a brand new JBL Bar 1000 (it's on sale sometime from October 2022), that's only £100 or so more than the Sonos Arc. Here are three features that I reckon make the JBL worth that extra sum, if you've got the space and want more than just a single box solution under your telly.
1. There's a separate subwoofer
I've often found that even mediocre soundbars suddenly sound impressive when you connect a separate subwoofer. The JBL Bar 1000 features a separate box, so while you'll need space for it, that physical additional should deliver more low-end power than Sonos' all-in-one solution from the Arc. Don't get me wrong, though, the Arc sounds super, but if I'm looking for a fuller cinematic experience than a wireless sub just adds that much more appeal.
The JBL Bar 1000's subwoofer is a 10-inch one, so it's not unnecessarily gigantic, as you can see in the image up top, you'll just need to ensure you can position it well for that front and centre bass impact to be at its best.
2. More up-firing speakers
JBL's Bar 1000 listing describes the soundbar as having four up-firing speakers, which is double that of the Sonos Arc's two up-firers. Now more isn't always immediately better, but when it comes to delivering a convincing Dolby Atmos object-based decoding having the capacity to launch more sound at more angles into the upper dome is likely to mean a more rewarding surround sound effect.
The JBL Bar 1000 is billed as a 7.1.4 soundbar solution, meaning there are seven channels on the soundbar itself, one subwoofer, and four upfiring speakers. By comparison the Sonos are is billed as 5.0.2, i.e. there are five channels on the soundbar, no sub, and two upfiring speakers (do note, however, that the soundbar's significant 11 speaker array may offer more clout, so I look forward to hearing the two bars for comparison).
In addition the JBL Bar 1000 has a feature called MultiBeam, which can handle horizontal sound in three-dimensional decoding. Pair that with Dolby Atmos for the vertical channels and the JBL targets a fuller dome of sound for greater immersion.
3. Detachable speakers included
One of JBL's coolest features in my view (and this is available on some of its other soundbars too) is the inclusion of detachable surround speakers. The JBL Bar 1000 houses two such speakers on the end of the main soundbar: you can leave them on there to act as front firing in that arrangement, or simply pop them off and position them wirelessly for truer immersive surround. No wires, no need to charge (that happens when attached to the main soundbar), making it an ideal feature for those special movie night moments.
Of course not everyone is going to have the physical space for separate speakers, irrelevant of whether they're detachable or not, so I can also see the appeal of the Sonos Arc's all-in-one construction delivering Dolby Atmos surround processing by using more speakers in the soundbar itself to deliver a broader soundstage.