JBL Bar 1300 review: a surround sound soundbar sensation

The JBL Bar 1300 includes detachable speakers to use as rears, a super subwoofer, and convincing Dolby Atmos output

T3 Platinum Award
JBL Bar 1300 review
(Image credit: JBL)
T3 Verdict

This feature-packed and impressive soundbar delivers Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based sound with cinematic scale and plenty of bass thanks to a powerful subwoofer. There’s sophisticated room correction that helps make setup easier, but it’s the detachable rear speakers that really impress, allowing you to quickly create a genuinely immersive system with minimum fuss.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Incredibly immersive sonic experience

  • +

    Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support

  • +

    Deep but controlled bass

  • +

    Easy to setup and flexible

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No 4K/120Hz and VRR passthrough

  • -

    No HDR10+ passthrough

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The JBL Bar 1300 is a 11.1.4 channel soundbar – meaning 11 main outputs from the 'bar, one sub, then four height/overhead channels – and as with the brand’s earlier Bar 9.1 this new model uses detachable and rechargeable wireless rear speakers to deliver immersive Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based sound without needing to run cables across the room or plug them into power sockets.

The Bar 1300 also ups the ante by increasing the channel compared to the earlier model, adding a beefier subwoofer, increasing the amplification power, and including even more features. All of which puts this JBL system in direct competition with similar models from LG and Samsung as a contender as one of the best soundbars you can buy...


The JBL Bar 1300 is on sale now, available at £1,299/$1,699. This pricing is competitive when you consider the key features of the soundbar and the cost of competing models from LG and Samsung. The widget above will show you real-time pricing for the Bar 1300 so you can snag the best deal today.


JBL Bar 1300 review

(Image credit: Future)

The JBL Bar 1300 offers an 11.1.4-channel system using a layout based around a main unit, two wireless rears, and a 10-inch rear-ported and downward-firing wireless subwoofer.

The soundbar contains six racetrack drivers, five tweeters, and four full-range up-firing drivers, while the rears each have a racetrack driver, an up-firing driver, and a passive radiator. There’s 650W of amplification in the soundbar, 110W in each of the rear speakers, and 300W in the sub.

The Bar 1300 decodes the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio formats, delivering them using front left and right channels, a centre channel, front and rear overhead channels, width channels, and front and rear side channels, creating a three-dimensional hemisphere of sound.

JBL Bar 1300 review

(Image credit: Future)

The use of identical drivers ensures a cohesive and balanced soundstage, but there’s also an auto-calibration feature that’s run using the included zapper or via the app. Follow the instructions on the screen and you’ll quickly have a calibrated system with any sonic aberrations in the room corrected.

In terms of other features, the Bar 1300 takes the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast and AirPlay found on the Bar 9.1 but adds Alexa Multi-Room, a hat-trick of voice assistants (Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant), and Pure Voice to bring out dialogue in today’s more complex surround mixes.

While the Bar 9.1 also used detachable rears, the Bar 1300 goes further by allowing you to pair one of them with any Bluetooth devices as a standalone speaker, or even pair both for a stereo setup. When fully charged the detachable rears have a claimed maximum play time of 12 hours.


JBL Bar 1300 review

(Image credit: Future)

The JBL Bar 1300 is undeniably excellent thanks to its combination of quality speakers, powerful amplification, and weighty subwoofer. The combination of identical drivers and auto-cal feature produces a coherent and balanced delivery with seamless steering of effects around the room.

This soundbar is good with music, thanks to larger drivers that provide clarity and detail, while the width of the cabinet creates plenty of stereo separation. The beefy sub delivers a solid foundation of bass that feels tight and controlled, especially after running the automated calibration feature.

With multichannel music, movies or TV shows, the side-firing speakers create extra width, while the centre channel keeps the dialogue clear and focused on the screen. The wireless rear speakers are free of delays or dropouts, delivering multichannel audio with genuine surround presence.

When it comes to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X the entire 11.1.4-channel soundstage is employed, creating a fully immersive spatial sonic experience. There’s a feeling of being enveloped in a realistic hemisphere of sound as the decoding places audio objects in three-dimensional space.

JBL Bar 1300 review

(Image credit: Future)

Leaving the rear speakers attached to the main unit produces a very wide front soundstage that’s ideal for simply watching regular TV programmes, while the Pure Voice feature can be useful when it comes to delivering clear dialogue in even the busiest of complex multichannel sound mixes.

The Bar 1300 works exceptionally well with games, creating a realistic and engaging soundstage that’s particularly effective with first-person shooters. The balanced nature of the system moves sounds seamlessly from speaker to speaker, creating a greater sense of immersion.

The overall delivery is very dynamic, with plenty of headroom thanks to all those powerful amps. So whether watching TV, immersing yourself in movies, listening to music or playing games, this soundbar delivers an exhilarating and enveloping sonic experience that’s sure to please.


JBL Bar 1300 review

(Image credit: Future)

The JBL Bar 1300 sports a sleek design with curved edges, mesh grilles, and a black finish. The styling is minimalist, and at only 60mm high the 'bar should be able to sit in front of a TV without blocking the screen. The build quality is solid, and it’s the perfect width for the best 65-inch TVs.

There are simple controls on the top of the soundbar itself, plus a basic display at the front-right. The detachable rear speakers are obviously designed to match the styling of the soundbar, especially when attached, while the wireless subwoofer is finished in a simple matte black.

JBL includes L-shaped brackets for wall-mounting the soundbar, and smaller U-shaped brackets for installing the surrounds at the back of the room. If you do this, there are side caps for covering where the rear speakers normally dock, and instead you recharge them using their USB-C ports.

JBL Bar 1300 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Bar 1300 includes three HDMI inputs, and an HDMI output with eARC. All pass HDR10 and Dolby Vision, but there’s no support for HDR10+, 4K/120Hz or VRR. The latter two will disappoint gamers. In addition, there’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast and AirPlay for wireless connections.

The included remote control is small, simple, easy to use, and fairly robust. The main controls are present and correct, plus there are buttons for tweaking the levels of the overhead and rear speakers, along with the subwoofer, and engaging the auto-calibration feature.

The JBL One app (iOS and Android) is a well-designed and intuitive interface that offers the same controls as the wand, plus a host of other functions that allow you to easily setup the Wi-Fi, integrate music streamers, personalise the audio features, and manage the soundbar settings.


JBL Bar 1300 review

(Image credit: Future)

The JBL Bar 1300 is an impressive addition to the brand’s soundbar range, upping the ante compared to the earlier Bar 9.1 with its immersive 11.1.4 layout, while also offering a genuine alternative to competing spatial audio systems from the likes of LG and Samsung.

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are delivered through a powerful and dynamic speaker configuration that includes a subwoofer capable of digging deep. There are also useful features like the detachable rears, slick remote app, and effective auto-cal that ensures a balanced and cohesive system.

The result is an impressive performer that produces an engaging and enjoyable object-based audio experience. It’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for a high-quality and very flexible immersive audio solution, this wireless soundbar system is an accomplished and hassle-free solution.

Also consider

The obvious competitor is Samsung’s HW-Q990C, which also offers Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio using an equally immersive 11.1.4-channel speaker layout. Thanks to some recent price reductions it’s also surprisingly cheap, as you can see in the real-time shopping widget below. 

In terms of other brands, the LG S95QR is another possibility. Its 9.1.5-channel system has fewer side channels but an extra centre height driver instead. Otherwise it’s very similar to the JBL and Samsung soundbars, but is currently the most expensive option (again, see below).

Stephen Withers

Steve Withers is a professional calibrator and freelance journalist who regularly contributes to T3, reviewing audio and video products, and writing articles. Steve has been writing about audio and video products for over ten years and, along with T3, he also contributes to TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Expert Reviews, AVForums, Pocket-lint, Home Cinema Choice, and Wired. Steve is Level 2 certified with THX, the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and the Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). As such, he remains abreast of all AV technology developments and the latest industry standards as we transition into a new era in home video and audio.