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Sennheiser vs JBL Soundbars: Which Brand Is Better?

sennheiser vs jbl

Sennheiser vs JBL Soundbars: Which Brand Is Better?

Picking the right soundbar to complement your home theater can be tricky. There are numerous options on the market, all with their own advantages and drawbacks.

Some, like the Sennheiser AMBEO Max, are premium products with all the bells and whistles. Others, like the JBL Bar 9.1, punch well above their weight class by providing stellar sound quality at a lower overall price than its competitors.

Purchasing a soundbar can be quite a sizeable investment, so it pays to do your due diligence in research. So, between the two, which one is better? Does the Sennheiser AMBEO Max really offer that much more than the JBL Bar 9.1?

Determining which is the better investment takes some exploration. These are both products at different price points, though they may fulfill the same overall objective. Let’s explore the sound quality, the tech behind them, and, ultimately, which one is the better choice for your home theater.

Sennheiser vs JBL Soundbars: Side-by-Side Comparison

Sennheiser AMBEO MaxJBL Bar 9.1
Channel Configuration5.1.4 Channel5.1.4 Channel
Low-Frequency Speakers62
High-Frequency Speakers53
Full Range Speakers22
Output250 watts400 watts
Frequency Response30 Hz to 20 kHz34 Hz to 20 kHz
Satellite SpeakersNot compatibleRear positioning
SubwooferNot applicable1 Bass Reflex Subwoofer at 300 watts
InputsHDMI, Optical TOSLINK, Stereo RCA, Calibration MicHDMI, Optical TOSLINK
OutputsHDMI 2.1, RCA SubwooferHDMI
Audio CodecsDTS-ES, DTS-HD, DTS-X, Dolby AtmosDTS-X, Dolby Atmos
Wall MountableYes, with optional hardwareYes, with included hardware

As can be seen above, there are some common elements between the two soundbars. Curiously, the JBL Bar 9.1 has more overall power than the Sennheiser AMBEO Max.

Sennheiser vs JBL Soundbars: What’s the Difference?

Both of these soundbars have a fair bit in common, as you might expect. There is, of course, some overlap with the audio codecs supported. Some stark differences arise when taking a closer look at them, however.

Sound Quality

The Sennheiser AMBEO Max has a fair bit to like in terms of overall sound quality. Supported frequencies range from the very lows at 30 Hz to the limits of human hearing at 20 kHz. The actual quality of the sound being rendered is excellent, with minimal distortion being seen at higher volume levels.

The soundstage in particular, or the sense of space, is rich and deep when listening to Dolby Atmos mixes. The actual sound quality of the AMBEO Max is stellar, as you might expect from anything made by Sennheiser.

Great Surround Sound
SENNHEISER AMBEO Soundbar Max
$1,659.99
  • Deep 30Hz bass
  • Delivers 3D surround sound via advanced room calibration
  • Built-in equalizer and 3 bespoke AMBEO 3D technology modes
  • Fully compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and MPEG-H
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/23/2024 06:31 pm GMT

At first glance, the JBL Bar 9.1 looks like a lesser soundbar. That’s true on the surface, at least in terms of pricing. It doesn’t reach down as low as the AMBEO Max, only reaching 34 Hz, though it does reach the same 20 kHz seen on the AMBEO Max.

However, the JBL Bar 9.1 comes out of the box with a wireless subwoofer to help provide some solid bass to your audio. The soundstage is impressive, with a great sense of space being provided by the wireless rear speakers, the soundbar itself, and the subwoofer.

Features

The AMBEO Max has some stellar features to help set it apart from other soundbars. Users get the option of connecting a room correction microphone.

This helps to correct the acoustics of a room, something that is generally seen in recording studios and less of a factor in home theaters. This helps to really get the soundbar tailored for your viewing room, however.

There is also a graphical equalizer for making adjustments to the sound itself. You might find some films are a little too bass-heavy, and this works well for that purpose. It does have support for a wired subwoofer, but given how low the drivers reach, it isn’t needed.

The JBL Bar 9.1 is a fully wireless surround system, as previously mentioned. It has speakers which work wirelessly, as does the subwoofer. This gives it a great deal of flexibility in terms of the overall positioning.

Where the JBL Bar 9.1 falters is by not providing any means for equalizing the sound content. Users have no option for a built-in equalizer, so you’ll be at the mercy of your television or streaming device. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but would make a great inclusion.

Connectivity

The AMBEO Max has a wide range of connectivity available, with HDMI, optical, and RCA inputs all available. The inclusion of the RCA inputs is a bit of a shame, given the latent line-level noise of unbalanced inputs.

One can suppose these are meant more for legacy devices, as most connections will be done with optical or HDMI inputs. It is also compatible with Bluetooth protocols, being able to leverage Apple AirPlay and Spotify Connect.

That said, it’s a great range of inputs and outputs. The included Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility certainly won’t leave you wanting.

Best Overall
JBL Bar 9.1
$644.54
  • Power output: 820W
  • DTS and Dolby Atmos (with X decoding) built-in
  • Surround speakers (detachable and battery-powered) included
  • A 300W, 10-inch powered subwoofer allows you to experience real, deep, bass
  • Supports Dolby Vision with Ultra HD 4K pass-through
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/24/2024 05:42 am GMT

The JBL Bar 9.1 features a lot of the same means of connectivity. Wireless and Bluetooth connectivity is present, but there are far fewer inputs. It only features an HDMI and optical connection for the inputs, with a single HDMI serving as the output.

This could be expected, given that it is a budget soundbar. However, it would be nice to have at least an optical output for connecting further sound sources down the line. It also doesn’t leave much room for augmenting the speaker array with additional satellite speakers, like the RCA inputs on the AMBEO Max.

Protocols

The AMBEO Max has stellar support across most audio codecs traditionally used for home theaters. A full complement of Dolby codecs is present, including the ever-popular Dolby Atmos. There is also support for a wide variety of audio file formats, allowing the soundbar to act as a sound system for your favorite music.

While this isn’t necessary given the option for streaming audio directly from mobile devices, it is a great inclusion. Some users aren’t going to be leaning on audio streaming services and may prefer to have their music stored locally on a hard drive or other physical devices.

The JBL Bar 9.1 doesn’t have quite as much support for audio codecs. Key choices like Dolby Atmos and DTS-X are both present which is a must, given the nature of today’s streaming media. Audio file format choices are far slimmer, as well, with only MP3 files being directly supported.

This choice doesn’t make much sense, given the general loss in audio quality undertaken by rendering something to MP3. That said, it has plenty to keep your home theater sounding great.

Sennheiser vs JBL Soundbars: 6 Must-Know Facts

  1. Sennheiser AMBEO Max has support for wired external speakers.
  2. Sennheiser AMBEO Max is one of the best soundbars you can get, despite the price tag.
  3. Sennheiser AMBEO Max is wall-mountable but requires additional hardware to use.
  4. JBL Bar 9.1 comes with a wall mounting kit.
  5. JBL Bar 9.1 comes with both wireless rear speakers and a subwoofer.
  6. JBL Bar 9.1 is one of the best budget soundbars you can get.

Sennheiser vs JBL Soundbars: Which One Is Better? Which Should You Choose?

At first glance, you would probably think the Sennheiser AMBEO Max is the clear winner of this shootout. Truth be told, you’d be absolutely correct in coming to that conclusion. The AMBEO Max comes with a lot of stellar features built in and has a great deal of flexibility.

However, it is twice the price of the JBL Bar 9.1. If budget is of no concern, and you simply want the best of the best, then the AMBEO Max is the way to go. The JBL Bar 9.1 presents great value for the money, coming in at roughly half the price of the AMBEO Max.

While the Sennheiser sound bar needs additional hardware to get a subwoofer or wall mounting, these are included in JBL’s offering. That said, it lacks in certain areas. With that in mind, you can’t go wrong with the Sennheiser AMBEO Max.

  1. SENNHEISER AMBEO Soundbar Max
    $1,659.99
    • Deep 30Hz bass
    • Delivers 3D surround sound via advanced room calibration
    • Built-in equalizer and 3 bespoke AMBEO 3D technology modes
    • Fully compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and MPEG-H
    • Built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Tidal Connect
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/23/2024 06:31 pm GMT
  2. JBL Bar 9.1
    $644.54
    • Power output: 820W
    • DTS and Dolby Atmos (with X decoding) built-in
    • Surround speakers (detachable and battery-powered) included
    • A 300W, 10-inch powered subwoofer allows you to experience real, deep, bass
    • Supports Dolby Vision with Ultra HD 4K pass-through
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/24/2024 05:42 am GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the JBL Bar 9.1 support Dolby Atmos?

The JBL Bar 9.1 supports Dolby Atmos and Dolby Surround Sound.

Can I play music from Spotify on either of these soundbars?

Yes, you can use the wireless connectivity to play music from Spotify directly on either soundbar.

Can I mount the AMBEO Max on a wall?

Yes, it does require the purchase of additional hardware, however.

Is the AMBEO Max capable of Atmos sound?

Yes, along with other Dolby Digital audio codecs.

Does the AMBEO Max come with a subwoofer?

No, but you can purchase one for use.

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