Budget TVs these days come with a myriad of options, such as HDMI ARC, 4K HDR display, and some smart features. Some budget TVs also support Dolby Atmos. One of the compromises made to keep the price of these TVs low is the quality of the audio output. The 20W to 40W sound output of most budget TVs can get the job done for watching regular TVs, but for an immersive experience you should invest in a sound system like a soundbar.
Over the past year we’ve seen the launch of a number of budget soundbars at attractive prices that can complement your TV. These soundbars generally have a 2.1 setup, the subwoofer is not wireless and the build quality is mediocre.
Today we have with us the Zebronics Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Dolby Atmos Soundbar. The soundbar not only has Dolby Atmos support, but also has upward-firing drivers to simulate the height channels. Can it simulate a surround sound experience? Read on and find out!
Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Dolby Atmos Soundbar key specs at a glance
Sound bar and subwoofer Weight: 8.2 kg
Audio Inputs: 3.5mm, Optical Input, Bluetooth HDMI (ARC).
Soundbar dimensions: LxWxH = 960 x 83 x 73 mm
HDMI input: 2
HDMI Output (Audio Return Channel): 1
Soundbar Speaker Driver: 2.25″ x 4 + 2″ x 2″
Subwoofer Speaker Driver: 6.5-inch
Output power: 450W
Price: Rs 17,999
What’s in the box of the Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Dolby Atmos Soundbar
In the box you get the soundbar, subwoofer, power cable and an Aux cable. You also get the remote control and manual. You connect the subwoofer to the soundbar via a cable.
Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Dolby Atmos Soundbar Build and Design
The Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro has a simple traditional soundbar design. It has a plastic construction with the grill on the front and the top of the soundbar. It has a hint of silver on the sides which is nice as this will make people notice it. It has 2 rubber feet that hold it well when placed on a table. The soundbar itself is relatively light but does not feel thin. The left side of the front has the Zebronics logo and the right side has the Dolby Atmos badge. In the middle we have an LED indicator to show you the sound preset, the current source, etc. I wish this was a little weaker or would turn off automatically after some time as the constant visibility can be distracting, especially if you’re watching content in a pitch dark room. The top of the soundbar has physical buttons for on/off, source and volume. This is useful in case you lose the remote. The buttons have a nice click feel. The power cord is detachable on the soundbar and can be replaced by the user.
Moving to the subwoofer, it has a rectangular form factor with the channel forward and toward the bottom half of the soundbar, as we’ve seen with so many other subwoofers. It has a matte finish, which I like. The subwoofer has no connectivity options other than a cable that is attached and is not user-replaceable. This cable connects the subwoofer to the soundbar.
Overall, the soundbar doesn’t feel cheap, but it isn’t premium either. The subwoofer has a minimalist design which is very nice. The soundbar has no bling, but the prominent logos and thick LED indicator in the middle can be distracting. The grill finish around the soundbar is good.
Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Soundbar Ports and Connectivity
Speaking of connectivity options, the speaker has one HDMI ARC port and 2 HDMI pass-through ports capable of 4K and HDR. It also has an optical input, a USB port, Bluetooth 5.0 and an AUX input. All ports are neatly concealed at the back of the soundbar and easily accessible. We didn’t mount the soundbar on the wall, so we can’t say for sure, but it can be a little tricky to manage cables when you mount the soundbar on the wall.
It’s nice to see 2 HDMI pass-through ports on the soundbar, along with support for 4K and HDR.
Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Remote Control
Moving on to the remote, it’s all plastic with curved edges to add to the grip. While the buttons are clickable, the remote feels a bit cheap. It runs on two AAA batteries and offers playback controls for Bluetooth and USB connectivity, four different EQ presets, treble, bass and volume controls, and the ability to change inputs. You can also use the remote to put the soundbar into pairing mode for Bluetooth playback. Whatever you do on the remote is reflected on the LED display on the soundbar.
Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Soundbar Configuration
Setting up the soundbar is very easy. Place the soundbar under the TV, place the subwoofer in a corner (it should be close enough for the subwoofer cable to reach the soundbar), plug the soundbar into a power supply, plug it into your TV and you’re good to go . The installation takes no more than 10 minutes.
Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Soundbar Performance
Bass-heavy is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear this soundbar. Whether for movies, TV shows or music, the soundbar has too much emphasis on bass. The soundbar can also get very loud, if you want to bring the house down. We connected the Xbox One X to the soundbar via an HDMI cable to check the pass-through and it works. If you connect a Dolby Atmos compatible source to the soundbar and connect the soundbar to your TV via ARC, you can enjoy the source’s Atmos encoding even if your TV doesn’t support it, which is good. The fact that it has 2 HDMI pass-through ports is very useful, especially since most budget TVs come with 3 HDMI ports, one of which is ARC, giving you only 2 HDMI ports on the back of the TV. With this soundbar, you effectively get 2 more HDMI ports to connect devices to.
Let’s get the Dolby Atmos performance out of the way. Although the soundbar has decent channel separation, don’t expect the sound to come from above you. It has a fairly wide soundstage but gimmicky Atmos performance.
As for the sound quality itself, we hooked it up to the TV via HDMI ARC and Optical and both inputs worked fine. However, for a more seamless experience, we recommend using the HDMI ARC port.
At about 30 to 40 percent volume, the soundbar can get quite loud, but what it lacks is clarity and that again is due to the bass-heavy signature of the bar. Watching news or TV shows like Young Sheldon or Big Bang Theory where dialogue is most important, you’ll still get bass-heavy sound reproduction. The only image preset that worked to mitigate this was the news preset, and I ended up using this preset most of the time. You can control the bass and treble separately from the remote, but it clouds the sound output a bit.
In the sound preset “News” the bass is low and we can focus on all other aspects. The vocals in the news preset are clear, so you can enjoy daily TV shows and documentaries.
Moving on to movies, again expect the bass to play when an action scene starts or the background score requires it. The same goes for gaming, especially in a game like Doom Eternal where you have to feel the thump of the shotgun, you eventually feel everything.
Resorting to the news preset was the only way to make the sound a bit more normal and in this preset the bass just doesn’t feel right.
Overall, while the sound output from this soundbar can get very loud, its bass-heavy nature leaves a lot to be desired to have an enjoyable experience. Some of you who want a lot of bass with every spin may enjoy the sound output.
What it comes down to:
What the Zebronics Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Dolby Atmos Soundbar has to offer are great connectivity options, easy plug-and-play installation, and support for Dolby Atmos decoding. While the Dolby Atmos performance is a gimmick, the bass-heavy nature of the soundbar makes it hard to recommend to anyone. If you don’t want the extra HDMI pass-through ports and are looking for a surround sound experience, you can check out the comparably priced Sony HT-S20R (review). It is a 5.1 soundbar with dedicated surround speakers and has a better overall sound reproduction.