How good is Dolby Atmos on a budget soundbar?

Today’s budget TVs come with many options like HDMI ARC, 4K HDR playback and some smart capabilities. Some budget TVs also boast of support for Dolby Atoms. One of the compromises made to keep the price of these TVs low is the quality of the audio output. 20W to 40W sound output from most budget TVs can do the job for regular TV viewing but for an immersive experience, you need to invest in a sound system like a soundbar.

Last year, we saw the launch of a bunch of budget soundbars at attractive price points that could complement your TV. These soundbars typically have a 2.1 setup, the subwoofer is not wireless and the build quality is average.

Today we have Zebronics Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Dolby Atmos Soundbar. The soundbar not only has Dolby Atoms support, but also an up-firing driver to mimic altitude channels. Could it mimic an surrounding sound experience? Read on and find out!

Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Dolby Atmos Soundbar Key Specification at a Glance

Soundbar and subwoofer weight: 8.2 kg
Subwoofer: Yes
Audio input: 3.5mm, optical in, 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-inch x 4 + 2-inch x 2
Subwoofer speaker driver: 6.5-inch
Power output: 450W
Price: Rs 17,999

What’s in the box for the Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Dolby Atmos Soundbar?

In the box, you will find soundbar, subwoofer, power cable and an aux cable You will get remote control and manual. The subwoofer connects to the soundbar via a cable.

The subwoofer connects 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 build whose grille occupies the front and top of the soundbar. It has a hint of silver next to it which is nice because it will make sure people notice it. It has 2 rubber feet which hold it well when placed on the table. The soundbar itself does not seem to be relatively light but faint. On the front left is the Zebronics logo and on the right is the Dolby Atoms badge. In the center, we have an LED indicator to show you the sound preset, current source, etc. I hope it fades a bit or shuts off automatically after a while because its constant visibility can be confusing, especially if you see the content in a dark room. At the top of the soundbar are physical buttons for power, source and volume. This is excellent in case you lose the remote control. The buttons have a nice clicky feel to them. The power cord is detachable and user-replaceable in the soundbar.

The soundbar is quite thin

Moving towards the subwoofer, it has a rectangular form factor with the duct facing the front and bottom half of the soundbar as we have seen in many other subwoofers. It has a matte finish, which I like. There is no connection option except a cable that is connected to the subwoofer and is not user-replaceable. This cable connects the subwoofer to the soundbar.

Overall, the soundbar doesn’t look cheap, but it’s not premium either. The subwoofer has a minimal design which is very nice. There is no bling in the soundbar but the prominent logo and chunky LED indicator in the center can be confusing. Grill finishing around the soundbar is good.

There is a physical button at the top of the soundbar.

Zeb-Zuk Bar 9700 Pro Soundbar Port and Connection

Speaking of connectivity options, the speaker has an HDMI ARC port and 2 HDMI pass-through ports capable of 4K and HDR. It has an optical in, a USB port, Bluetooth 5.0 and an AUX-in. All ports are nicely hidden behind the soundbar and easily accessible. We haven’t wall-mounted the soundbar, so we can’t say for sure, but handling cables can be a bit of a problem when wall-mounting the soundbar.

The soundbar has 2 HDMI passthrough ports.

Nice to see 2 HDMI pass-through ports in the soundbar with support for 4K and HDR.

Zeb-Zuk Bar 9700 Pro Remote Control

Moved to the remote control, it’s all plastic with curved edges to add grip. Although the buttons are clicked, the remote seems a bit cheap. It runs on two AAA batteries and offers playback control for Bluetooth and USB connections, four different EQ presets, treble, bus and volume control and the ability to change inputs. You can use the remote control to keep the soundbar in pairing mode for Bluetooth playback. Everything you do on the remote control is reflected in the soundbar’s LED display.

The remote control is functional and made of plastic.

Zeb-Zuk Bar 9700 Pro Soundbar Setup

Soundbar is very easy to set up. 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), connect the soundbar to a power supply, connect it to your TV and you can go. Setup will not take you more than 10 minutes.

Soundbar supports Dolby Atoms decoding.

Zeb-Zuk Bar 9700 Pro Soundbar Performance

The first thing that comes to your mind when you hear this soundbar is diameter-heavy. Whether it’s for movies, TV shows, or music, there’s a lot of emphasis on the soundbar. The soundbar can also be very loud, if you want something to bring down the house. We connected the Xbox One X to the soundbar via an HDMI cable to check pass-through, and it worked. If you connect a Dolby Atmos enabled source to the soundbar and connect the soundbar to your TV via ARC, you can enjoy Atmos encoding from the source even if your TV doesn’t support it, which is good. It has 2 HDMI pass-through ports. This is a very convenient touch, especially since most budget TVs come with 3 HDMI ports, one of which is ARC, leaving you only 2 HDMI ports on the back of the TV. With this soundbar, you’ll get 2 more HDMI ports to effectively connect devices.

To the left of the soundbar is the Zebronics logo

Let’s move on from Dolby Atmos performance. Although the soundbar has decent channel breaks, don’t expect the sound to come from above you. It has a decently spacious sound stage but deceptive Atmos performance.

In terms of sound quality, we connected it to the TV using HDMI ARC and optical, and both inputs worked well. However, for a more seamless experience, we recommend using the HDMI ARC port.

At about 30 to 40 percent of the volume the soundbar can be quite loud but it lacks clarity and this is again due to the base-heavy signature of the bar. Watching news or TV shows like Young Sheldon or Big Bang Theory where dialogue is most important, you will still get a bass-heavy sound output. The only image preset that worked to reduce this was the news preset and I ended up using this preset most of the time. You can control the bus and treble separately from the remote control, but it makes the sound output a bit muddy.

The soundbar fits well under 50 and 55-inch TVs.

When the “News” sound is preset, the bass is low and we can focus on all other aspects. The voice of the news preset is clear so daily TV shows and documentaries can be enjoyed.

Once in the movie, you expect the base to start again when an action sequence starts or the background score demands it. Same thing for gaming, especially a game like Doom Eternal where you have to feel the thump of a shotgun, you can feel everything.

The news preset was the only way to ensure some normality of the sound and in this preset, the bass doesn’t seem right.

Overall, although the sound output from this soundbar can be really loud, its shallow-heavy nature leaves much to be desired for an enjoyable experience. Some of you who want a lot of bass at every turn can enjoy the sound output.

The last row

The Zebronics Zeb-Juke Bar 9700 Pro Dolby Atmos Soundbar has good connectivity options, a simple plug and play setup and support for Dolby Atmos decoding. Although the Dolby Atoms performance is deceptive, the heavy nature of the soundbar base makes it difficult to recommend to everyone. If you don’t want an extra HDMI pass-through port and are looking for an surround sound experience, you can check out the Sony HT-S20R (review) for the same price. It has a 5.1 soundbar with dedicated sound speakers and has better overall sound output.

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