Ameya DalviMay 03, 2021 17:42:00 IST
Price: Rs 6,199
We’ve been reviewing quite a few budget soundbars over the last few months, but the Zebronics Zeb-Juke bar 3800 Pro Dolby is an unusual option in this segment. For starters, unlike most soundbars we’ve reviewed, it lacks a subwoofer, and the bar must handle all the frequency ranges (including the lows) on its own. What’s more interesting is that the bar is compliant with Dolby Digital Plus, which is a rarity in this segment. But how does it actually perform, you ask. Let’s find out.
Zebronics Zeb-Juke Bar 3800 Pro Dolby Soundbar: Design (7.5/10)
The Zebronics 3800 Pro Dolby soundbar has a largely standard design, with an all-black body and a metal grille up front sporting company branding and a Dol by Digital Plus logo. The construction is quite rugged, and the finish is decent. The bar is about 90 cm long and fits perfectly under a 40 to 43-inch TV. As I mentioned in the intro, there is no subwoofer here and the bar has to do all the hard yards. The soundbar can be mounted on a wall with a pair of screws provided in the package. A full-function wireless remote control is also bundled, along with a pair of AAA batteries needed to power it.
All input ports (except the USB port) are at the back of the soundbar. Since they are side facing, it is relatively easier to connect the cables to the ports in case you wall-mount it. Another smart decision by the design team is to place the USB port at the side of the bar, where it’s a lot easier to plug in a flash drive as compared to a USB port located at the back of the bar. The power button – along with volume control keys – are placed on the right side. There is a tiny, white, seven-segment LED display positioned front and centre, which is always a handy inclusion. It displays the input source and volume/bass/treble levels, among other things.
Zebronics Zeb-Juke Bar 3800 Pro Dolby Soundbar: Specifications and Features (8/10)
All popular connectivity options are present on the Zeb-Juke Bar 3800 Pro Dolby. You get Bluetooth 5.0, a 3.5 mm Aux in, Optical in, USB and last but most importantly, HDMI ARC. It has most of the bases covered. The soundbar has two pairs of 6.35 cm drivers to take care of all the frequency ranges, including lows; they also have to cover for the missing subwoofer. Both deliver a combined peak output of 60 W RMS. The rated frequency response ranges between 45 Hz to 20 KHz.
Beefing up the impressive list of features here is Dolby certification. Dolby-certified soundbars with HDMI ARC input are a rarity in this budget, and the Juke Bar 3800 Pro is capable of handling Dolby Digital Plus audio. The neat-looking, full-function wireless remote control is the one you get with most Zebronics soundbars. It is reasonably well built and has controls for volume, bass, treble, equaliser pre-sets (Music, News, Movie, 3D), input selection and audio playback. There’s a power button, along with a mute button, too. I can’t think of anything important that the company has missed out here. Do take good care of the remote, as most functions aren’t accessible without it.
Zebronics Zeb-Juke Bar 3800 Pro Dolby Soundbar: Performance (7.5/10)
I tried multiple input sources to test the soundbar, and understandably, HDMI and USB playback was better than Bluetooth and Aux. When in Bluetooth mode, the master volume of this soundbar does not sync with the Bluetooth volume of the source device. So, you have to adjust both volumes separately, something I’m not fond of. Interestingly, the soundbar supports AAC codecs over Bluetooth, something I haven’t come across till date in budget soundbars.
Moving on to the sound quality, it is surprisingly good for a 2.0 channel soundbar. The output is loud, the bass is punchy and more often than not, you do not miss a dedicated subwoofer, and that’s saying something. There are sound adjustments that let you throttle the bass and treble between -5 to 5 to suit your taste, and that makes a noticeable difference to the sound output. There are four sound pre-sets, and those are independent of the bass and treble levels. Best to always use the Movie or Music pre-set and leave the other two alone.
The soundbar can get loud for a mid-sized room at around 50 percent volume level. Only on a few occasions when watching shows or movies on certain OTT platforms did I need to push it up to 70 percent for better clarity. The dynamic range of this bar is quite decent. The highs are reproduced well, and there is a good amount of clarity in the vocals. The bass has a good presence, too, though it’s not too tight. The performance in music playback is just about passable, especially when playing it over Bluetooth or Aux. It sounds noticeably better when played from the USB port or via HDMI. Despite that, this soundbar isn’t the best for playing music.
It’s when you’re watching a web series or a movie (especially ones encoded in Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus) that this soundbar comes to life. There is a noticeable difference in audio quality in such content as compared to other budget soundbars without Dolby certification. It fills the room with punchy audio that has ample clarity in dialogues and surprisingly good detail in sound. In action sequences, you do miss the extra punch that a subwoofer can deliver, but on most occasions, you won’t miss the sub. It transcends your TV viewing experience way beyond what most TV speakers can manage, and especially when watching content from Netflix and Prime Video with high quality audio. When viewing Dolby-enabled content, the words ‘Dolby Audio’ flash across the LED display. However, it doesn’t specify if it’s a Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus signal.
Zebronics Zeb-Juke Bar 3800 Pro Dolby Soundbar: Price, alternatives and verdict
The Zebronics Zeb-Juke Bar 3800 Pro Dolby is priced at Rs 6,199 with a one-year warranty, and is available on all popular ecommerce platforms like Flipkart and Amazon. Though you get 2.1 channel soundbars (with a subwoofer) in that price range, hardly any are Dolby-certified and some even lack an HDMI input. I would say this is a good price for a soundbar with multiple audio inputs including HDMI ARC, support for Dolby Digital Plus, good sound output and adjustments; it’s even better if you don’t have space for a subwoofer or do not like excess bass.
As for alternatives, there are hardly any soundbars without a subwoofer that sound as good in this price range. It beats the Xiaomi Soundbar (that sells for Rs 4,999) comfortably both in terms of features and performance. You do have some competition from Zebronics itself. The Zeb-Jukebar 4000 – that comes with a subwoofer and sells for Rs 200 less – sounds quite good, despite lacking compliance with Dolby Audio. It has all the connectivity options as well, but if you are looking for a simple and competent soundbar without the clutter of extra cables or a sub, the Zeb-Juke bar 3800 Pro Dolby is an excellent option.