Immediately, the Arena 5.1 hits us with an exciting, dynamic performance that’s powerful and immense. Explosions are delivered with authority and stacks of low-end rumble – a credit to the sub.
Sound placement is good too. When Tom Cruise’s character, Cage, is dropped into the warzone for the first time, gunfire and the sound of helicopter blades fly around your listening position with natural fluidity.
Meanwhile, the midrange handles the tense horn-based soundtrack with urgency and agility.
When Cage battles the alpha Mimic, the noise as the timeloop explodes spreads impressively tall and wide, emphasising just how big a soundfield this system has to offer.
We play with the centre speaker’s levels to get it to integrate with the two fronts – at first it sits slightly forward and is a touch overpowering, before tipping the other way when turned down.
We find a happy medium, but there is a slightly different character between them that our tweaking can only do so much to balance out.
For all its big, bold characteristics, we think the JBL Arena 5.1 could do with a touch more refinement. While there’s a clarity and crispness that contributes towards the package’s keen and engaging nature, the extra edge to the treble can make the overall performance sound a little coarse.
It’s not that the treble is forward or unbalanced, it just needs to be of a higher quality. A touch more subtlety wouldn’t go amiss either.
The JBL Arena 5.1 is all about going hard or going home. Big scale dynamics are impressive, but lower level ones somewhat lacking.
We’d like to see more fine detail to deliver better expression and emotion in dialogue-filled scenes. Here, the rival Dali Zensor 1 5 .1 package takes easy points off of the JBL, with its more articulate and insightful nature.