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If you think all "theater in a box" systems sound the same...
on June 14, 2011
...you're not far off.
Just about everyone makes a 5.1 "home theater in a box" kit in this price range, so it can be difficult to figure out which one is worth the money. More often than not, you get a mediocre subwoofer and some not-so-great satellite speakers, and the JBL Cinema Speaker System is basically no exception.
In fact, the only remarkable aspects of the JBL system over similar offerings from Yamaha, Sony, and Klipsch is the subwoofer. For this range, the included subwoofer is surprisingly accurate, and can reproduce rich bass without buzzing or overpowering the room.
It's nice, but to be honest, if having something pre-built with small satellite speakers isn't something you have your heart set on, you're going to get more bang for your buck if you buy full range left / right / center speakers and (at least, initially) go cheap on your subwoofer and surround channels.
Of course, if "easy and small" is what you're after, the JBL system isn't bad. But then... neither are any other systems in this price range.