High-resolution audio. It has 550 watts worth of power, and it uses a 5.2.1 channel system. The system boasts an audiophile-grade speaker design.
Design is heavy, weighing 33 pounds. This wouldn't be an easy version to wall-mount under a TV.
Simple 2.1 channel design in a soundbar makes it easy to set up and use. Includes a wireless subwoofer. Can add more speakers wirelessly by purchasing them separately. Offers HDMI connectivity. May stream music from mobile devices through a Bluetooth connection. CTA certified for high-resolution audio.
Only has 2.1 channel audio output. No apps built into the soundbar.
Smart dual speaker design that allows you to place the 2 main speakers in a left/right configuration or in a front/back configuration for optimal layout in the room. Also includes a separate wireless subwoofer. Has an HDMI input for cabled connectivity. Includes Bluetooth connection option for streaming music.
A bit more complex than other soundbar systems. Some connection issues.
Includes 4.1 channels of audio and 360 watts of power, giving it plenty of high-end capabilities. Works especially well in small rooms. Slim soundbar design that has a slight curve to it to fit curved TVs. Easy to stream music from mobile devices. Has Chromecast built into the hardware for easy streaming of music.
High price tag. Some problems with cut outs of the audio from time to time.
Easy to stream music through the soundbar from a mobile device through a Bluetooth connection. Basic soundbar that will be easy to configure, while still delivering decent audio quality. Makes use of Adaptive Sound Control technology that matches the sound output to the type of audio being played.
Not really made for those seeking top-flight audio quality. Only 100 watts of power.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
One of the dirty secrets of the home theater industry is that most modern TVs – even the fancy 4K models – have terrible speakers. TV and projector manufacturers focus their attention on the visuals of your movies and TV shows and rarely put significant effort toward including quality audio, primarily because they’re counting on consumers to bring their own audio solutions.
When it comes to improving your TV’s audio, you’ve got two options: you can build a multi-speaker surround-sound setup complete with an AV receiver and anywhere between three and 12 speakers, or you can buy a soundbar. For most people, the cost and effort involved with a multi-speaker setup is off-putting – and using a single soundbar delivers an audio experience that’s almost as good.
At BestReviews, we’re on a mission to provide the most reliable and unbiased product reviews on the internet. We believe in looking at products from all angles – the pros, the cons, and the compromises – and helping our readers make the best choices based on their needs. Keep reading for our take on LG soundbars. Then, when you have an idea of what features you need and how much you want to spend, check out the table above to see which models we recommend most.
Soundbars have one job: to make your TV and movies sound as good as they look. Unfortunately, determining which soundbars are up to the task can get rather complicated because not all soundbars support every audio format you’ll encounter. Here’s a quick rundown of the different audio formats you’ll see listed in connection with soundbars and what they mean.
Dolby Digital is the most common digital surround format available. A Dolby Digital signal can carry sound information for as many as eight speakers, but it can also work through as little as one speaker. Most broadcast television – including TV accessed through a cable box – comes with Dolby Digital audio.
Dolby Atmos is Dolby’s take on “object-based audio,” which adds an additional two to four speakers to a traditional 7.1 speaker setup. The additional speakers are typically positioned in the ceiling above the viewer where they create “height” audio, meaning they’re able to work with other speakers to place specific sounds in specific areas of the room. Best of all, Dolby Atmos is dynamic, so the setup process will calibrate to your specific viewing area and create the perfect soundscape for the environment. When LG soundbars list support for Dolby Atmos, that means they include two to four additional up-firing speakers which will simulate the effect of ceiling speakers. Dolby Atmos is currently found on 4K Blu-rays and some streaming services, and make no mistake, it represents a huge step forward from prior audio formats.
Movie theater sound
LG’s SJ9 soundbar makes no compromises: it supports Dolby Atmos, one of the newest and most capable surround sound formats, and it includes a subwoofer that can shake your neighbor’s windows. The price tag may be a little tough to swallow, but if you’re in a cramped space that needs the best audio available, this is the soundbar you want.
Digital Theater Sound (DTS) is a rival to Dolby Digital that can be found on many DVDs and some streaming apps. Although it’s less common than Dolby Digital, it’s a step up in audio quality. Both Dolby Digital and DTS are compressed audio formats, meaning they don’t have all of the fidelity of the original recording – but they both still sound pretty great.
Digital Theater Sound High Definition Master Audio is the upgraded version of DTS. It features uncompressed audio in up to eight speakers. Uncompressed audio is a major improvement because you’re hearing the soundtrack unaltered. Conversations in DTS-HD-MA sound up close and personal; action scenes will make your living room sound like a war zone.
Digital Theater Sound:X is the competing audio format to Dolby Atmos. Much in the way that Dolby Digital is found everywhere (but DTS is superior), DTS:X is a more capable format than its more commonly found closest competitor, Dolby Atmos. DTS:X also features object-based sound, but with DTS:X, you can manually adjust specific sound objects. For example, if a center channel is playing dialog as well as music or additional background audio, DTS:X can isolate the dialog and increase the relative volume. (With other formats, you can adjust the entire volume of the center channel, but DTS:X takes it to a new level of specificity.)
Some LG soundbars include built-in Chromecast functionality, so you can “cast” any audio content directly from your smartphone to your soundbar to enjoy it in high fidelity. Casting is a bit simpler than Bluetooth, and it yields better-quality audio.
You may find an LG soundbar that supports 4.1 surround sound, but any 5.1 signals will be downmixed to adjust. In general, it’s better to go with an LG soundbar with proper 5.1 support, so the native audio can be played without any downmixing.
If you already own an LG device with Google Assistant built in, you can use that to control your LG soundbar with voice commands. When properly linked, you can ask your existing LG device to adjust the volume on or even mute your LG soundbar.
LG offers a wide variety of soundbars in a broad range of price points. As you’re considering how much you want to spend, keep these price ranges in mind.
Between $100 and $199, you’ll find some competent LG soundbars with basic format support and a minimal number of speakers. On the low end of the range, you’ll see stereo-only models made for smaller TVs. As you get closer to $200, you’ll find models that include subwoofers and more connectivity options. If you need a basic soundbar for a small room like a den or a dorm room, you’ll find some terrific options for making your music and movies sound better for less than $200.
Between $200 and $399, LG soundbars offer bigger sound and more speakers. In this price range, you’ll find models that support 5.1 and 7.1 setups that use up-firing speakers to bounce surround audio around the room. If you have a TV that’s 55 inches or larger, or if you’re ready to try out the most common premium audio formats (like DTS-HD-MA), you’ll find terrific options in this range.
The basics, improved
LG’s SH2 soundbar doesn’t have much in the way of speakers – it only supports a 2.1 setup. But at this price point, that’s OK. We love the Bluetooth connectivity and how easy it is to mount on the wall, and 2.1 setups are ideal for music, making this soundbar great for parties, even if there’s nothing on TV.
As you’re shopping for an LG soundbar, consider these tips.
Measure the horizontal width of your TV before shopping for a soundbar. The TV sizes that we talk about (like 55 or 65 inches) actually measure the diagonal distance of the TV screen, but when you’re looking at soundbars, you need to know the width of the set. Once you know how wide your set is, you can then get a sense of how big of a soundbar to buy. Your LG soundbar doesn’t have to be the exact same width as your TV, but if it’s too small or too large, it may look peculiar underneath your TV.
If you plan to mount your LG soundbar to a wall, make sure you are drilling into the studs behind the wall for optimal stability. Soundbars can be heavy, and if you mount one on drywall alone, there’s a decent chance it will come crashing down before too long. Don’t take any chances – even if you have to buy a stud finder to determine where they are.
Q. Are wireless subwoofers as good as wired subwoofers?
A. Yes, for the most part. While any type of wireless speaker comes with the risk of occasional static or wireless interference, the wireless subwoofers included with LG soundbars are just as powerful and expressive as their wired counterparts.
Q. Do soundbars sound as good as multi-speaker systems?
A. Almost. Many soundbars use up-firing speakers and echolocation technology to simulate surround effects, so it will sound like audio is coming from behind you or moving around the room. However, because every viewing room has unique acoustics, simulated surround will sound better in some locations than others. The bottom line: if you have a larger viewing area, you’ll probably need a full surround-sound speaker system to fill the room. But if you’re watching in a typical living room or bedroom, a soundbar will be more than enough to deliver a theater-like experience.
Q. Can I connect a turntable to a soundbar to play my vinyl records?
A. You can if your turntable has a built-in preamp. Turntables require more amplification than standard audio sources, which is why they typically need to be plugged into ports labeled “phono.” LG soundbars don’t include phono inputs, but many modern turntables have built-in preamps so they can connect to any speaker or amplifier with a standard RCA input. If your turntable doesn’t have a built-in preamp, you can purchase one separately and use it to properly connect your record player to your LG soundbar. If a record player will be part of your soundbar setup, make sure to buy a soundbar that has RCA inputs.
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