LG SP9YA Soundbar assessment: Setting a excessive bar for Dolby Atmos

MSRP $1,000.00

“The LG SP9YA Soundbar turns any room into an immersive, Dolby Atmos-powered dwelling theater.”

Execs

  • Superior and immersive Dolby Atmos
  • Simple setup
  • Chromecast and AirPlay 2
  • Stage and EQ controls
  • Hello-res audio capabilities

Cons

  • Hardwired energy wire
  • No entry to community music libraries
  • Just one HDMI enter

LG has an excellent observe document of constructing feature-loaded soundbars that additionally produce spectacular, room-filling sound. Its $1,000 SP9YA is the corporate’s newest effort on this house, persevering with the 9-Collection’ legacy of placing a ton of audio functionality (like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X) into only one soundbar and one wi-fi subwoofer. For folk who need large, cinematic sound and a easy setup, it’s a lovely possibility.

Curious to know what LG has modified with the brand new SP9YA and the way it performs? We’ve obtained all the particulars proper right here.

What’s new?

The SP9YA picks up the baton from 2020’s SN9YG. Although the 2 merchandise are practically an identical, LG has made two small however necessary modifications:

  • The SP9YA ditches the 9YG’s Google Assistant-based good speaker operate, although it stays Google Assistant-compatible.
  • The SP9YA is AirPlay 2-enabled, in addition to Chromecast-enabled. The 9YG solely supported Chromecast.

What’s within the field?

LG SP9YA Dolby Atmos soundbar box contents.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

Inside the big delivery field — which makes use of absolutely recyclable supplies each inside and outside — you’ll discover the soundbar, a wi-fi subwoofer with an influence cable, two mounting brackets and screws, a wall-mount template, a distant management with AA batteries, an optical cable, and a few very primary quick-start paper supplies.

Why LG contains an optical cable however not an HDMI cable stays a thriller, however you have to one in an effort to get the absolute best audio out of your TV.

Design

Like its predecessors, the SP9YA is a giant, 48-inch-wide soundbar that may look nice sitting in entrance of a 50-inch or bigger TV, but it surely may simply dwarf a smaller display. Due to its comparatively brief stature (simply 2.24 inches tall), it’s unlikely to obscure the decrease portion of any TV, large or small.

LG has saved the brushed aluminum look of the highest floor on each the soundbar and the subwoofer, a sensible alternative in that it minimizes the looks of what’s a fairly large set of audio system. The one factor that interrupts the in any other case seamless design are the round up-firing driver grilles. I want Dolby Atmos soundbars that cover these peak drivers, just like the Sonos Arc and Vizio Elevate, however that’s actually a matter of private style.

A set of contact controls for quantity, energy, supply choice, play/pause, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi are conveniently situated on the highest of the bar, however they’re barely noticeable. In reality, aside from the forward-facing LED show hidden behind the metallic grille (which dims however by no means completely turns off), the SP9YA nearly solely disappears in a darkened room.

The wi-fi subwoofer makes use of a front-firing design, which I discover usually outperforms down-firing models of the identical energy score.

My one concern is the soundbar’s hardwired energy wire — it may make some installations actually tough, particularly if it’s worthwhile to route the wire by cabinetry openings which might be too small to accommodate the scale of the wall plug. Whereas LG’s TVs have removable energy cords for those who first take away a concealment panel, I see no means to do that with the SP9YA.

Inputs and outputs

LG SP9YA Dolby Atmos soundbar ports.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

On the again of the SP9YA, you’ll discover simply 4 ports: A 4K/Dolby Imaginative and prescient-capable HDMI enter, an HDMI ARC/eARC output, an optical enter, and a USB port for storage-based music playback. I’d want to see extra HDMI inputs at this worth, and I’m stunned there’s no analog enter or Ethernet jack, however these aren’t deal-breakers.

Fundamental setup of the SP9YA is a breeze. Seize the distant and also you’re good to go for TV sound.

The excellent news is that, not like some soundbars that deal with the HDMI and optical inputs as a single enter (which means you should utilize one or the opposite however not each), the SP9YA considers these ports as discrete inputs. You’ll be able to connect a streaming media participant, cable field, or Blu-ray participant to the HDMI enter, whilst you use the optical port for an audio supply like a CD participant or a Sonos machine. Every may be chosen as its personal supply, providing you with a fairly first rate collection of linked gadgets.

Setup and configuration

Fundamental setup of the SP9YA is a breeze. Simply plug the soundbar into your TV through HDMI or optical cables, plug the wi-fi subwoofer into the wall, then do the identical with the soundbar, and switch it on. The soundbar and subwoofer robotically create a wi-fi connection, confirmed by a stable inexperienced mild on the again of the sub. Seize the distant and also you’re good to go for TV sound.

Nonetheless, there’s a a lot deeper set of choices obtainable utilizing the distant in addition to the free LG Sound Bar app.

The very first thing you need to think about doing is utilizing the A.I. Room Calibration function. The bar emits a collection of take a look at tones over the course of some seconds, and the 2 built-in mics decide how your room’s acoustics have an effect on efficiency. Conveniently, the app helps you to hear earlier than and after sounds so you may determine which one is healthier. I didn’t discover a giant distinction however that may merely be a operate of the actual room I used to be utilizing.

At any time, you may change the soundbar to Bluetooth mode and pair it with a phone, pill, or different Bluetooth gadgets. However if you’d like a number of higher audio choices and deeper settings, it’s value connecting the SP9YA to your Wi-Fi community.

When you do, you’ll have the ability to add the soundbar to Google House, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit, use Spotify Join, after which stream audio to the system through Chromecast or AirPlay 2. I’ll focus on why it is a must-do in a second.

Contemplating that the SP9YA provides Chromecast and Google Assistant compatibility, it’s superior that LG doesn’t drive you to finish the Wi-Fi setup from throughout the Google House app — one thing we’re seeing lots on Chromecast gadgets just like the Bang & Olufsen Beosound Stage. You’ll be able to at all times add the SP9YA to the Google House app if you’d like, but it surely’s as much as you.

Likewise, Apple’s AirPlay 2 is on the market as quickly as you connect with Wi-Fi — no further configuration wanted.

Ease of use

LG SP9YA Dolby Atmos soundbar remote control.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

The SP9YA’s included distant is well-designed from an ergonomic perspective — it’s snug to carry and straightforward to make use of — but it surely isn’t backlit, making it rather less straightforward to work in a darkish room.

Should you’re linked to your TV through HDMI ARC/eARC, most TV remotes ought to have the ability to management the soundbar’s quantity and mute capabilities. I additionally discovered that streaming media gadgets linked to the soundbar’s HDMI enter may additionally management these capabilities (I attempted it with an Apple TV 4K and an Nvidia Protect TV). Usually, TVs linked through the optical cable received’t have the ability to management the soundbar’s quantity — except you personal an LG TV, by which case enabling your TV’s Sound Sync possibility ought to offer you this potential.

You should use the distant for superior capabilities, too: A four-way directional pad helps you to navigate deeper settings like speaker ranges. However the LG Sound Bar app is so good, I extremely advocate utilizing it for these superior settings as an alternative of the distant. It helps you to see all the obtainable channels (subwoofer, heart, aspect, overhead, and so on.), together with slider controls for every one.

The SP9YA is an extremely potent system for each films and music.

The one space the place usability is missing is music playback. As a Wi-Fi-connected speaker, there ought to be a method to entry your private media saved on a pc or exhausting drive linked to your community, however the Sound Bar app lacks this selection and there’s no method to do it utilizing the distant management both.

On the identical time, if you wish to play music from a USB storage machine, you’ll have to navigate its contents through the distant management — the app can’t see or management that music.

Sound high quality

LG SP9YA Dolby Atmos soundbar.Simon Cohen / Digital Traits

The SP9YA is an extremely potent system for each films and music. Once I’m not reviewing soundbars, my regular system is a Pioneer Dolby Atmos receiver linked to a 5.1.2 set of discrete audio system, together with ceiling-mounted audio system instantly over the listening space. The SP9YA is the primary soundbar I’ve examined that will get near this setup when it comes to immersion.

No, it’s not a direct substitute, however given its worth and ease, it’s a really engaging different.

Dolby Atmos is the star of this present. I believe the soundbar does properly with all audio codecs, however for those who purchase the SP9YA, you owe it to your self to search for films on Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, or different sources which have an Atmos soundtrack.

Whether or not it’s high-speed car scenes in Mad Max: Fury Street, Ford v Ferrari, or John Wick: Chapter 2, or the superhero motion in a Marvel film, the SP9YA has the sheer energy wanted to recreate movie show pleasure, whereas its height- and side-channel drivers ship convincing 3D results. The wi-fi sub does an excellent job delivering low-end bass that you could really feel in your chest, but it surely’s additionally a delicate efficiency that by no means overpowers the remainder of the soundtrack.

Should you stay in a rental or share a wall along with your neighbors, you may as properly invite them to look at with you as a result of they’re going to listen to and really feel these explosions, too.

You’ll be able to, for those who like, add LG’s elective $180 SPK8-S wi-fi encompass audio system for a 7.1.2 expertise. They’ll improve the feeling of depth, however they received’t add something to the Dolby Atmos peak channels.

Professional tip: Use the Sound Bar app to crank up the extent of the overhead channels. That is the important thing to listening to the sounds that make Atmos, properly, Atmos-y.

When enjoying Atmos content material, the elective sound impact settings (of which there are eight to select from) are inactive. However when enjoying non-Atmos audio, settings like Music, Cinema, or Recreation can profoundly have an effect on the sound you get. As an alternative of counting on LG’s labels by assuming that Cinema is finest for films, I recommend you strive all of them. LG’s AI Sound Professional setting is meant to robotically detect what sort of audio you’re listening to and decide the perfect setting accordingly, however I discovered it wasn’t at all times to my liking.

As an illustration, Recreation mode proved to be a better option when streaming music than the precise Music setting. Likewise, the Bass Blast mode — meant to spice up low-frequencies — appeared to do the precise reverse.

Label quirkiness apart, I had no downside getting the SP9YA to ship satisfying audio outcomes from TV reveals, films, and music. Should you’ve been desirous about a soundbar to enhance dialogus readability, the SP9YA is a stable alternative. I discovered speech to be very intelligible even with the default settings, and I used to be capable of make it extra pronounced with each the Clear Voice mode and by boosting the middle channel output.

For music, I can’t advocate utilizing Wi-Fi strongly sufficient. Bluetooth is useful for when you might have friends over they usually wish to rapidly play one thing from their phones, however for pure audio high quality, AirPlay 2 and Chromecast are orders of magnitude higher than Bluetooth.

Our take

LG’s SP9YA delivers wonderful immersive sound from a single soundbar and subwoofer, making it one of many best methods to get pleasure from Dolby Atmos films and music at dwelling.

Is there a greater different?

Discovering a direct different to the LG SP9YA is difficult. Not many soundbars supply a full 5.1.2 channel configuration from a single speaker plus subwoofer.

The $799 Sonos Arc is nice for Dolby Atmos and a extra versatile alternative total, as it will probably double as an Alexa or Google Assistant good speaker along with providing the perfect streaming music and multiroom capabilities within the trade. However you may solely use it with a Sonos Sub — a really costly $699 wi-fi speaker. That combo places you properly over the SP9YA’s $1,000 worth. The Arc additionally lacks an HDMI enter, making it much less handy for these with a lot of HDMI supply gadgets.

The $1,000 Vizio Elevate might be the perfect comparability. It has wonderful Dolby Atmos and DTS:X sound and among the finest soundbar remotes, however you’ll have to take care of the additional encompass audio system, that are hardwired to the wi-fi subwoofer. It’s additionally a better option for films than for music — there’s no assist for lossless hi-res audio or Apple AirPlay 2.

We haven’t reviewed Samsung’s new $1,300 2021 HW-Q900A 7.1.2 soundbar but, however given its specs and our critiques of earlier Samsung soundbars, it might be the SP9YA’s hardest competitor.

How lengthy will it final?

Audio gear like soundbars are likely to final for a few years. They don’t get moved round a lot after they’re put in, and warmth buildup (the reason for many electronics failures) is never an issue. The one unknown is how lengthy LG will proceed to maintain the SP9YA up to date with new software program. It ought to nonetheless work high-quality with out updates for TV audio, however some options, like AirPlay streaming, may lose assist over the long run. LG backs the SP9YA with a regular one-year guarantee.

Must you purchase it?

Sure. Should you’re able to make the leap into immersive Dolby Atmos audio and have entry to streaming films or music that use this 3D format, the LG SP9YA is a incredible alternative.

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