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

MSRP $1,000.00

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

Professionals

  • 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 a great monitor 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 area, 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 huge, cinematic sound and a easy setup, it’s a gorgeous choice.

Curious to know what LG has modified with the brand new SP9YA and the way it performs? We’ve received the entire 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 essential adjustments:

  • The SP9YA ditches the 9YG’s Google Assistant-based sensible 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 Tendencies

Inside the large delivery field — which makes use of totally 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 fundamental quick-start paper supplies.

Why LG contains an optical cable however not an HDMI cable stays a thriller, however you will want one as a way to get the absolute best audio out of your TV.

Design

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

LG has stored 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 desire Dolby Atmos soundbars that disguise these peak drivers, just like the Sonos Arc and Vizio Elevate, however that’s actually a matter of non-public style.

A set of contact controls for quantity, energy, supply choice, play/pause, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi are conveniently positioned on the highest of the bar, however they’re barely noticeable. In actual fact, except for 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 typically outperforms down-firing items of the identical energy score.

My one concern is the soundbar’s hardwired energy wire — it might make some installations actually tough, particularly if it’s essential route the wire by cabinetry openings which are too small to accommodate the dimensions of the wall plug. Whereas LG’s TVs have removable energy cords in case you 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 Tendencies

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 desire 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 (that means you need to use 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, when 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 reasonably respectable collection of related gadgets.

Setup and configuration

Fundamental setup of the SP9YA is a breeze. Simply plug the soundbar into your TV by way of 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.

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

The very first thing it’s best to take into account doing is utilizing the A.I. Room Calibration function. The bar emits a collection of check 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 best. I didn’t discover an enormous distinction however that may merely be a operate of the actual room I used to be utilizing.

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

When you do, you’ll be capable of add the soundbar to Google Dwelling, Amazon Alexa, or Apple HomeKit, use Spotify Join, after which stream audio to the system by way of Chromecast or AirPlay 2. I’ll talk about why this can be a must-do in a second.

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

Likewise, Apple’s AirPlay 2 is accessible as quickly as you connect with Wi-Fi — no extra configuration wanted.

Ease of use

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

The SP9YA’s included distant is well-designed from an ergonomic viewpoint — it’s comfy 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.

For those who’re related to your TV by way of HDMI ARC/eARC, most TV remotes ought to be capable of management the soundbar’s quantity and mute features. I additionally discovered that streaming media gadgets related to the soundbar’s HDMI enter might additionally management these features (I attempted it with an Apple TV 4K and an Nvidia Defend TV). Usually, TVs related by way of the optical cable gained’t be capable of management the soundbar’s quantity — except you personal an LG TV, wherein case enabling your TV’s Sound Sync choice ought to offer you this skill.

You should use the distant for superior features, 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 suggest utilizing it for these superior settings as a substitute of the distant. It helps you to see the entire out there channels (subwoofer, heart, aspect, overhead, and so forth.), 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 must be a approach to entry your private media saved on a pc or laborious drive related to your community, however the Sound Bar app lacks this selection and there’s no approach to do it utilizing the distant management both.

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

Sound high quality

LG SP9YA Dolby Atmos soundbar.Simon Cohen / Digital Tendencies

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 related to a 5.1.2 set of discrete audio system, together with ceiling-mounted audio system immediately over the listening space. The SP9YA is the primary soundbar I’ve examined that will get near this setup by way of 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 effectively with all audio codecs, however in case you 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 Highway, 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 outstanding job delivering low-end bass which you can really feel in your chest, but it surely’s additionally a delicate efficiency that by no means overpowers the remainder of the soundtrack.

For those who stay in a apartment or share a wall along with your neighbors, you would possibly as effectively 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, in case you like, add LG’s optionally available $180 SPK8-S wi-fi encompass audio system for a 7.1.2 expertise. They’ll enhance the feeling of depth, however they gained’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, effectively, Atmos-y.

When taking part in Atmos content material, the optionally available sound impact settings (of which there are eight to select from) are inactive. However when taking part in non-Atmos audio, settings like Music, Cinema, or Sport can profoundly have an effect on the sound you get. As an alternative of counting on LG’s labels by assuming that Cinema is greatest for films, I recommend you attempt all of them. LG’s AI Sound Professional setting is meant to robotically detect what sort of audio you’re listening to and choose one of the best setting accordingly, however I discovered it wasn’t all the time to my liking.

As an example, Sport mode proved to be a more sensible choice 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 drawback getting the SP9YA to ship satisfying audio outcomes from TV reveals, films, and music. For those who’ve been excited 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 suggest utilizing Wi-Fi strongly sufficient. Bluetooth is useful for when you’ve friends over and so they 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 superb immersive sound from a single soundbar and subwoofer, making it one of many best methods to take pleasure in Dolby Atmos films and music at residence.

Is there a greater different?

Discovering a direct different to the LG SP9YA is difficult. Not many soundbars provide 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 may well double as an Alexa or Google Assistant sensible speaker along with providing one of the best streaming music and multiroom capabilities within the business. However you may solely use it with a Sonos Sub — a really costly $699 wi-fi speaker. That combo places you effectively over the SP9YA’s $1,000 worth. The Arc additionally lacks an HDMI enter, making it much less handy for these with a number of HDMI supply gadgets.

The $1,000 Vizio Elevate might be one of the best comparability. It has glorious 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 more sensible choice for films than for music — there’s no help 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 opinions of earlier Samsung soundbars, it might be the SP9YA’s hardest competitor.

How lengthy will it final?

Audio gear like soundbars are inclined 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 nice with out updates for TV audio, however some options, like AirPlay streaming, might lose help over the long term. LG backs the SP9YA with a typical one-year guarantee.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. For those who’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 improbable alternative.

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