Pros: Ease of use, large amount of inputs with Bluetooth and surprisingly good audio performance
Cons: Powered subwoofer performance is lacking. No ability to “synch” TV volume with LG soundbar volume
I’ll be honest; the idea of purchasing a sound bar had zero appeal to me. So why did I end up purchasing one? In my case I recently purchased a brand new LG Flatscreen Plasma TV and while the HD picture quality was excellent, the sound quality was very poor, a feature not uncommon in many new flatscreen tv’s these days. I purchased this LG solely with the intent of improving the sound quality.
Installation. Installing the LG was surprisingly easy, ALL required connectors were included which is basically a standard power cord and an optical digital connector. I should also add that both cables were of sufficient length to work in the real world. Often companies only supply connectors that are far too short to work in most living rooms. Another nice feature for the LG was a real sized jig that allows you to line the sound bar up on the wall for easier wall mounting. I have no complaints or suggested improvement for ease of installation.
Operation. The LG is also surprisingly easy to use. One nice feature is that there are two optical inputs so you can add a second source, in addition there is also a rear mounted Ipod headphone style input and a front mounted USB input. At the time I thought it odd to have all of these inputs however I am always encouraged to see additional inputs as it offers added flexibility. One other very unique “input” is the Bluetooth connection, only in the case there is no actual input connector as this is all done wirelessly. The supplied wireless powered subwoofer is also connected via Bluetooth and you need only plug it into the wall the first time when you turn on the power to the Sound bar and the two will instantly create a paired connection. After that the powered subwoofer and sound bar will always stay in synch from a power on/off perspective. If in doubt LG cleverly added lights to both units….they glow blue when powered on and active and are red when powered down. A nice simple touch. The final aspect is the remote control. The design and ergonomics are fairly limited and basic, but all features that you require are there. A few nice features on the remote is the ability to independently raise and lower the subwoofer level and also the ability to toggle through different sound equalizer settings.
Performance. Be very aware that there are several different enhanced sound settings on this device. I mention that because credit to LG they all generate a very different sound. Depending on what you are listening to the different sound selections can greatly change the audio of whatever program or other source you are listening too. For example in my TV listening I like the “clearvoice” mode. The LCD display will show what setting you have selected all with the touch of a single button on the remote. One feature that hugely changed my entire perception of this device, and my views on audio in general was the Bluetooth streaming. Like many of us, we have iTunes libraries on our laptops our Ipads….in my case I was able to very easily “pair” my Ipad up to this LG soundbar via Bluetooth. I set the sound tone control to “bypass” and was simply blown away by the sound quality. No, this will never replace a proper two channel sound system but to be able to stream via Bluetooth from an Ipad to this sound bar across the room with no wires produced a surprisingly listenable sound system. I now fully understand why there are so many inputs on this device as it can reasonably be a wall mounted stereo system as much as it is a sound bar.
Dislikes ? Yes, there are a few. The powered subwoofer, as powered subwoofers go, is really lacking in performance. A proper subwoofer needs a good quality driver with a large magnet; the driver used in this powered sub is clearly minimal at best. It will produce some low frequency response but given that the sound bar has surprisingly good mid and high level performance the lack of a good sub does stand out. My other major complaint is with the remote control setup. There is no ability to volume synch with your tv, meaning you basically need to turn your tv volume down and use the remote and the sound bar instead. The sound bar allows you to do this but it must always be done manually. It is a minor inconvenience but it would be a nice feature if turning up or down the master volume turned both the sound bar AND the TV at the same time.