Don‘t Buy an LG Dolby Soundbar Until You Read This

Soundbars have become ubiquitous additions to home entertainment systems over the past two decades. Originally introduced in the late 1990s, early soundbars were simple devices meant to amplify and expand upon weak built-in TV speakers. However, soundbar technology has advanced tremendously since then. Modern offerings now integrate premium touches like Dolby Atmos, which creates immersive, three-dimensional audio.

LG is one of the premier manufacturers of Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars on the market today. Ranging from affordable to high-end models, LG soundbars punch above their weight class sonically while retaining sleek aesthetics. But before choosing an LG Dolby Atmos soundbar, it pays to understand key hardware specifications, software capabilities, and overall value beyond the name.

This guide will break down everything you need to know before investing in an LG Dolby soundbar.

A Brief History of LG Dolby Soundbars

Dolby first introduced Dolby Atmos surround sound technology in cinemas back in 2012. However, it took a few years for the format to make its way into consumer electronics like soundbars. Leading brands including Samsung and Sony integrated Dolby Atmos into their initial soundbar offerings around 2016.

LG held off a bit longer before unveiling its inaugural Dolby Atmos soundbar, the LG SJ9, in mid-2017. By taking extra development time, LG managed to learn from early mistakes made by competitors and deliver a lighter, slimmer, and more affordable debut Dolby Atmos soundbar option.

Since the LG SJ9, the company has expanded its portfolio to cover various price points. Current LG Dolby Atmos soundbars range from the entry-level LG SPM7A at $299 to more advanced models like the LG SP11RA priced around $1,700.

What‘s Included with an LG Dolby Soundbar

All LG Dolby Atmos soundbar packages come with a few standard accessories:

  • Remote control
  • Optical audio cable
  • Wall mount bracket
  • Warranty documentation
  • Batteries

You‘ll also get a wireless subwoofer on most models except LG‘s ultra-slim offerings. The subwoofer wirelessly pairs with the soundbar itself, so no cables are required.

In addition, LG provides a 1-year limited warranty covering parts and labor on defects across its soundbar lineup.

Now let‘s break down key hardware specifications.

LG Dolby Soundbar Hardware Compared

Here I‘ve highlighted specs for an affordable LG soundbar, the mid-range LG S75QR, and the premium LG SP11RA:

SpecificationLG SPM7ALG S75QRLG SP11RA
Soundbar Dimensions35.04′′ x 2.6′′ x 4.7′′35.1′′ x 2.6′′ x 4.7′′56.8′′ x 2.5′′ x 5.8′′
Soundbar Weight8.2 lbs8.4 lbs15.9 lbs
Subwoofer Dimensions7.1′′ x 15.4′′ x 11.5′′7.1′′ x 15.5′′ x 11.4′′8.7′′ x 15.4′′ x 12.3′′
Subwoofer Weight17.2 lbs12.8 lbs17.2 lbs
Speakers3.1.2 channel5.1.2 channel7.1.4 channel
Total Power Output380W520W770W
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0, 1 Optical Input, 1 HDMI Out, 1 USB PortBluetooth 4.2, 1 Optical Input, 1 HDMI 2.1 Out, 1 HDMI 2.1 In, 1 USB PortBluetooth 5.0, 1 Optical Input, 1 HDMI 2.1 Out, 2 HDMI 2.1 In, 1 USB Port

A few key things stand out when comparing hardware:

  • More expensive LG soundbars have greater speaker counts and channel configurations for wider surround sound
  • Sound output and power increase significantly moving from entry level to premium
  • Larger, more advanced models naturally have bigger soundbar/subwoofer dimensions and weight
  • Connectivity improves across the lineup with more recent Bluetooth versions and extra HDMI ports

So in terms of hardware, you clearly get what you pay for with LG Dolby soundbars. Those looking for truly immersive home theater audio with 7.1.4 channel support need to go high-end.

Common LG Dolby Soundbar Software Features

On the software side, all LG Dolby Atmos soundbars include:

  • AI Sound Pro audio processing technology for optimal sound quality
  • Support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, and DTS surround formats
  • Various preset audio/sound modes tuned for movies, music, etc
  • Foam AI Room Calibration (high-end models only)
  • Compatible mobile app for iOS and Android

Premium models add other niceties like built-in Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa for hands-free voice control. Some pricier options also include Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast support for beaming content directly from your phone or other devices.

Design – Form Meets Function

One area where LG soundbars stand out is design. While emphasizing slick aesthetics, LG engineers shape soundbars to also effectively reproduce audio. The very first Dolby Atmos model, the aforementioned LG SJ9, set the template with its curved shape wrapping around the sides.

Today‘s lineup carries on that motif of compact, minimized contours combined with great build quality. You‘ll find clever touches like integrated wall brackets on most models for a cleaner mounted look. Size and dimensions vary, but LG soundbars squeeze serious audio power into impressively slim profiles.

Even the uniquely-shaped LG Eclair QP5 maintains a discreet presence despite resembling a giant pill. Weighing just 6.4 lbs and taking up minimal shelf space, the Eclair QP5 still outputs 320W of Dolby Atmos/DTS:X audio including dedicated upfiring drivers.

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So while emphasizing form, LG doesn‘t sacrifice function or performance for the sake of sleek industrial styling across its Dolby soundbar catalog.

Audio Performance

Elegant design means little without the sound quality to back it up. This is another area where LG Dolby soundbars excel for the money. Even at the low-end, LG‘s audio reproduction surprises listeners used to anemic built-in TV speakers.

Delivering expansive, detailed soundstages beyond their size, LG soundbars make watching films or sports more engrossing. The mid-range and high-end models particularly envelop viewers with multidimensional audio for a cinematic experience rivaling dedicated home theater setups.

Dolby Atmos enables a more immersive listening experience with sound coming from all directions, including above. But LG further augments performance via proprietary processing technology. AI Sound Pro and Meridian Audio elevate audio quality across various content, dynamically fine-tuning settings to best suit the room.

Bass lovers can rejoice too. LG soundbars may seem bass-light at first glance, especially with diminutive chassis sizes. But integrated wireless subwoofers supply deep low-end thump. Even compact models like the S75QR output a staggering 520W including its bundled sub. Pound for pound, LG subs hit surprisingly hard considering their own slim profiles.

While LG Dolby soundbars already provide dynamic, room-filling audio, consider adding dedicated rear speakers for fully immersive surround. Models like the SP11RA support expansions up to 7.1.4 configuration when incorporating other speakers, creating a miniature movie theater environment.

Smart Software & Voice Control

Usability and smart connectivity represent two more checkmarks for LG‘s Dolby soundbar lineup. All models allow control via iOS/Android mobile apps in addition to standard remote controls. You can easily adjust audio settings like surround effect modes or switch input sources directly from your phone.

Higher-tier soundbars integrate voice assistants for intuitive hands-free operation. Options with built-in Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa let you cue up playlists, check weather forecasts, control smart home devices, and more through voice commands.

Apple users can also directly play audio from iPhones and other Apple devices thanks to Apple AirPlay 2 support on select models like the LG SP11RA. No wires or connectors needed; simply tap to stream music over Wi-Fi.

Connectivity & Compatibility

Modern LG Dolby soundbars include a range of wired and wireless connection choices:

  • HDMI – Main digital AV input supporting 4K HDR passthrough
  • Optical input – Alternative for TV audio signal
  • USB port – Plays media files from flash drives
  • Bluetooth – Pairs wirelessly with phones/tablets for music streaming

One shortcoming stems from only having a single HDMI input on lower-cost models. Anyone hoping to connect multiple devices would appreciate more inputs available through a hub or switch. Yet keep in mind that adding extra ports drives costs up. So single input limitations get imposed on more affordable offerings to reach lower price points.

Another missing aspect involves HDR10+ passthrough support. Where soundbars from other brands including Samsung allow HDR10+ high dynamic range content to pass from players to TVs, LG soundbars currently do not. For cinephiles with HDR10+ material, this omission might factor into buying decisions. However HDR10+ remains less prevalent than standard HDR10 or Dolby Vision today.

Aside from those two connectivity caveats, LG soundbars rate well overall for seamless device integration. Audio sync works smoothly when paired with LG TVs in particular, leveraging proprietary "Sound Sync" wireless tech. But you can just as easily connect an LG soundbar to non-LG displays thanks to universal HDMI.

Pricing & Value

Balancing performance with reasonable cost-to-benefit ratio, LG manages to undercut competitors while matching specs found in many higher-priced rivals. For example Samsung‘s comparable HW-Q950A (non-Dolby) retails around $1,200 with largely similar audio hardware. Yet LG prices its 11-channel SP11RA at only $100 more despite adding Dolby Atmos.

Even much cheaper LG models like the S75QR often outclass competitors‘ equivalents acoustically. The S75QR punches way above its 3.1.2-channel design‘s weight, achieving an expansive soundstage comparable to more expensive 5.1.2 bars. Factor in sleek aesthetics and intuitive usability for a stellar overall home theater companion at just under $300.

Of course thinning profit margins to undercut opponents does force some feature compromises. Single HDMI ports and missing HDR specs as outlined represent calculated omissions allowing hitting aggressive street prices. Yet most buyers happily overlook such limitations recognizing LG soundbars‘ performance-per-dollar superiority.

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The Bottom Line

In just a few years, LG has ascended to elite status among Dolby Atmos soundbar makers. Delivering surprisingly robust, detailed audio reproduction from diminutive chassis, even affordable models like the LG SPM7A impress. Factor in typically lower cost-of-entry than competitors, and LG becomes a no-brainer shortlist candidate for many home theater shoppers.

Of course personal preferences and budget ceilings play pivotal roles in determining ideal audio gear. Carefully match desired soundbar size, channel count, connectivity options and other specs to your needs before choosing. But for outstanding performance-per-dollar soundbars with leading Dolby Atmos support across multiple price points, LG delivers in spades.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where‘s the optimal subwoofer placement with an LG soundbar?

Try positioning LG soundbars‘ wireless subwoofers within 10 feet to maintain a solid Bluetooth connection without any dropouts. You‘ll usually get the strongest bass response placing the sub along the same wall as the soundbar itself.

What‘s the best LG soundbar mounting position?

Wall mounting your LG soundbar at roughly ear/seated head level typically gives the most balanced audio experience. Also avoid excessive proximity to ceilings or floors to allow proper audio dispersion including Dolby Atmos height channels.

Should I buy a more affordable 2.1 LG soundbar, or is it worth paying more for 5.1?

This depends largely on room size considerations and desired immersiveness. Those with smaller spaces can likely get by with a 2.1 or 3.1 LG bar and still gain noticeable improvements from anemic TV audio. But larger rooms benefit more from the wider, true surround soundstage of a 5.1 setup.

Why pair an LG soundbar with an LG TV?

Opting for an LG soundbar to use with an LG television allows taking advantage of proprietary "Sound Sync" tech. This allows the TV to wirelessly transmit audio to the soundbar over Bluetooth without any HDMI cable needed. You‘ll typically see tightest audio-to-video sync this route. However you can absolutely connect an LG soundbar to other TV brands too.

Should I use the optical or HDMI input on my LG soundbar?

In most cases, connecting devices to an LG soundbar via HDMI is preferable to optical. HDMI handles both digital video and audio signals, supporting advanced formats like 4K, HDR, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Optical connectivity works too, but mainly benefits basic 2-channel stereo PCM audio applications.

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