Are you looking for an immersive audio experience? The LG SJ9 soundbar might be just what you need. This powerful device provides room-filling sound and features Dolby Atmos technology for realistic 3D audio.
Plus, it comes with a wireless subwoofer for extra bass. Read our full LG SJ9 soundbar review to determine if it is a suitable soundbar for you.
Pros & Cons
- Mighty sound
- Remarkably compact design
- Chromecast support added
- LED display
- One HDMI input
- HDMI handshake problems
- The UK’s price is high
- Rear/overhead channel effects are limited
Dolby Atmos sound bars have been the hottest trend in home audio this year. Almost every major AV brand includes a Dolby Atmos soundbar in its 2017 range. Samsung has impressed us with a few high-end models.
It’s now the turn of LG, Samsung’s arch-rival. The LG SJ9 shows that Dolby Atmos can be added to soundbars.
LG’s Atmos soundbar debut is a 500W system priced at PS999/$799 and comes in only two parts: the main bar containing a 5.1.2 speaker array and a separate wireless woofer. It only includes these two parts, and it is a bold, brilliant system from the current king OLED.
The SJ9 Dolby Atmos sound bar is one of the most appealing we have seen. It is smaller than the Samsung HW-K950 and Samsung HW-K850 models. The SJ9 has cutely rounded ends and a smoother finish than Samsung’s industrial-grilled models.
Cute is the simple, circular upfiring speakers that have been incorporated into the top edge. Also, the two strips of silvery metal running along the bottom edge of the front edge make it look great.
It is a bit more compact than the subwoofers with Samsung’s Atmos soundbars. This makes it a little more challenging to hide in your living space. It is also more attractive and feels more robust.
The SJ9’s remote control is the only problem. It’s too small, too obscurely labeled, and too inconsistent with its buttons layout to feel like a companion for such a premium product.
- Dimensions: 1200x58x145mm (WxHxD)
- Configuration of the sspeaker: 5.1.2
- Audio power claimed: 500W total. It is broken down into 2x43W fronts, 43W center, 2x43W rears, and 2x43W tops. A 200W subwoofer is also available.
- Connectivity: One 4K/HDR HDMI loop through and one optical audio output, two-way Bluetooth, wifi, USB (services only), Ethernet port
The SJ9’s high-detailed channel count and extreme power are not its only attributes. It’s also very flexible regarding what you can connect it to.
You can use the HDMI loop-through to loop an HDMI output, such as an Ultra HD Blu-ray deck, through the soundbar to the LG TV. The soundbar will extract the audio track, including Dolby Atmos support if the source supports it. You can also connect wirelessly via Bluetooth 4 and wifi using either an optical audio connector or a 3.5mm input.
The SJ9 supports Chromecast playback. This allows you to cast millions of songs, podcasts, and radio stations directly from your phone into the soundbar via services like Deezer, TuneIn, and Google Play Music. Your phone can be used as a remote control to play, pause, and adjust the volume.
Are you unsure which audio source is selected at the moment? It’s easy to identify which audio source you have chosen by a small but readable LED located on the soundbar’s front. You can also control the volume using any remote control brand for your OLED TVs.
The SJ9 also supports Dolby Atmos and Hi-Res Audio. It can upscale 16-bit/48kHz sources and offers 24-bit/192kHz audio. LG claims that the SJ9 uses an adaptive audio system that analyzes the frequency levels of sound it receives to create the best audio mix. This is based on the content you are watching.
It can, for example, focus on dialogue if it detects that it is the most important thing to concentrate on. Or it can make the sound aggressive in action scenes.
A separate audio processing system can adjust the sound to suit your volume level. This ensures that you get the best audio quality at all volumes. You can choose from various audio presets, including Movie and Music options. However, if the SJ9 detects Dolby Atmos sources, you have the only audio option.
The soundbar can be set to either 0 or 300ms audio delay (though we did not need to adjust this with the SJ9). Additionally, the SJ9 can integrate into LG’s Music Flow wireless speaker system. If you want, you can use the upcoming LG NP8540 NP8740 NP8340, and NP8340 wireless speakers for optional rears.
The SJ9’s last great trick is that, despite its Dolby Atmos support-worthy headlines, LG has confirmed that it can decode the Atmos soundtrack to 5.1. Samsung’s Atmos soundbars can currently decode DTS into stereo.
The Loop Through The Issue
Before we get into the sound quality of the SJ9, we need to mention some problems with the HDMI loop-through. It was difficult for 4K HDR Bluray images from the Oppo UDP203 Ultra HD Blu Ray Player to properly pass through to a Samsung KS9500 television.
We tried the default Auto HDR, resolution picture settings from my Oppo. These settings worked perfectly with the Samsung K850 Dolby Atmos soundbars when using the same HDMI cables. However, we could not get any picture on the TV unless we turned off the UHD Colour for the relevant HDMI input. This should be On for all HDR sources.
We could only get a picture to show up on the Samsung TV with HDMI UHD Color on by changing the Oppo’s color output to YCbCr 4.2.2:2. The Auto and 4:4:4 settings did not work. We were able to get a picture to play in 4K HDR. However, the image would sometimes disappear when we tried to call up Oppo’s menus.
We quickly searched online and found many other users having similar problems. So we approached LG to get an explanation. LG said they were aware of an issue with connecting an external 4K device directly to certain LG soundbars.
The SJ9 Dolby atmos soundbar may not recognize the source and transmit the correct output signal in some cases. This issue is likely due to how Extended Display Identification (EDID) tables interpret the source information in certain situations.
LG engineers are currently working on a firmware upgrade to fix this issue. This update will be available to all affected LG soundbar customers starting June 30th. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.
We will, if possible, take another look at the SJ9 once the promised firmware has been released to verify that it works. It has issues.
Connections And Setup
The LG SJ9 follows the same path as previous LG MusicFlow soundbars. This best Dolby Atmos soundbar supports HDMI input and output and a 4K pass-through. This allows you to connect your 4K device through the soundbar to the TV. It is not possible to say it will replace your receiver. This arrangement has limitations, especially if there are multiple source devices.
Your best Atmos sources will be connected to your soundbar and TV in an ideal world. This will likely be your Blu-ray player. However, BT TV and Xbox One offer Atmos, so you may need to tweak the setup.
HDMI ARC (audio return channel) is supported from your TV is compatible with your TV. This also works for optical (which doesn’t provide Atmos support).
HDMI pass-through was flawless. We also found no issues with optical backlinks to the TV. We experienced no dropouts in our testing of the wireless sub connection. This is a feature we haven’t seen on older LG soundbars.
An Ethernet cable is the best choice for network connectivity. The MusicFlow connection failed every time we tried to connect via wifi. This seems to have been a problem with the MusicFlow system ever since its inception.
Ethernet is a reliable connection that allows you to update the soundbar’s firmware through the Music-Flow app. You can also access more advanced and basic controls.
To take advantage of features like Chromecast support (for audio) or Spotify Connect, you’ll need the SJ9 connected. The standard Bluetooth connection is not required as it is point-to-point.
The SJ9 soundbars are Music-Flow devices and can be paired with other surround speakers via the LG app. We’ve mentioned that the wifi connection can be a problem sometimes. If you want to create a multi-room system, it might be worth looking elsewhere. Our previous MusicFlow experiences have not been very positive.
This makes setup easy on one hand but slightly confusing on the other. The SJ9 is a great option, but you will need to go through some hoops to make it all work.
That’s the (most) bad news. It was a great-sounding instrument that worked when it was working.
It produces a large soundstage that is much larger than most soundbars. It also extends from screen to ceiling, no matter how high your ceiling maybe! This gives it a remarkable sense of verticality. The wall mounting of sound can place details with incredible precision.
The good soundbar was placed below the TV screen, and it was able to determine the relative positions of the actors’ voices along with the horizontal and vertical directions. Even though the voices come from points as close as two inches apart, this is true.
Although most audio detail accuracy is achieved near the screen’s screen, extreme sound effects like helicopters and planes flying overhead can cause the exact positioning to extend to the ceiling. It also extends to your sidewalls if you deal with sound effects from the left or right.
The SJ9 combines its unsurpassed audio detail precision and vast power to support it. It can be turned up to huge, room-filling volumes with no distortion. And it doesn’t sound too bright or too heavy in the bass blast.
The subwoofer works well with the SJ9’s midrange drivers. Bass gets deep, but there is no gap in the dynamic range from the lowest mid-range to the deepest.
The SJ9’s handling of vocals is another strength. The SJ9 can place voices accurately within the sound wall’. However, it does an excellent job of keeping vocals forward and clear in the mix, even during dense sound moments. These voices sound natural and authentic in their environment.
Another clever feature of the SJ9’s audio management system is its ambient effects and musical scores. This can be problematic if you don’t have separate rear speakers. However, the SJ9’s placement of these elements at the edges and bottom of the sound wall is surprisingly effective in ensuring they are still powerful without being overemphasized.
The SJ9’s winningly aggressive approach to filmmaking is not the only thing that makes it a great music player. CDs sound transparent, open, and timed well, and the subwoofer also works very well with the main soundbar speakers.
The upsampling of compressed audio files does an excellent job of opening up the dynamic range and expanding the treble and the music’s bass without making it sound clumsy, sloppy, or forced.
Even dense tracks like Placebo’s Taste In Men or Ride’s Seagull can be played without any sibilances or swirlings that could characterize playback on smaller rear speakers.
There are some issues with the SJ9, however. The SJ9 can produce tranquil tracks and moments that lack the warmth and delicacy of dedicated hi-fi speakers. While the SJ9 creates a massive vertical wall of sound in front of you, you don’t get the sense that any sound is coming directly from above you like you would with an Atmos array.
This is where the Samsung K850 system does slightly better. Although it doesn’t surround you with Atmos sound bubbles due to its lack of surround speakers, its angled top speaker occasionally gives the impression of sound coming directly overhead.
The LG SJ9 also did not provide any surround sound system, despite having dedicated drivers for the rear channels. You can only say that you hear a few squeaks to your left and right during transitions or with strong ambient effects like blowing wind.
The LG SJ9 does better with support DTS sources than Samsung’s Atmos soundbars, but it is still a shame it doesn’t decode DTS:X. Its DTS 5.1 mixes are smaller and less dynamic than Dolby Atmos’.
Other Soundbars Worth Considering
The SJ9 is superior in terms of its features and performance. However, the PS999 UK price feels a little too high, especially considering that it’s only $799 in the US. Even at post-Brexit pricing, we hoped for a US price that translated to PS899 and even PS799.
Samsung’s HWK950, however, is an excellent option if your budget allows it. It includes powerful wireless rear speakers and the unique arrangement of up-firing speakers in the front soundbar to create an Atmos bubble.
Samsung’s HWK850 also ditches HWK950’s rears. It also doesn’t have pseudo-rear channel speakers in its soundbar like the SJ9, which robs it of some soundstage widths and clarity. It does, however, push its height effects forward than the SJ9 and gives you a greater sense of Atmos effects above you.
The LG SJ9 soundbar is an excellent option for those who want to upgrade their TV audio experience. The impressive sound quality and room-filling sound make it a strong pick for this price range. The wireless subwoofer makes it easy to place the SJ9 in more areas of your home theater. Overall, the LG SJ9 is an excellent addition to your TV setup.
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