Last year, LG partnered with Dolby to bring Dolby Vision to its TVs. This year, that partnership will be expanded to cover Dolby Atmos audio in a new SJ9 soundbar and all 2017 OLED TVs.
SJ9 Dolby Atmos soundbar
You may have experienced Atmos in the cinema but Dolby is also working on bringing it to the living room. Normally, most of us associate Atmos with a comprehensive setup of speakers but the system is designed to be flexbile, the company says. From comprehensive surround setups to simple stereo.
In 2017, LG is launching the SJ9 soundbar that you can connect to any TV. It has built-in units that project sound in three directions.
- “LG’s new SJ9 sound bar harnesses the power of Dolby Atmos technology, to recreate the ultimate cinema audio experience while its sleek design adds an instant aesthetic accent to any home. In order to create such powerful, textured sound, the SJ9 is equipped with multiple cutting-edge speakers - including two powerful up firing speakers - to envelop the listener from every angle,” said LG.
FlatpanelsHD had a chance to briefly listen to the soundbar at CES and it delivered powerful sound from a compact cabinet. It can imitate over-the-ear sound objects but as discussed in our review of Samsung’s Atmos soundbar, separation of sound objects is a little weak. You can hear that sound is above you but not tell if the sound objects are supposed to be left, right, near or far.
SJ9 connects directly to the UHD Blu-ray player via HDMI and then another HDMI cable to the TV. It obviously supports “4K pass-through”.
Atmos in 2017 OLED TVs
LG and Dolby are also bringing Atmos sound to all 2017 OLED TVs starting from the most affordable B7 up to the incredible “wallpaper” W7.
W7 comes with a separate soundbar that in many ways resemble the SJ9 soundbar discussed above but with some extra design touches. When turned on the two up-firing units discreetly rise from each side of the soundbar. We heard the soundbar at CES and for its size it delivers powerful sound. Our first impression is that it more or less matched the SJ9.
LG’s new G7 and E7 OLED TVs will look almost exactly like last year’s OLEDs but will incorporate Atmos sound in the speakers - in stereo, to be exact. We had Atmos demonstrated on G7 and while it did improve the overall sound experience it did not come close to matching the soundbar in W7.
Lastly, C7 and B7 feature more basic stereo speakers built into the frame. These also support Atmos. We did not have a chance to listen to them.
To experience Atmos you obviously need movies encoded in the audio format. This typically involves buying Blu-ray discs. Not many streaming services deliver Atmos sound.
More affordable soundbars
Besides SJ9, the company is also launching a comprehensive range of soundbars without Atmos sound. Two of these are called SJ8 and SJ7.
- “LG is also unveiling its elegant SJ8 sound bar which delivers robust audio performance in a slim and efficient 38mm profile. The advanced sound bar integrates seamlessly with LG’s new range of 2017 TV models. With TV Perfect Fit Kit, owners can integrate the SJ8 with certain LG TV sets by replacing the original stand with the SJ8 sound bar. The SJ8 is equipped with many of the same stunning features as the SJ9, including 4K Sound, 4K Pass-Through and the ability to stream content using Chromecast built-in,” the company said
SJ7 is a flexible soundbar that you can separate into two pieces and bring with you as a wireless speaker running on battery.
- “LG SJ7 is an incredibly versatile and powerful 320W sound bar that can be positioned either horizontally or vertically depending on the audio experience the listener desires, due to its split bar design. The two halves of the SJ7 connect wirelessly together providing outstanding stereo sound. One of the halves has a built-in battery allowing it, at the flip of a switch, to be used as a rear speaker delivering a more robust surround sound experience. Flip another switch to portable mode and use it as a wireless Bluetooth speaker anytime, anywhere.”
Lastly, LG will release affordable SJ6, SJ5, SJ5Y, SJ4, SJ3, SJ2, and SJ1 soundbars.
SJ4 delivers 300 Watts and SJ5 delivers 320 Watts. The SJ5Y has wireless rear speakers and delivers 420W. SJ6 delivers 320W and has, together with SJ5Y, built-in Google Cast. All models support 4K pass-through.
The entry-levels SJ1 has Bluetooth and 40W output and the compact entry-level SJ2 delivers 160W, offers Bluetooth, and has a wireless subwoofer. Finally, SJ3 delivers 300W and has Bluetooth plus a wireless subwoofer.
The new soundbars from LG will be available later in 2017. Pricing was not announced.