At­mos sound­bar with plenty of pos­i­tives

FOR Im­mer­sive sound; clear di­a­logue; At­mos works well AGAINST Not as dy­namic as class lead­ers; bass lacks so­lid­ity

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Tests -

Over the past few years, it’s fair to say the per­for­mance of LG’S sound­bars has been less than stel­lar. In fact, you have to go back to 2014 to nd the last model we awarded more than three stars. And it cost only £190.

Skip for­ward to 2018 and we nd our­selves un­box­ing its top-of-the-range Dolby At­mos model. You can see why we might ap­proach the LG SK10Y with a sense of trep­i­da­tion...

Size mat­ters

Straight away we can tell that the SK10Y won’t be for every­one. Not be­cause it sounds bad, but be­cause of its size. At 144cm wide, it’s aimed at own­ers of large atscreen TVS – we’re talk­ing 55in min­i­mum, al­though the sound­bar is more suited to 65in models.

You might want to mea­sure the width of your TV rack so you’re happy with any over­hang. How­ever, there is al­ways the op­tion to wall-mount (brack­ets and wall tem­plate are in­cluded in the box).

Al­ter­na­tively, if you hap­pen to own a com­pat­i­ble 2018 LG TV (B8 and C8 OLEDS or SK8500 and SK9500 Su­per UHD TVS are sup­ported), there’s an op­tional ‘Per­fect Fit’ stand. Also known as the TK10, it at­taches to your TV with the SK10Y slid­ing onto its feet for a more in­te­grated look.

De­spite the width, the SK10Y is still a rel­a­tively slen­der de­sign, stand­ing just 63mm tall. The bar squeezes in a 5.1.2 speaker set-up, with the ‘.2’ re­fer­ring to the two up ring driv­ers at ei­ther end of the bar. These are an­gled up­wards at 20 de­grees, with the aim of de­liv­er­ing a Dolby

At­mos ex­pe­ri­ence.

You’ll also need to nd a suit­able space to ac­com­mo­date the wire­less sub­woofer. In a cor­ner or up against a rear wall, close to the SK10Y is ne. If it sounds a bit boomy, try po­si­tion­ing it with the bass port ring out­wards, or move it fur­ther into the room. The top of the SK10Y is clean and un­clut­tered, with the po­si­tion of the up ring speak­ers given away only by two cir­cu­lar grilles. There are touch sen­si­tive but­tons in the cen­tre for power, vol­ume, wi- and switch­ing in­puts.

You’ll also spot a sub­tle ‘with Merid­ian tech­nol­ogy’ logo on the left side. Fol­low­ing on from LG’S WK7 smart speaker, the SK10Y is an­other prod­uct born out of LG’S re­cent part­ner­ship with Bri­tish hi- stal­wart Merid­ian Au­dio.

Its ex­per­tise in sound pro­cess­ing and speaker de­sign has in uenced the SK10Y’S de­sign, in­clud­ing a switch from silk to alu­minium-dome tweet­ers and a new in­ter­nal lay­out. Each speaker is mounted in­side its own en­clo­sure in­stead of sit­ting in an open cham­ber.

Bright ideas

The LG doesn’t send an on-screen dis­play to your TV, in­stead it uses a scrolling dis­play, on the front of the sound­bar. It’s bright, clear and easy to read and turns it­self o af­ter 15 sec­onds, so it doesn’t dis­tract in a dark room.

Around the rear of the bar are a cou­ple of 4K-com­pat­i­ble HDMI in­puts and one out­put. There’s also an op­ti­cal in­put, 3.5mm aux in and an eth­er­net con­nec­tion.

Get the SK10Y onto your home net­work and with built-in Chrome­cast part of the fea­ture set, you can stream au­dio from com­pat­i­ble de­vices and apps to the

bar. The SK10Y

na­tively sup­ports hi-res au­dio up to 24-bit/192khz and up­sam­ples any in­com­ing au­dio to the same rate. Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity is also in­cluded.

The LG is geared up for Dolby At­mos sound­tracks and is able to de­code them na­tively, as it is with Dolby True HD sound­tracks on Blu-ray discs. The down­side is that it can’t fully de­code DTS HD Mas­ter Au­dio sound­tracks. In­stead the sound­bar strips out the core DTS mix and pro­cesses the au­dio to de­liver an At­mos-like e ect.

You can con­trol the SK10Y a cou­ple of di er­ent ways. First, there’s the stan­dard re­mote, which is a stubby, palm-sized a air. The main vol­ume but­tons are big and easy to dis­tin­guish in the dark, which is use­ful given the lack of a back­light.

Hit the ‘F’ but­ton (for Func­tion) to scroll through the sound­bar’s di er­ent in­puts. The ‘Sound E ect’ but­ton al­lows you to cy­cle through ve di er­ent au­dio pre­sets: ASC (Adap­tive Sound Con­trol, Bass Blast, Stan­dard, Movie and Mu­sic).

How­ever, when lis­ten­ing to a movie with a Dolby At­mos sound­track, you’re locked out of these pre­sets. You can al­ter the speaker lev­els, with sub­woofer, tre­ble, bass all

“It is dif­fi­cult for a sound­bar to truly im­merse you in the ac­tion, so it’s a bonus that the LG throws out ef­fects in a con­vinc­ing man­ner”

ad­justable, as is the OVC or Over­head Vol­ume Con­trol, which tweaks the level of in­volve­ment of the up ring speak­ers.

How­ever, there’s no way you can dial in your dis­tance from the sound­bar or the height of your room. Both these would help the sound­bar tai­lor the sound even more ac­cu­rately for your lis­ten­ing po­si­tion.

When not lis­ten­ing to a Dolby At­mos sound­track, we rec­om­mend stick­ing with Stan­dard when play­ing Blu-rays and DVDS, and switch­ing to Mu­sic when you stream au­dio to the bar via Chrome­cast or Blue­tooth. Movie sounds wide and ex­pan­sive, but lacks fo­cus.

Be­sides the re­mote con­trol, you can also use LG’S Wi-fi Speaker app for An­droid and IOS. It’s easy to use, and gives you ac­cess to the same con­trols and set­tings, but af­ter our rst ex­pe­ri­ence we don’t rush back to use it. We start with Kings­man: The Golden Cir­cle on 4K Blu-ray and the LG SK10Y bursts into life. A blast of the 20th Cen­tury Fox fan­fare is a sim­ple yet e ec­tive test tune and the LG han­dles it well. There’s no harsh edge as the orches­tra ex­plodes into life. There’s also a sense of clar­ity and a de­cent level of de­tail.

As the open­ing chap­ter un­folds and Eg­gsy and Char­lie scrap in the back of a black cab, the LG han­dles the ac­tion with a de­gree of con­trol. With ev­ery bang and crash, the SK10Y shows a pleas­ant sweet­ness at the top end. Break­ing glass isn’t too harsh, while gun re sounds en­tirely be­liev­able.

Skip­ping for­ward to the di­a­logue-heavy scene be­tween Poppy (Ju­lianne Moore) and her as­so­ciates, the LG has no prob­lem de­liv­er­ing the lines in a clear and con­cise man­ner. It does a ne job of cap­tur­ing the mad­ness in Poppy’s voice as she con­demns Charles to the hu­man minc­ing ma­chine. A hint of hard­ness creeps in at times, but only when pushed above av­er­age lis­ten­ing lev­els.

It's hard for a sound­bar to truly im­merse you in the ac­tion, so it’s a bonus that the LG throws out e ects in a con­vinc­ing man­ner. We play Spi­der­man: Home­com­ing in Dolby At­mos, and as Spi­der­man and the Vul­ture do bat­tle on the Staten Is­land ferry, you get a great sense of the ac­tion. As the Vul­ture swoops across the sky, the LG tracks his move­ment be­tween chan­nels and presents it in an open and airy man­ner.

Heads up

The im­pact of the up ring speak­ers can be heard, adding to the ex­pe­ri­ence rather than de­tract­ing from it. When the high-tech weapon mal­func­tions and starts ring out bursts of en­ergy into the ship, the LG sends the e ects up and above your head.

But the same scene high­lights the LG’S short­com­ings too. In terms of dy­nam­ics, ri­vals such as the Sony HT ST5000 have the edge. Through the SK10Y, the pulses from the weapon don’t quite pack the same punch, nor sound solid enough.

Iron Man ar­rives to save the day and res his thrusters to help push the two halves of the ferry to­gether. There’s a real shift in dy­nam­ics that the LG doesn’t quite cap­ture. As he ramps up the power and fe­roc­ity of the thrusters, the SK10Y doesn’t mir­ror this in the sound that comes out. Stream Tidal or Spo­tify and the LG sounds ne in Mu­sic mode, al­though it does make the lack of drive more ap­par­ent. The bass notes to Haim’s Run­ning If You Call My Name are more ick than thump, as it strug­gles to match the rhythm stride for stride.

Launch­ing a £1200 sound­bar was an am­bi­tious and bold move by LG and the SK10Y should be ap­plauded. It's not per­fect, but shows progress for a com­pany whose au­dio prod­ucts have strug­gled in re­cent times. Fingers crossed it’s a pos­i­tive sign for the rest of its up­com­ing au­dio kit.

The sub­woofer can be placed in a cor­ner, against a rear wall or close to the SK10Y

The SK10Y isn't per­fect, but it shows LG'S progress

Touch sen­si­tive but­tons for power, vol­ume, wi-fi and switch­ing in­puts

At the rear of the bar are a cou­ple of 4K-com­pat­i­ble HDMI in­puts

There are two up­fir­ing driv­ers at ei­ther end of the sound­bar

The re­mote is ba­sic, but still eas­ier than us­ing the app

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