SN11RG LPCM Surround Implementation Fail
Finally received my SN11RG last week, replacing my Marantz AVR + 4.1 separates (no center channel because I couldn't find a decent standalone center speaker under 3" inches tall ... I only have ~2.5" of clearance between the TV's furniture and LG E9 display's lower bezel).
A warning for those considering the bar who have an Apple TV 4K or Nintendo Switch...
If you like to listen to your audio in "standard" mode, meaning the surround channels are reproduced per the creator's wish and not up-mixed via some surround mode, there is a glaring issue with this bar. If the bar is fed a Dolby Digital, DTS, Atmos or DTS:X bitstream (regardless of channel count), the sound will come from the speakers as expected. Rear audio is sent to the rear speakers. You'll should be golden and very pleased with this bar.
However, if you send the bar 5.1 LPCM, it sends the L/R rear channels to the side-firing speakers AT THE FRONT OF YOUR ROOM. You lose true surround for virtualized surround. The only way around this is to turn on different surround "modes" or up-mixers, and I think is fair to say most people reading these forums despise such. To me, they sound awful and defeat the purpose of bitstream or LPCM.
This behavior is not a fluke - check out LG's own user manual. Page 27, standard mode, 5.1 Ch "Others" Input. "Others" essentially means LPCM.
I confirmed today that the rear channels on non-Atmos 5.1 content from the Apple TV 4K (output via 5.1 channel LPCM instead of a Dolby bitstream, due to ATV's "Auto" setting) use the bar's front side-firing speakers instead of the wireless rears. The solution is to change your ATV's audio format/output settings from Auto (LPCM) to Dolby 5.1 (bitstream). This slightly reduces audio quality, down-mixes 7.1 content and turns off Atmos, but it makes the rears work as expected.
To read further details on how ATV handles audio output, Google "dolby audio support on apple tv dolby developer" and click the first link. Forum wouldn't let me post a link because I'm a new member.
When I want to watch 7.1 or Atmos content, I now have to change the ATV audio setting back to Auto for that viewing, which restores full LPCM 7.1 or Atmos to the soundbar. It's quite frustrating, but allows proper surround for the vast majority of content we watch, with the option of flipping on Atmos or 7.1 when there is a need. There is far more non-Atmos than Atmos content out there.
Spending $1,500 on what is arguably meant to replace a full AVR, only to then reduce the sound quality from one of your sources, is incredibly frustrating. If I had any other alternatives, I'd walk away and ask for my money back from LG. Unfortunately, this is about my only choice at the moment.
For those that use their TV's built-in Netflix / Apple TV + / other streaming apps, I don't believe this is a problem, as the TV will send a bitstream Dolby signal instead of PCM.
As a side-note the 5.1 LPCM issue will also plague those using a Nintendo Switch or a PC/console that doesn't encode its audio to a bitstream. I'm a big Mario Kart player and was super disappointed to learn I can no longer hear my opponents coming up from behind my sofa.