LG's partnership with Meridian results in lifestyle-friendly audio products with great fidelity and performance. The SN9YG 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos soundbar is a perfect example of how to build a soundbar that's slim, attractive and sounds great. It offers 520 W of total power and is very simple to set up because it is a 2-piece system consisting of the soundbar and a wireless subwoofer and is expandable to 7.1.2 with an optional rear speaker kit.

The low profile design of the SN9YG ( $796.99 on Amazon as of the publication of this review) is intentionally a "perfect fit" for LG's 2020 GX65 OLED, which I also have in for review and paired with this soundbar. However, you can use this soundbar system with any TV where the low profile design fits and enjoy Dolby Atmos and the great sound of Meridian.





Features and Specifications

This is a 2-piece soundbar system that provides a 5.1.2 listening experience. Total system power is rated at 520 W, the spread between the drivers on the soundbar. The front L/R, center and side-firing surround speakers each get a discrete 40 W amp (200 W total), the height speakers get 50W each,  and the subwoofer is rated at 22o W.

This soundbar is 48.03" wide, 2.24" high and 5.71" deep and weighs 13.89 pounds (the sub weighs 17.2 pounds). It is designed for use with TVs 55" and larger and is a perfect fit for a 65" LG GX OLED.

Connectivity consists of one HMDI input and one HDMI output, so you can connect this soundbar directly to an AVR, game console or other discrete source, if desired while also offering ARC  and e-ARC for a one-cable connection to the TV. There is an optical input, USB, Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4G and 5G).

LG offers broad audio format support with the SN9G, so you can use it to enjoy movies, TV and games, but also as a high-fidelity sound system that supports hi-res up to 24bit/192kHz. Of course it processes Dolby Atmos and also DTS:X 3D immersive sound formats. It's also compatible with Dolby True HD. Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS Digital Surround, DTS-HD High Resolution and LPCM surround-sound. Music-centric audio format support includes FLAC, WAV, AAC/AAC+, OGG and MP3.

There are eight different sound modes you can choose and use: ACS (adaptive sound control), Standard (with Meridian), Music, Bass Blast, Bass Blast +, Movie (Dolby Surround), DTS:X, and Dolby Atmos.

AI room calibration adapts the sound output by the SN9YG to optimize its performance within your unique space and does it automatically.

You can control this soundbar with the supplied remote or a TV remote. If you like using a phone to run AV gear, you can do that. Another option is to use voice commands to control the SN9YG soundbar via Google Assistant; there are far-field mics built into the soundbar. The remote offers a dedicated button for Google—LG placed it right in the center of the remote and made it easy to see. Chromecast is built-in, so once you connect this soundbar to your local network and to the internet, you can enjoy streaming audio content right away.


The remote has a dedicated Google Assistant button in the middle. The soundbar itself also has built-in mics to recognize voice commands.
LG's SN9YG does include a wall bracket. However it cannot be flush-mounted to the wall, in order for the speakers to be properly oriented, it needs to be mounted horizontally, which means it will protrude from the wall. Warranty is 1 year for parts and labor.



Unpacking and Setup

The SN9YG comes in a rectangular carton that's easy to handle. Everything about the unpacking and setup was simple and easy. LG thoughtfully provides an optical-digital cable to make the connection, which is the most basic connection. But for uncompressed sound and 3D immersive audio, plus a clean single-cable connection to the TV, e-ARC is the way to go and what I opted for.  The moment I plugged the HDMI into both the TV and soundbar, the TV prompted me to send sound to the "HDMI 2 speaker" and once I confirmed, a prompt noting the "simplelink" was active came on screen. Plug-and-play.

The whole setup,  from opening the box to plugging in the soundbar and sub, to playing audio through the system, took perhaps 5 minutes (granting that I have had some practice). Optimizing the system took just a few more minutes.

The SN9YG sat on a credenza in my living room, along with the 65" GX OLED. I'm fortunate in having a room that works well with reflected-sound height, which uses up-firing speakers on the soundbar to bounce the height channels off the ceiling. The principal thing you need to get reflected-sound height to work is a relatively high (11 feet), flat ceiling. If you have a vaulted ceiling or acoustic tiles, this feature will not work well.

Connecting the LG SN9YG soundbar to Wi-Fi is accomplished with the Google Home app. Pressing the Google Assistant button on the remote triggers an audio prompt to download the app, if you don't already have it. I opened the app on my phone and the first thing I saw was a prompt to "set up the LG SN Series ThinQ Soundbar."

Google Assistant and Chromecast are an integral part of the SN9YG and once connected you can associate it with music and streaming services (in my case, YouTube Music and Netflix). You can even set up Google Shopping and use your soundbar to order a pizza, etc. and use it to control home automation. The soundbar can use your voice profile from your phone to recognize you, as long as you are comfortable sharing these sort of biometrics, it makes the SN9YG a very smart soundbar.



Listening and Hands-On

This LG is a premium soundbar that offers an engaging listening experience. It's able to project an immersive soundfield for movies while also making stereo music sound dynamic and engaging. Of course there are physical limitations to what a soundbar can do, but what's possible goes well beyond what you might expect if you are only familiar with entry-level soundbars.

Getting pleasant sound from the SN9YG is easy, you could opt to just set it to "Standard" mode (with Meridian sound) for everything but movies. When Atmos or DTS:X play, the soundbar will switch to the appropriate mode on its own. This is a personal, subjective judgment based on cycling through the different sound modes.

The dedicated Movie mode and the Bass Blast mode changed the tonality of what was playing a bit too much for my taste, but I did think they were viable to use in gaming, the Movie mode in particular. But, to my ears the Standard mode had the best overall sound, it created an expansive soundfield with a natural tonality and forceful dynamics. The Music mode is similar, but diminished in terms of soundfield versus Standard, offering no specific advantage I could determine. This is typical for Music modes on soundbars, which tend to eschew any sort of processing.

Standard mode also supports surround-sound, so unless you prefer the sound of some other mode, it's the-go to mode on this soundbar.

Kudos to whoever (or whatever team) tuned the subwoofer. It integrates perfectly, providing a strong and visceral bass that really surprises with its impact, considering the modest size of the unit. I used REW (Room EQ Wizard) software to test bass extension and found the sub "comes to life" around 33-35 Hz, at which point the output remains consistent right up and through the crossover point. At no point was the subwoofer "localizable" in the sense of being able to hear sound coming from it. nor does the sound seem to come from the speakers in the soundbar.

This LG is great for gaming and movies. If your content has a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X soundtrack, the sound has the same high fidelity I heard in Standard mode, but with the addition of discrete height effects. I re-watched Logan and found the sound more immersive than a 2-piece soundbar system has any right to be. You'd can spend twice as much on an AVR based system and not beat the end result offered by the SN9YG (aside from peak output levels). The one catch with this soundbar is there's a fairly hard limit on how loud you can play it, as compared to an "AVR, speakers and sub" system. It's still quite loud, but some AVR based systems can reach reference levels, this soundbar won't do that.

Subjectively speaking, this is likely the finest sounding sub-$1000 soundbar system I have heard so far. It is truly great, with a sound that's at once punchy and accurate so it sounds great with music and movies. It particularly impressed me with some of the soundfields it projected when playing modern electronic music like dubstep from Liquid Stranger or Bassnectar.

Its tight yet solid bass and dynamic mids plus highs allow it to handle acoustic recordings with faithful reproduction of instruments, instead of the congested sound I'm used to hearing when playing music on soundbars the SN9YG sounds open and expansive. My benchmark for that is the Tron Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk and the London Symphony Orchestra and this soundbar did an honorable job dealing with a tough track. Sure, it shows the limits of the sub but at modest volume, the sound was expansive, deep, and delivered the sense of awe that is at the core of the score.

Oh, and I BLASTED Dr. Dre's Chronic 2001 through this soundbar and listened to it render all that fat bass and those delicate synth sounds that define Dre's production sound. Most people would be happy if their stereo system sounded this good.

No matter what I listened to, the soundfield continued to impress. There's no escaping it: Whatever processing LG and Meridian use, it avoids adding any "flavor" or artifacts to the sound. You simply perceive the sound as coming from a stage that is considerably wider than the soundbar itself. It works, end of story.

I've used the track "Disc Wars" for years to judge whether a system can "ace" the deep bass and also avoid sounding congested with the orchestra. And as long as you don't ask the soundbar to play it super loud, the SN9YG can play it well. Not as well as a decent AVR based system with good sub, but probably better than just about anything else you could hope to buy for under $800.

When playing Grand Theft Auto Online using Standard mode, I was impressed with the way the soundbar projected bubble of ambience—all the city sounds that make up the background. Effects were discrete and localizable within tha nebulous ambience. When action started, whether shots, explosions, crashes, or car chases/races, the SN9YG picked up the pace as well, even with the "radio" playing when you are in a vehicle. It's a lot of complexity to sort through and this soundbar manages to sort through it and present all the layers.

Also notable, vocals and dialog are crystal clear on this soundbar, which is (obviously) very important to many listeners.

Beyond the AI room calibration, users can quickly and directly adjust the levels of each channel using the remote, so you can get sound that's to your liking and also best suited to your room. The most likely adjustment is the subwoofer level since that is dependent on placement, preference in bass strength, and considerations like whether you have family or neighbors you don't want to disturb. Having said all that, I found that no adjustments were needed for my space, seems the AI did its job well. This soundbar’s default tuning in Standard (and Music modes) is spot-on for my room and personal taste, but your mileage may vary.

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content add legitimate, audible height effects to the viewing experience, at least in my reflected sound-friendly room. Similarly, the surround-sound is most effective if there are walls the side-firing surround speakers can bounce off. More rooms than not have the features needed for this system to work.
Pros & Cons



Pros
  • Slim design is a perfect fit for LG OLEDs 55" and up
  • Easy installation
  • High fidelity sound
  • Expandable with wireless surrounds
  • eARC and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X
  • AI room correction
  • Great quality bass from subwoofer
  • Expansive soundfield
Cons
  • Somewhat limited maximum volume
  • Protrudes when wall mounted
  • Atmos/DTS:X needs a flat, acoustically reflective ceiling to work well
  • Only one HDMI input
Conclusion

The expansive, enveloping, natural soundfield created by this soundbar in Standard mode is remarkable considering it comes from just one device. You’d never guess it's a soundbar with your eyes closed, and the slim profile adds to the notion it's impossible that such a compact and sleek device can output music, movie and video game sound with such vigor.

As long as the room is suitable, the way the SN9YG handled movies, video games and music is consistently excellent and surprised me. Beyond sound, the smart functionality put into this LG ThinQ device is commendable. By using Google Assistant and Chromecast, LG has made the smart experience robust and useful. This soundbar can serve as a complete source of entertainment when connected to any TV, not just an LG.

I've come to expect soundbars to sound good, but this LG is excellent. Considering the street price of under $800, the LG SN9YG is notable for both its performance and the value it represents, plus it's the perfect soundbar to go with a new LG OLED. Without question, this exceptionally good soundbar gets a Top Choice 2020 award.





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