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31 Jul 2019

Can you rely on an LG sound bar?

Our cheapest Best Buy sound bar is from LG, but it's also launched a string of mediocre models. Our tests sort the good from the bad.

LG's sound bars don't tend to do that well in our tests, although it does get it right sometimes: its top-scoring model is currently our cheapest Best Buy.

But our tests of LG's 2018 and 2019 sound bars also revealed four models with such poor sound quality that we made them Don't Buys. Any sound bar that scores a miserable 45% or less is named a Don't Buy.

To put it into perspective, a Best Buy sound bar needs to achieve a score of 70% or above - and LG's average overall sound bar test score currently sits at just 54%. So it really does show that you can't rely on some well-known brands to deliver consistent quality.

Read on to learn about LG's latest sound bars and check the full reviews for the verdicts of our panel of experts.

Jump straight to our LG sound bar reviews to see which models you should buy (and avoid).

Tested: new LG sound bars

Below are the LG sound bars we've tested most recently. All of themhave Bluetooth, a wireless subwoofer and the option to buy rear speakers (SPK8-S - sold separately) for a full multi-speaker set up.

LG SL8YG, £699

This sound bar has all the most popular smart features. It also has Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the latest and most sought-after surround sound technologies. When Dolby Atmos is done well, it creates a convincing cinematic surround sound experience.

The LG SL8YG also has built-in Google Assistant, meaning you can use voice commands to control the sound bar and ask it questions.

And a built-in Chromecast allows you to stream music from services such as Deezer, Google Play Music, Spotify and TuneIn Radio using your smartphone or tablet.

We've seen plenty of feature-packed sound bars with poor sound quality, including models with Dolby Atmos that do a terrible job at creating virtual surround sound.

Read our LG SL8YG review to find out whether its audio is good enough for us to recommend buying it.

LG SL7Y, £449

The addition of DTS Virtual:X should mean that this sound bar can create immersive sound that appears to come from all around you.

Like the SL8YG (above), it has a built-in Chromecast so you can stream music, radio and podcasts from a variety of apps.

But unlike the SL8YG, this sound bar is compatible with Google Assistant rather than having it built-in. This means that, if you own a Google speaker, you can use it to set up voice commands to control the sound bar.

Attractive features aside, the most important aspect of a sound bar is its audio quality. Find out whether this model gets the basics right by reading our LG SL7Y review.

LG SL6Y, £400

This mid-range sound bar has DTS Virtual: X and High Resolution Audio technology, which combined should create surround sound that's both accurate and immersive.

Like other LG sound bars, this model is designed to automatically optimise and adjust the sound of whatever's playing. Adaptive Sound Control chooses the most ideal sound mode, whether you're watching sport or the news. LG's Auto Sound Engine optimises the sound in response to how high the volume is.

Read our LG SL6Y review to find out whether these sound-focused features add up to a product that's worthy of your money.

LG SL4Y, £299

This is LG's entry-level sound bar for 2019 and the cheapest in this year's range.

It's a basic model without any smart features but, like the SL6Y, it has Adaptive Sound Control to best match the sound setting to what you're watching.

As we know from our years of testing, a sound bar doesn't have to be full of features to be worth buying. See whether we think the sound makes up for the lack of features by reading our LG SL4Y review.

How long will an LG sound bar last?

LG is one of the bestselling sound bar brands, and its models tend to be cheaper than its key rival Samsung's. Many of its sound bars are designed to work seamlessly with LG TVs, but how do its products compare with the likes of Samsung, Panasonic and Sony?

Every year, we survey more than 10,000 people to find out how reliable each sound bar brand is and how highly it is rated by customers. Our sound bar buying guide can help you decide the brand for you.

Other sound bars on test

We've also recently tested these sound bars from other brands. Read the reviews to see which ones we recommend:

  • Panasonic SC-HTB510, £299 - comes with built-in Chromecast and compatibility with Google Assistant for voice control
  • Samsung HW-Q90R, £1,499 - Samsung's most powerful 2019 sound bar comes with rear speakers, Dolby Atmos and Alexa compatibility
  • Samsung HW-Q80R, £999 - has Dolby Atmos and DTS:X plus it works with Alexa and SmartThings
  • Samsung HW-R430, £229 - a cheap sound bar with basic features like Bluetooth streaming and a wireless subwoofer
  • Samsung HW-R530, £239 - uses Surround Sound Expansion technology and can be connected wirelessly to compatible Samsung TVs