I have reviewed several TVs – both big and small, budget-friendly and high-end – but what is not covered nearly as often, despite being very important, is the sound system that accompanies them. Many times, the TV's performance lacks the punch to deliver on the audio front. This is where a soundbar, like LG's SC9S, comes into the picture – to complete the home entertainment package. Priced at Rs. 34,991 (current offer price), I recently had the opportunity to try out the LG SC9S soundbar + subwoofer combination. Let's dive in and see if it fulfills its audio promise or not:
Design and Setup: The soundbar and subwoofer come in one big box, along with a wall mount and remote control. The soundbar itself is about 39 inches wide and weighs around 4.1kg. It is made out of plastic with metal grills in the front. LEDs on the front grill indicate power and volume adjustment. The back of the soundbar houses HDMI in, HDMI out, USB A port, 3.5mm audio jack, and digital optical inputs. On the top, there are touch control buttons for WiFi, Bluetooth, power, volume controls, input switching, and track changing. The subwoofer weighs about 7.8kg and measures around 15.5 inches in height.
Setting up the soundbar is a straightforward process. You can connect it to your TV using wires or use it while playing media over WiFi or Bluetooth, depending on the app. For example, if you use Spotify, you can use Spotify Connect, which works flawlessly and even syncs volume control.
The LG SC9S soundbar also supports audio passthrough, allowing you to attach it to one HDMI port of your TV while connecting a media box (like Chromecast or Apple TV) to another HDMI port. It seamlessly handles audio from the media box without any additional setup required. This feature worked well for me right from the start, without any unnecessary adjustments. Not every premium audio setup can claim this level of convenience.
Sound and Experience: The LG SC9S Soundbar app allows you to update firmware, adjust sound settings, add another speaker to the setup, or even add an Amazon Alexa compatible speaker. It also offers sound calibration for the room where the soundbar is placed, along with the subwoofer. The SC9S supports Bluetooth 5.0 (with SBC and AAC codec), WiFi, as well as Chromecast and AirPlay 2.
Using the 3.1.3 channel, 400-watt soundbar for watching movies and TV shows, I was impressed by the clarity with which it delivers dialogue. The improved clarity enhances the viewing experience with the TV. You can change EQ presets to find the best sound for the TV show or movie you're watching, or the streaming app you're using. The soundbar supports IMAX Enhanced sound, Dolby Atmos, and HDR audio, along with 120HZ VRR ALL for better gaming and video experiences. Not many soundbars at this price point can handle all of these features. LG suggests pairing it with an LG OLED TV for the best performance, although I was unable to test this specific combination. However, I did not encounter any issues while using IMAX, Dolby Vision, or HDR content.
The LG SC9S soundbar features three upfiring drivers to complement the 220-watt subwoofer. When listening to music via Spotify Connect or Tidal Connect, the audio output is clean and clear, with a focus on vocal notes and instruments. The bass is clean but not the deepest or loudest that you can get from a subwoofer. You can experiment with different settings to find your preferred sound profile. While the lows are handled well, they may not deliver the thumpiest bass.
I also found that the soundbar handles MQA from Tidal and Nugs without any technical issues. However, I still prefer actual lossless FLAC or ALAC playback, which the soundbar supports from Tidal as well as from a USB disk drive. Apple Music can be played over Chromecast, but keep in mind that Chromecast does not support Apple's lossless codec, ALAC. The one area where the SC9S seemed to lack was Dolby Atmos output. It did not deliver as immersive an experience as I expected from an LG device with Dolby Atmos, whether it was from a streaming app or a music app with Dolby Atmos albums. It's possible that a firmware upgrade or an additional speaker is required to fully experience Dolby Atmos with this soundbar. That being said, for other use cases such as music, movies, TV shows, and gaming, the SC9S is well-equipped and handles nearly all content without any issues.
Verdict: At the current offer price, the LG SC9S soundbar seems like a good buy to complement your TV and complete your home entertainment package. While I would have liked it to provide a higher volume output overall, it is sufficient for a room measuring 15x15 feet. Although Dolby Atmos is its weak spot, the SC9S delivers clear dialogues for movies and TV shows, has clean bass, and offers good connectivity options with no major glitches when connecting to different devices. Overall, it is a worthy contender for your audio needs.