Review: LG SN9YG Dolby Atmos Soundbar Dazzles For $700
In recent years, LG has really stepped up its game when it comes to developing high-fidelity soundbars for both home theater and music listening.
The LG 2020 SN9YG Dolby Atmos step-up model we review here is another fine example of that continuing direction. The unit features a superbly wide sound stage and encompassing (from the front of the room) surround sound with well defined high and midrange tones accented by nice punchy impact from its diminutive wireless subwoofer, which measures 8.7- x 15.4 x 12.3-inches and weights 17 pounds.
The LG SN9YG was developed in consultation with high-end audio company Meridian Audio to deliver a nicely tuned 5.1.2-channel package of high-quality drivers along with the latest connectivity (eARC) and signal processing features to make its $696.99 retail price tag seem quite reasonable.
The soundbar’s design will work with a wide range of TV models and brands, but it is especially well adapted for LG’s popular 2020 GX Series thin-profile OLED models.
At the price, the LG SN9YG stands at the upper mid-range of Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars in the market, and is third from the top of the LG 2020 model assortment. For the price you get only the soundbar, carrying five drivers, and a separate floor-positioned wireless subwoofer that we found surprisingly powerful for its compact size. But there are no rear channel or rear overhead drivers to fill in effects behind the listener. That could be a consideration if listening in a large or long room.
The LG SN9YG has 520 watts of total system power. The front L/R, center and side-firing surround speakers are each driven by a discrete 40 Watt amp (200 total Watts), the height speakers are driven by 50 watts each, and the wireless subwoofer has 220 Watts of active power.
We found the soundbar delivered a very wide sound stage from the built-in Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound support which is further enhanced with the addition of an ARC/eARC HDMI I/O port affording all of the bandwidth necessary to stream those signals along with pass-through support for 4K and 8K Ultra HD video sources. A TosLink digital optical input is offered for legacy television, along with support for Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band (2.4G and 5G) Wi-Fi.
The soundbar gets quite loud and preserves dialog well against loud background sound effects. However, we did notice some clipping/distortion at peaks when the volume was only cranked mid-way up (24), in loud speaking voices.
For movie viewing, the subwoofer presented deep, powerful bass that we could feel without making loose objects in the room rattle or vibrate. It also provided nice bass support for well articulated musicality without compromising the melody.
Those who like to use their soundbar for multi-purpose listening will find the SN9YG has an enjoyable high-fidelity sound from CD and streamed digital selections alike. Golden ears may appreciate the soundbar’s ability to handle Hi-Res audio formats including up to 24bit/192kHz fidelity. Other digital music file formats supported include: FLAC, WAV, AAC/AAC+, OGG and MP3.
Move lovers will find support is also offered for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based surround sound; lossless Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio multi-channel formats; Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS Digital Surround, DTS-HD High Resolution and LPCM surround-sound.
Overall the sound of well produced music content was quite impressive for a soundbar overall, save for a slight amount of boxiness that sneaks through at times in some portions of the midrange and bass tones. But vocals have nice presence.
The soundbar portion of the LG SN9YG is elegant-looking with flat black metal front grille and a color coordinated semi-gloss gun metal top plate that carries to circular metal grilles covering the up-firing speakers. A blue dot-matrix LED readout is positioned behind the front speaker grille and slightly to the right of center. It is easily readable for settings and dims after several seconds so as not to distract from television picture. It The soundbar portion weights just under 14 pounds and measures 48- x 2.2- x 5.7-inch long, with a low and relatively deep profile as soundbars go. This should be considered if the television is to be placed atop a narrow surfaced table or credenza, as it could be difficult to position with some television stands that have a particularly large foot in front of the screen. For example, in our testing, we found placement of the soundbar in front of a Hisense 65H9G LED-LCD TV did not fit a standard 17-inch deep TV/component stand. However, in most television designs, the squat height should fit well below most 55-inch and larger stand-mounted TV screens with stands using dual feet.
If you prefer to wall-mount the soundbar below a TV screen, LG includes a wall bracket in the box. Here somewhat unusual dimensions of the soundbar will require it to be wall mounted with the up-firing speakers positioned up to reflect sound off of the ceiling. Thus, the soundbar will need to be horizontally positioned with the front of the soundbar jutting out several inches beyond the front of the TV screen.
The subwoofer is small enough to be kept out of view yet powerful enough to literally move the room. It is wrapped on three sides by a black cloth grille and has a semi-gloss gun metal plastic top plate. The back of the unit is plastic and carries colored LED to indicate use and pairing models.
Connectivity and Setup
In addition to the HDMI ARC/eARC port, the soundbar offers a second HDMI input to accept direct connection to a source device like a Blu-ray Disc player or external media streamer. This will be important when eARC capability isn’t supported by the TV set.
Set-up was a snap. After plugging the soundbar and subwoofer into a power outlet, users will hear an audible guide that walks them through the process of finding and downloading the compatible apps, including Google Home and LG Wireless Speaker app that will help them connect to the local Wi-Fi network and select any favorite streaming music services they might want to use. The supporting LG Wireless Speaker app allows calibrating the sound output of the SN9YG to the room environment in a painlessly simple and fast process.
The LG SN9YG soundbar offers five EQ presets and eight different sound modes including: ACS (adaptive sound control), Standard (with Meridian), Music, Bass Blast, Bass Blast +, Movie (Dolby Surround), DTS:X, and Dolby Atmos. When selected these names appear on the soundbar’s front-mounted LED readout.
LG includes a candy bar sized remote with the SN9YG, but after set-up the soundbar can also be controlled for on/off and volume up/down using the television remote in most cases. Users also have the option of using the LG Wireless speaker app as a soundbar remote. For those who prefer to use voice control, the SN9YG supports Google Assistant through far-field mics built into the soundbar. To use this, a center white Google button can be pressed to take your orders. The soundbar also supports Chromecast to let you stream audio once the set-up process is completed.
The LG SN9YG is at its best playing movies with big, bold sound tracks, like those used in high-action and sci-fi features, particularly ones with Dolby Atmos 3D surround sound. Even in Standard mode, listening to typical primetime broadcast television programs, the acoustic delivery is a considerable enhancement to almost any on-board TV speaker system.
We checked in on episode one of the second season of The Mandalorian from the Disney+ streaming app, and found the impact of sound effects to carry all of the drama we’d expect watching Star Wars in our local movie house. Vocals were distinct and clear, but with the volume turned up to 24 we did occasionally witness moments of distortion at the very peaks of animated sequences of dialog. It wasn’t alarmingly distracting but it did slightly mare an otherwise brilliant sounding performance.
During scenes with explosions we felt the concussion from the little subwoofer that was loud enough to be convincing yet restrained enough so as not to rattle loose nicknacks or vibrate the pictures on the wall.
The LG SN9YG is a great system for good old fashioned punch-mouth rock & roll. Listening to “Working For MCA” from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of One More From The Road in “Standard” mode we were pleased to both hear and feel the bottom end of Leon Wilkeson’s bass lines setting the foundation for Gary Rossington’s and Allen Collins’ biting guitar leads, as Ronnie Van Zant barked out the vocals in his distinctive Jacksonville, Florida southern drawl. The words were distinct and out front of the sound of the guitars with just enough reverb to giveaway the live nature of the performance.
The power behind the small subwoofer is not lost on powerful classic pieces either. We felt all the impact of “fate knocking at the door” in the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony from a Proms performance on YouTube. With only a small amount of discernible boxiness behind the strings and woodwinds as the piece reached its crescendo. The high-end, however, was well articulated without becoming overly shrill.
Similarly powerful was the SN9YG’s presentation of John Coltrane’s classic “A Love Supreme” (recorded fittingly enough in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., where LG has its U.S. headquarters). Coltrane’s tenor sax seemed to be right in the room with us after taking an astral journey from 1964 directly to the left front and center channels of the soundbar. McCoy Tyner’s signature piano cord changes filled in the space between the notes as if it were coming from another dimension 25 feet beyond the soundbar, television and wall. Elvin Jones’s frenetic rhythms kept driving the performance further with clear bright cymbal accents beautifully delivered from the up-firing right channel speaker.
In our music sampling we didn’t detect any of the distortion we occasionally experienced in movie dialog.
Switching modes around we found Standard, Music and AI Sound Pro (each very similar) to be the most enjoyable for realistic sound music presentation. The subwoofer is plenty capable of setting the foundation without the exaggeration of bass elevation modes like Bass Blast. The latter had the less desirable effect of making the overall sound too shrill.
One of the key benefits of the SN9YG is support for Dolby Atmos 3D surround sound, and as mentioned, on first listen this immediately presents a nice wide sound stage that nicely disperses sounds to the left, right and center of the television. The up-firing drivers deliver elevated sound above the screen but in our listening environment with acoustic ceiling tiles, we weren’t fooled into thinking we were hearing anything directly overhead.
We found the LG SNY9G offered an impressively expansive sound with many convincing surround sound dynamics for movies, particularly ones with Dolby Atmos support. Even watching primetime television with the soundbar in Standard mode yields surprisingly enveloping dynamics, enough to rival even some lower-end home-theater-in-a-box systems. However, this system does not include rear-channel speakers and most of the experience sounds like it is obviously coming from the front of the room, so the full 360 degree experience Dobly Atmos can deliver is cut short. If that’s important to you, you might want to consider a Dolby Atmos soundbar package with the wireless rear channel speakers included, or added on after market.
For music, we were pleasantly surprised at both the clarity and power of songs, with only moments of typical soundbar boxiness experienced depending on how selections were mic’ed and mixed.
Where it works, we found the look of the SN9YG to be decidedly high-end, although in some setups the dimensions can make for a challenging fit that can be downright awkward. We strongly advise you take careful measurements of your mounting or placement area before you make your purchase.
As far as sound and performance are concerned this soundbar is a stunner for both the dynamics and the price. If you’ve got a 2020 LG TV model this is a natural aftermarket add-on. That said, the soundbar is not going to be match for a WiSA-based wireless multi-channel speaker set up, which many better LG televisions also support. It also isn’t going to stand up against a 5.1.2-channel speaker setup driven by a good quality Dolby Atmos AV receiver, but this will cost a lot less money and require much less effort to set up and use.
This is one of the best upper mid-fi soundbars we’ve heard this year and therefore we award the LG SN9YG Dolby Atmos Soundbar 5 out of 5 hearts.
The LG SN9YG used in this review was a company loan.
Online purchases made using links provided on this site might generate a small commission for HD Guru.com. We thank you for your support!
By Greg Tarr
Have a question for the HD Guru? HD GURU|Email
Copyright ©2019 HD Guru Inc. All rights reserved. HD GURU is a registered trademark.