Everyone wants to make a Dolby Atmos soundbar. Everyone wants to buy a Dolby Atmos soundbar. These tend to be premium products, which means the price tags are also well into “premium” territory. Therefore, the fact that they’ll likely appeal to a more discerning demographic means there’s more weight to substance, than purely styling and specs. This is the era of Netflix, Amazon Video and Disney+ Hotstar streaming, in the best possible audio and video formats. On most fronts, LG seems to have ticked the checklist with the S95QR soundbar, although it’s not a brand you (yet) immediately think of for premium sound.
To be fair, Dolby Atmos audio isn’t the only trick up the S95QR’s sleeve. First and foremost, the 9.1.5 channel setup. Before you let the numbers get you down, here’s how LG claims it – three sit in the soundbar which will likely sit somewhere below your TV, while six (three each, that’s the math) find a combo placement in the rear speakers with the subwoofer adding in for good measure.
Logic dictates that more is better if you want loud or wider sound to accompany the TV, but in the real world it’s not always that simple. In LG’s case, success has been achieved to some extent with trigger speaker placements. The center channel of the soundbar itself is placed this way, along with the side channels. Either rear speaker also has similar placement for certain channels.
The idea is to create an envelope of sound around you, rather than the age-old logic of just pulling sound in your direction to create the surround sound effect. The results will be subjective. But to be fair, there’s a distinct feeling that LG’s speaker implementation offers a more immersive sonic envelope than Sony’s similar attempts. But it’s a learning curve for everyone.
More so than most other home theater systems, the placement of the soundbar and wireless rear speakers becomes even more important. If you plan to store the soundbar in a shelf of the TV console for example, this would not be the best idea. This defeats the purpose of the sound which is supposed to loop down from the ceiling. Ditto for the rear speakers. Keep them off the shelves.
In my opinion, the processing technology of the British audio company Meridian is perhaps the trump card of the LG S95QR. This ability to mix sound (from 2-channel sources such as live TV) into proper multi-channel without compromising quality, is almost as good as it gets. On this soundbar, it is not difficult to notice the sound quality of stereo audio sources. The only difference you’ll feel when switching between upscaled and original multi-channel audio sources is the volume level itself – it’s a little lower on the former, perhaps to compensate for automatic audio leveling. Neat touch.
While it’s great for TV and movies, you’ll soon find that music isn’t the LG S95QR’s forte. Even in movies, when the music momentarily takes center stage. Top Gun: Maverick, which is otherwise a good way to test out the sonic enveloping promises of the soundbar (the illusion of fighter jets above and behind you is no joke), also betrays its weakness. . By the time Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone makes its presence felt, there’s a distinct struggle to place the voice properly. However, take the complexity out of the scene, like in simpler TV shows, and things get smoother.
Second, the wireless subwoofer needs some tweaking. There is a distinct lack of the lowest of the lowest frequencies, and when the lowest frequencies are passed through, the subwoofer starts up abruptly. There are no settings to change the crossover frequencies, and the only option you have is to increase or decrease the bass intensity. Even at its lowest setting, it still feels a little too powerful for most content.
Right off the bat, there’s no doubt that LG has upped the game to sit comfortably in the price range that sees the S95QR sport a sticker with ₹1,09,990 printed on it. Dolby Atmos, especially for video streaming services, is a solid foundation (and in our day, the foundation) with which to build a soundbar with high-end aspirations. Meridian’s sound processing technology adds the intelligence to handle stereo and streams with lower channels. And LG’s insistence on audio being at the heart of the experience has worked.
What is needed now is a bit of refinement. The subwoofer isn’t as well integrated into the system, which we think can be sorted out by an audio processing setting. Second, vocals that struggle to stand out in some cases may also find improvements with software updates to improve the EQ that works in the background. Until these issues are addressed, the LG S95QR won’t become a definitive choice, due to competition like the old but excellent Bose 900 soundbar and the Sony HT-A7000. But it is already very close.