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LG SJ9 review:

Solid sound bar value for Dolby Atmos, Chromecast audio fans

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The Good The LG SJ9 is the most affordable Dolby Atmos sound bar system on the market, at least in the US. Home theater sound is dynamic and thrilling. Compatibility with Google Chromecast and 4K HDR offers some degree of flexibility and future-proofing.

The Bad The LG SJ9’s subwoofer makes a lot of bass, but definition is only so-so. The sound isn't very refined when playing music. The 'bar lacks DTS:X or DTS-HD Master Audio compatibility. No surround speakers included.

The Bottom Line Although not the most refined-sounding 'bar at its price, the LG SJ9 delivers Dolby Atmos and Chromecast audio in an affordable, attractive package.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.9 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Sound 7.0
  • Value 8.0

One of the most requested sound bar features we receive from you, our readers, is Dolby Atmos support. Despite still being a fledgling format, the surround-sound system has captured the enthusiast community's imagination in a way not many features do. 3D may have come and mostly gone but Dolby Atmos and its visual partner high dynamic range appear to be here to stay.

The $749 LG SJ9 is the cheapest Dolby Atmos speaker we've seen yet. It also brings a solid array of features including Chromecast multiroom, 4K HDR pass-through compatibility, and the ability to add rears speakers if you want.

The good news is that the SJ9's up-firing speakers do add some spaciousness to its sound. And if you like watching movie stars hurting other movie stars with very large weapons, the punchy SJ9 will help you, er, enjoy that. If, on the other hand, you like rock stars trying to hurt you emotionally, then it's not the first speaker system we'd recommend. Compared to its Samsung rival, for example, the LG sound bar lacks nuance, a difference most obvious with music.

If you absolutely must have Atmos, value Chromecast built-in and want to spend as little as possible, the LG SJ9 is a decent first option, but for most Atmos sound bar shoppers, the $800 Samsung K850 is worth the extra money.

While the LG SJ9 is relatively affordable in the US, it's inexplicably expensive in the UK at £1,000. In Australia it costs AU$1,699, which is comparable to UK price.

Design

lg-sj9

Sarah Tew/CNET

There's a touch of retro to the SJ9's design. The distinctive bottom grille could have been ripped from the front of a Cadillac or a chrome-plated roadside diner. The sound bar itself is shaped like a big tongue depressor (a glamorous one!) with a series of drivers along the front edge, and two Dolby Atmos-ready height drivers in the top. 

lg-sj9

Sarah Tew/CNET

The bar is 47 inches wide, relatively squat at 2.3 inches high and quite deep at 5.7 inches. It includes a bracket for wall mounting. The mesh along the front panel hides an LED display inside which helps you navigate the onboard menus -- helpful, since there's no onscreen display.

lg-sj9

Sarah Tew/CNET

The sound bar comes with a relatively compact, wireless subwoofer roughly 12 inches square. Behind the front grille we measured a 6-inch driver that is ported at the back of the cabinet.

lg-sj9

Sarah Tew/CNET

The small remote control covers all functions, but you probably won't use it after initial setup. Your TV remote is better for controlling volume.

Features

LG calls the SJ9 a 5.1.2 sound bar to signify five surrounds plus a sub and two overheads. That isn't technically correct, however, because the speaker lacks rear channels. Though LG bills this as a "standalone" system you can add rears if you like -- either a pair of LG H3s (if you have them) or better, the dedicated SPJ4-S surround kit for $127. Though we didn't test the kit, LG has confirmed that it will work with the SJ9.

lg-sj9

Sarah Tew/CNET

The sound bar offers compatibility with Dolby Atmos for atmospheric effects, but like Samsung it doesn't offer the competing format DTS:X. While the unit will decode all other flavors of Dolby, too, including TrueHD, it will only understand basic DTS Surround.

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