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While we've had some magnificent sound bars in recent years from dedicated audio brands such as Pioneer and Yamaha, it's a product that the TV brands have struggled with. Some people would rather have a sound bar that's designed to match their TV, but this isn't always the best answer in performance terms.
With the LG LAS751M, however, there are no such issues. This sound bar stands shoulder to shoulder with the sound quality of its competitors -- and throws in some unexpectedly welcome features. While most sound bars at this price include just Bluetooth, at best, LG adds Wi-Fi and streaming features, bringing it into the company's own Music Flow family.
The LAS751M is capable of a larger-than-life soundstage that is well-suited to both music and movies. With the petite dimensions do come some trade-offs, though, and the LG's sonics can lack warmth and come off a bit clinical. The sound is still quite good for the breed however, with a lack of boxiness and generally open quality.
At a $399 street price, the LG faces competition from the Vizio SB4051-C0 5.1 sound bar and Yamaha YAS-203 , and which of these you choose is a matter of whether surround sound or music replay is paramount. While the Yamaha is ultimately the sonic victor of these three, the LG's combination of multiroom streaming with exceptional sonics is unheard of at this price.
While home-theater receivers are the same black rectangles they have always been, the designs of other components have seen some changes in recent years, a trend that's especially true for sound bars. From curves to real wood cabinets to solid blocks of aluminum, we've seen the sound bar evolve into a stylish part of your AV setup. Given LG's ongoing " "="" shortcode="link" asset-type="review" uuid="bb4b3e4e-432d-4119-b0b5-b2c78d2ecf20" slug="lg-las855m" link-text="design arms race" section="products" title="LG now makes a curved soundbar, too"> , the company has attempted to one-up its rival with the LAS751M.
At 42 inches wide, LG's sound bar will suit TVs with 46-inch screens and above. The bar is rectangular, albeit slightly taller at the front than at the back, and the sides have a rounded, metallic cap. The top is also covered in a metallic finish and the front features a see-through grille with a blue LED display. The results are classic yet understated.
The wireless subwoofer bundled with the package also includes a metal grille. While not as attractive as the sound bar, it won't look out of place in most living spaces.
The remote control bucks the trend of dinky, credit card-style clickers with a proper, metal-skinned candy-bar. It's decently ergonomic and includes quick access to most of the functions. And for the rest, of course, there's an app.
The LAS751M is a 4.1-channel sound bar (stereo plus pseudo-surround) with rated power at 40W per channel plus a 200W wireless subwoofer.
The LAS751M resembles many other sound bars, but inside this speaker lurks some interesting wireless tech. Firstly comes LG's Music Flow, which is a proprietary multiroom system that can stream from cloud services, your phone or media sources on your network (a PC or NAS drive).
In the absence of an on-screen menu, the Music Flow app also allows some changes to the sound bar's settings including sound mode (Music, Cinema, Flat and so on).
One of our favorite features of LG's system is that you can listen to music on your phone via the app when on-the-go, then broadcast it to your multiroom system when you get home. Sure, you can do this with Bluetooth on other sound bars, but the sound quality won't be nearly as good.
Second in the wireless feature list is the option of wireless surround speakers with the addition of a pair of Music Flow H3s. However, at $140 street each, this does push the price of the sound bar with surround to over $600.
The LG system also supports Google Cast for streaming apps such as Pandora, Google Play Music and NPR. For Spotify users the LG's Spotify Connect capability makes streaming your cloud collection relatively painless.
While it would be a shame to cast off all the Wi-Fi features, if you want a quick and simple connection to your phone, the LG also supports Bluetooth.
Wired connectivity includes HDMI in and out, optical and a 3.5mm input. When you're watching movies, the LG will decode both Digital Dolby and DTS (though not the HD versions), and for music the unit is compatible with FLAC and WAV files.
The sound quality we heard from LG's LAS751M sound bar/subwoofer system was exceptional. Somehow LG's engineers worked their magic to the point where this super-svelte, two-channel sound bar can project a big, wide and deep soundstage across the front wall of your listening room. Here at CNET, that held true from any position on our couch, but once we moved over further to the left or right and off the couch, the soundstage did inevitably collapse into the speaker. That's hardly a knock against the LAS751M; all 'bars are best enjoyed from listening in line with the speaker.
The largesse of the LAS751M's capabilities were amply displayed with the "Mad Max: Fury Road" Blu-ray, where we viscerally felt the va-va-varoom! sounds of the cars and trucks speeding across the desert. We credit the LAS751M's subwoofer with providing the room-shaking muscle, and the sub's blend with the sound bar was good. While some users have complained of the wireless sub losing its signal, we have yet to experience this issue ourselves, even in our Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-saturated testing environment.
When we challenged the LAS751M to a face-off with one of our reference midprice sound bars, the Yamaha YAS-203, we had no idea how this contest would turn out. The YAS-203 is awfully good, but it didn't take long to hear that the LAS751M was able to better it in some ways, while trailing in others.
The YAS-203 produced a slightly wider soundstage, and its max volume level was a little louder than the LAS751M's, so the YAS 203 did a good job mustering the road-raging fury from "Mad Max: Fury Road." Nice, but as we listened more, we felt the LAS751M pulled ahead with dialogue and overall clarity.
That clarity was on full display when we played the scene from "House of Cards: Season 2" when Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) confronts Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) in a subway as a train enters the station. There's a drummer on the other end of the platform, and the LAS751M did a great job reproducing the reverberant sound of his drums and the metallic screech and grind of train's wheels filling the cavernous station.
With music the YAS-203 and LAS751M both sounded fine, we couldn't pick a clear winner between them.
Given how impressive the sound bar/sub was on its own, we found that listening in surround -- with the addition of a pair of LG's H3 speakers -- was disappointing in comparison. One reason is that, while the system can decode both DTS and Dolby surround soundtracks, if it receives a stereo signal -- such as from a CD -- it automatically translates this into an undefeatable faux-surround mode, which is terrible for listening to music.
Secondly, the app doesn't give you control over the level of each speaker, and there's no calibration routine, so you have to adjust the volume from each unit individually using trial and error. The net effect is that the soundfield never gelled when watching movies, and in fact the combination of the sound bar and sub without the surround speakers sounded more seamless. This was also partly due to the H3 speakers yielding a more "closed" sound than the sound bar, so there was a sonic disconnect on surround pans. A calibration routine would have helped even out these discrepancies.
The LG LAS751M is awfully good. It delivers credible home-theater thrills while maintaining a high level of transparency for a midprice sound bar/wireless system. While the Yamaha YAS-203 betters the LAS751M in some regards, the LG is a viable alternative, especially if wireless music streaming is your thing.