Hands On with LG's 2017 Audio and OLED 4K Display Lineup

Posted Fri Jul 21, 2017 at 08:30 PM PDT by
lg atmos sound bar

A Dolby Atmos sound bar, floating speakers, 4K Ultra HD TVs, and more were all spotlighted.

Earlier this week, High-Def Digest was invited to attend LG's Sound Bites demo in New York City. Held at the Flatiron Penthouse, the event offered a free-flowing look at the company's latest audio and video products, allowing attendees to wander through various rooms to experience the gear in a casual, real-world setting. And all while mixing the demonstrations with a healthy assortment of delicious bites and curated music selections courtesy of Chef Dale Talde.

From levitating speakers and Atmos sound bars to OLED TVs and Ultra HD Blu-ray players, there were so many products on display that the showcase required an actual map to navigate through all the rooms full of tech goodies. Seriously, check it out below (click for full size).

And now that my eyes, ears, and belly have been fully satiated, I've returned with a roundup of gear highlights and impressions.  

Note: All prices below reflect current Amazon or manufacturer listings before taxes or shipping fees.

OLED DISPLAYS & ULTRA HD BLU-RAY PLAYER


Fresh off the LG 65E7P OLED Ultra HD TV's recent sweep of the 2017 CE Week TV Shootout Awards, LG took the opportunity to spotlight another one of its 2017 OLED TV models. Proudly displayed in four different rooms throughout the space, the company had its more affordable 65C7P and 55C7P Ultra HD TVs on hand.

To show off the displays, LG primarily played back a variety of Ultra HD clips in Dolby Vision HDR from a connected USB drive. The demo material included scenes from Mad Max: Fury Road, Everest, Batman v Superman, Pacific Rim, and more. I've now had a chance to see this year's crop of OLEDs at a few different events and they never seem to disappoint. With the same panel found on the 65E7P, the C7P model offers the same inky black levels, rich colors, strong viewing angles, and impressive HDR highlights that helped its more expensive sibling earn the "King of UHD TV" title. With that said, this model does not include the E7's fancy Picture-on-Glass design or sound bar stand.

But even without those design perks, the C7P looked gorgeous in person and the demo material really shined -- despite seemingly having one of the TV's unnecessary motion smoothing modes enabled. Exploding fire balls during the Mad Max scene flared with smoldering intensity while the title showdown from Batman v Superman offered a great example of the set's impressive contrast, maintaining perfect blacks and shadows while specific highlights and colors, like Batman's glowing eyes and swirling green clouds of kryptonite, popped from the screen.

The 65C7P is now available for $3,797 and the 55C7P is currently on sale for $2,497.

And beyond the Dolby Vision clips, LG also had its new UP970 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Player connected to one of the OLED TVs as well. For the event, the company played back scenes from the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Secret Life of Pets in HDR10. Like the other demo material, the flick looked great with bold colors and sharp detail. And though the player couldn't show off any Dolby Vision discs just yet, LG stated that the highly anticipated Dolby Vision firmware update is expected to be available by the end of the month/early August. In addition to multi-HDR capabilities and Ultra HD disc playback, the device also includes support for Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K streaming playback.

The UP970 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Player is now available for $297.

SOUND BARS


Switching gears to LG's new audio lineup, the company also demoed its recently released SJ9 sound bar with Dolby Atmos as part of a living room system along with the OLED and Ultra HD Blu-ray player. The sound bar features multiple speakers, including two powerful up-firing drivers for bouncing sound off a user's ceiling, and a wireless subwoofer to offer a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos experience. Likewise, the device is currently the thinnest Atmos-enabled sound bar model on the market according to LG.

To demonstrate the sound bar, the company again played a scene from The Secret Life of Pets, and though this sequence sounded pretty good it just wasn't a particularly robust showcase of the device's quality. Thankfully, LG played a few clips from a Dolby Atmos demo disc as well, and these videos really revealed the unit's full potential.

The first piece, titled Leaf, featured a rustling leaf floating through the trees as birds, frogs, and other nature effects filled the background of the track. The sound bar provided surprisingly wide imaging, spreading the ambient sounds far off to the left and right. Likewise, the leaf itself had some genuine dimension to it as it moved throughout the room, and though true surround presence was lacking, the sound bar did a great job of creating a sense of overhead audio. The system's subwoofer provided some nice kick to the video too, but the levels had to be pushed quite high to overcome the noisy event which did lead to some occasional harshness. Another well-known Atmos clip, called Amaze, was also played. Marked by more nature effects like fluttering wings, thunder, and falling rain, this demo also gave the up-firing drivers a nice workout, offering a convincing overhead effect as the storm opened up and seemed to descend from above the listening position. 

The SJ9 sound bar with Dolby Atmos is now available for $997.

Outside of the Atmos model, LG had a few other sound bars on display as well, including the SJ7 "Flex" Sound Bar and the SJ5Y Sound Bar

The SJ7 is a 320W sound bar system that features a unique Flex option allowing the two-part sound bar unit to be used as a single bar with 2.1 channels; two separate left and right speakers for 2.1 channels; or as a separate front speaker and rear surround speaker for 4.1 channels. Likewise, both pieces have Bluetooth support and the right unit has a battery. In addition, the package includes a wireless subwoofer.

During the event, LG had the sound bar configured as separate front and surround units, with the front speaker placed under a TV and the rear speaker placed on a table behind a couch. The Dolby Vision demo reel was played, and though the volume was bit too low to really get a full sense of the system's quality, the sound bar did correctly send front and rear effects to the appropriate unit for 4.1 surround sound. Due to the compact size of each speaker there wasn't really much stereo imaging on the individual units, but the front to back separation created a relatively immersive soundfield. I'd need more time with the product and all of its different modes to form any kind of full opinion, but based on my limited preview this actually looks like a pretty clever design.

The SJ7 "Flex" Sound Bar is available now for $427.

Meanwhile, the SJ5Y Sound Bar is a more traditional 320W 2.1 channel system with a wireless subwoofer. The sound bar offers Bluetooth connectivity and hi-res audio playback support, along with HDMI 1.4 in and out ports. For the demo, the system was also paired with LG's SPJ4 2.0 Channel Sound Bar Wireless Rear Speaker Kit, adding separate left and right rear satellites for surround sound. A clip from Oblivion was played as a demo, and the system sounded quite lively with a solid sense of immersion for its size, providing performance not unlike similar VIZIO sound bar/rear satellite systems I've reviewed in the past.

The SJ5Y Sound Bar is now available for $270 and the additional LG's SPJ4 2.0 Channel Sound Bar Wireless Rear Speaker Kit is available for $127.

PORTABLE SPEAKERS


In addition to home theater gear, LG also spotlighted some of its new and upcoming portable audio devices, including the PJ9 ZeroG Levitating Speaker, PJ8 Twin Speaker, and PJ3 SoloG Speaker.

With its unique floating design, the PJ9 was the most striking of the bunch. The system features a compact 360-degree portable speaker unit that levitates and spins above a separate subwoofer base via magnetic technology. Likewise, the subwoofer base also acts as a wireless charging dock. When separated from the base, the speaker can last for up to 10 hours of portable use and also offers IPX7 Water Resistance. Bluetooth connectivity, speakerphone support, and a 3.5mm connection are integrated as well.

Meanwhile, the speaker will also be available as a standalone portable model dubbed the PJ3 SoloG Speaker, which offers the same performance minus the magnetic levitating technology and the subwoofer base. In addition, a PJ8 Twin Speaker version with two PJ3 units connected together via a charging dock is also in the works. Likewise, two PJ3s can be wirelessly paired as well to offer left and right stereo playback.

Sadly, it was a bit too noisy at the event to really get a good listen of the speaker, but the levitating feature was genuinely cool in person, giving the device a high-tech aesthetic that definitely demands attention.

The PJ9 ZeroG Levitating Speaker is now available for pre-order with an MSRP of $300. Shipments are expected to launch in September.

FINAL THOUGHTS   


Marked by impressive audio gear, gorgeous OLED displays, great music, and delicious food, the LG Sound Bites Event provided a nice sampling of the company's new and upcoming crop of AV products. Though the noise could make it a little hard to hear some of the speaker demos, the casual setting offered a more laid back and real world taste of what these devices can do.

And beyond the highlighted gear above, LG also showed off some of their new Hi-Fi sound systems, including the beefy 3500W CJ98 ($897) which brought a fun atmosphere to the event's outdoor terrace via some thumping bass and flashing lights.

We're hoping to get more hands-on time with some of the gear from the event, but for now, what do you think about LG's 2017 lineup? Will you be taking the plunge on an OLED display or any of these sound bar models? Let us know your thoughts in the forums!

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Tags: LG, Speakers, Dolby Atmos, OLED, Dolby Vision (all tags)