LG’s USC9S is a soundbar that’s a tailored associate for C2 and C3 OLEDs, bearing a wealth of options and slick integration with LG TVs, however it’s sharp and at instances sibilant sound stops it in need of a suggestion.
- Pleasure and power in spades
- Tight integration with LG TVs
- Wealth of options
- Sharp and lean tone
- Close to pointless show
- Underwhelms music efficiency
- WOW Orchestra integration could possibly be higher
AudioHelps Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive soundtracks
WOW OrchestraCombines the LG TV’s audio system with the soundbar for a much bigger sound
4K/120Hz assistCan pass-through 4K/120Hz indicators for high-end gaming
LG’s goal for its soundbars is to extend the connect charge with its TVs. In any case, when you purchase an LG TV, doesn’t it make sense to stay with the identical model to spice up the audio?
And that ‘synergy’ is all around the LG USC9S (or SC9 within the US). This can be a soundbar designed in tandem with LG’s C3 OLED, packaged with a bespoke wall-mounted bracket to mix them for an all-in-one audio-visual package deal.
And there’s extra symbiosis on the desk as LG is placing a much bigger emphasis on its WOW audio applied sciences to mix the interface and sound from the TV and soundbar into one entire.
LG’s soundbars haven’t essentially hit the heights of its rivals lately, so what to make of this newest effort? After testing the soundbar, listed here are my ideas.
- Design goes underneath the radar
- Upfiring centre speaker
- Somewhat pointless show
Gray and nameless can be two phrases to explain the USC9S, and whereas which will sound unflattering, it’s clear this soundbar has no intention of hogging the limelight from the TV.
It seems to be similar to the primary bar from the S80QR soundbar system, although it doubles down on its utilitarian vibe by omitting the Jersey gray acoustic cloth. Just like the S80QR it has three upfiring audio system however solely two to undertaking Dolby Atmos audio – the centre speaker is devoted to lifting dialogue onto the display.
LG has ditched the easy-to-read LCD show for one thing extra impenetrable – basically a collection of dots which might be close to indecipherable as to what they may imply.
It’s barely mitigated by the speaker’s voice pronouncements flicking by way of settings, however you’ll be able to not see what kind of soundtrack is enjoying on the bar itself. I assume the minimal nature of the show is to encourage use of the WOW interface, however that appears an inelegant answer to one thing that wasn’t an issue.
Connections are in a recessed space on the unit’s underside, with an HDMI enter, output (eARC/ARC), digital optical out and a USB enter. The accompanying subwoofer appears to be going for the nameless look too, although its measurement and weight (7.8kg) counsel it’ll have a tough time hiding out of sight.
Included is the wall-mount bracket for attaching to the C3 OLED, although I didn’t set that up, utilizing the bar in its extra typical place. The bracket is suitable with each the C2 and C3 OLEDs, and suits with the 55-, 65- and 77-inch fashions.
The distant is identical one which’s featured with LG’s soundbars for years, mimicking the curved, ergonomic form of the TV distant although smaller and lighter. Buttons are saved to a minimal and much more minimal is the usage of icons over lettering for every button, however the symbols are easy sufficient to get the gist. It might have been attention-grabbing if LG had determined to forgo a distant given all of the WOW Synergy occurring between the bar and the TV.
- 4K/120Hz passthrough through HDMI
- Works with Alexa and Google assistants
- WOW synergy with LG TVs
LG’s soundbars are inclined to go for the full-course meal with regards to options, and the USC9S is crammed to the brim.
Voice help consists of Alexa and Google Assistant, however since neither are in-built, the USC9S wants a hyperlink to a different suitable gadget to allow hands-free operation.
The place wi-fi connections are involved there’s Chromecast, AirPlay 2, Spotify Join, Tidal Join (with MQA assist) and Bluetooth 5.0 (SBC, AAC). Hello-res audio is supported as much as 24-bit/96kHz; and the USC9S can play Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, DTS:X, DTS Digital Encompass and IMAX Enhanced soundtracks.
It could possibly additionally passthrough HDR10 and Dolby Imaginative and prescient by way of the HDMI enter, together with VRR and ALLM assist. An improve from the S80QR is assist for refresh charges as much as 4K/120Hz for sport consoles.
There are eight sound modes in whole in IMAX Enhanced, AI Sound Professional, Clear Voice Professional, Music (developed by LG’s audio associate Meridian), Normal, Cinema, Sports activities, and Bass Blast. With A.I. Room Calibration the bar can assess the acoustic properties of a room and alter the sound.
In WOW Interface and WOW Orchestra come the explanations LG needs you to speculate on this bar over its rivals. WOW Orchestra is LG’s model of Samsung’s Q-Symphony, which sees the audio system within the TV and soundbar work in live performance to broaden the soundstage. I’ll go into element on the impact that has within the subsequent part.
WOW Interface goals to make it simpler to manage the TV and soundbar by sharing the identical interface. I need to admit I wasn’t all that clear as to the best way to carry up the soundbar’s interface when related to an LG C3 OLED, however it seems you’ll be able to attain it by heading to the House Hub (which isn’t made clear within the guide). There’s a far faster (and less complicated) approach of fixing the modes by citing the ‘fast settings’ menu on a 2023 LG TV.
There’s additionally the LG Sound Bar app, which grew to become my most popular mode of working the bar, primarily as a result of it has all the data wanted (and extra). You possibly can change between audio modes and inputs, verify what kind of audio is enjoying (Atmos, DTS:X, PCM, and so forth.), alter the quantity of every speaker, management quantity/music and add extra audio system to the system. It’s the most complete approach of managing the bar and is easy to make use of.
For those who do need to add extra audio system, the USC9S is suitable with the SPQ8-S rear speaker package deal. It’s out there within the US for $99.99 and within the UK at Richer Sounds.
Sound High quality
- Energetic and thrilling sound
- Punchy, highly effective bass
- Overly sharp tone
Can a soundbar be cinematic in scale but in addition ill-disciplined in tone? That’s the place the USC9S finds itself, a soundbar able to including heft and scale to any TV it’s partnered with, but in addition suffers from points which have plagued LG’s TVs and soundbars of late.
However let me begin with the excellent news. The upfiring centre works properly in carving out an area for dialogue when watching Daisy Jones & the Six on Prime Video. Dialogue is elevated and sits on the display slightly than feeling as if it’s coming from barely beneath.
I discover the settings for the ‘top’ channel slightly conservative – nudge it as much as about ‘+3’ and you actually begin to hear each readability and separation of dialogue from the remainder of the observe in a movie like Interstellar, the place there are scenes the place it’s arduous to differentiate between what’s being mentioned and the movie’s cacophonous sound design.
And dialogue sounds clear and crisply conveyed for essentially the most half, whether or not it’s within the motion scenes of Tenet, the quieter and tense scenes in Nope, or the extra talkative scenes of characters in Business on the iPlayer. Selecting Normal mode locations extra emphasis on dialogue, making it simpler to sift by way of what’s mentioned in dialogue-heavy programming.
The USC9S treats its viewers to an enormous and expansive soundscape. This isn’t true immersion with out the rear audio system to help, however there’s depth to the opening part of Ghost within the Shell because the digicam strikes by way of the cityscape, and when Okay’s spinner lands in the beginning of Blade Runner 2049, I can hear it descend from above the TV clearer than I can on the Sony HT-A5000.
There’s a propulsive power to the Malta chase in Jurassic World: Dominion (DTS:X), and the combo of the consequences – the thrum of Owen’s motorcycle as he races by way of town, the chasing footsteps of the Raptors, and Michael Giacchino’s rating all mesh and construct in direction of a kinetic and thrilling scene that was so thrilling I ended up watching it once more.
And the accompanying subwoofer is a brute, however in a great way. It does sound odd at first – harking back to LG’s Éclair subwoofer in that it sounds massive, however appears to have neutered the rumbly vibrations from the drive unit.
The subwoofer provides loads of slam, producing a strong, room-shaking expertise that’s explosive with a movie like Interstellar the place I can really feel the ship stressing and buckling because it descends by way of the ambiance to land on the water planet. Or in Dominion, the place the low frequencies present heft to present the dinosaur battle scenes impression.
The WOW Orchestra characteristic works properly sufficient in synchronising the audio system within the bar with that of the TV. Having tried it with each a C3 and G3 OLED, it presents the same impact as Samsung’s Q-Symphony with a crisper tone to sounds that emanate from the display, which isn’t too distracting and even regular given the distinction within the measurement of the drivers. The location of sounds sits on the display and sounds as if it’s coming from the place it needs to be.
Nonetheless, there’s a slight lag when pausing/restarting content material in WOW Orchestra mode. There’s additionally what seems to be a unique crossover with the sub. There’s not the identical degree of weight to results in Ghost within the Shell, the soundstage is thinner and smaller with WOW Orchestra engaged with extra energy and heft when listening to the movie in its ‘regular’ eARC mode.aaa
And although I discussed that the LG soundbar treats dialogue with readability, it’s vulnerable to sibilance. Riley Keough’s voice in Daisy & the Six might be too sharp (each in WOW and eARC modes); and it’s the same impact with feminine characters of Ghost within the Shell.
This turns into a much bigger concern at greater volumes, however even at decrease ranges (round 35), there are nonetheless traces of sibilance. I can hear it within the baseline check in Blade Runner 2049 in addition to the dialog between Okay and Sapper on the farm, so it isn’t simply feminine voices which might be affected.
The bar might be too sharp and acute on the high finish of the frequency vary; the ringing sound of the chains within the dinosaur pit in Dominion and gunshots are harshly reproduced and grate just a little.
The USC9S can be not the subtlest-sounding bar both, however I doubt many might be bothered given the joy it’s able to.
The LG USC9S isn’t overly convincing with music. Once more, it sounds too crisp – not coarse however teetering in direction of sibilance with voices and treble notes. The Music mode sounds too compact, hemmed in inside the bar.
The steadiness throughout the frequency vary doesn’t sound correct to my ears both. Streaming Norah Jones’ I Don’t Know When from Tidal, the bar doesn’t appear to undertaking voices out from the bar – the devices and her voice get combined up with, resulting in a crowded sense of house. This isn’t for each observe, in fact, and there are songs that sound good, however extra usually the LG is a clumsy mixture of too vivid, shrill, and excitable.
The Bluetooth efficiency is slightly weak too. The amount must be turned as much as get anyplace near how music sounds over Wi-Fi, and the heat of the Bluetooth connection impacts its sense of element whereas bass is muted. Change to Wi-Fi and there’s higher steadiness and punchiness, however there’s additionally the problems I famous beforehand.
Flitting by way of the modes for a greater steadiness and none enable music to actually strut its stuff. AI Sound Professional highlights every part and loses out on voices, whereas Cinema could be very processed, as if it’s attempting to be 3D. What does it say concerning the tuning of the Music mode when Normal seems to be the most effective of the bunch?
Do you have to purchase it?
For those who’ve acquired a C2 or C3 OLED TV:
The LG USC9S is tailor made for LG’s C-series OLEDs, much more so when you’re wall-mounted the TV.
You’re delicate to sibilance:
I can see what LG is attempting to do, however the USC9S might do with firming down its ranges of sharpness.
There’s a tinge of disappointment concerning the LG USC9S soundbar, particularly seen within the context of its £1000 worth. If we’re primarily specializing in pairing this bar with the LG C3 or C2 OLED, then it simply serves up a greater sound than both of these TVs can muster, however it’s compromised by sounding too sharp.
And that’s a disgrace as with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks the USC9S provides an thrilling and thrilling sound. The upfiring centre channel for dialogue is beneficial, and WOW Orchestra characteristic works in combining the TV and bar’s audio system, however the crossover for the bass could possibly be managed higher.
Given the WOW bracket packaged with the bar, this can be a area of interest mannequin for these with an LG C2 or C3 OLED, in the same guise to the GX wall-mount soundbar for the G-series OLED. An honest effort, however a smoother tone and higher efficiency with music would have catapulted this bar to really helpful territory. Take a look at our greatest soundbar checklist for extra choices.
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We check each soundbar system we overview completely over an prolonged time period. We use business commonplace checks to check options correctly. We’ll all the time let you know what we discover. We by no means, ever, settle for cash to overview a product.
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Examined with actual world use
Sure, the LG USC9S soundbar can play DTS:X, DTS-HD Grasp Audio and different DTS audio codecs. Nonetheless, you’ll have to make it possible for your TV can pass-through DTS audio in any other case it’ll seem as PCM/LPCM audio.
Sound Bar Channels
Audio (Energy output)
975 x 125 x 63 MM
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Join, Tidal Join
Works with Alexa, Works with Google
Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, DTS:X, DTS Digital Encompass, IMAX Enhanced, MQA, LPCM, DTS-HD Excessive Decision, DTS-HD Grasp Audio, Dolby Digital+, Dolby TrueHD, AAC, MP3, OGG, FLAC, WAV
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Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio format. It expands on 5.1 and seven.1 soundtracks by including overhead channels. Sounds are known as “audio objects”, of which there might be as much as 128 audio channels, and these ‘objects’ might be precisely positioned inside a 3D soundscape. This enables soundtracks that assist the know-how to position sounds above and across the listener with suitable equipment.
DTS:X is an object-based audio format created in 2015 for the house. The premise is much like Dolby Atmos in that it creates a hemisphere of sound that’s extra lifelike and pure in its presentation.