LG SP8YA Review: A Wealth of Features Back Solid Performance

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This LG SP8YA review goes over the features, functionality, and performance of a mid-range soundbar. The LG SP8YA is a 3.1.2 channel soundbar that promises some form of surround sound. Its inclusion of two height channels suggests an audio setup that looks to drown you in whatever world your content weaves for you.

Does this audio rig understand and complete the assignment? An in-depth review can give us a pretty good idea, so consider this a test drive of the LG SP8YA.

LG SP8YA review: First looks

The LG SP8YA soundbar looks like something an interior designer would use to complement edgy home décor. It has the understated elegance we’ve come to expect from the manufacturer’s higher-end home appliances.

LG SP8YA review

The central soundbar unit sits in a 42-inch-long chassis with a low form factor and rounded ends. Its charcoal-black housing comprises a plastic base that extends to the back and bottom panels. The front of the soundbar has a protective metal grill that covers the drivers and LCD display.

Brushed metal forms the top surface of the LG SP8YA, adding to the premium look and feel of the device. The textured metallic surface is pretty uniform, except for two speakers on either end of the soundbar. These have circular covers made of the same metal grill you find at the front of the soundbar. The only other break to the brushed metal is a row of capacitive touch controls.

LG SP8YA review:  Controls, ports, and wireless connectivity

The controls at the top face of the soundbar consist of power, input selection, volume, play/pause, WiFi, and Bluetooth buttons. At the back, you’ll find an inset that houses the following ports:

  • HDMI Input port that allows for pass-through of different types of content; which lets you use the soundbar as a mini-hub for different devices
  • HDMI Output port with eARC capability
  • Digital optical output
  • USB port

ARC capability on the HDMI output offers support for a wide range of audio formats, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The soundbar also supports the rest of the Dolby and DTS audio formats. The HDMI-In port allows pass-through for HDR10, VRR games, and 4K content. This means you can use your soundbar as a bridge between a connected device and the TV. A wireless adapter supplies dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.

[Read what others are saying about this soundbar]

Subwoofer design

The imposing frame of the subwoofer is a black chassis that comes in plastic or engineered wood. It stands at over eighteen inches tall, meaning that you’ll need to find ample space for it. The subwoofer has a front-firing driver and a bass port at the back. It connects to the central unit via Bluetooth.

LG SP8YA review:  Setup

Getting the soundbar and subwoofer in operation mostly comes down to finding the ideal location for each piece. An entertainment stand works excellent if the width of your TV is comparable to that of the soundbar. The low-form factor of the central unit all but guarantees a clear line of sight to the IR receiver on your TV.

You can also mount the soundbar using a pair of keyholes at the bottom surface. There’s a mounting template, brackets, and screws that ship with the device if you choose to go the wall-mount route.

After physical placement, all you need to do is power the soundbar and subwoofer. The two should pair automatically via Bluetooth. Connect the LG SP8YA to the TV, and sound should automatically redirect to the central unit and onto the subwoofer. The optical port may not always work on the first attempt, and you may have to adjust the sound settings on your TV.

Once the whole setup comes online, the soundbar will perform automatic room correction with the help of an internal microphone.

Operation

The digital LCD display at the front of the soundbar lets you see what you’re doing as you navigate the soundbar. You have three choices when it comes to operating the LG SP8YA: The soundbar remote, the TV remote, and the companion app, which you install on your phone or tablet.

The TV remote only works when you connect the soundbar via the HDMI-ARC port. You will need an active wireless connection to operate the soundbar through its companion app.

Thanks to its wide selection of features, there’s a lot you can do with the LG SP8YA. For starters, the device is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. It also carries support for Apple Airplay and Google Chromecast. All these functions allow you to stream music from pretty much any room in your house (depending on your larger sound setup, of course).

LG SP8YA review: Hardware and audio quality

The front face of the central unit has two 40x100mm woofers on either end. These front-firing drivers get an assist from a center channel in the form of a 20mm tweeter.

Two height channels flank the controls on either end of the top panel. These 2.5-inch woofers fire upwards towards the ceiling. The thinking is that the ceiling should reflect sound down to you, creating the illusion of ceiling speakers. For the ‘illusion’ to work, your ceiling needs to be pretty low and pretty uniform. It also needs to reflect sound instead of absorbing it.

Lastly, we have the 7-inch speaker in the subwoofer of the LG SP8YA audio setup. It provides the bass frequencies that you need for your movie effects and bass-heavy music. Altogether, the different drivers produce 470W of power. Let’s see how the speakers perform as a unit.

Sound quality: Frequency range

Consider the frequency range to be the palette of sound frequencies that the LG SP8YA can reproduce. The audio setup goes as low as 31Hz on the bass end of the spectrum. Treble frequencies extend to 19 kHz, the upper limit of what the human ear can hear.

Inside this range, the soundbar does an excellent job of creating distinct audio elements, even when they sit at adjacent frequencies to each other. The soundbar produces a balanced blend that is not shy about bringing thumping, roaring bass to the fore.

Sound quality: Distortion at peak volume

Few soundbars maintain perfect sound fidelity at peak volume. Adjacent sound frequencies meld into each other, resulting in a loss of definition in the overall audio. In the LG SP8YA, this distortion is most noticeable in the bass and mid-range frequencies.

Luckily it’s unlikely that you will have to use this audio setup at peak volume. It gets plenty loud for a noisy room, even at normal volume.

Sound quality: Sound stage and surround sound

This 42-inch soundbar creates a wide sound stage at the front of your entertainment space. The left and right woofers deliver mid-range and treble audio elements that seem to originate from pin-point locations. Dialog is clear and distinct, thanks to the discrete center channel that the 20mm tweeter creates.

The height channels make a valiant attempt at making sound ‘rain’ from the ceiling. This helps to increase the dimension of the sound stage, but without the pinpoint precision of the front-firing channels. The sound from the height channels tries to mimic actual ceiling speakers from home theater setups, but nothing beats the real thing.

Your subwoofer should be behind you when you’re seated in front of the TV. While this placement helps to round out the sound stage, it falls short of true surround. As a result, the central unit will downmix surround formats to stereo. It’s a good thing that the LG SP8YA allows you to add a pair of rear speakers. You should consider it.

Audio format support and sound enhancement

The HDMI-ARC port supports all varieties of Dolby and DTS formats, including formats that require height channels.

Sound enhancement features are where the LG SP8YA shines. The sheer variety of audio presets and functions makes this audio setup an investment that’s as future-proof as it gets. For starters, you have the room calibration feature that adjusts the soundstage to fit the layout of your entertainment space. You can also use the following functions to customize your sound:

  • Bass and treble adjustment
  • Height level adjustment
  • Rear level adjustment if you choose to add rear speakers
  • Subwoofer adjustment

You also get your pick of equalizer modes like Cinema, Music, Bass, Gaming, and Sports. Cinema mode doubles as virtual surround sound, so give it a whirl if you want a more immersive sound stage.

Pros

  • Pleasant design and solid build
  • Wide soundstage
  • Support for Dolby Atmos and DTS-X
  • Support for Alexa and Google voice assistants
  • Ease of setup and operation
  • A feature-rich companion app
  • You can expand the audio setup with rear speakers

Cons

  • A set of rear speakers are necessary to add more dimension to the sound stage coming from the LG SP8YA
  • As a result, the soundbar will downmix surround into stereo
  • The height channels produce diffuse audio elements instead of executing pinpoint precision for different sound artifacts. However, only actual height speakers can reproduce precise Atmos or DTS:X sound

LG SP8YA review verdict: Solid performance and a future-proof feature set

This LG SP8YA review finds a soundbar setup that will keep you happy for years to come. The fact that you can incorporate this audio rig into a larger setup makes it a keeper. This versatile soundbar-and-subwoofer combination is good value for your money. Click here to learn more about this soundbar.

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