LG SJ8 Review

A rung down from the Atmos-capable SJ9, you’ll find this HDMI-equipped slim-line soundbar. Read our LG SJ8 Review.

SOUNDBARS WERE BORN to keep clutter to a minimum but, with the SJ8, LG has taken that idea to the extreme. This wafer-thin soundbar’s 38mm height lets it slip into your system practically unseen.

LG has done a fine job with the soundbar’s aesthetic. The thin steel grille is sandwiched between brushed black panels that give it a sleek, modern feel. There’s a slight budget whiff about the plasticky texture and light bodywork but it’s not a deal-breaker.

A big front-mounted display keeps you abreast of the SJ8’s workings. Buttons are hidden away on the back.

In terms of socketry you’re hardly spoilt for choice with a single HDMI input and ARC output, but at least they’re able to pass through full-fat 4K/HDR signals from a UHD Blu-ray deck. If you prefer going down the single-cable route, use the optical input.

Naturally, a soundbar this slim needs a bit of help in the bass department, so you’ll find a wireless subwoofer in the box. Like the ‘bar, it’s remarkably compact and fetchingly styled in a grey/black colour scheme, although the exposed MDF and vinyl finish don’t impress.

Four elongated 26mm x 95mm mid/bass drivers compensate for the ‘bar’s reduced cabinet volume. They’re joined by two 0.75in dome tweeters. Unlike the step-up SJ9 there’s no Dolby Atmos support.

In the engine room, an amp sends 2 x 65W to the soundbar; the sub is rated at 170W.

The LG steals a march on Monitor Audio and Philips in this roundup with DLNA music streaming through its built-in Wi-Fi connection. There’s also support for hi-res music; everything else can be up-converted to 192kHz/24-bit using LG’s processing.

This well-connected ‘bar also supports Spotify and Chromecast, as well as Bluetooth and LG’s MusicFlow multiroom system. Install the companion app for the latter and your smartphone becomes the soundbar’s remote. Multiple LG speakers can then be linked up in a multiroom system if you fancy filling your house with music. The app is attractive and intuitive, but I had some major problems streaming from my NAS drive – it wouldn’t scroll further than D in my list of album titles. Unlucky for fans of Enya’s self-titled debut…

Let me entertain you

With movies, the SJ8 is a natural entertainer.

Its forward, boisterous presentation makes action scenes exciting and engaging. Subtle it ain’t, particularly when compared with the velvety Monitor Audio ASB-10. Smoothness is jettisoned in favour of sheer energy.

Soundstage size belies the ‘bar’s slim dimensions. The jaw-dropping destruction of Jedha in …Rogue One (Blu-ray) feels suitably apocalyptic thanks to the gigantic swell emitted by the sub, which melds nicely with the ‘bar’s fiery roar.

The subwoofer takes most of the credit here but the two components form a cohesive partnership, once you’ve trimmed the woofer from its too-high default setting.

Doctor Strange on Blu-ray reveals excellent dialogue reproduction, keeping Benedict Cumberbatch’s decent American accent nice and clear through the busiest action scenes. The bar’s physical width and sound-spreading tech make the sprawling city battles feel expansive, with purposefully placed effects and smooth panning.

It’s not all sweetness and light though – the SJ8 isn’t particularly adept at teasing out the finer details of a scene, lacking the refinement of the Samsung HW-MS6500 and Monitor Audio ‘bar. Treble has a slightly hard edge that can become grating at loud volumes. And on that note, the SJ8 doesn’t give you a lot of headroom volume wise – I pushed it to maximum and felt like it should go higher.

It’s a shame because at times this unit impresses, and is well-featured. Yet it lacks the overall quality to topple the competition.

8 Total Score
LG SJ8 Review

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DRIVE UNITS: 4 x Exelway 26mm x 95mm mid/bass drivers; 2 x 0.75in dome tweeters AMPLIFICATION (CLAIMED): 300W total CONNECTIONS: HDMI 2.0 input and output (ARC); optical digital audio input; Ethernet; USB (service) DOLBY TRUEHD/DTS-HD MA: No/No SEPARATE SUB: Yes REMOTE CONTROL: Yes DIMENSIONS: 1,220(w) x 38(h) x 105(d)mm WEIGHT: 2.7kg (soundbar); 4.3kg (sub)

FEATURES: Wi-Fi; DLNA media streaming and MusicFlow multiroom; Bluetooth; Chromecast built-in; Spotify Connect; hi-res audio playback; Auto Sound Engine; presets including Bass Blast and Cinema


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