I love my LG OLED TV — but there's one infuriating problem

(Image credit: LG)

Update: Future LG OLED TVs could be transparent

Once you go OLED, you won't go back. We certainly could not, awarding LG OLED's our best TV to buy recommendation, year after year, until Samsung finally caught up with its QN 90A Neo QLED in 2021. 

As someone who owns an LG OLED C9 from 2019, I'm continually left in awe of the vibrant colors and deep inky blacks. Going from an LCD television, there really is no comparison. Well, apart from some recent mini-LED TVs. Unfortunately, there's been one major sticking point regarding my LG OLED C9, and that's Dolby Atmos audio.

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For whatever reason, when using Dolby Atmos with some devices, in my case an Xbox Series X console, there's significant audio delay. In games, lip sync feels off by a good 1-2 seconds, something that becomes grating. Unfortunately, there's no way to decrease audio delay in the settings, whether it be on the TV, sound bar or Xbox itself.

A Google search shows multiple Reddit and forum threads with users complaining about this exact issue. It largely does seem to be limited to LG OLED televisions, regardless of the model year, including the most recent LG C1 OLED. The problem also seems to be most noticeable on Xbox Series X, although delay does exist on PS5, 4K Blu Ray players and streaming apps. It's just not as significant. 

"I love the TV otherwise but it's a common issue with LG OLEDs and it's crazy to see that with a $1500+ TV," said user fracas on an Resetera forum thread. 

It's a sentiment I share, as do many others that saved up for an LG OLED. Solutions to minimize audio lag include changing the digital sound out from Auto to Passthrough or switching off Atmos completely for 5.1 uncompressed. Of course, the problem here is that this solution eliminates some of the oomph that Dolby Atmos brings, especially in regard to its 3D audio experience, as broken down in our Dolby Atmos Explained article. Switching from eARC to analogue out via an optical cable is also an option, but one with significant drawbacks in audio quality.

The only solution I've found that kind of works is from a two-year-old Reddit thread. It requires a lot of specific fiddling between internal TV speaker settings and Dolby Atmos settings. Even then, the delay is still present, just less noticeable. 

For Xbox Series X, one user on AV Forums points out that by switching the audio format in the Xbox settings from Dolby Atmos to DTS can fix this annoying delay issue. The problem is that users lose 120Hz and variable refresh rate, which was the point of buying an LG OLED to begin with. 

Reddit user CoopaClown suggested buying a Thenaudio eARC Audio Processor, a $228 device that seemingly does reduce latency significantly. But that's a big ask for customers that have likely dropped well over $2,000 on a television and audio setup. 

And that's the problem. With little communication from LG itself, users are left to fend for themselves with half-baked solutions that only go so far. Unlike other brands, LG lacks a properly moderated community forum where customers can ask questions with LG technicians available with solutions. That's opposed to Samsung, which has a large community forum with over 12 million members and 24 thousand threads.

Tom's Guide has reached out to LG regarding this issue but has yet to receive a reply. Upon reply, we'll update this article.

Until we do get a reply, users will have to continue messing around with settings or take more drastic steps. On another AV Forums thread, user BennyNL finally reached a breaking point:

"I gave up and returned the 65CX. Tried everything imaginable, searched the internet for hours. Nothing helps."

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.

  • Paulm21
    Thanks for the article, I have to ask if you're using a receiver or have the sound bar directly plugged into your TV? I planned on upgrading my TV in 2022 and it's been between the LG C1 or possibly new C2 or the Samsung QN90 but this could be a deal breaker for me.
  • BillGuen
    Honestly I don’t get it. My two year old LED TV looks fantastic. HDR10 movies look as good as any movie theater and the sound through my sound bar is so good that I often mistake movie sound effects for something happening outside or in the next room. I have looked at OLED screens in stores and I don’t see anything that makes me think I’m missing out.
  • Jim McMillen
    That big a sound delay? The TV is busted. Plain and simple. Take it back. When LG starts getting a flood of expensive returns, then I'm sure they'll fix it.
  • Jens-Christian
    Thanks for the article. I think it highlights an issue that has long been ignored by LG. Maybe the article should have stated clearly that this issue is related to setups where the TV forwards Dolby audio to external speakers using HDMI ARC/eARC. If you have a receiver to do that job, you're fine. You are also fine if you use internal speakers or optical. Some of the proposed fixes online have the unintended side effect of downgrading audio quality. That is a shame if your input source and sound setup both are capable of Dolby Atmos for example.
  • DocBones69
    Its not just a LG issue. I have a Hisense 55U6EU that also gets lip synch issues. Occurs with Apple TV, FireTV, Shield, etc. On mine it is something to do with pausing video. Doesn't occur right away but as you are watching and the pausing something multiple times it then starts to add a delay. (Doesnt matter the app either, Netflix, Amazon, etc) As long as you use the tv speakers your fine, but three different sound bars have all shown the issue.

    Only fix I found is to use HDMI to the sound bar first - but unfortunately with this model it doesn't have the ability to turn off TV sound. Tempted to give that Sharc device a try, but to much money sunk on this lemon of a tv.
  • carbar
    Thanks for the article! It's annoying how LG is handling the problem...
    I've found another user (Kleine Koosjer) in the Microsoft Forum suggesting to put a feintech vax01202 between TV and AV.
    Please, Imad, keep asking LG about the issue!!
  • DocBones69
    I tried the version you can get here in the US https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B094PPVKFL/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and did not work for my setup. But that maybe due to the TV and yamaha Soundbar supporting ARC - not the newer EARC.
  • Devlin1991
    My input setup:
    RTX3070 > HDMI 2.1 cable > LG C9 65"
    Chromecast > LG C9 65"My output setup:
    LG C9 65" > HDMI 2.1 cable via eARC > Samsung Q850t

    TV is set to passthrough any audio with no processing, no AI Sound etc.

    For my PC, I have it set to output PCM 5.1 at the highest bitrate and bit depth possible, in this mode there is no perceivable AV sync issues with a 4k 120hz 10bit video signal in 4:4:4 RGB. I can also output Atmos and the AV sync is fine but there is an annoying bug where the first 1s or so of any new Atmos audio stream is silent so you miss all notification sounds on windows, that forced me back to PCM 5.1 to avoid the silence issue.

    If any internal apps (Netflix, Disney+, etc) output atmos there is an unbearably bad audio delay that is unfixable from the soundbar or TV settings. The delay is reduced if you can select a non-atmos sound stream but sadly in some apps there is no option to select a "lower quality" audio source. I tried to watch a Dolby Vision + Dolby Atmos Moon Knight episode on Disney+ and the AV sync was awful so I aquired a non-atmos copy to watch directly from my PC and had to sacrifice Dolby Vision in the process.

    Seeing as LG have not fixed this issue and have essentially no communication about it I will never be buying a LG TV again. Waiting on the new Sony QD-OLED, once it's out I'll sell my C9to someone and never have to deal with LG again.

    Class Action against LG anyone?