Atmos is where it’s at for soundbars such as the LG SN8YG — they’re the simplest way to take advantage of the latest in movie and TV sound. Dolby Atmos produces more precise sound in space, making the audio experience more encompassing. And better yet, Atmos is now available on several soundbars under $1,000.
While the SN8YG lists at $800, it’s available for as low as $500 as of this writing — that’s $500 less than the Sonos Arc, our favorite Atmos soundbar under $1,000. The SN8YG can’t beat the overall performance of the Arc, but it does deliver precise sound and detailed bass. It includes Google Assistant for voice control and lets you adjust the sound in more ways than most soundbars. And, wow, is it loud.
Read on for our full LG SN8YG review.
LG SN8YG: Design
The SN8YG’s main soundbar is fairly slim at 41.7 x 4.7 x 2.2 inches, especially compared to Sonos’s 45 x 4.5 x 3.4-inch Arc. The unit includes 3 channels — center, left and right — as well as two upward firing drivers on top for height. The wireless subwoofer is average size at 15.4 x 12.3 x 8.7 inches.
The front of the soundbar features an easy-to-read LED display that shows the current input, volume when you change it, sound mode and EQ settings (though it’s much easier to use the LG app to adjust these levels).
On top of the unit, touch sensitive buttons control the power and input (labeled F for function). You can also play or pause music, engage Google Assistant or mute the microphone.
The back has an HDMI ARC (audio return channel) input for a single cable connection to your TV. You can also connect by optical digital audio. It has one HDMI input for a streaming device or game console, as well as an USB port. Since there’s no Ethernet port, you can only connect to your network via Wi-fi. You can also connect wirelessly through Bluetooth.
The remote — fairly large for a soundbar — has lots of buttons. In addition to power and volume, you can switch inputs, mute, change sound modes, activate Google Assistant and access the equalizer. But wait, there’s more: you can play, pause or skip audio tracks, activate night mode and even navigate folders on a USB drive. If that’s too many options, you can also control volume and power via your TV remote if you connect through HDMI ARC.
LG SN8YG: Performance
The SN8YG has a big sound and booming bass. But because it lacks virtual surround sound, the experience is more narrow compared to other soundbars that do, such as the Sonos Arc and JBL Bar 5.1 Surround. It also buries voices in the mix a bit, resulting in muffled dialog and vocals.
While watching Hamilton, the singing of the cast and the music from the orchestra were crisp and had good midrange, but the vocals weren’t as prominent as on the Sonos Arc. When Thor unleashed his lightning in the battle for Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War, the subwoofer produced a satisfying rumble and it was more detailed than the JBL Bar 5.1 Surround thanks to Atmos. Watching Dolby Atmos demo videos, the SN8YG’s height speakers definitely improved how big the sound was, though the lack of rear channels diminished the spatial effect.
You have to use two apps to set up the SN8YG. First, you use Google Home to activate Google Assistant and add the system to your network. Then, download the LG Wi-Fi Speaker app. It’s unusual to have to use two apps for setup, but the LG app is the one that really lets you tap into the many settings you can adjust.
You can run auto-calibration in the LG app to make the speaker sound best in the room you’re using it. You can also manually adjust the levels of the subwoofer as well as the center channel and height speakers — few soundbars give you that level of control.
The SN8YG offers several sound modes to match the audio to your liking. You can set it to AI Sound Pro, which adjusts the sound based on what you’re watching; or pick Bass Blast, Standard, Movie or Music. AI Sound Pro worked fairly well in most cases.
Music sounded good on the SN8YG, but suffered from the same muffled vocals as when watching movies. While the layers of instruments and rhythms on Fiona Apple’s “Shameika” were sharp and distinct, her vocals were slightly muted. Taylor Swift’s voice sounded better on “the last great american dynasty,” but not as vibrant as on the Sonos Arc.
LG touts the 440 watts of power the system can generate, and it’s no joke. At max volume, the SN8YG peaked above 100 decibels — the most I’ve measured in a soundbar. Voices got fairly distorted at the volume, but you will likely never need to push it to that point and it’s nice to know you have plenty of power in reserve should you need to overpower outside sounds or just irritate the neighbors.
LG SN8YG: Voice assistant
The SN8YG includes Google Assistant for voice control. You press the Google Assistant button on the remote to activate it. It was responsive to questions about the weather and could switch on a light connected to my network. The assistant offers few ways to interact with the soundbar itself: you can change the volume and play music, but you can’t change the input. There are more options if you pair the soundbar with an LG TV.
LG SN8YG: Setup
I connected the SN8YG to my TV via HDMI ARC — the one cable connection worked immediately. You can also use an optical digital audio cable if your TV doesn’t support ARC.
LG SN8YG: Verdict
The LG SN8YG offers an easy and relatively affordable way to add Atmos to your home theater. With Google Assistant included and a relatively slim profile, it has most of the features you want in a soundbar. It offers more control over sound than many soundbars. And if you like to listen loud, this is the unit for you.
If you can afford to spend a couple of hundred dollars more, the Sonos Arc delivers better and more encompassing sound. But the Arc is much larger in addition to being more expensive. If you don’t mind the lack of surround sound, the SN8YG could be a good match for your home theater.