LG SL10YG review: Big soundbar, bigger soundstage

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The LG SL10YG is the company’s 2020 flagship soundbar, promising to deliver a combination of immersive audio and smart features.

This big bar-and-sub combo supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based sound formats, thanks to a 5.1.2-channel driver layout, and also boasts built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant, making it a fully-functioning smart speaker too.

Is it a certified two-box trip to cinematic wonderment?

Design

  • Available in dark grey
  • Soundbar: 1443 x 63 x 146mm; 7.5kg
  • Subwoofer: 221 x 390 x 313mm; 7.8kg

The LG SL10YG sports a sleek design with a height of only 63mm, meaning it shouldn’t block your TV’s screen. It’s also fairly long, making it better suited to TVs with screen sizes of 65-inches and larger. You can choose between stands or wall-mounting, with brackets provided for the latter.

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The build quality is excellent, with a wrap-around mesh grille and an attractive dark-grey brushed-metal finish. Behind this grille are front-firing left, right and centre speakers, along with side-firing speakers; while upward-firing speakers are prominently positioned on the top of the unit.

The included wireless active subwoofer is composed of MDF, with three sides covered in black fabric, and a plain dark grey top plate. It uses a 7-inch front-firing driver with a rear port, and it’s reasonably well made, although not as solid as the main soundbar unit.

Connections & Controls

  • 2x HDMI input; HDMI output with ARC
  • Optical digital audio input; 3.5mm analogue input
  • Ethernet; Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz); Bluetooth 4.2
  • Google Assistant and Chromecast
  • ThinQ and Google Home apps

The LG SL10YG houses its connections in a recessed area on the underside, where you’ll find two HDMI inputs, an HDMI output with ARC (audio return channel), and an optical digital audio input. In terms of wireless connections there’s a choice of built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and Google Chromecast.

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All the HDMI ports can pass 4K/60p and high dynamic range (specifically HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision). The lack of HDR10+ passthrough isn’t surprising given LG’s stance towards the format, but the lack of eARC (enhanced audio return channel) support is strange considering it’s included on LG’s TVs.

The soundbar has a simple display that includes four LED indicators for interaction with the built-in Google Assistant (hence the G at the end of the model number). This not only allows for voice control of the soundbar but also enables you to find information, play music and much more.

In order to use Google Assistant simply say “Hey Google” or press the Google Assistant buttons on the main unit, controller or remote app. This engages the far-field microphones in the soundbar and, thanks to the built-in AI, you have a fully functioning smart speaker.

The included remote is a bit small and fiddly but offers large buttons for power, volume, inputs and mute, alongside additional buttons for selecting various modes and controls.

Pocket-lint

The useful Wi-Fi Speaker app is available for those wedded to their smart devices, providing access to all the controls found on the remote and even a couple of extra ones: Dynamic Range Control and Auto Volume Leveller.

Features

  • 570W of built-in amplification
  • Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding
  • Hi-Res audio (192kHz/24-bit)
  • Meridian Technology

The LG SL10YG is about as feature-packed a soundbar as you’re likely to find. The system includes technology from Meridian, along with 50W of built-in amplification for each of the front, centre, side and upward-firing speakers in the soundbar, and 220W for the subwoofer – producing a total of 570W of power.

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Thanks to all these speakers, the SL10YG is able to fully support object-based immersive audio, and includes decoding for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The soundbar is also able to use all its speakers to up-mix non-immersive content.

In terms of file support, there’s Hi-Res Audio with a 192kHz/24-bit DAC and support for MP3, WAV, AAC/AAC+, AIFF, OGG, and FLAC file formats. There’s also Chromecast built-in, allowing you to cast songs, podcasts and stations from Tidal, Spotify, YouTube and more.

Sound Quality

  • 5.1.2-channel configuration
  • Optional rear speakers for 7.1.2 system

The first thing you notice about the LG SL10YG is that it delivers a soundstage as big as the soundbar itself. The three front-firing speakers ensure the audio has width and depth, while the addition of upward-firing speakers create the illusion of overhead channels. How effective these upward-firing drivers are will largely depend on your ceiling: the flatter, lower and more reflective it is, the better the effect.

The side-firing drivers produce additional width by bouncing sounds off the side walls, but there’s no real surround presence. For that you’ll need to add the SPK8-S wireless rear speaker kit. As a result the SL10YG’s delivery is rather front-heavy, creating a wall of sound around the TV screen.

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The large main unit is matched by a beefy wireless sub that provides a well-integrated and solid foundation of bass.

Kicking off with some music, the SL10YG’s Meridian tuning certainly pays dividends, with Shakespeare’s SistersRide Again sounding detailed and balanced. Siobhan’s deeper vocals and Marcella’s falsetto are both handled with skill, while the guitars are delivered with a driving urgency, and the sub gives the drums a pleasing kick, resulting in a great two-channel delivery.

Moving on to TV shows and the dedicated centre speaker reveals its worth, producing dialogue that’s clear and focused on the screen. So whether its a voice-over, a commentary or a newsreader, you’ll catch every last syllable. In addition music and effects are spread across the front of the room, making for an engaging sonic delivery.

A more complex soundtrack, such as the 5.1 mix for The Boys (Amazon Prime), benefits from all those speakers. As a result the not-so-super antics of the heroes are enhanced thanks to an entertaining multi-channel mix. There’s no real surround presence, but music, dialogue and effects are spread across the front of the room, while the sub gives punches and explosions more slam.

The soundbar’s performance with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X is particularly effective. The sci-fi world of Altered Carbon (Netflix) sounds fantastic on the SL10YG. Whether it’s flying cars, crowded city streets, or brutal action, the 5.1.2 channel delivery provides an immersive and highly enjoyable experience, even if the effect tends to fill the front third of the room.

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The 4K disc of Hellboy boasts a fantastic new Atmos mix that makes full use of all the available channels. There’s thunder and rain above you during the opening sequence, while explosions and bolts of lightning pepper the front of the room. A scene where Hellboy stops an SUV with his big right hand allows the sub to dig deep without embarrassing itself.

While not as ubiquitous as Atmos, there are still a number of DTS:X discs available, with Atomic Blonde is a good example. This aggressive mix delivers a cracking 80s soundtrack, plenty of blistering action and makes full use of all the speakers to immerse. As with the other soundtracks the effects are towards the front of the room, but it remains a fun experience.

Verdict

The LG SL10YG is an impressive soundbar-and-subwoofer system that delivers a sizeable sonic delivery best suited to today’s big-screen TVs.

This package also boasts plenty of features, headlined by support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio. There’s even built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant, making this soundbar a fully-functioning smart speaker.

The SL10YG’s front soundstage is suitably immersive, with sounds emanating from the sides and overhead; although it is relatively front-heavy, with little in the way of surround presence. However, the bass is well integrated and retains plenty of depth, giving today’s modern blockbusters a pleasing low-end impact.

Only the lack of eARC and HDR10+ support disappoints, otherwise the LG SL10YG is a combo that’s well worth investigating.

Also consider

Sony

Sony HT-ST5000

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Although more expensive, this ‘bar does offer eARC, thus making it a better choice for anyone with lots of lossless audio sources. It also has an on-screen menu with a speaker setup function, allowing users to optimise the performance. As a result this 7.1.2-channel system can deliver a detailed and immersive sonic delivery with Atmos and DTS:X, as well as some impressively deep bass. Add Chromecast and multi-room capabilities and you’ve got yourself a tidy system.

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