LG goes big on bass with new Atmos soundbar


Pros

  • Superb sound

  • Great companion app

  • Complete connectivity

Cons

  • Rear speakers cost extra

  • Remote feels limited

LG’s 3.1.3-channel soundbar is stunningly detailed and well-balanced, with a hearty subwoofer and stellar Dolby Atmos sound.

About the LG S80QY Soundbar

An lg S80QY soundbar sits on a TV stand next to a television set.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

It’s an easy process to set up the S80QY.

  • Height x Width x Depth: 2.5 x 39.4 x 5.3 inches (soundbar), 16 x 7.9 x 15.9 inches (soundbar)
  • Weight: 9.9 pounds (soundbar), 22.1 pounds (subwoofer)
  • Speakers/drivers: two front left/right speakers, one center speaker, two front height left/right speakers, one front height center speaker, one subwoofer
  • Wireless connection: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Wired connection: One HDMI eARC/ARC, one HDMI output, one digital optical input, one 3.5mm auxiliary input, one 3.5mm stereo input, one USB input
  • Sound formats: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS:X, DTS Digital Surround, Dolby TrueHD
  • Video support: 4K, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10

The entire setup experience of the LG S80QY was as easy as setting up a soundbar should be. After a quick unboxing, the only obstacles standing in your way are plugging both the bar and subwoofer into power, and connecting the bar to your TV. From there, you can hit the ground running.

Connecting the soundbar to Wi-Fi is just as simple. LG’s companion soundbar app guides you through the process of identifying your soundbar and adding it to your network, unlocking a treasure trove of streaming opportunities. More on that in a bit.

What we like

Cinematic sound quality

Close up of a speaker on an LG S80QY soundbar.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The S80QY soundbar includes three upfiring speakers that provide great Dolby Atmos performance.

From the moment you hit play on your current binge-worthy content of choice, the S80QY gets down to business. The 3.1.3-channel soundbar is stunningly detailed and well-balanced—no more apparent than when watching the series premiere of House of the Dragon. The episode runs the gamut of unique sounds, from fire-breathing dragons to the unsettling, well, squish of a bludgeon to the face of a jousting competitor. Every bit sounded crisp and visceral, as if we had somehow been transported to King’s Landing ourselves.

The system’s subwoofer proved to be a trusty, if somewhat sizeable sidekick to the bar as well. It added impactful depth to the vast majority of the movies and TV shows we ran by it, belting out some seriously deep bass notes in music-listening sessions that ranged from Childish Gambino to Old Dominion and everything in between. The LG S80QY sounded sweet, no matter what I threw at it.

The bar has three upfiring drivers for Dolby Atmos playback, and while it may not have stolen the show in terms of sound quality, it was a solid addition to the cinematic ensemble. In the opening scene of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (spoilers!) the speakers were particularly impressive as a ship came crashing down from the heavens to abruptly intercept the show’s protagonists. I’m not completely sold on the bar’s upfiring center channel, which LG says improves your ability to hear dialogue clearly, but it wasn’t a hindrance on the overall effect.

A solid companion app

Some soundbar apps are optional accessories, and some are critical to getting the most out of your bar’s performance. It’s the latter with the S80QY, as LG’s soundbar app displays a world’s worth of controls in an easily digestible manner. Your home screen reveals whether or not your subwoofer is connected, the input that the soundbar is on, the sound effect it is set to, the volume it’s currently at, and finally presents an option to toggle on Night Time mode for less dynamic, late-night listening.

Tap the Settings icon in the upper righthand corner, and you’re met with a sprawling menu of tools to mess with. You can toggle on different sound settings such as Neural:X and IMAX Enhancement, as well as start an AI Room Calibration feature meant to optimize the S80QY’s sound based on the listening space that it’s in. Most importantly, you can adjust the levels of each of the system’s speakers to your liking, allowing you to boost the center channel for increased dialogue or add some extra three-dimensional presence to your height speakers.

Shortly after downloading the app, I found myself using it almost exclusively to control and tune the soundbar. Even if you don’t plan on adjusting much in the way of settings, it’s a required resource to get the best out of this system.

It’s a compatibility machine

Connective ports on an LG S80QY soundbar.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

In addition to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, the soundbar includes HDMI in, HDMI out with eARC, and an optical in, among others.

While some soundbar brands have gravitated away from Wi-Fi with recent products (cough, Vizio), LG is pushing its connectivity chips to the center of the table. The S80QY supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2, with direct support for streaming services like Tidal and Spotify. It also supports Chromecast and Group Play Mode, allowing you to add the bar into an ecosystem of compatible speakers across your home.

Signing into your Alexa account even prompts you to set the S80QY as your preferred speaker for music, meaning that whenever you ask Alexa to play a song, it intuitively plays on the soundbar. So, while Bluetooth is a streaming option with this soundbar, there are plenty of other, oftentimes better ways to get your music to the S80QY.

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What we don’t like

Surround sound comes at a cost

Close up of a speaker on an LG S80QY soundbar.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The included subwoofer adds some nice bass punch to the sonic experience.

It is possible to add a pair of rear speakers to the S80QY for a full, 5.1.3-channel surround sound experience. The catch is, you’ll be out another $200 for the LG SPQ8-S wireless rear speaker kit on top of the initial $900 spent on the original system. That might not be the biggest transgression, until you consider that flagship offerings like the Vizio Elevate soundbar provide a 5.1.4 package for about $800.

To add insult to (financial) injury, LG even added enough detail about connecting the wireless rear speakers to its manual that I had to check the packaging to make sure I didn’t somehow miss the satellites somewhere. For some, adding those rear speakers may be a worthwhile purchase. It’s just an added cost to an already pricey package, representing an extra hurdle to get over before achieving true surround sound.

The remote can’t do it alone

A remote control for an LG S80QY sits on a TV stand.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The remote isn’t capable of handling all of this soundbar’s capabilities.

The S80QY’s physical remote features a sleek design that does fit nicely in your hand. That’s where the buck stops, though. On multiple occasions of trying to toggle through settings to make the sound adjustment I wanted, I gave up and instead resorted to the app, where adjusting height level settings or bass were merely a few clicks away.

Dedicated buttons for bass and height levels would have been an easy solution, and the S80QY’s remote has plenty of real estate available to do so. I’m all for simplicity, but the remote doesn’t quite cut it as a standalone controller.

Should you buy the LG S80QY soundbar?

An lg S80QY soundbar sits on a TV stand next to a television set.

Credit: Reviewed / Tim Renzi

The S80QY serves up great bass (thanks to its separate subwoofer) and immersive Atmos performance.

Yes, as long as you don’t need surround sound

The LG S80QY is a great, sound-quality focused system that will improve both the way you watch and how you listen. It’s big on bass, offers solid Dolby Atmos performance, and has a neat companion app to help dial things in. Plus, it’s a modernized soundbar, complete with compatibility for popular smart assistants and streaming services alike.

It isn’t a complete surround sound solution out of the box, though. The Vizio Elevate is significantly cheaper, and the Vizio M-Series 5.1.2 does the same for an even bigger savings. Our favorite Dolby Atmos system at the moment, the Samsung HW-Q950A is a more expensive option. But after factoring in the cost of LG’s wireless rear speaker kit, the Samsung isn’t too far off to at least consider.

Surround sound aside, though, the S80QY still packs a wonderful audio experience into a simple package. If boatloads of bass and exceptional, immersive sound are more important to you than rear speakers, then LG’s newest soundbar might just be the ticket.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

Meet the tester

Nick Woodard

Nick Woodard

Contributor


@@nwoodard25

Nick Woodard is a tech journalist specializing in all things related to home theater and A/V. His background includes a solid foundation as a sports writer for multiple daily newspapers, and he enjoys hiking and mountain biking in his spare time.

See all of Nick Woodard’s reviews

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