LG SN8YG review: A feature-packed soundbar that doesn’t neglect the basics

The Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support is great, but the rich mid-range audio is even better.

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Operation and performance

The LG SN8YG comes with five sound modes: Standard, Movie (which applies Dolby Surround processing), Music, Bass Blast, and AI Sound Pro, an AI-powered mode that analyzes the audio in real time and tweaks the sound according to the content that’s playing. Call me a Dolby snob, but I pretty much stuck with the Dolby Surround-enabled Movie mode, although I found that the AI Sound Pro mode had its merits, too. It’s worth noting that the SN8YG’s sound modes aren’t available while listening to Dolby Atmos or DTS:X content.

Besides the main sound modes, the soundbar also has a separate Surround mode that upscales all audio sources to 3.1.2 sound (or 5.1.2 sound if you’re using LG’s wireless surround kit), including 2.0 and 5.1 audio that lack height effects. Except for music, I generally kept Surround mode enabled during my testing. There’s also a night mode for late-night listening, although a Dialog Control setting only works with DTS audio sources.

I was pretty tough on LG’s SL10RG last year, a 5.1.4 soundbar that I panned for its “dull” and “listless” audio. I’m happy to report that this year’s LG SN8YG notches a major improvement in sound quality, perhaps due to the soundbar’s room calibration feature (which last year’s SL10RG lacks), better audio processing, upgraded drivers, or a combination of all three.

Overall, I’d describe the SN8YG’s sonics as flat—that is, acoustically flat, as opposed to dull—with noticeable if restrained surround and height effects that rarely felt phony. Personally, I prefer a warmer sound than what I heard from the SN8YG, but that’s a matter of taste. In any case, I particularly appreciated the soundbar’s attention to mid-range sound, which too many of its competitors gloss over in favor of a brassy high end or overpowering bass. And while I found the subwoofer to be a bit too boomy, knocking 8dB off the subwoofer slider in the LG Wi-Fi Speaker app did the trick. Still, the SN8YG’s soundstage was a tad narrow, which is unsurprising for a soundbar that lacks side-firing drivers.

My first stop was the title sequence from 1978’s Superman on iTunes, which features a remastered Dolby Atmos soundtrack. I’ve always been a sucker for Superman’s swooshing opening titles and its iconic John Williams score, and I felt the SN8YG’s performance here—while not as warm as I would like—was rich, big, and impressive. I could hear height cues as Marlon Brando’s credit swooped across the screen, and I liked the sharp squeal of the Phantom Zone as it twirled into the frame and then soared (virtually) over my right shoulder, having captured General Zod and his minions.

Next, I queued up the famous Imperial Walker battle on Hoth from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, which recently came out on a 4K Blu-ray disc. Thanks to its new Dolby Atmos soundtrack, Empire now fires off plenty of height cues—the X-Wings and Snow Speeders soar above you, and you can hear the Imperial Walker’s massive foot above your head as it’s about to crush Luke Skywaker. Again, nice sound from the SN8YG, a tad flat (acoustically, mind you), and with surround and height effects that impress but don’t overwhelm.

The thrilling launch sequence of Apollo 13, which is available on UHD Blu-ray with a DTS:X soundtrack, always gives me the chills when I’m watching it with great sound. Last year’s LG SL10RG delivered no chills, but the new LG SN8YG provided chills aplenty, especially as the Saturn V lifted off the launchpad with James Horner’s swelling score in the background. The fuel pumps gurgled convincingly across the soundstage prior to the launch, while the roaring engines sounded deep but satisfyingly tight. Even better, Tom Hanks’s rapid-fire dialog (“Houston we have a center-engine cutoff, go on the other four?”) didn’t get lost amid the sonic mayhem.

I also tried a scene with a traditional 5.1 audio—in this case, the Blu-ray of 2 Fast 2 Furious, which comes with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. With the Movie mode enabled, Dolby Digital processing upscales the sound to 3.1.2 (or 5.1.2, had I tested the SN8YG with the optional wireless surround kit), and as Paul Walker roared up to the starting line for the opening race, I could hear the chrome pipes on his custom ride shooting jets of exhaust into the air, and I also liked the buzz of the revving engines as the hurtling cars cornered impossible turns. Once again, dialog remained clear and distinct despite the tumult.

Switching to music (which I streamed to the soundbar via Chromecast, while switching to Music mode and turning the Surround setting off), I enjoyed the crisp acoustics of Bruce Springsteen’s spare “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” a little flat (not a bad thing!) with no skimping in the mid-range department. Skipping over to Larissa Dedova’s rendition of Maurice Ravel’s solo piano works for the Centaur label, Dedova’s keystrokes sounded full and natural, and I got a nice sense of the concert hall. Taking a sharp left turn to hip hop, Ciara’s massive “Level Up” sounded superb, with big, tight beats, precise vocals and crisp yet full percussion. Nicely done.

Bottom line

The LG SN8YG excels where it counts, delivering full, rich audio with a robust mid range that’s frequently lacking in competing soundbars. You also get plenty of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X height cures courtesy of the twin upfiring drivers, along with eARC support, built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant, and AI-powered room correction, all for a reasonable $800 sticker price. AirPlay 2 support would have been a nice touch, and we wish LG would toss in an HDMI cable with its soundbars, but those are quibbles in an otherwise impressive package.

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At a Glance
  • The LG SN8YG excels where it counts, delivering full, rich audio with a robust mid-range—a characteristic that’s too-frequently lacking in competing soundbars.

    Pros

    • Generous mid-range audio
    • Built-in Google Assistant and Chromecast
    • eARC support
    • Room calibration

    Cons

    • No AirPlay 2 support
    • Subwoofer is a bit boomy at its default setting
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