While we’ve been seeing more and more soundbars with super-compact form factors (think close to the size of an egg carton), none of them have managed to pack in a pair of upfiring drivers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X height cues—or at least, none until now.
Slated to arrive in late June or early July, the LG QP5 “Éclair” is the first super-small soundbar we’ve encountered with 3.1.2-channel audio, complete with upfiring drivers for bouncing height cues off the ceiling.
Measuring a mere 11.7 inches wide and two inches high, the Éclair comes encased in a handsome white shell with rounded corners (LG is “considering” a black version).
Inside the 320-watt Éclair are five drivers: one for the center channel, two for the left and right channels (which are positioned at 45-degree angles to widen the soundstage), and—most importantly—two upfiring drivers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X height effects.
In addition to the main soundbar unit, the Éclair also comes with a wireless subwoofer for low-frequency effects. The “small space-friendly” subwoofer comes equipped with bi-directional drivers that are designed to deliver solid but not “teeth-rattling” bass, making it suitable for smaller rooms, an LG spokesperson said.
The Éclair isn’t the first soundbar we’ve seen with a pint-sized form factor. Last fall, I reviewed the Panasonic SoundSlayer, a 17-inch, gaming-centric soundbar with a built-in subwoofer, while my colleague Michael Brown recently checked out Roku’s budget-priced, 14 inch-long Streambar.
But while the $300, 2.1-channel SoundSlayer supports both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, it must do so via virtualization given that it lacks upfiring drivers. Meanwhile, the $130 Streambar doesn’t offer any 3D modes at all. (No word yet on pricing for the Éclair, by the way.)
The Éclair isn’t the only soundbar LG has planned for 2021. Also on its slate are “premium” 7.1.4, 5.1.2, and 3.1.2 soundbars, each of which boastsd support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio, along with LG’s Meridian sound technology.cesces
LG’s higher-end soundbars will also be adding Alexa and AirPlay 2 support this year, along with the built-in Google Assistant support that LG’s pricier soundbars have enjoyed for the past couple of years. That means LG soundbar users will be able to stream audio from other devices via either Chromecast or AirPlay, and they’ll be able to add the soundbar to Chromecast and AirPlay speaker groups.
Meanwhile, LG’s new mid-range and entry-level soundbars include 5.1- and 2.1-channel modes with a “home decor” focus, including housings wrapped in “stylish eco-friendly fabric.”
Finally, LG announced a new “TV Sound Mode Share” feature that allows newer LG TVs to “share” their own sound modes with supported LG soundbars when they’re connected via ARC. While LG TVs are typically designed to send unprocessed audio to a soundbar, TV Sound Share Mode sends the audio after it’s been processed, thus taking advantage of the TV’s “much more powerful” AI sound chip.
LG reps stressed that TV Sound Mode Share will only work on LG soundbars, adding that they’ve yet to nail down which LG soundbars will be compatible with the mode.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.