Q:
03 LG SL8 aI come from the era of Enoch Light, four-channel sound, tape recorders and mini discs, and have followed your articles in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Guide for many years. I have a Samsung 55-inch television and I’m looking to enhance the sound; not for full blown home theatre but just to improve the sound from normal TV watching. I have a wife so a subwoofer will not receive approval. I have three in mind; a Bose 700, a Sonos or LG’s SLY8G. A friend said that the Sonos is “good for a second TV” which sounded like a putdown unless he meant where surround sound was not required. I would just appreciate your thoughts on the sound aspects.

A:
Enoch Light. You’re probably also into big bands like Percy Faith and Billy Vaughan, with a heavy emphasis on mids and highs and nothing much doing down in the bass regions. If this is so you don’t need a separate subwoofer, and subs tend to muddy the mids anyway and restrict the comprehension of voice in movies and television when background noise is happening.

03 LG SL8 c (2)The Sonos units are pretty good, although I’d certainly take its Playbar over its Beam or Playbase. Sonos gives you a bit of extra flexibility if you want to extend the whole Sonos idea with music in every room. And I’m a big fan of Bose, there are Bose components scattered throughout my house. The problem is that when you go in to spend $1200 on the 700 they’ll tell you it’s not really a system without the sub and do their utmost to talk you into a sub as well, call it $2200 all up. This annoyed me because to my humble ears the 700 sounded just fine by itself, and I was made to feel like a poor relation because of that.

03 DolbyDSC_0298Which brings me to the LG. I was impressed by this. A really nice, balanced sound and excellent bass response without the optional sub. It promotes Atmos heavily with bouncing sound off the ceiling which didn’t work terribly well at my place, or even at Dolby Labs in London where I first heard it, and it’s not a patch on having speakers in the roof, but it was immersive and atmospheric. It’s also dead easy to hook up. Actually they all are.

Me, with my ears, that’s what I’d get. But you have yours and I’d suggest you listen to all three if possible. Make sure you ask to hear them without a sub in the mix and make sure this is the case by touching any sub that’s nearby. If it’s vibrating it’s generating sound. A salesman doing his job properly will play you both with and without sub to give you an idea of what happens, so take Enoch along and see if it makes much of a difference. My betting is that if it makes any discernible difference it won’t be enough to justify the price of the sub.

Posted February 2020.

 

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