LG SK9Y SOUNDBAR REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.0
7.3
Mixed Usage
7.6
Dialogue/TV Shows
7.0
Music
7.2
Movies
Channels
:
5.1.2

The LG SK9Y is a decent 5.1.2 soundbar, but its sound profile might not be suited for everyone. It has disappointing bass performance, resulting in a bright sound overall. It also doesn’t get as loud as some other similar models as the bar seems to be limiting the volume output. On the upside, this also means it performs quite well at max volume. It also supports Atmos and has up-firing speakers for a more immersive listening experience.

Test Results
Design 7.5
Sound 7.0
Connectivity 9.3
Pros
  • Well-built design.
  • Lots of connectivity options.
  • Disappointing and narrow soundstage.
Cons
  • Bright sound profile.
  • Lacks bass.
  • Doesn’t get very loud.

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Market Context

The SK9Y is a 2018 high-end soundbar from LG, but the LG SK10Y has more features like Meridian Audio Technology, which is also available on high-end 2019 models. The SK9Y is a 5.1.2-channel setup with a sub and up-firing speakers, which the lower-end 2.1-channel models starting from the SK8Y don’t have. The LG SK9Y's main competitors are the Samsung HW-N850 (which is basically the N950 without the satellites), the Sonos Beam with its optional sub, and the Sony HT-Z9F.

7.5

Design

Style - Bar

The LG SK9Y is a very long bar made of hard plastic and metal. A grill protects the front, the sides, and the up-firing speakers found on the top. The controls are hidden at the back.

Style - Subwoofer

The sub has a solid plastic top and its three sides are covered by a mesh-like cloth. This can easily be ripped or can get dirty. The port is on the backside of the sub.

Style - Satellites

This soundbar doesn’t have satellites.

Dimensions - Bar
Bar Width : 47.1" (119.7 cm)
Bar Height : 2.0" (5.2 cm)
Bar Depth : 5.7" (14.5 cm)

The LG SK9Y is fairly wide and won’t fit between the legs of most 55-inch TV stands. On the upside, it's not too tall to cover the bottom of your TV, unless your TV screen is sitting flush on the table.

Dimensions - Subwoofer
Sub Width : 8.7" (22.0 cm)
Sub Height : 15.3" (38.8 cm)
Sub Depth : 12.2" (31.1 cm)

The LG SK9Y subwoofer takes up about the same space as an average desktop computer. You can place it anywhere in the room as long as you can provide it with power, thanks to its wireless connection to the bar.

Dimensions - Satellites
Sat Width : N/A
Sat Height : N/A
Sat Depth : N/A

The LG SK9Y setup doesn’t have satellites.

Back - Bar
Bar Mounting Type
:
Universal (holes on underside)

On the left side of the back, you have the control buttons and a small opening in the middle for the inputs. The power cable runs out of the right side. The wall-mounting holes are on the underside and you must use the provided brackets to wall-mount it.

Back - Subwoofer
Enclosure
:
Ported

The back of the sub is plain. The port is at the bottom, which is common in many subs, but the power cable connects in the middle and might be hard to hide.

Back - Satellites
Sat Mounting Type
:
N/A

This setup doesn’t have satellites.

7.5 Build Quality

The soundbar has a good build quality overall. The subwoofer, made of metal and plastic, feels a bit better-built than the bar itself. However, it's covered by a fabric that can get dirty or damaged. The bar's overall feel isn’t very premium due to the mix of plastic and metal that don't blend well together in this case.

In The Box
HDMI Cable Length
:
N/A
Digital Optical Cable Length
:
5.0 ft (1.5 m)

  • Remote
  • Power cable
  • Optical cable
  • Wall-mounting brackets
  • Batteries
  • Tie-wraps
  • Manuals

7.0

Sound

6.8 Stereo Frequency Response
ST Slope
:
0.39
ST Std. Err.
:
2.85 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
57.4 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
:
19.6 kHz

The LG SK9Y has a passable stereo frequency response. Its Low-Frequency Extension is slightly high, which results in the bar having trouble reproducing the deep rumble and thump of bass. The low-bass performance is quite sub-par overall as well. On the upside, the rest of the response follows our target curve quite well, but the lack of bass results in an overall bright sounding profile. For better bass performance, take a look at the Samsung HW-Q70R.

Stereo Raw Frequency Response
7.0 Stereo Soundstage
Crosstalk Error
:
2.88 dB

When listening to the LG SK9Y, the soundstage is decent. Although the bar is very large, the stereo speakers are positioned way in from the sides of the bar, which makes the soundstage narrower than the bar itself. On the upside, the sound is fairly focused, and objects come from an accurate pinpoint location rather than a general area.

7.7 Stereo Dynamics
ST SPL @ Max Volume
:
89.2 dB SPL
ST DRC @ Max Volume
:
0.80 dB

Just like the SK10Y, the SK9Y doesn’t compress at its max volume, but unfortunately, it seems the bar is being limited when it comes to volume. This bar doesn’t get as loud as other similar models and won’t be a great option for a large room or crowded environments. For a bar that can get louder, take a look at the Vizio SB36512-F6.

6.6 Stereo Total Harmonic Distortion
ST Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.86
ST Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
3.91

The SK9Y's THD performance is okay. At a normal listening volume, the amount of THD is within decent limits. It's slightly elevated due to the spike in the mid-range, but overall won’t be too audible to most. However, at max volume, there’s a jump in THD, especially across the bass and mid ranges.

7.8 Center
C Localization
:
Discrete
C Slope
:
0.76
C Std. Err.
:
3.34 dB
C SPL @ Max Volume
:
85.0 dB SPL
C Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.71
C Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
4.61

The SK9Y's center channel performance is good. Thanks to its 5.1.2 configuration, this soundbar has a dedicated center channel, which results in a clearer and more accurate audio reproduction of dialogue in movies. However, the bar doesn’t get very loud. The graph also shows a very bright sound profile due to the lack of bass, but there aren’t a lot of bass frequencies on center channels usually, so voices and dialogue should still be clear and accurate.

6.3 Surrounds
Sr Localization
:
Phantom (Side Firing, Bar)
Rears
:
No
Sr Slope
:
-0.34
Sr Std. Err.
:
5.47 dB
Sr SPL @ Max Volume
:
88.5 dB SPL
Sr Weighted THD @ 80
:
0.44
Sr Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
1.80

The LG SK9Y's surround performance is okay. The bar has side-firing speakers, which reflect sound off the walls to give you the impression of a wider surround sound. However, this also means this setup won't provide the most accurate and clear representation of surround objects in the soundstage, and it won't feel as real as discrete surround like with home theatre speakers. It also results in a muddy sound profile as the error compared to our neutral target curve is quite significant, both in the bass and treble ranges.

6.9 Height (Atmos)
H Localization
:
Phantom (Up Firing, Bar)
H Slope
:
0.13
H Std. Err.
:
3.55 dB
H SPL @ Max Volume
:
89.4 dB SPL
H Weighted THD @ 80
:
1.92
H Weighted THD @ Max Volume
:
10.83

Just like the SK10Y, the SK9Y's sound is noticeably different with Atmos content. The bar has up-firing speakers that bounce the sounds off the ceiling, giving you the impression of height. However, the localization of objects is diffused and doesn't sound as real as the discrete localization provided by down-firing speakers. The bar sounds noticeably brighter than the performance with the center and surrounds channels.

7.4 Sound Enhancement Features
Room Correction
:
No
Dialog Enhancement
:
Yes
Auto-Volume/Night Mode
:
Yes
Subwoofer Level Adjustment
:
Yes
Bass Adjustment
:
Yes
Treble Adjustment
:
Yes
EQ
:
Presets
Surround Level Adjustment
:
No
Rear Level Adjustment
:
Yes
Height Level Adjustment
:
Yes
Virtual Surround
:
Yes

The LG SK9Y has the same decent sound enhancement features as the SK10Y. It lacks room correction, meaning it might sound different depending on your room. On the upside, the adaptive sound control will help make voices clearer and it also has a night mode to normalize the level of different types of content. Also, you can adjust the amount of bass coming from the sub, and you also have the option to play with the rear level, although this setup doesn’t come with included rear speakers. However, you can purchase separate rears that are compatible with this setup.

9.3

Connectivity

Physical Inputs - Bar
Optical Audio In
:
1
HDMI ARC
:
1 (shared)
Full HDMI In
:
1
HDMI Out
:
1 (shared)
Analog Audio In 3.5mm (Aux)
:
1
USB for Files
:
No
Ethernet
:
1

The LG SK9Y has a nice set of inputs that can accommodate both newer and older devices. You can use the Optical port with older TVs and the Analog Audio In with any device that has an audio-out jack. The HDMI ARC and Full HDMI In ports are more versatile and offer support for higher quality sound formats than just surround sound, like Dolby Atmos. Finally, the bar also has an Ethernet port to connect to your home network.

8.4 Audio Format Support - ARC
eARC
:
No
ARC Dolby Atmos
:
Yes
ARC DTS:X
:
No
ARC Dolby Digital
:
Yes
ARC Dolby Digital Plus
:
Yes
ARC DTS
:
Yes
ARC Dolby TrueHD
:
No
ARC DTS-HD MA
:
No
ARC 5.1 PCM
:
No

Over HDMI ARC, the bar supports Dolby Digital and DTS for 5.1 surround sound on streaming platforms and Blu-rays. The SK9Y also supports Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital Plus as a carrier for object-based surround sound. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to play lossless formats via ARC.

9.8 Audio Format Support - Full HDMI In
HDMI Dolby Atmos
:
Yes
HDMI DTS:X
:
No
HDMI Dolby Digital
:
Yes
HDMI Dolby Digital Plus
:
Yes
HDMI DTS
:
Yes
HDMI Dolby TrueHD
:
Yes
HDMI DTS-HD MA
:
No
HDMI 5.1 PCM
:
Yes

Via Full HDMI, the LG SK9Y supports pretty much every format, which is excellent. You can get 5.1 surround sound from Dolby Digital or DTS on content and video games that support it. You can also get object-based surround sound over Atmos and you can play lossless audio via 5.1 PCM or Dolby TrueHD with sources like a PC or a console.

10 Audio Format Support - Optical
Optical Dolby Digital
:
Yes
Optical DTS
:
Yes

Like most soundbars, the LG SK9Y supports both Dolby Digital and DTS via their optical cable. This means that it will playback 5.1 surround sound on almost any content that supports it like streaming platforms and Blu-ray discs. DTS isn't common on its own, but it's the fallback of the widely available, higher quality DTS-HD MA found on many Blu-ray discs.

9.0 Wireless Playback
Bluetooth
:
Yes
Wi-Fi
:
Yes
Chromecast built-in
:
Yes
Apple AirPlay
:
No

The LG SK9Y has excellent wireless connections as it can connect using Bluetooth to your phone or tablet to play content. It can also connect to your Wi-Fi and use its Chromecast built-in. However, we were unable to make Chromecast work on YouTube, although it worked fine with Google Play Music.

Other Input Specifications
4k @ 60 Hz Passthrough
:
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 10 bit Passthrough
:
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 Passthrough
:
No
HDR10 Passthrough
:
Yes

The LG SK9Y can be connected between your TV and another source like a game console to play 4k @ 60Hz. However, it won’t do 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 when connected to a PC so text will not look very crisp. On the upside, it does support HDR10, and can passthrough 4k @ 60 Hz at 10 bit, which can be useful for those who have a Blu-ray player or latest-gen gaming consoles.

Connectivity - Subwoofer
Sub Wireless
:
Yes

The subwoofer connects wirelessly to the bar, so the only wire you’ll have is the power cable.

Connectivity - Satellites
Sat Wireless
:
N/A

This setup doesn’t have satellites.

Additional Features

Interface
Display
:
Yes

The SK9Y's interface is a simple LCD screen behind the grill. It displays the input the bar is on, the volume level, and which sound effect it’s on. The display is clear and easy to read.

Bar Controls

The controls are at the back, although their corresponding icon is at the top. This feels slightly weird to use. There are buttons for changing inputs (using the 'F' button), play/pause, skip, changing the volume, switch to Wi-Fi, and powering the bar on/off. Just like with the remote, we weren’t able to use the play/pause and track skipping on ARC or HDMI In, but simply when the soundbar is playing via Bluetooth or when casting.

Remote
Universal Remote
:
No

The remote is small and offers a good amount of control. You can change the volume, switch inputs (by pressing the F button), mute the soundbar or play/pause, and skip. However, just like controls on the bar, play/pause and skip didn't work with ARC or HDMI In, and they only seem to work when the soundbar is directly playing something via Bluetooth or casting.

App
App Name : LG Wi-Fi Speaker
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Acts as the Remote
:
Limited Support
Controls Soundbar's Settings
:
All
Casts Device Files
:
Audio Files Only

LG Wi-Fi Speaker is a very simple app. It can't replace the remote as it lacks functions like the 'sound effects', but can do everything the on-bar controls can. You can play music from a media server on the network and create playlists, but nothing more than that.

Other Features
Power Saving
:
Standby
HDMI CEC (TV Remote Control)
:
Yes

The LG SK9Y automatically turns on when a recognized input is in use and turns off after being idle for a while. It will also shut down when disconnected from the source. You can use your TV’s remote for some basic control of the bar thanks to CEC support.

Compared to other Soundbars

The LG SK9Y is a decent soundbar but has a fairly bright sound profile, which is disappointing considering its price point and the fact it has a dedicated wireless subwoofer. It also seems to be limited when it comes to loudness, as the SK9Y is noticeably quieter than most other high-end soundbars. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and the best soundbars with subwoofer.

LG SK10Y
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The LG SK10Y is slightly better than the LG SK9Y from the same year. It's sleeker and better-built, and overall has better bass performance thanks to the sub. However, both bars seem to be limited when it comes to their volume output as they are noticeably quieter than other models.

Vizio SB36512-F6
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Vizio SB36512-F6 is a better overall soundbar than the LG SK9Y, since we haven’t tested the SK9Y with the optional satellites. The Vizio can get louder and has a great stereo frequency response. Its dedicated center channels also perform quite significantly better for dialog, but the Vizio lacks a dialog enhancement feature, which the LG SK9Y does have. The LG soundbar is also better-built and should perform better with discrete surround speakers. It also has Wi-Fi compatibility and Chromecast built-in.

Sonos Playbar
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The LG SK9Y is better than the Sonos Playbar, as we didn't test the Sonos with its sub and satellites. The 5.1.2 SK9Y is more versatile as it has decent performance with surround and Atmos content. However, the stereo soundstage of the Playbar is wider and more immersive. On the other hand, the Playbar doesn't any HDMI ports and the LG SK9Y also supports Wi-Fi wireless playback, on top of being Bluetooth compatible, and has Chromecast built-in.

Samsung HW-Q70R
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

Even though the LG SK9Y is a 5.1.2 setup and the Samsung HW-Q70R is a 3.1.2 setup, the Samsung is a better mixed usage bar. It can get louder than the LG and has a noticeably better stereo performance, especially because of the great bass the sub provides. However, the SK9Y has side-firing speakers and the Q70R can’t play surround content due to its configuration. The Atmos performance is also slightly better on the LG.

7.3 Mixed Usage

Decent for mixed usage. Unfortunately, the LG SK9Y has a bright sound profile with a noticeable lack of bass. On the upside, it still has a decent performance for voices and dialogue in movies, but gives a slightly boring sound for music and movies with lots of bass. It also supports Atmos for a more immersive experience with height channels. Unfortunately, its soundstage is fairly narrow and won’t feel as wide as the bar itself.

7.6 Dialogue/TV Shows

Good for dialog. The LG SK9Y can be used for audio content like audiobooks and podcasts thanks to the accurate reproduction of the mid-range frequencies. However, it doesn’t get very loud but should be loud enough for casual listening. On the upside, you can easily stream content wirelessly via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There’s also a dialogue enhancement feature, which will help make dialogue even clearer.

7.0 Music

Decent for music. This soundbar has a bright sound profile that lacks bass that not everybody will like. Unfortunately, its soundstage is fairly narrow and doesn’t sound wide. On the upside, it can get loud for a casual listening session but won’t be ideal for large rooms or parties. At least it performs well at max volume and doesn’t compress. You can also EQ it slightly to your preference and stream content wirelessly from your smart device.

7.2 Movies

Decent for movies. It doesn’t have a very wide soundstage and surround objects feel diffused, but, on the upside, it supports Atmos for a more immersive experience. The sound profile of this bar lacks bass so it might not be ideal for action-packed movies as some may feel it's a bit boring. On the upside, it performs accurately at high volume, although its maximum volume output isn’t the highest, but it should be fine for most.

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