The LG C9 OLED is an excellent TV. Like all OLED TVs, it delivers outstanding dark room performance, thanks to the perfect inky blacks and perfect black uniformity. It has an outstanding response time, delivering clear motion with no blur trail, but this does cause stutter when watching movies. The LG C9 also supports HDMI 2.1 on all four ports, although there is currently little advantage to this, as there are no HDMI 2.1 sources available.
Unfortunately, like all OLED TVs, there is a possibility of experiencing permanent burn-in, and the brightness of the screen changes depending on the content (ABL), which may bother some people.
The LG C9 is a high end 2019 OLED TV, and directly replaces LG's 2018 C8. All OLEDs deliver very similar overall picture quality, so the main differences between the C9 and its competitors are the additional features and the design. The main competitors to the LG C9 are the LG B9, LG E9, Sony A9G, and Sony A8G. The main LED competitors are the Sony Z9F and the Samsung Q90R.
The design of the 2019 LG OLED C9 is excellent. Overall, it is very similar to the 2018 LG C8, with only minor differences. The stand supports the TV well, and there is very little wobble. The stand itself is slightly different; it isn't as tall as the C8's, so the panel is closer to the table, and the front portion of the stand doesn't stick out as much. The TV is well-built, so there shouldn't be any issues using it, but it's thin, so care should be taken when moving it.
The stand supports the TV extremely well, and shouldn't cause any issues. The overall footprint of the stand is very similar to the stand on the C8, and is nearly the full width of the TV, so it still requires a fairly large table.
Footprint of the 55" TV stand: 35.6" x 9.75".
Overall, the back of the 2019 OLED C9 is nearly identical to the 2018 LG C8. Like the previous model, there are some inputs directly on the back, but most of them are towards the side of the TV.
New on the 2019 model is a plastic cover on the back of the stand. Removing this cover exposes a slot that can be used for cable management.
The borders on the OLED C9 are extremely thin. Like with previous models, there is almost no gap between the edge of the bezel and the start of the pixels.
Like with previous LG OLEDs, the bottom half of the TV houses all of the TV's electronics, and the top half is much thinner. Care should be taken when moving the C9, as this thin portion can flex easily.
The LG OLED C9, like all OLED TVs, delivers outstanding picture quality. Thanks to the OLED panel's ability to dim and turn off individual pixels, the C9 has a perfect contrast ratio, producing deep, inky blacks, which is great for dark room viewing. This also results in near-perfect black uniformity, without the need for a local dimming feature. The C9 has wide viewing angles, excellent gray uniformity, and an excellent wide color gamut.
The C9 isn't perfect, though, and it has a few issues that are common with OLEDs that some people might consider deal breakers. Although it has good peak brightness, the aggressive ABL dims the entire screen when there are large bright areas, like when watching hockey, and like all OLED panels, there is a possibility of permanent burn-in. Although it displays an accurate image for the most part, the unit we tested showed some black crush in some very dark scenes which may bother some viewers. We don't know if this affects every unit.
As an OLED panel, the C9 is able to turn off individual pixels, so it essentially has an infinite contrast ratio.
The LG OLED C9 does not have a local dimming feature, as there is no backlight. Instead, it is able to turn off or dim individual pixels. This is great for dark room viewing, as there is no noticeable blooming around bright objects in dark scenes, and subtitles are displayed perfectly.
The LG C9 has good peak brightness with SDR content. Small highlights are brighter than on the C8 or B8, but this results in a more aggressive Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL), which dims the screen significantly when larger areas of the screen get bright.
The C9 has a new Peak Brightness setting, which adjusts how the ABL performs. Setting this to 'Off' results in most scenes being displayed at around 303 cd/m², unless the entire screen is bright, in which case the luminosity drops to around 139 cd/m². Increasing this setting to 'Low', 'Med', or 'High' increases the peak brightness of small highlights. If ABL bothers you, setting the contrast to '80' and setting Peak Brightness to 'Off' essentially disables ABL, but the peak brightness is quite a bit lower (246-258 cd/m² in all scenes).
These measurements were taken in the 'Expert (Dark Room)' Picture Mode, with OLED Light set to '100', Contrast set to '90', Peak Brightness on 'High'.
Update 6/6/2019: We've retested the SDR peak brightness of the C9 with the firmware update 03.60.02. There are no significant changes in brightness from our previous measurements.
The C9 can reach very good brightness levels with HDR content; slightly better than the 2018 LG C8, but still not as good as top LED models like the Samsung Q90R or Sony Z9F. Unfortunately, it doesn't perform as well in all scenes, due to the C9's aggressive ABL that dims the screen with different content. This is especially noticeable in content with large bright areas.
The HDR brightness measurements were taken in 'Cinema' mode, with OLED Light set to '100,' and Peak Brightness on 'High.' Different picture modes and color temperatures will produce different results.
Excellent gray uniformity. There is very little dirty screen effect, which is great for sports fans. Uniformity of near-dark scenes is even better, which is great. Like previous OLED TVs, there are some very faint horizontal and vertical lines noticeable in a pitch black room when displaying near-black scenes.
Like all OLED TVs, the LG C9 has outstanding wide viewing angles. The brightness and black levels are good even at extremely wide viewing angles, better than LED TVs. Unfortunately, colors shift and lose accuracy at moderate angles, worse than the Sony Z9F and the Samsung Q90R, which use VA panels and a special viewing angle filter.
As the C9 can turn off individual pixels, it has near-perfect black uniformity. There is no noticeable blooming around the cross, which is great, especially if you watch content with subtitles on a dark background.
The LG OLED C9 has outstanding reflection handling, very similar to last year's C8. Like many high-end TVs, the anti-reflective coating adds a slight purple tint. There should be no issues using the TV in a bright room, but if you have a lot of windows it might not be bright enough to completely overcome glare.
The LG OLED C9 has good accuracy with our pre-calibration settings. Colors are accurate, and most people shouldn't notice any inaccuracies, but the white balance is a little off, giving pure whites a slightly yellowish tint that some people might notice.
Overall, it follows the gamma target well, but some near-black details are crushed. This can be seen in the spike at the beginning of this higher resolution gamma plot. Increasing the Brightness setting does help compensate for this a bit, but doesn't completely correct it.
After calibration, the LG OLED C9 has nearly perfect accuracy. The white balance dE and color accuracy are both extremely good, and any remaining inaccuracies are completely unnoticeable.
The TV features an auto-calibration feature. This feature still requires a licensed copy of CalMAN, and a colorimeter.
You can see our recommended settings here.
Although the C9 uses an RGBW pixel structure, there are no issues displaying 4k content, as each pixel has all four sub-pixels.
The C9 can display a wide color gamut, which is great for watching HDR content. It can display almost the entire DCI P3 color space, which is great, and has good coverage of the wider Rec. 2020 color space.
In 'Cinema' mode, the TV follows the target PQ curve very closely, but has a sharp roll off at the TV's peak brightness, so some bright detail may be crushed. In 'Game' mode, the EOTF is nearly identical.
With the 2019 version of the CalMAN software, it is possible to customize the TV's EOTF. We didn't test this out, but you can find out more about this feature here.
If you find HDR too dim, check out our recommendations here.
The C9 has decent color volume, very similar to the C8. Although the C9 has an excellent color gamut, it loses volume at the top. The WRGB pixel structure allows it to produce bright whites, but colors aren't as bright. On the other hand, thanks to the perfect contrast ratio it can produce dark saturated colors with no issues, unlike the majority of LED TVs.
The C9 has excellent gradient handling. There is some very slight banding in some colors, but this shouldn't be very noticeable.
When watching lower quality content that has lots of banding in it, the Smooth Gradation feature can help to reduce banding, especially when there are large areas of banding. Note that enabling this feature can cause a loss of fine details in some scenes, but the C9 appears to behave differently from the C8 and is a bit more conservative.
The C9 shows some slight signs of temporary image retention, but it is too faint to be detected by our software.
This test is only indicative of short term image retention, and not the permanent burn-in that may occur with longer exposure to static images. We are currently running a long-term test to help us better understand permanent burn-in. You can see our results and read more about our investigation here.
Update 11/01/2019: Updated text to include our stance on burn-in.Although we don't expect most people who watch varied content to have any issues, OLED TVs, such as the LG OLED C9 do have the possibility of experiencing burn in.
The LG C9 has three features to help mitigate burn-in. We recommend enabling the Screen Shift option, and setting Logo Luminance Adjustment to 'Low.' There is also an automatic pixel refresher that can be run manually if needed.
You can read about our investigation into this here.
Like all other OLEDs, the C9 uses 4 sub-pixels, but all 4 are never used at the same time. This image shows the red, white, and blue sub-pixels. You can see the green sub-pixel in our alternative pixel photo.
The LG C9 has outstanding motion handling for the most part. It has a nearly-instantaneous response time, which is great, but this also results in a more noticeable stutter, especially when watching 24p content, which may bother some people. It has an optional Black Frame Insertion feature and a motion interpolation function that can interpolate lower frame rate content up to 120Hz. The C9 also supports a variable refresh rate, but it is only compatible with the HDMI 2.1 VRR technology, and not FreeSync or G-SYNC, so it isn't compatible with most existing sources, except for the Xbox One.
Like all OLED TVs, the LG C9 has a nearly-instantaneous response time. There is some very subtle overshoot in near-black scenes, but this shouldn't be very noticeable.
This extremely fast response time can cause the image to stutter, which may bother some people.
The LG C9 does not use PWM, as there is no backlight, but there is a slight dip in brightness approximately every 8 ms, which coincides with the TV's refresh rate. This should not be noticeable.
The LG C9 has an optional Black Frame Insertion feature that can improve the appearance of motion.
On the C9, this option is activated by setting TruMotion to 'User' and toggling the OLED Motion setting. This option can only be turned on or off, and it always flickers at 60Hz. Enabling this option will cause judder when playing back 24p content.
Update: 9/16/2019 We have retested the C9 with the same video that we tested the C9 and E9 and found it's interpolation behavior to be the same. The text below has been updated.
The C9 can interpolate lower frame-rate content up to 120Hz. This introduces an effect known as the 'Soap Opera Effect,' which some people don't like, but reduces the amount of stutter. The C9, unlike many new TVs, continues to interpolate during fast scene changes, which can create a lot of artifacts. This behavior is similar to the B9 and the E9.
See here for the settings that control the C9's motion interpolation feature.
Due to the nearly instantaneous response time of the LG OLED C9, 24p motion can appear to stutter, as each frame is held static onscreen for nearly the entire time. This can be especially noticeable in slow panning shots when watching movies.
If this effect bothers you, you can either enable the TV's OLED Motion feature, which can help a bit, or enable the C9's motion interpolation feature.
The LG C9 is able to play 24p content without judder, regardless of the source.
See our recommended settings to remove judder here.
When the TV's BFI mode is enabled, there is always judder with 24p content.
Update 05/03/2019: There is currently an issue when using the C9 in 'Game' mode with an Xbox One, we've updated the text below.
The LG C9 has a native 120Hz refresh rate, and it supports VRR, which is great. Unfortunately, it only supports HDMI Forum's new HDMI-VRR format, which is not compatible with FreeSync or G-SYNC. The only device currently on the market which supports HDMI-VRR is the Xbox One. We tested it for compatibility with the Xbox One, and it does appear to work, but only in SDR. If HDR is enabled on the Xbox and you are in Game mode, the screen flickers constantly. LG has confirmed that they are working on a fix. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to determine the VRR range with an Xbox One.
It is unlikely that HDMI-VRR will remain an Xbox exclusive format. If updated drivers or new graphics cards are released that support it, we will retest the C9 to determine the VRR range.
The LG OLED C9 has outstanding low input lag, great for gaming, and supports the majority of common input formats. New this year is support for 1440p input, an Auto Low Latency mode for gaming, and eARC support. All supported resolutions can also display chroma 4:4:4 without any issues, which is great for PC use.
The LG C9 has outstanding low SDR input lag in 'Game' mode. In 'PC' mode, the input lag is higher than the C8, which is somewhat strange. With the latest firmware (05.30.31) we measured a higher input lag with 4k @ 60Hz + HDR signals. This is fine for most people, but may be disappointing for fast-paced HDR games. This is strange, and we expect it to be reduced in a future firmware update.
New on the C9 is support for Auto Low Latency Mode. See our recommended settings for Gaming.
Update 05/02/2019: We've retested the input lag of the C9 with the firmware update 03.50.31. The input lag measurements in SDR game and PC modes have decreased. We haven't retested 1440p @ 60Hz but we will retest this in the future.
Update 05/09/2019: Text clarifications added.
Update 05/17/2019: We've retested the input lag on the same firmware (03.50.31) and found the 4k @ 60Hz + HDR input lag is in the same ballpark as the other resolutions (around 13ms). We don't know why our previous measurements were higher, as we did confirm them twice. We've also updated the 1440p @ 60Hz input lag with this latest firmware.
The LG C9 supports the vast majority of resolutions we test for, including 1440p, which is new this year for LG TVs. Chroma 4:4:4 can be displayed properly with any resolution, as long as PC mode is enabled.
LG advertises that the C9 supports a 4k @ 120Hz input from external devices, but unlike the Samsung Q90R, it appears that this only works with HDMI 2.1 sources, as we were unable to get it to work. We will retest this once we have an HDMI 2.1 source.
The C9 is advertised to support HDMI 2.1, but with no HDMI 2.1 sources, it isn't currently possible for us to test.
The C9 supports eARC when connected to a compatible AV Receiver, which allows it to send higher quality DTS:X and Dolby Atmos via TrueHD sound from an external device to your receiver. Like the 2018 LG OLEDS, it also supports DTS and Dolby Digital passthrough to a standard ARC receiver.
When connected to a PC, the PC detected the C9 as a stereo device, so it wasn't possible to send 5.1 or 7.1 audio to the TV without bypassing the PC's autodetection system.
Update 05/24/2019: Retested the eARC passthrough with a different PC, and no bypassing was necessary: the PC still detected the C9 as a stereo device, but the bitstreaming ignored that fact, and sent 7.1 TrueHD audio without a problem.
The LG OLED C9 delivers a decent overall sound quality. This TV gets pretty loud, produces clear dialog, and has a decent amount of punch and body to its bass. However, it can't produce much thump or rumble, and has higher total harmonic distortion than the C8 and B8, especially at max volume. For a better sound, it is recommended to use a dedicated speaker system or soundbar (see our recommendations for the best soundbars).
The LG OLED C9 has a decent frequency response. The low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 67Hz, which is decent, but slightly worse than the C8. This results in a bass that isn't able to produce much thump or rumble but has a decent amount of punch and body. The frequency response above the TV's LFE is well-balanced, which is important for clear dialog. It can also get pretty loud, without too much pumping and compression artifacts under maximum load.
The LG OLED C9 has a mediocre distortion performance. There is a much higher amount of THD at max volume, but at 80dB it is more reasonable.
The LG OLED C9 has very good smart features. The interface hasn't changed much since last year and is still very easy to use, especially with the included remote that can be used as a virtual pointer. There are a few new smart features, including a Home Dashboard feature that can interact with IoT devices, similar to the Samsung SmartThings feature.
The C9 has a very easy to use interface. It is fast, smooth, and we didn't encounter any serious bugs during our testing. Some apps hang a bit when launching them, though.
The interface hasn't changed much from last year's TVs, but there are a few new functions, including a Home Dashboard, which appears to be very similar to Samsung's Smart Things system.
Although we weren't able to take a picture of them, we did see ads during our testing of the C9, similar to the ads we saw on last year's SK8000. We were able to remove some of them by disabling the Home Promotion setting, but as ads are not always visible, we aren't certain if it is possible to entirely remove them.