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LG C9 OLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Updated Mar 11, 2020 at 10:25 am
LG C9 OLED Picture
8.8
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: LG B9 OLED
9.3
Movies
8.3
TV Shows
8.6
Sports
9.1
Video Games
8.8
HDR Movies
8.8
HDR Gaming
8.7
PC Monitor
Type OLED
Sub-Type
WRGB
Resolution 4k

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. This TV also supports HDMI 2.1 on all four ports, although there's currently little advantage to this, as there are no HDMI 2.1 sources available.

Unfortunately, like all OLED TVs, there's a possibility of experiencing permanent burn-in, and the brightness of the screen changes depending on the content (ABL), which may bother some people.

Our Verdict

8.8 Mixed Usage

The C9 OLED is an outstanding TV for most uses. The OLED panel produces excellent picture quality for most uses, with perfect blacks and wide viewing angles. It has a nearly instantaneous response time, which is important for gaming or use as a PC monitor. Unfortunately, there's a risk of burn-in, and the brightness of the screen changes with different content, which may be distracting.

See our Mixed Usage recommendations
9.3 Movies

The LG C9 is an outstanding TV for watching movies. With OLED's ability to turn individual pixels off, you get perfect blacks when watching in the dark. This emissive technology also allows the TV to display bright objects in dark scenes with no blooming at all. Its near-instantaneous response time results in fast scenes that look clear and almost blur-free; however, it may also cause lower frame rate content to appear stuttery.

See our Movies recommendations
8.3 TV Shows

The LG OLED C9 is an excellent TV for watching TV shows during the day. It has good peak brightness and an impressive anti-reflective coating, so you shouldn't have any issues, even in a bright room. It also has wide viewing angles, which is great if you like to walk around with the TV on.

See our TV Shows recommendations
8.6 Sports

The LG C9 is an excellent TV for watching sports. Its extremely fast response time delivers an image with almost no motion blur, and there's very little dirty screen effect that can be distracting. Its wide viewing angles are perfect for watching a game with a big group of friends, and lower resolution content like cable sports are upscaled well, without any visible artifacts.

See our Sports recommendations
9.1 Video Games

The LG C9 is an exceptional TV for gaming. It has a remarkably low input lag and near-instantaneous response time, so fast-paced games look crisp, with almost no motion blur. It supports variable refresh rate to reduce screen tearing, and it has been certified to work with recent NVIDIA graphics cards. When gaming on a compatible console like the Xbox One, its 'Auto Low Latency Mode' saves you the trouble of having to switch picture mode.

See our Video Games recommendations
8.8 HDR Movies

The LG OLED C9 is an excellent TV for watching movies in HDR. The OLED panel produces perfect blacks, it has a wide color gamut, and good peak brightness in HDR. Unfortunately, the TV's automatic brightness limiter (ABL) causes the brightness to fluctuate with different content, which may bother some people.

See our HDR Movies recommendations
8.8 HDR Gaming

Excellent TV for gaming in HDR. It has excellent gaming performance, thanks to the nearly instantaneous response time and low input lag. It has an excellent wide color gamut and good peak brightness in HDR. The brightness changes with different content, though, and this might bother some people, especially with bright games. There's also a possibility of burn-in, which might be an issue due to the static elements found in most games.

See our HDR Gaming recommendations
8.7 PC Monitor

The LG OLED C9 is an excellent TV to use as a monitor, as it has an excellent low input lag and outstanding response time, making your desktop experience feel responsive. However, care should be taken to avoid static user interface elements being displayed for a long time, as there's a risk of permanent burn-in. The TV can also display chroma 4:4:4 properly and it has wide viewing angles, so the image remains accurate even if you sit up close.

See our PC Monitor recommendations
  • 8.8 Mixed Usage
  • 9.3 Movies
  • 8.3 TV Shows
  • 8.6 Sports
  • 9.1 Video Games
  • 8.8 HDR Movies
  • 8.8 HDR Gaming
  • 8.7 PC Monitor
Pros
  • Perfect blacks.
  • Fast response time, low input lag.
  • Wide viewing angles.
Cons
  • Brightness variation due to Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL).
  • Risk of permanent burn-in. (See here)
  1. Update 5/21/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.5.
  2. Update 2/21/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  3. Update 5/17/2019: 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.
  4. Update 5/2/2019: 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.

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Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

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 this TV and its competitors are the additional features and the design. The main competitors to this TV are the LG B9, LG E9, Sony A9G, and Sony A8G. The main LED competitors are the Sony Z9F and the Samsung Q90R.

Design
9.5
Design
Style
Curved No

The design of the 2019 LG OLED C9 is excellent. Overall, it's very similar to the 2018 LG C8, with only minor differences. The stand supports the TV well, and there's 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.

Design
Stand

The stand is very wide and will require a fairly large table. It supports the TV well, though there's still a bit of wobble when nudged.

Footprint of the 55" TV stand: 35.6" x 9.75".

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 300x200

The back of the TV is nearly identical to the 2018 LG C8. There are back facing inputs as well as side-facing ones. There's a removable plastic cover, which hides the built-in cable management.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.37" (0.9 cm)

The borders are extremely thin. There's almost no gap between the edge of the bezel and the start of the pixels.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 1.87" (4.8 cm)

Since all the electronics are housed in the bottom portion of the TV, the top half is much thinner, but also more fragile, as it can flex easily. The TV can be wall-mounted and shouldn't stick out much unless you use the back-facing ports.

9.0
Design
Build Quality

Build quality is excellent. The panel-only portion of the TV can flex a bit, but we don't expect this to cause any issues. It's very similar to the 2018 C8 and B8.

Picture Quality
10
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
Inf : 1
Contrast with local dimming
N/A

This TV has an infinite contrast ratio, as its emissive technology allows it to turn pixels off individually. This results in perfect blacks when viewed in the dark.

10
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
No Backlight

This TV doesn't have a local dimming feature since it doesn't have backlights. OLEDs can dim pixels individually, so bright objects and subtitles are displayed perfectly, without any blooming or brightness changes.

7.1
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
335 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
447 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
444 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
398 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
330 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
157 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
430 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
426 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
382 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
317 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
151 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.072

The C9 OLED 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).

Unlike most TVs, the C9's peak brightness was measured with the pre-calibration settings, due to an oddity with the 100% window.

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.

7.3
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
726 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
855 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
845 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
530 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
301 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
145 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
814 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
802 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
506 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
286 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
138 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.109

The C9 has very good HDR peak brightness.There's quite a bit of variation in brightness when displaying different content, mainly due to the aggressive ABL. 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.

8.6
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
0.989 %
50% DSE
0.128 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.499 %
5% DSE
0.102 %

Excellent gray uniformity. There's 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.

8.8
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
49 °
Color Shift
31 °
Brightness Loss
67 °
Black Level Raise
70 °
Gamma Shift
67 °

The LG C9 has excellent wide viewing angles. Brightness and black levels remain good even at extreme viewing angles, but colors begin to shift at moderate angles.

10
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.249 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

Since OLEDs can turn pixels off completely, black uniformity is virtually perfect, which is great for watching in a dark environment.

9.3
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Glossy
Total Reflections
1.4 %
Indirect Reflections
0.1 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
1.2 %

Reflection handling is outstanding. Its anti-reflective coating has a slight purple tint, though it's common among high-end TVs. You shouldn't have any issues in most well-lit rooms, but the TV's brightness may not be able to overcome glare if the TV is placed opposite a window.

7.6
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
3.46
Color dE
2.11
Gamma
2.17
Color Temperature
5929 K
Picture Mode
Expert (Dark Room)
Color Temp Setting
Warm 2
Gamma Setting
2.2

Before calibration, the C9 has good color accuracy. There are some inaccuracies with a few colors, though they're hard to notice. However, pure whites have a yellowish tint.

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.

9.5
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.44
Color dE
0.91
Gamma
2.18
Color Temperature
6539 K
White Balance Calibration
22 point
Color Calibration
Yes
Auto-Calibration Function
Yes

After calibration, this TV 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.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

This TV upscales 480p content well, with no obvious upscaling artifacts.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

720p content is upscaled well, with no strange artifacts. There's a new AI upscaling feature, as well as the existing Super Resolution feature found on older LG TVs. Visually, we didn't notice much difference between them with our test patterns, but for some content, it might make a difference.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

1080p content looks almost as good as native 4k content.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

Although this TV uses an RGBW pixel structure, there are no issues displaying 4k content, as each pixel has all four sub-pixels.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

This TV doesn't support an 8k signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

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.

8.6
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
97.21 %
DCI P3 uv
98.68 %
Rec 2020 xy
71.57 %
Rec 2020 uv
75.53 %

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 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's 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.

7.3
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
84.6 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
46.8 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
61.7 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
34.4 %

This TV has decent color volume, very similar to the C8. Although it 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.

9.0
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.081 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.091 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.072 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.074 dE

The C9 has excellent gradient handling. There's 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 it appears to behave differently from the C8 and is a bit more conservative.

10
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 2 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 4 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 6 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 8 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 10 min recovery
0.00 %

The C9 shows some slight signs of temporary image retention, but it's 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're 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.

2.0
Picture Quality
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Yes

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.

This TV has three features to help mitigate burn-in. We recommend enabling the Screen Shift option, and setting Logo Luminance Adjustment to 'Low.' There's also an automatic pixel refresher that can be run manually if needed.

You can read about our investigation into this here.

Motion
9.8
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
0.2 ms
100% Response Time
2.4 ms

Like all OLED TVs, the LG C9 has a nearly-instantaneous response time. There's 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.

10
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
Yes
PWM Dimming Frequency
0 Hz

The LG C9 doesn't use PWM, as there's no backlight, but there's a slight dip in brightness approximately every 8 ms, which coincides with the TV's refresh rate. This shouldn't be noticeable.

8.7
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps
60 Hz
60 Hz for 60 fps
Yes
120 Hz for 120 fps
No
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
60 Hz

The LG OLED C9 has an optional Black Frame Insertion feature that can improve the appearance of motion.

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.

Motion
Motion Interpolation
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
Yes
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
Yes

Update: 9/16/2019 We have retested this TV 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.

This TV 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.

5.0
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
39.3 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
14.3 ms

Due to the nearly instantaneous response time, 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.

10
Motion
24p Judder
Judder-Free 24p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
Yes

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's always judder with 24p content.

not tested
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
HDMI Forum VRR
Yes
FreeSync
No
G-SYNC Compatible
Yes (NVIDIA Certified)
VRR Supported Connectors
HDMI

Update 11/27/2019: The C9 is now compatible with recent NVIDIA G-SYNC graphics cards, and is officially certified as G-SYNC compatible.

Update 12/12/2019: We retested the C9 with the latest firmware, and it no longer flickers when in Game Mode on an Xbox One with HDR and the variable refresh rate feature enabled.

The LG C9 has a native 120Hz refresh rate, and it supports VRR, which is great. It only supports HDMI Forum's new HDMI-VRR format, which is only supported on new Xbox Ones, or with a recent NVIDIA graphics card. The C9 is officially supported by NVIDIA's G-SYNC compatible mode, which is enabled automatically when connected to a recent NVIDIA graphics card.

Inputs
8.9
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60 Hz
13.5 ms
1080p @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
100.8 ms
1440p @ 60 Hz
13.9 ms
4k @ 60 Hz
13.4 ms
4k @ 60 Hz + 10 bit HDR
13.4 ms
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
13.3 ms
4k @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
50.6 ms
4k @ 60 Hz With Interpolation
96.7 ms
8k @ 60 Hz
N/A
1080p @ 120 Hz
6.8 ms
1440p @ 120 Hz
6.6 ms
8k with VRR
N/A
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Yes

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.

9.6
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
1080p @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
1080p @ 120 Hz
Yes (native support)
1440p @ 60 Hz
Yes (forced resolution required)
1440p @ 120 Hz
Yes (native support)
4k @ 60 Hz
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
8k @ 30 Hz or 24 Hz
No
8k @ 60 Hz
No

The C9 can display most common resolutions. To display chroma 4:4:4 properly, the input label must be set to 'PC', and for high bandwidth resolutions like 4k @60Hz + HDR, the HDMI ULTRA HD Deep Color setting must be enabled for the port in use.

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.

Inputs
Input Photos
Inputs
Total Inputs
HDMI 4
USB 3
Digital Optical Audio Out 1
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm 1
Analog Audio Out RCA 0
Component In 0
Composite In 1 (incl. adapter)
Tuner (Cable/Ant) 1
Ethernet 1
DisplayPort 0
IR In 0
SD/SDHC 0
Inputs
Inputs Specifications
HDR10
Yes
HDR10+
No
Dolby Vision
Yes
HLG
Yes
3D
No
HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth
Yes (HDMI 1,2,3,4)
HDMI 2.1
Yes (HDMI 1,2,3,4)
CEC Yes
HDCP 2.2 Yes (HDMI 1,2,3,4)
USB 3.0
No
Variable Analog Audio Out Yes
Wi-Fi Support Yes (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)

This TV is advertised to support HDMI 2.1, but with no HDMI 2.1 sources, it isn't currently possible for us to test.

Inputs
Audio Passthrough
ARC
Yes (HDMI 2)
eARC support
Yes
Dolby Atmos via TrueHD via eARC
Yes
DTS:X via DTS-HD MA via eARC
Yes
5.1 Dolby Digital via ARC
Yes
5.1 DTS via ARC
Yes
5.1 Dolby Digital via Optical
Yes
5.1 DTS via Optical
Yes

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.

Sound Quality
7.4
Sound Quality
Frequency Response