LG SC9S Soundbar – “Sounds Good,” But There Are Better Options

TECH REVIEW – In the highly competitive Dolby Atmos soundbar market, it’s not easy to stand out. LG’s latest attempt with its soundbar aims to enhance dialogue clarity and emphasize the spatial effects that help Atmos and other 3D formats create an “audio dome.”


In this regard, the design is successful. Dialogues are clear, and the phantom channel boosts the effectiveness of the spatial effects. However, even though Atmos titles are becoming more common, only a limited number of effects occur above you. Most of the action in movies or games happens at ground level, and the SC9S lacks the side-firing speakers that make models from Sony, Sonos, and Bose effective at creating an immersive soundstage from a single unit.

The SC9S comes with several impressive features, including the ability to integrate with the latest LG C-series TVs via the Wow Orchestra system. Regardless of the TV, it also offers a plethora of other modern features, such as versatile audio format support, next-gen gaming features, and an included wireless subwoofer, which many rivals lack. But is that enough to make the SC9S your preferred Atmos soundbar?



(Mostly) Smooth Setup


The SC9S arrives in a large box, with significant space taken up by a special mounting bracket designed to fit beneath a C2 or C3 OLED TV. The basic setup is quick, but you need to follow LG’s detailed instructions: first, connect the HDMI cable to your TV’s HDMI ARC/eARC port, then plug in the subwoofer and (if applicable) the rear surround speakers, and finally, the soundbar itself.

I initially connected the soundbar and then had to manually pair the wireless subwoofer to get it working. I only tested the basic soundbar and subwoofer setup. If you want to add rear surround speakers, they cost a few hundred dollars and, unlike most other brands, require a separate amplifier that wirelessly connects to the TV.

Otherwise, the setup is relatively simple using the LG Soundbar app. I had the soundbar connected to Wi-Fi and updated with the latest firmware within minutes. This includes the AI Room Calibration mode, which is very loud and, to my ears, didn’t seem to change the sound significantly.


Plenty of Extras


One of the most talked-about features of the SC9S is the Wow Orchestra integration, which synchronizes the soundbar with the built-in sound systems of LG C2 and C3 TVs. These ecosystem-specific features are becoming more common in the AV sector, especially with LG’s Korean rival, Samsung, whose Q-Symphony feature similarly integrates its flagship soundbars with newer Samsung TV speakers.

The SC9S goes further by including a special (and large) mounting bracket for the evo C-series TVs right in the box. The idea is that you buy the soundbar when you buy the TV, but of course, this isn’t always feasible when you’re already spending thousands of dollars.

Regardless of the TV you have, the SC9S offers an impressive range of cutting-edge features, including HDMI 2.1 passthrough via its spare HDMI port. This allows you to connect the latest gaming consoles and PCs to utilize high frame rates and features like VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode). The Sony HT-A5000 is the only similarly priced rival that supports these options, while the Sonos Arc (9/10, WIRED Recommends) and Bose Smart Soundbar 900 do not offer HDMI inputs at all.



Comprehensive Support and Easy Control


The SC9S supports nearly all major audio formats. You can use Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, and DTS-HD Master Audio, among others. Additionally, it offers a variety of streaming features, such as AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect, and of course, Bluetooth. The soundbar is compatible with smart assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, but only through the app.

The app is by far the easiest way to control settings like basic EQ, sound mode switching, and channel level adjustments. It’s not as feature-rich as apps from Sonos or Bose, which allow you to stream music and group other speakers, but it is intuitive and proved very stable during testing.

Using the included remote is more tedious, with only a few LEDs and a loud robot voice guiding you through the many options. If you have an LG C2 or C3 TV, you can use the onscreen menu, but the app offers a much deeper suite of settings. Otherwise, any TV remote lets you control the basics when connected over HDMI eARC/ARC.


The Three-Channel Limit


The marvel of some of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars is how musical, full, and natural they can sound. It’s no simple task to make a singular bar sound more like a full sound system. While the SC9S has some skills, it doesn’t quite cross over to the special side for a couple of reasons.

The soundbar’s overall sound signature is thinner and lighter than rivals like the Sonos Arc and Sony HT-A5000, and less musical than Bose’s Smart Soundbar 900. There’s good overall detail, but film soundtracks and music alike feel lacking in dynamic midrange and bass punch. Brighter instruments like percussion and symphonic horns, and even lighter dialogues and effects, can come off with an icy touch.

Notably, without the aid of side-firing drivers, the SC9S’s soundstage falls short of delivering the near-magical virtual surround sound immersion found in top rivals. You can account for this by adding true surround speakers with LG’s SQ8-S surround speakers and proprietary wireless amplifier for $200 (or less on sale). But apart from the cost, this may not be viable for those with compact listening rooms.



Excellent Sound Effects and Bass


Thanks to its extra height speaker, Dolby Atmos films and TV shows are rendered with impressive overhead effects, from pouring rain to buzzing helicopters. This helps expand the sound beyond the bar’s frame, mostly above you, which can create an enhanced sense of cinematic breadth. The system also performs well in delivering rich dialogues from well-crafted dramas and films, providing crisp delivery that accentuates the subtle details.

The SC9S excels in bass response during powerful action scenes, from the pounding pop of Ant-Man’s flying ants to the booming explosions in Skyfall. The addition of a wireless subwoofer gives the bar a notable edge in the very deepest frequencies over standalone Atmos soundbars. That alone could make it worthwhile for some, as you’ll pay hundreds more to get the same low-frequency rumble from many competitors.

With compelling features many rivals lack—including a spare HDMI 2.1 input, support for DTS 3D audio, gaming extras like VRR passthrough, and the all-important wireless sub—the SC9S offers solid value. If these features are important to you, it’s worth considering, whether you own a newer LG C-series TV or any other model.

Otherwise, when it comes to pure sound quality and immersion, better options are available on our best soundbars list or among the other options mentioned above.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-


+ Tons of features and supported formats
+ Impressive surround effects, powerful bass with the included subwoofer
+ HDMI 2.1 input to support next-generation games


– The lack of lateral speakers limits the spatial experience
– Wow Orchestra is not particularly convincing
– The streaming extras of Sonos and Bose soundbars are missing

LG SC9S Soundbar

Sound quality - 7.6
Bass volume - 8.2
Compatibility - 7.6
Versatility - 7.2
Value for Money - 7.4



The LG SC9S is a strong soundbar that offers impressive features and excellent bass response, but it still lacks some key characteristics compared to its competitors. If you own a newer LG C-series TV, the integration provides an additional advantage, but for pure sound quality and immersion, other options might be better.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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