LG SH7Q soundbar 2023 – 800w of brute 5.1 power (sound review)
The LG SH7Q soundbar provides 800W of loud, beefy sound to any TV. It is perfect for free-to-air and SDR streaming services. It is not bad for music, either.
Upfront, let’s focus on what it is best at. It adds a thumping 800W sound to any TV. It has a centre channel to assist with clear voice. Buy it if you don’t have a Dolby Vision/Atmos TV and want better sound.
While it is promoted as a 5.1 surround sound soundbar, like every all-in-one, it relies on psychoacoustics. This means it needs the right room – reasonably close side walls to bounce the left/right surround channels off to reach the viewing area.
If you need to know more, read:
- How to buy a soundbar that meets your needs? (2023 update guide)
- Five tips for better TV sound – Dolby Atmos for beginners
Australian Review: LG SH7Q soundbar 2023 (Q is for 2023 mode – ignore other suffixes)
|Price||RRP $799 exclusive of any seasonal or event discounts. Seen at Videopro for $495 plus freight or JB and Good Guys for $599.|
|From||LG Online, JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Videopro|
|LG||LG (formerly Lucky-Goldstar from 1983 to 1995) is a South Korean multinational conglomerate. It makes electronics, chemicals, and telecommunications products.|
|More||Cybershack LG News and reviews|
We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass(able) rating that is not as good as it should be and a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed. You can click on most images for an enlargement.
First Impression – big and heavy – Pass
I tested this with the LG QNED86, which has a 75mm clearance from the bottom of the screen to the desktop. The only problem is that it is 1200 (L) x 145 (D) x 97mm (H) x 8.6kg. The Sub-woofer is 171 (W) x 390 (H) x 261mm (D) x 5.3kg.
So, on this TV, at least we could not use the TV IR controller – check you have clearance before buying this.
The main unit is well-made, with a brushed metal top and perforated metal speaker grill. It has a multi-brand IR remote and a white LED alpha front display.
The sub-woofer is black customwood with a fabric speaker grill and rear bass port.
What is the LG SH7Q soundbar?
To position this, it is not a Dolby Atmos soundbar. It has 5.1 surround sound via:
- Left/Right front-firing 2 x 120W, 3” 4 Ω 10% THD speakers.
- Left/Right front-firing surround 2 x 120W, 3” 4 Ω speakers.
- Centre front-firing 1 x 120W, 3” 4 Ω speaker.
- Wireless Sub-woofer 200W.
There are no top-firing speakers. Any surround sound is via psychoacoustics, so you must have the right rooms to hear this.
It supports FLAC, WAV, MP3, WMA, and AAC audio file types and accepts 16-bit and 32/44.1/48kHz inputs.
It can decode PCM (mono and 2.0 lossy compressed Free-to-air), LPCM (encodes audio without lossy compression mono to 5.0), DTS Digital surround (compressed up to 5.1) and Dolby Digital (compressed 5.1 on most streaming services) and upscale to 5.1 or pass through the signals as is.
Setup – Pass
Most will simply plug into the TV via the HDMI ARC port. The TV needs to be configured for HDMI/CEC, and you can control power and volume from the TV remote (and the soundbar remote).
Or use Optical IN – this has no power or volume controls via the TV remote.
With the right LG TV, it can use those speakers as well. The result is not more sound channels – it remains 5.1, but the TV speakers can round out the sound. Unfortunately, we were unable to get this working on the LG QNED86.
LG Soundbar App
It connects via Bluetooth and offers firmware updates, EQ, individual channel volumes and more.
- AI Sound Pro – auto-selects from the pre-sets below. Fairly accurate. If the sound is 2.0, it uses Left/Right/Sub. If it is surround, it uses all 5.1 channels.
- DTS Virtual:X: 5.1 with the widest channel separation.
- Standard: 2.1 or 5.1.
- Music: 2.1 but can upscale to 5.1.
- Cinema: Upmix to 5.1.
- Clear Voice: Upmix to 3.1.
- Games: 2.1 or upmix to 5.1.
- Sport: upmix to 3.1 or 5.1 with a focus on game and announcer sound.
- Bass Blast: recesses mid and treble to make Bass more prominent.
- Nighttime: Reduces the general sound volume but raises soft and delicate sound volumes.
Most will leave it on AI Sound Pro.
Connections – Pass
- HDMI 1.4 ARC/CEC to TV, 10Gbps (as it does not decode Dolby Atmos V1.4 is sufficient).
- Optical in (Toslink).
- USB-A 2.0 5V/.5A/2.5W for flash drives only.
- BT 4.2 SSBC/AAC codecs, no multipoint.
Sound quality – Pass+
Remember, this is a gutsy 800W, 5.1 soundbar. It belts out 85dB with some distortion but back off to 80dB, and it clears up.
As a TV speaker in 2.1 mode, the sound stage is as wide as the TV and sounds/voices are projected as if they come from the screen.
In 5.1 mode (with the right room), you get a small semblance of left/right surround in the viewing area (front on to the TV), but for the most part, any effect is forward-centric.
With DTS content, you get a more defined sound stage, but again, it is forward-centric.
As it is not Dolby Atmos, the TV downmixes this metadata to PCM or LPCM, and you get similar effects to 5.1 mode.
How does it sound? Pass+
There is no low-bass; mid-bass starts at 50Hz and rises to 80Hz, where it is flat through mid and low treble. It then dips to avoid harshness, and it flat to 20kHz. See gold line below.
Out of the box, it is a bit mid-bass heavy (it defaults to maximum), and you need to back it off to about halfway. As it lacks low-bass, you don’t feel the room-shaking ‘thump’ bass that some systems provide. It is satisfying but not explosive bass.
Mid from 200Hz to 4KHz is flat, and overall, it provides good dynamic and clear sound.
Treble from 4-20kHz gives crisp instrumental notes and vocals but lacks the ‘airy feeling as if you were there”. This accounts for the front-centric feel of the sound.
For music, you are best setting it to 2.1 mode as the upmix can reduce overall listening pleasure.
Overall, it is a decent neutral sound signature, and the EQ and individual speaker volume settings can tweak this to your taste.
CyberShack’s view – LG SH7Q is a good 5.1 non-Dolby Atmos soundbar.
Compared to the QNED 2.2 speaker setup, this was heavenly. It has a far clearer voice, more volume, and a good 2.0 sound stage. It gets a buy recommendation for non-Dolby Atmos TVs.
I was trying to come up with an analogy that may better position it, and I think it is like a V8 car of old. Lots of power, yet under the bonnet is a fair bit of processing power and LG’s smarts.
LG SH7Q soundbar competition
At $799, forget it. At $495 to $599, it offers a good feature/value mix, but you are entering low-end virtual Dolby Atmos (DA) territory. The Catch22 is that this will give you better sound than those faux DA cheapies that also rely on psychoacoustics.
If you want proper DA, you need front up-firing and discrete rear speakers. JBL’s Bar 800 5.1.2 is the best under $1000, and LG’s S95QR 9.1.5 810W soundbar is terrific at $1999.
- Features: 85 – it is a good, solid 5.1 soundbar with LG’s sound heritage.
- Value: 90 if you pay under $600, it is a bargain (70 if you pay more)
- Performance: 85– great volume, decent stereo sound stage, but surround sound requires the right room, and most people do not have that.
- Ease of Use: 90 – it is plug-and-play. The App is not necessary but adds some easier-to-use controls.
- Design: 80 – Heavy metal, older design, and relatively high when many soundbars now are more streamlined.
LG SH7Q soundbar – 800w of brute 5.1 power$799 but shop around - seen as low as $495
- 800W can get very loud, but back off to avoid THD
- LED readout is more informative than flashing LEDs
- Dramatically improves any TV sound
- LG quality, build and sound smarts
- Remote or App to adjust sound
- Surround sound requires room psychoacoustics that most do not have.
- Too high to fit under some TVs
- Not wall mountable
- No room tuning (not expected)
- Bass is good but not room-shaking