LG S95QR 9.1.5 Dolby Atmos soundbar – ultimate sound for every TV (review)

The LG S95QR 9.1.5 Dolby Atmos soundbar gives the ultimate sound for any brand TV, but it is even better with LG’s 2022 Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos-capable TVs.

We make the point that LG is brand agnostic – any brand or model as long as it has HDMI ARC/eARC or Optical Out connections. It has avoided using the TV’s speakers to supplement the soundbar as this has a unique centre channel up-firing speaker. It is part of the LG 2022 Soundbar range – something completely different.

We have tested the LG S90QY soundbar – terrific 5.1.3 Dolby Atmos all-in-one (review), and it has the same front soundbar and sub-woofer with the addition of dual rear speakers. But these are no ordinary speakers. Again, unique as each has three speakers for each side and overhead sound reinforcement. They work a treat for 7.1 surround and add the emphasis needed for 9.1.5 Dolby Atmos.

Note that, unlike the S90QY, this does not use psychoacoustics to bounce signals off adjacent walls making it perfect for larger open-plan Aussie lounge rooms.

What CyberShack looks for in the perfect soundbar

As you can imagine, we have tested a lot of Dolby Atmos soundbars. We look for a few main things.

  • At least 5.1.2 and preferably 5.1.4 (not virtual Dolby Atmos with 3.1.2)
  • Discrete rear speakers so as not to rely on psychoacoustics
  • Volume at least 80dB with minimal distortion
  • Clear Voice (this means it needs a dedicated forward-firing centre channel focusing on the 1-4kHz frequency range).
  • HDMI 2.1 eARC port for 4K@120Hz uncompressed Dolby Atmos pass-through
  • A wide range of decoding, including DTS variants
  • Room calibration via a smartphone App, remote control, or separate room mic
  • Immersive and directional sound. Does sound come from overheard, in-front, behind or is it primarily front-centric (as with most all-in-ones)
  • An App is not mandatory but can add more customisation, an EQ etc
  • Voice Assistance is not mandatory (in fact, you can have too many voice assistants)

The LG S95QR 9.1.5 exceeds most of these parameters and, in our opinion, is a) the best of the LG 2022 range and b) at the price, the best value, most fully-featured, Dolby Atmos soundbar you can buy.

Australian review: LG S95QR 9.1.5 Dolby Atmos soundbar

WebsiteProduct Page and Manual and User Guide
PricePrice is RRP exclusive of any seasonal or event discounts. $2049 buy seen for <$1649, so shop around.
FromLG Online Harvey Norman, Domayne, Joyce Mayne, Retravision, Videopro, JB Hi-Fi, Good Guys, Appliances Online.
Warranty1-year ACL
LGLG (formerly Lucky-Goldstar from 1983 to 1995) is a South Korean multinational conglomerate. It makes electronics, chemicals, and telecommunications products.
MoreCybershack 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 ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed.

What is Dolby Atmos 9.1.5? Exceed

LG is the first to incorporate a dedicated up-firing centre channel. In this soundbar, you get

  • Left/centre/right front-firing 45/40/45W (3)
  • Left/right front-firing tweeters (frequency cross-over – not part of DA) (2)
  • Left/right side-firing surround – 45/45W (2)
  • Left/right up-firing 45/45W (2)
  • Centre tweeter up-firing (not part of DA*) (1)
  • Rear Left/Right 135° side-firing and up-firing 40/40/40W (2 x 3 = 6)
  • Sub-woofer 8″ 220W (main speaker and bass port) strong build 50-80Hz 80Hz+ flat
  • Total 17 speakers and 810W RMS. Wattages are at 4Ω impedance and 10% THD.

* Now to LG’s unique up-firing centre channel. Dolby Atmos does not support it, so the LG decoder extracts the higher frequencies from the left and right up-firing channels and outputs via the centre up-firing channel. Does it work? The theory is good, but it is more about bragging rights!

First impression – Pass+

It is in basic brushed dark metal with a fabric front speaker grill and metal top speaker grills. The sub looks decidedly old-school with a big side fabric speaker grill and a bass port at the front. The rear speakers are matte-black.

We only make this observation because more and more buyers want ‘décor’ elements like the stylish white Sonos Arc or glass-top Bose 900. LG could take a leaf out of its wonderful decorator, Signature kitchen and laundry appliance range, and offer colour façade options.

Set up – Pass+

It is straightforward. Unpack, place the rear speakers at head height behind your viewing area, and the sub near the soundbar. Assuming you use an HDMI cable with the correct rating, plug it into the HDMI eARC/ARC port on the TV and the soundbar. You can use the TV remote for essential functions if the TV supports HDMI CEC.

If you want to hear Dolby Atmos (DA) content, you need a compatible TV and HDMI 2.1 cable – ‘Ultra-High-Speed’ 48Gbps, 4K@120Hz and 8K@30Hz with no compression. You can read more HDMI cables are not all the same. Which one do you need? (guide).

You can also connect over Wi-Fi/Ethernet (Google Assistant and Apple AirPlay 2), Optical, or Bluetooth – the latter can use both the TV speakers and the BT soundbar or headphones.

We will mention the features you can access via the App or the remote control.

The LG Soundbar App – Pass+

It enables sound calibration, and firmware updates, voice assistance and offers quick access to all settings.

Room Calibration Pro – Exceed

The hardest thing with all surround systems is to set the front and rear speaker levels correctly. The App has a tone calibration mode that sizes up the room and speaker placements and sets all levels to optimum. The difference between the before and after sound experience is palpable.

Now here is something interesting. Before calibration, we had amped up the rears because our seating was about 5m from the screen. After calibration, the sound was far more balanced and natural, with neither the front nor rear speaker dominating the sound stage.

LG 2022 TV only – Sound Mode Share – WTF?

This mode allegedly ‘enables the TV’s AI processor to work with the soundbar for clear, accurate sound’. We set this up using the LG G2 – no difference as far as we can tell. More marketing bragging rights.

Hearing-impaired – Exceed

You can alter individual speaker volumes to suit your tastes. The hearing impaired may want to ramp up the rear speakers. There is also a night mode which reduces general sound volume but raises the volume of soft and delicate sounds and clear voice mode.

Surround sound – upscale and Exceed

If you enable surround sound, all sound from PCM 2.0 to Dolby Digital and DTS up to 5.1 is upscaled to faux surround sound. We recommend this setting, or all you will get is a front-firing 2.1 stereo, which will be overridden when it encounters DA or DTS:X spatial sound.

Sound modes – many to choose from – Exceed

  • Music is Meridian tuned and is best for streamed 2.0 music. The music is upscaled to faux 5.1, with the rear speakers supplementing the front.
  • Cinema offers that broad expanse of 3D sound and upscales from 2.0 to 5.1. It can sound a little cavernous.
  • Clear Voice offers a focus on the 1-4kHz range and accents the centre channel while recessing bass and treble a little.
  • Sport offers a stadium experience where Voice and gameplay are prioritised to the front, and the surround is amped to the rears to hear the crowd.
  • Game is for gamers and looks for sounds that can give directional hints.
  • Bass Blast/+ is just that and not really necessary if you calibrate the room.

Sound decoder modes – Pass+

Regardless of the 17 speakers, all non-Dolby Atmos metadata downmixes to the speaker’s capability.

  • Dolby Atmos (*9.1.4 with the rear speaker set) downmixed from 128 sound objects
  • Dolby Digital/Plus, True HD (5.1 surround)
  • DTS/X/HD (downmixed to 5.1 surround)
  • PCM mono/multichannel (simulated surround)

Music upscale – Pass

It supports 32/44.1/48/88.2/96kHz. If you have high-res 24-bit 96kHz/24-bit music, it streams via Wi-Fi and sounds wonderful.

Ports – Pass+

  • HDMI 2.0 eARC 4K@50/60Hz
  • 2 x HDMI 2.0 ports 4K@50/60Hz for external content devices.
  • Digital Optical
  • USB 5V/.5A/2.5W FAT16/FAT32/NTFS (not exFAT)
  • Wi-Fi N 2.4Ghz and Wi-Fi Direct, and Apple AirPlay2
  • BT Chromecast

The HDMI eARC port is 4K@50/60fps, so it does not support 4K@100/120 or HDR10+ Pass through, and the latency increases to about 60ms. We recommend (anyway) a direct connection to the TV ports leaving the HDMI eARC port to pass-through sound for processing.

Bluetooth – Pass+

It uses Bluetooth 5.0 with the SBC or AAC stereo codec, which is fine for smartphone music streaming. You can only stream Hi-res over Wi-Fi/Ethernet.

Wi-Fi – Pass

It supports Wi-Fi 4 N 2.4Ghz band making it Google Assistant, Apple Airplay2 and Alexa compatible via an external remote, smartphone or smart speaker. The two internal mics are for calibration only.

Size ( W x H x D) – Pass

  • Soundbar: 1200 x 63 x 135mm x 5.03kg
  • Subwoofer: 202 x 407 x 403mm x 10kg
  • Rears (each) 159mm x 223mm x 142mm x 4.08kg

It is pretty long at 1200mm and height at 63mm, so make sure your TV can accommodate that. It is wall-mountable (brackets supplied).

How does the LG S95QR 9.1.5 sound? Exceed

It gets Exceed because of the wide range of pre-sets that can make a massive difference to what you hear. For the most part, you will leave it on AI Sound Pro but change to DA, DTS:X, or IMAX Enhanced with that content. That is just a case of grabbing the remote or App and changing from one mode to another.

With DA, the action happens all around – Exceed. Sound objects come from above, sides and behind. The bass has lots of rumble that helps you feel the intensity. We did not try the IMAX Enhanced mode – no content.

With 5.1/7.1 surround – Exceed – no 3D height channels, but you are still bathed in directional sound, and the rears really add to the experience.

Hearing-impaired will appreciate clear Voice, up-firing centre channel and night mode (together or separately), although the Sonos Arc is the clear voice leader. Pass+

Music lovers will appreciate Wi-Fi steaming or high-res BT music – Exceed.

The sound stage is a little wider than the bar, but with DA and DTS:X content, it reaches out at least a metre wider. Objects feel accurately placed and have clear directionality. Exceed.

Volume is 85dB with minima distortion. Pass+

CyberShack’s view – LG S95QR 9.1.5 Dolby Atmos soundbar is the best value option

Note that we did not say ‘the best of all time’. You cannot get a better sound or a wide range of customisations at $2,000 ($1649 if you can get it).

That is not to put down excellent soundbars like the Sonos Arc Dolby Atmos soundbar with optional sub and surrounds (review) with dedicated sub and rears or the Bose Smart Soundbar 900 – Bose’s first Dolby Atmos 5.0.2 soundbar (review) (ditto). These are for different users who will pay well over $3000 for premium brand-name products and want something that looks a little different.

Out of the box, it is a little boomy, and the rears don’t add much, but calibration fixes that. The DA experience is excellent – coherent with few if any sound gaps and distinct moving sound elements instead of the mish-mash of most DA soundbars. The up-firing centre channel helps clear dialogue and directionality.

It gets our unreserved buy recommendation.

Competition

I have heard the $2099 Samsung HW-Q990B 11.1.4 soundbar (not reviewed yet), which is impressive. Although the, two of the 11-channels (two side-firing from the soundbar) need psychoacoustics to work. It decodes DA/DTS:X but only passes through HDR10+ video streams to the TV. It is also built for Samsung Q-series TV with Total Sound Collaboration+ using the TV speakers. Buy if you have a compatible Samsung TV.

Ratings

It scores well in every category. It and other soundbars with discrete rear speakers get over the psychoacoustic limitations of all-in-one soundbars.

LG S95QR 9.1.5, LG S95QR 9.1.5, LG S95QR 9.1.5

LG S95QR 9.1.5 True Dolby Atmos soundbar

$2049 but shop around as seen for $1649
9.3

Features

9.5/10

Value

9.5/10

Performance

9.5/10

Ease of Use

9.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Pros

  • Calibration mode is excellent
  • Easy adjustments via the App or remote
  • Best value 9.1.5 DA soundbar you can buy
  • Impressive DA and surround sound
  • Wi-Fi means Google Assistant, Alexa and Airplay2

Cons

  • Not the best set-up guide or manual
  • No HDMI 2.1 4K@100/120Hz ports


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