LG SL8YG 3.1.2 Atmos soundbar

hcc_recommendedMark Craven enjoys this soundbar's can-do attitude with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Blu-ray mixes

As noted at this year's IFA GPC [see p22], the soundbar market is surging. There's plenty of choice too, from budget models to Dolby Atmos power pushers. LG's SL8YG is one of the latter – a £700 soundbar/sub combi with cinematic immersion on its mind.

It's mid-range, and not LG's biggest offering in 2019. That would be the SL10YG, a 5.1.2-channel design. This smaller sibling does away with side-firing drivers for a 3.1.2 implementation, and offers a cash saving of up to £500. Considering you can still add LG's SPK8 wireless surround speakers as an optional extra for £150, and get a native five-channel flatbed, you might consider this 'bar the better option.

Sandwiched between is the SL9YG, which doesn't offer a centre channel but retains the surround drivers for a 4.1.2 effect.

Once again this year LG has roped in UK sound brand Meridian Audio for collaboration on its home cinema products, only we're told the relationship runs deeper than before, beyond mere sound-tuning. New is Meridian Upmixer, designed to tailor stereo music content to the bar's three-channel presentation.

While price will effect what LG soundbar you might plump for, so will size. The SL8YG is, at just over a metre wide, targeted at TVs beginning at 49in. That's not to say it doesn't have the attributes to join a larger set.

The 'bar looks much like LGs of yore, with its twin upfiring drivers prominent on the left and right ends of a grey chassis with wraparound mesh grille and round edges. A front LED display sits to the right of centre (because that's where the centre channel driver is).

The front channels each get a tweeter and midbass, while the Atmos units are single full-range 2.5in affairs. Power is rated at 440W, but this includes the 220W built into the wireless subwoofer. LG's bassmaker features a 7in front-firing woofer (ported to the rear) and looks a little more nondescript, with three sides covered in black cloth and a blank, grey top plate. It feels a little less solid and well put together than the 'bar, too.

The G appending the soundbar's model number denotes it integrates Google Assistant, allowing it to be used to control other Google gadgets in your home. There's also Google Chromecast and Bluetooth provision.

The handset is mid-sized, with large keys for volume, function (source) and mute. You'll also find a key to cycle through sound modes – Movie, Music, ASC, Standard and Bass, plus channel level control, which is useful to boost the centre or overhead channels.


Physical hookups are one HDMI input (with 4K HDR passthrough including Dolby Vision) and an HDMI (ARC) output. There's also an optical input and a USB port.

Familiar Feel
It doesn't take long listening to the SL8YG before I'm revisiting my notes on LG's SK10Y [reviewed in HCC #288]. It seems to plough the same furrow, in that it has a big, bold confident sound with plenty in the tank for largescale moments. It's very much a crowd pleaser.

Chapter 6 of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Blu-ray, DTS:X) begins with army trucks trundling across Isla Nublar before our hero Owen (Chris Pratt) surveys the volcanic rumblings. The noise of the vehicle engines pans across the SL8YG's LCR stage, while the 'quake ruptures pleasantly (if a little subtly) from the woofer.

More distinct details come across well. As the team enters the old complex HQ, the tap of a door keypad has electronic sparkle, while the scratch of cables being plugged in or the whine of old lockers being opened are clean and well-projected. And there's a nice scale to its native DTS:X presentation. The sound is deep and vertical to a point. Later in the chapter, when Owen enters the jungle in search of Blue, he pauses as a flock of dinobirds pass overheard. The effect is clearly that of height, albeit ahead of me.

Later still the Isla Nublar volcano erupts and havoc ensues. Claire and Franklin are trapped as dust falls from the control room ceiling – a distant voice shouts 'let's get out of here!'. Michael Giacchino's score rises in tension with brassy stabs. It's a nice smorgasbord of sound that the LG serves up with panache and a pleasingly warm tone.