LG SN11RG 7.1.4 soundbar system review

hcchighreccomendMark Craven has an absolute blast with LG's do-it-all SN11RG soundbar

It's always good to have the option of going large, whether that's upgrading your McDonald's order or watching the extended versions of all six of Peter Jackson's Tolkien movies. Now LG is playing to XL lovers with its SN11RG, which is without doubt its biggest – and best – soundbar yet.

An early adopter of Dolby Atmos for its soundbar product line, LG has been expanding user options through previous generations, but until now steered clear of what some refer to as the 'full-fat' experience. The SN11RG shows no such reticence, combining a soundbar, sub and wireless rear speakers to create a 7.1.4 soundfield.

At £1,500, it bustles into the premium soundbar market currently occupied by the likes of Bang & Olufsen's Beosound Stage and Sennheiser's Ambeo. But it's a different proposition to both.

Making Room For Movies
Meant to accompany a largescreen TV in a media-centric living room or den, the SN11RG's soundbar element measures almost 1.5m wide. There's no attempt to make it look like anything other than a soundbar, but the chassis, which matches a brushed aluminium top with full-length perforated grille, is classy. It also feels quite rugged.

The 'bar's driver array runs to two full-range upfirers, two more side-firing drivers (for surround), and front-facing two-way L/C/R channels.


Inputs and outputs are located in a rear-panel recess. There are dual HDMI inputs and one HDMI output, plus optical digital audio and a USB port for file playback.

The SN11RG's sub uses a 7in front-firing driver and is rear-ported. The wireless rears pack both front-facing and upfiring drivers into reasonably compact enclosures.

New system features on LG's 2020 soundbar range include HDMI eARC connectivity, and AI Sound Pro and AI Room Calibration. The latter of those two aims to finesse the SN11RG's performance to suit your individual listening environment; the former provides a user preset offering real-time content-based EQ.

Elsewhere, this soundbar rolls out LG's greatest hits when it comes to features, including DTS:X playback (not always a given on soundbars); Google Assistant voice control/interaction and associated Chromecast streaming; hi-res audio playback (and upsampling) to 24-bit/192kHz; Bluetooth 5.0; and Dolby Vision 4K HDR passthrough (but not HDR10+).

There's also the continued involvement of Meridian Audio in product development and DSP. The exact nature of LG and Meridian's teamup has always been a bit vague, but this year the promise includes greater dialogue/vocal clarity courtesy of a 'lifted midrange'.

Bringing Up The Rear
Initial setup isn't taxing, although consideration of rear speaker placement is warranted. You may favour putting them left and right of seating (this would still fit within Dolby guidelines for a four-channel height array) but you'll want those rear channels to be... well, to the rear. That said, LG's processing will use the rears for the surround channels in a 5.1 mix – to do this you need to turn its 'Surround' mode off by holding down the EQ tool button for a few seconds. So it's possible to map a traditional 5.1 track and not use the soundbar's side-firing drivers – but only with Dolby encoded content, not DTS. Confused? You will be. Also note the rears – while physically identical – are dedicated left and right. Don't mix them up...

The soundbar's presets (AI Sound Pro, Bass Blast, Standard, Movie and Music) have marked differences between them, particularly when surround mode is deactivated because the 'bar still employs its surround and rear channels with 2.0 material in some modes. Still confused? I certainly was.

Standard, which is described as 'Premium sound with Meridian Technology' is the best option if you want a 'straight' playback experience.

While the soundbar's DSP/channel options can baffle, the good news is that it will go native (and disable all modes) when fed a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X bitstream.

And with a 3D audio soundtrack, this premium system can effectively envelope, thanks – to a large degree – to those rear/rear height channels. The warm, rich delivery and abundant sense of energy of previous LG soundbars remains, only now scaled up to 7.1.4.