LG HS7 (LAS570M) MusicFlow Soundbar Review
It's got the looks and cutting edge connectivity but does it deliver on sound?
What is the LG HS7?The first in a new season of soundbars reviewed from the Koreans comes with an asking price of around £500 (June 2015) and it sits second in the pecking order of their 2015 range, just below the soon to be reviewed HS9. The sum asked by LG is not inconsequential in this market, pushing the HS7 well in to the upper-mid tier but it does come ‘Music Flow’ compatible, allowing it to slot into a multi-room system – and even be used as a part of a full surround setup – with ease. The HS7 is also Google Cast ready and able to play HD audio files, so it’s definitely not completely run-of-the-mill but will it sound good enough to merit its status? Let’s find out.
Design & ConnectionsThe HS7 is sensibly very low-slung, meaning it is very unlikely to obscure the bottom edge of your TV screen. In fact it stands just 45mm high and with a width of 1122mm it will fit nicely on most conventionally sized AV units. The HS7 comes as a package of soundbar and wireless subwoofer in a matching mesh effect, which we like on the bar but we’re not so keen about on the sub; you might well feel differently. The subwoofer requires its own power source, by the way, but all mains leads are supplied in the box, along with a snazzy remote control, a toslink digital optical lead and the instructions. The build quality of the soundbar, in particular, is very solid and it is surprisingly weighty, which we found quite reassuring.
There are two HDMI ports in a recessed connections plate at the back of the bar; one is an input, which you could use for the likes of a set-top-box, Blu-ray player or games console, while the other is the ARC (Audio Return Channel) compliant HDMI out, which you will ideally connect with an ARC-able HDMI input on your TV, allowing you to control the volume of the HS7 using the TV's remote. ARC also provides the facility of being able to transmit audio from any other devices connected to your TV via just the one cable. For the ARC-less, or those that just don’t get on with HDMI, there is also the option of digital audio via the S/PDIF input, along with a 3.5mm jack for any number of stereo sources. The HS7 also boasts WiFi connectivity and a LAN port for use in a Music FIow setup. We should also point out the Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to stream music from your smartphone or tablet.
LG Music Flow setup & FeaturesMusic Flow is, no doubt, the HS7’s headlining feature and it’s easy to accomplish the multiroom setup provided you have other LG music flow speakers in the home, of course. It’s all done through a free app – available for Android and iOS – and involves you networking your products and then adding each one to the system, in turn. You can then group the speakers in various ways, including the ability to use something like the H5’s as surrounds, while the HS7 takes care of the fronts, as well as the low frequency effects via the subwoofer. Simple enough and from prior experience it works really well, although LG weren’t able to supply any wireless speakers on this occasion.
The Music Flow app also comes with Google Cast compatibility built-in, allowing you to access services such as Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music from within it and then for you to beam tunes through them to the HS7, using your mobile device as the controller. Again, this is easy to configure and works seamlessly. Further, Music Flow syncs playback through all your devices via Wi-Fi so you can continue listening to your music once you get home. You can even engage in a text relationship with the soundbar, via LG Home Chat, which lets you schedule songs via text to play when you arrive home.
OperationThere is no on-screen user interface, although there is a nice VFD display on the front to provide feedback, so every function and control of the HS7 can be done with dedicated – and well identified - buttons on the remote and there are also a few simple controls on top of the speaker bar unit. Amongst the options, you get a ‘Sound Effects’ toggle button and an ‘AV Sync’ which attempts to fix lip-sync issues with a delay of up to 300ms available in 10ms increments. LG has their own communication technology that allows for a wireless connection between soundbar and some of their higher-end TVs. LG call it SoundSync and the idea obviously is that it makes buying a TV/Soundbar package a more attractive proposition. It’s activated in the TV's menu and, once more, it’s a piece of cake to setup and the audio sync is extremely good but then we’d have been very disappointed if it wasn’t.
A minimalist design with easy to use controls
Sound QualityThe HS7 is a very well organised package with everything you throw at it, although it perhaps is lacking a bit of soul. It’s definitely not as clinical as some of the LG range of 2014 but there’s a lack of warmth at default settings. You can get a warmer sound using the Music mode, and that’s what we elected to go with for just about all content, and it also provides a convincingly wide and surprisingly vertical soundstage which will fill a good proportion of the front of your room with a rich, enveloping sound.
The subwoofer lends able assistance to the speaker bar, as well, with an impressively taut and responsive low-end that doesn’t overpower the rest of the frequencies. You can push it too hard, however, where it will quickly lose detail and definition but that’s only usually at the point where you would be annoying the neighbours anyhow. It certainly held its own with the trouser troubling moments in Interstellar, however, and the HS7 also made an excellent job of the challenging effects placement present in Gravity.
If we have one major gripe with the performance of the LG HS7 it’s that there’s a lack of presence in the mid-range, not that this is something unusual in the soundbar sector, but you definitely miss it when listening to music. It’s easier to get away with when you’re mainly concentrating on dialogue and effects – as you would be with TV and Movies – but the lack of nuance is definitely felt with anything more tuneful. This kind of makes the HS7’s ability to playback Hi-Res audio a little redundant, although you can definitely hear the step from your average MP3.
A very well organised performance with movies and TV
The HS7 is definitely more accomplished with video content than it is with music and the 4.1 driver configuration lends more detail to multi-channel movie soundtracks than your average 2.1 package. We can’t say that there’s a genuine surround sound feel but there’s more depth and solidity than you’d typically find in the sub £300 market - and so there should be – but you could pick up a pretty decent 5.1 package for the sum asked and also a very nice 2.1 setup, if you can’t accommodate rear speakers.
- Wide and high soundstage
- Great looks
- MusicFlow capability
- Taut bass
- Expensive if you don't want multiroom
- Lacks mid-range
LG HS7 (LAS570M) MusicFlow Soundbar Review
Should I buy the LG HS7?This package certainly has plenty going for it; there’s a very stylish design that will snuggle even the most modern low-slung TV without getting in the way; you also get very good connectivity with HDMI in and out, Toslink digital audio and Bluetooth as possibilities; then there’s the extremely solid audio quality, with clear and expansive delivery backed up by solid, tight and responsive bass. The HS7 is not without its limitations, however, and a lack of mid-range hampers the musicality of the package and it was a little tonally cold for us at default settings.
But, of course, the biggest selling point of the HS7 – or so LG hopes - is in its ability to intergrate into their MusicFlow ecosystem, allowing it to become part of a multiroom setup or even to become the fronts and centre to complement a couple of LG’s wireless speakers in a ‘proper’ surround sound system. We’d say that if you’re looking for a standalone soundbar/subwoofer package then the HS7 doesn’t really justify the £500 asking price but if you want in on all the MusicFlow possibilities then it looks a far more reasonable proposition.
What else could I considerWell that all depends on the direction in which you want to go but you’re definitely not short of alternatives in the home audio category. If it has to be a soundbar, and you don’t really think you’ll get much from a multi-room system then you can spend quite a lot less and achieve comparable audio quality. The Q Acoustics M4 is one that springs to mind and is currently (June 2015) priced about £100 lower than the HS7. For a more direct competitor – as it includes their own multi-room integration – Samsung’s HW-H750/H751 is also well worth a look and is doing the rounds for under £400 at this time but you’ll have act quickly as it will soon be out of production. For those a little more adventurous, an entry level AV Receiver/stereo amp and a separate speaker package could be bagged for around £500 and this will probably offer better sound and certainly a lot more flexibility going forwards. In fact choices are incredibly bountiful; it’s just a question of prioritising your needs. But then, isn’t that always the way?!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £500.00
Ease of use8
Value for Money7
Our Review Ethos
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