Sleek, well-featured and now aggressively priced
What is the LG LAS550H?This is a mid to low-end soundbar package comprising a speaker bar and a wireless subwoofer. It’s designed for TVs with screen sizes of 42-50-inches and is currently (September 2015) available for £225 online, which sounds pretty good given the features and specifications.
Design & ConnectionsThe main speaker bar of LAS550H sports a low-slung design in an attractive silver finish which feels more premium than the price-point would indicate. At the top are some brushed metal control buttons – power, input & volume – and the front is covered by a fine mesh, metallic grille.
The physical connections are housed in a recess at the back and include 2 HDMI ports, a digital optical input (Toslink), an all-purpose 3.5mm stereo jack and a USB port. The LAS550H also supports version 4.0 Bluetooth streaming from the likes of phones and tablets. The wireless subwoofer is also relatively compact at 39cm in height and around a 26cm depth and its finish matches that of the speaker, in colour, if not materials as it’s a wooden casing with a cloth grille.
Specs & FeaturesThis a 2.1 audio system with a claimed combined output of 320W – 120W from the bar and 200W from the sub – but despite the fact it’s stereo, the LAS550H still features multichannel DTS and Dolby Digital decoding. The major marketing feature is integration with LG’s Music Flow app and that’s certainly not a bad thing to boast. The Music Flow system, available on iOS and Android, has some really cool features, including the ability to set up a multi-room system although the LAS550H won’t integrate like that. Instead you use the app as a means of control and/or streaming content from any music app you have on your device as well as local and network stored files.
Setup & ControlIf you don’t want to use MusicFlow to control the soundbar you do, of course, get a remote control in the box which is one of the better examples you’ll see with a relatively budget soundbar. It features dedicated buttons for every feature and function, including some dedicated source buttons, control over the sound modes, auto volume (to adjust for fluctuations between TV channels) and a night mode for considerate listeners. You can also use it to control USB music players, including the ability to navigate folders, and the LAS550H features a clear and easy-to-read display panel which gives good feedback on operations.
If your TV is blessed with an HDMI input with ARC (Audio Return Channel) compatibility then that’s the easiest way for most folk to get connected. The beauty of ARC is that it allows the audio signal of any sources connected to the TV to be taken out of it by a single cable. But ARC doesn’t always work, reliably, the manufacturers tend to put their own spin on the ARC/CEC spec which can lead to incompatibility issues; in this case you can use the Toslink digital audio connections of the soundbar and TV. We would advise using the HDMI input on the soundbar to your primary multichannel source, e.g. Blu-ray player, as it’s sometimes the case that the 5.1 channel soundtrack sounds better down-mixed than the stereo equivalent. Another option, if you own a compatible LG TV, is to create an wireless connection between the two using LG’s, Bluetooth based, SoundSync technology. We didn’t get a chance to test it out with the LAS550H, this time, but we’ve used it before and it’s been very reliable.
Audio PerformanceWith the price duly considered, you couldn’t really have many complaints about the sound quality emanating from the LAS550H speaker combo. The speaker bar keeps dialogue clear and focussed, whilst also providing quite a tight high-end output. The subwoofer rumbles along, in support, producing convincing loud low-end effects and fairly solid bass lines with music scores and soundtracks. There is a fairly strong sense of directionality, however, meaning you won’t get the spacious soundstage that some packages provide but this isn’t a high-end bar so we wouldn’t really expect that.
We ran some of our usual test clips, with scenes from Gravity, Oz the Great and Powerful, Battleship and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the experience was certainly a major step up on any recent TV you could care to mention, with plenty of volume in reserve for even quite a large living room. There is a lack of definition in the low-end and more complex bass note sequences can be muddied by a fairly slow response but, again, look at the price-tag and consider the limitations it places on overall performance.
The bass packs a punch but can lack detail
Since we’re getting in our criticisms, we would not particularly recommend the LG LAS550H as your mainstay audio player. The missing bass detail, noted above, is compounded by a real lack of mid-range presence that can really detract from a good vocal performance as well as lessening the definition of the instruments. That’s not to say it’s bad, just that if music matters to you, a pair of £200 bookshelf speakers would serve you better. There are a few audio preset modes to tinker with, and you can also independently adjust Bass and Treble controls but we could never achieve the musical balance we were looking for.
The LG LAS550H is a competent musical performer but no more than that and it’s probably with electronic/dance music where it sounded most convincing. It’s rather crisp tuning lends itself well to synths and hi-hats and having the MusicFlow integration does no harm for its convenience rating but it is just a bit thin and flat in general.
- Nice design
- Great connectivity
- MusicFlow integration
- Attractive price
- Good with Movies & TV
- Not so good with music
- Bass can be slow and lacks detail
- Quite directional sound
LG LAS550H Soundbar Review
Should I buy the LG LAS550H?If you had asked us this question, when the product was maintaining its full suggested price then the answer would probably have been different but, given the LAS 550H’s current standing at retail, you could do a lot worse. The package is very attractively designed and very low-slung for discrete placement. The 550H also packs in super connectivity for the sector with HDMI (ARC), digital optical and Bluetooth amongst the options. Add in the excellent MusicFlow app, which allows you to stream all of your music, from virtually anywhere you like, and the positives are mounting up.
We would describe the audio performance as ‘good enough,’ with the price taken into consideration but don’t be expecting Hi-Fi grade musicality. The LAS550H is at its best with TV and movies where its well-anchored dialogue and convincing high and low-ends allow it to produce a fairly intense, and very loud soundstage. As is usually the case with a cheaper soundbar, it’s the lack of mid-range presence that is most keenly felt. So, for its compelling combination of design, connectivity, audio quality and features we’re more than happy to present the LG LAS550H with an AVForums Recommended Award – especially at the price!
What else is there?Well you’re definitely not short of alternatives in the £200-250 soundbar sector, that’s for sure. The Yamaha YSP-1400 is a belter and really is hard to beat for audio quality in the sector but there’s not HDMI connectivity if that’s important to you. The Philips HTL5140 is also worth a look and it gives you similar connectivity options to the LAS550 but has a bit more of a spacious ‘surround’ feel to it than the LG. For a more general look at the soundbar market you can check out all our other reviews.
Ease of use8
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.