A simple and cost effective way to start a surround setup
What is the LG LHB745?The LG LHB745 is an all-in-one system comprised of a 3D Blu-ray player and 6-channels of built-in digital amplification. It includes floor-standing front left and right speakers, a centre speaker and two surround speakers. There's also a ported, wired, passive subwoofer, a full remote control, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, an FM radio and plenty of smart features. All this for a recommended retail price of £399, although you can get it for cheaper than that if up shop around. That makes the LHB745 the ideal solution for someone who wants a proper 5.1-channel setup with the minimum of fuss or mess. Of course if it doesn't sound any good then it's little more than an expensive Blu-ray player, so let's find out...
Design & ConnectionsThe LHB745 might be competitively priced but it's still a good looking package, with an attractive design that is consistent across all the components. The main unit uses a gloss black finish with a moulded top to give it a bit more detail. The build quality is surprisingly good and it's obviously heavier than a normal Blu-ray player due to the built-in digital amplification. There's a slide out disc tray on the left, a simple display to the right with some basic controls beneath and a volume dial on the far right.
For the front three channels the LHB745 uses two floor standing speakers and a dedicated centre speaker. The floor standers come in the three parts - the main speaker, a plastic support column and a heavy circular base. As with the main unit, the build quality is reasonable when you consider the price and the two floor standers have grooves down the back for tidier management of the speaker cables. The front three speakers use the same identical dual aramid fibre woofers and tweeter in the middle layout.
Despite its lower price point, the LHB745 is quite attractive and surprisingly well made.
The LHB745 includes two surround speakers, they use the same aramid fibre woofer as found on the front speakers but they are small and rather plastic in nature, especially when compared to the front speakers. However the fact that all the speakers use the same woofer does at least mean the the system should be tonally balanced. Finally there's a ported wired passive subwoofer that adds the low frequency effects channel and compliments the rest of the system.
Aside from a USB port at the front, all the remaining connections are at the rear of the main unit. Here you'll find two HDMI 1.4 inputs and an HDMI 1.4 output that supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). So given the system already has a Blu-ray player along with smart features built-in and you can send the audio from your TV back via HDMI if it supports ARC, the two HDMI inputs should be enough. There's also a LAN port, an optical digital input, a stereo analogue input and an FM aerial. The LHB745 includes built-in WiFi, along with support for Bluetooth.
Since there's six channels of digital amplification built into the main unit, there are also speaker terminals at the rear. These are colour coded to make setup easier and use spring clips to connect the provided speaker cables. The subwoofer is passive, so it is also connected to the rear of the main unit using a dedicated connector. The rated total amplification is 194W for each channel and 230W for the passive subwoofer, which should be enough for most living rooms.
LG LHB745 Unboxing Video
Setup & ControlAs you would expect from an all-in-one system it is easy to setup, making it a good choice for someone who is new to surround sound. It also offers a straightforward configuration, making it a tidy and simple solution for someone who wants to add multi-channel sound to their lounge with the minimum of fuss. Everything you need is in the box, including the speaker cable, which should be enough to wire up a normal sized living room.
Setting up the two floor standing speakers with the screws provided takes minutes and then you just need to position them either side of your screen. Place the centre speaker just below the screen and then ideally position the subwoofer between one of the front speakers and the centre speaker. The two surround speakers will need to be positioned on something, ideally at about ear height, but they're light so wall mounting them would be easy.
Once you have positioned all the speakers, then you can setup the audio by going to the Speaker Setup submenu and entering the distances of all the speakers from the main listening position. Then you need to set the volume level of each speaker so that they all sound the same from the main listening position, ideally using an SPL meter which you can pick up these days for practically nothing as a smart device app.
In terms of the built-in Blu-ray player the menu system covers most of what you need to setup correct playback. The important thing is to ensure that the player isn't doing anything to the output that it shouldn't. To do this you need to press the Info/Menu button which brings up the Picture Mode submenu. Here you'll find various picture modes and you need to select either Standard (default setting) or User Setting with the controls left at their default positions.
The majority of the other settings in the main menu are pretty much self explanatory. You'll need to connect the LHB745 to your wireless router (or via an Ethernet cable if don't plan on using the built-in WiFi) and then you can check the unit has the latest firmware. You can also connect to any servers on your network and setup the various video-on-demand and catch-up services, along with the FM tuner and Bluetooth if you plan on using them.
The LHB745 offers a number of different ways of controlling it with, as we've already mentioned, some basic control buttons on the front of the main unit. There's also a full remote control that is easy to use and comfortable to hold thanks to a groove for your fingers on the back. It has all the buttons you'll need to setup the system, adjust the audio, navigate the smart platform and control the built-in Blu-ray player. You can also use the remote to control an attached LG TV.
As you would expect these days, LG also offer a free remote app for both iOS and Android. This app is very good, providing a well designed and effective way of setting, navigating and controlling the entire system. The app includes a page for control, a page for accessing all the premium apps and a page for accessing any servers attached to your network, along with a menu for setting up the app itself. We found the app to be both intuitive and comprehensive, with an attractive user interface.
The remote app is excellent, allowing you to effectively control the system from your smart device.
Features & SpecsThe LHB745 comes with quite a few features, especially when you consider the price. We've already mentioned a number but will go through them in more detail in this section. First of all there's the fully specified 3D Blu-ray player which will also play DVDs and CDs of course. Then there's the Home page where you can find all the other features, content and attached devices. From here you can access movies, photos or music via disc, USB or Smart Share (DLNA), all the premium apps, the other inputs (analogue, optical or Bluetooth) and the Settings menu.
In terms of premium apps the LHB745 includes the majority of the video-on-demand services with NOW TV, Netflix, Amazon Instant and Blinkbox. There's also YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Spotify, which should be enough to keep most people happy. The LHB745 can decode LPCM, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS and DTS-HD High Res Audio. It can also handle MPEG 1 and 2, MP3, WMA, AAC and FLAC files. Finally for those that are a bit more old school, the LHB745 also comes with an FM aerial included and and FM tuner built-in.
The remote app is very effective, allowing you to control the system, open all the apps and access any content on your network servers. We found that playback of content via disc, the network, attached USB devices or Bluetooth was both robust and responsive with no issues. There are various shortcuts included on the remote control for accessing the speaker levels, the User EQ and the various sound effects. There is also the additional disc menu that we mentioned earlier, from here you can see the chapter, running time, audio, subtitles, angles, aspect ratio and the picture modes.
Video PerformanceAs we would expect from an LG product the quality of the video processing and scaling was excellent. As such when it came to DVD playback and other standard definition sources the scaling was crisp and clean without obvious signs of ringing or any other artefacts. Film cadence detection was equally as solid, whilst video deinterlacing duties were also carried out with great efficiency, meaning fine details are preserved under movement. You may not watch that much standard definition content these days but at least you know that if you do the LHB745 has you covered.
In terms of the Blu-ray playback, whether 2D or 3D, the player did an excellent job in handling the demands of high definition with flawless reproduction of every test disc we tried. Provided you stick to the Standard picture mode (enabled by default) or the User Settings (in its default settings), there is no unwanted tampering with the signal. Our only complaint would be that for some strange reason the 24p mode doesn't have an auto setting and instead you manually have to select either 24p or 50Hz. So make sure you have 24p selected when watching 24p Blu-rays, unless you want to introduce unwanted judder.
LG LHB745 Video Review
Audio PerformanceThe LHB745 might be a reasonably priced all-in-one solution but it also manages to generally deliver a decent audio performance. This is primarily because LG have delivered a well matched set of speakers with enough amplification to drive them. The use of identical woofers on all five speakers means that the sound field is tonally well-balanced. Sounds can pan around the room without a noticeable change in tone, so the audio steering is good and really adds to the sense of immersion. The centre speaker anchors dialogue to the screen and has been designed to complement the front speakers. Certainly with multichannel film soundtracks the LHB745 could deliver a lively and enjoyable experience, with a wide front sound stage and plenty of surround presence.
During testing we tried out a number of recent Blu-rays including Gravity, Interstellar and American Sniper and overall the LHB745 was very good, managing to replicate these complex audio mixes rather well. The effects were delivered with plenty of detail, creating an immersive and effective soundstage that envelops the listener. There's no doubt that the use of similar speakers results in a well-balanced sound field. In Gravity the pans around the room were quite smooth, although this and other films did reveal the limited frequency response of the small surround speakers. They were fine as long as they were just providing some atmospheric surround but as soon as they were asked to do anything serious their limitations became apparent.
The LHB745 is never going to be as impressive as a proper separates system but considering its price, it certainly makes for an effective all-in-one solution. We found the LG to be a consistently engaging performer delivering an enjoyable experience with clear dialogue, a coherent mid-range and generally undistorted sound. Thanks to 1200W of digital amplification the LHB745 had plenty of power but the smaller speakers struggled at higher volumes, so the system wouldn't be ideal for larger rooms. This is compounded by the fact that the passive subwoofer lacks control or subtlety, so whilst it can give impact to low frequency effects it can also sound boomy. This can be mitigated to degree through careful placement but it is the system's weak spot.
The two floor standing front speakers handled music quite well, especially in terms of the mid-range and high frequencies, although the low-end struggled due to the fact the subwoofer was handling these and wasn't as tight and as responsive as we'd like. However the system has extensive file support, you can easily stream music from your network or Spotify and the LHB745 did an admirable job of handling the various test songs that we use in our reviews. We'd recommend avoiding the various sound effects settings, they just seem to add echo to everything so unfettered audio is the way to go. Overall the LHB745 proved a competent performer, considering the price, making it an ideal first foray into multi-channel sound.
The LHB745 produced a decent sound stage that, whilst slightly lacking in bass, was tonally balanced.
- Built-in 3D Blu-ray player
- Decent smart features
- Attractive design
- Reasonable sound quality
- Great price
- Might struggle in larger rooms
- Bass is limited
LG LHB745 All-in-One System Review
Should I buy one?
The LG LHB745 represents great value for money and as at the time of writing (August 2015) there are some retailers offering it for as little as £350. When you consider that includes a 3D Blu-ray player, 6-channels of digital amplification and a full 5.1-channel speaker setup, the LHB745 starts to look like a real bargain. There's also built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and an FM tuner, along with plenty of apps and a useful remote app. The setup was easy, with everything you need included in the box including speaker cable and colour coded spring clip speaker terminals. Once you had positioned the speakers and subwoofer, it was a simple task to set the distances and volumes of each speaker relative to the main listening position.
In terms of the video performance the 3D Blu-ray player was excellent, delivering a flawless performance over HDMI. Just make sure that you choose the Standard or User Settings in the picture mode submenu, to ensure that the output remains untampered with. The audio performance was also very good with the system delivering a decent surround sound which was tonally matched thanks to the speakers using the same woofers. The centre speaker handled dialogue well, the surrounds are lively and the front floor standers delivered a wide front soundstage and also handled music nicely.
The system began to struggle when driven too loud, the surrounds were a bit limited in terms of frequency range and the subwoofer lacked any subtlety or controlled power; so the system won't be ideal for larger rooms. However that isn't really what it's aimed at and for anyone looking to take their first steps into proper multi-channel surround sound the LG LHB745 would be ideal. It also offers a great way of adding multi-channel audio to a normal-sized living room with the minimum of mess or fuss, making it a great way to get real surround sound whilst keeping the rest of the household happy.
What are my alternatives?
There is the option to go for a soundbar, which obviously keeps the number of speakers to a minimum and thus means no cables running to the back of the room. You won't get real surround sound but many of today's soundbars can fake that sense of envelopment by bouncing sounds off the side walls. Yamaha's YSP-1400 is just such a soundbar and would only set you back around £240. If you're determined to setup a full 5.1-channel system you could look at taking the separates route but you won't be able to build a system for under £400. There are some other all-in-one systems that offer similar levels of performance and value such as Samsung's HT-H5500 which only costs around £270 but doesn't have floor standing speakers at the front. However if you're looking for a simple but effective all-in-one solution, you'll be hard pushed to find a better system than the LG LHB745 at the same price point.
Ease of Use9
Value for Money9
Our Review Ethos
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