It's got the looks and the low-end but could do with a bit more mid-range
What is the LG NB4540?
There's been a real trend recently towards thinner, less intrusive and more lifestyle friendly soundbars.That's all well and good, after all no one wants an ugly box beneath their TV that blocks the screen. However there comes a point where if a soundbar starts to get too thin, the sound quality begins to suffer and we find ourselves right back where we were with ultra-thin TVs and rubbish audio. There needs to be an effective balance between a soundbar that improves on the built-in audio of your TV and one that also brings looks and features to the party. LG think they have such a balance in their mid-range sound bar - the NB4540.It certainly has the looks, with an attractive and low form design that should fit discreetly in front of your TV. There's also a wireless active subwoofer to beef up the lower frequencies, which the sound bar itself might struggle to reach. Finally, it has an HDMI input and output, along with ARC support and Bluetooth, so you shouldn't have trouble connecting plenty of devices to it. At a price of £229 it won't break the bank either, making the NB4540 a tempting proposition on paper. However the important question is, how does it actually sound?
LG NB4540 Design and ConnectionsThe NB4540 uses an attractive low form design that measures just 35mm high, so it’s highly unlikely to conceal the lower portions of your TV screen. The soundbar is also 840mm wide, 82mm deep and weighs 1.55kg. It has a tapered shape and ports at either end to aid dispersion of sound, creating a wider front soundstage. The NB4540 is encased in a gun metal coloured hard plastic shell bearing a fine meshed grill at the front. The overall build quality was very good, with a nicely engineered feel. On the top right of the bar are some silver inlaid buttons for basic controls, whilst behind the grille is a display which is easy to read and provides basic information regarding sound modes and inputs. Despite the inclusion of HDMI, there is no on-screen display with the NB4540.
The wireless active subwoofer is obviously much bigger than the main sound bar but is designed to compliment the overall styling, with a brushed metal finish. The build quality is very good and the subwoofer measures 221 X 352 X 281mm (W x H x D) and weighs 7.32kg. It uses a sideways firing driver and comes with its own integrated power supply. All of the physical connections are located in a recess and include one HDMI input and one output with support for Audio Return Channel (ARC). There's also a digital optical input, a USB port and a 3.5mm jack, along with the previously mentioned Bluetooth 3.0. The provided remote control is small, comfortable to hold and easy to use. It matches the rest of the package and has all the controls you will need.
The unobtrusive but attractive low form design is ideal for modern living spaces.
LG NB4540 Setup and FeaturesThe NB4540 is extremely easy to setup , all you need to do is connect your various devices, place the soundbar in front of your TV and find a convenient location for the subwoofer. You can connect one device via HDMI and also send the audio from your TV back via the HDMI output thanks to ARC support. There is also an optical digital input for one more device and the 3.5mm jack if you need to connect something like an MP3 player or smartphone. The display feeds back all the important information and the remote control has buttons that are a decent size and sensibly laid out, making it easy to use. There are dedicated buttons for AV Sync (delay settings), Woofer Level, Sound Effect, Info and Auto Volume, as well as the usual volume controls and a sleep timer button.
The NB4540 has a 4.1-channel design, with two forward firing drivers and two sideways firing drivers, along with the active subwoofer. The forward and sideways firing drivers have 40W of amplification each, whilst the active subwoofer has a total of 160W. The subwoofer is wireless, which means you have a degree of freedom when it comes to placement, although you'll obviously need access to a plug. There is a control on the remote for adjusting the subwoofer level, which will help integrate it with the soundbar; although, as always, careful placement will also pay dividends. The NB4540 can be wall mounted and includes a Bluetooth remote app, Wireless Sound Sync for connection to LG TVs, Simplink and digital signal processing.
LG NB4540 Soundbar Video Review
LG NB4540 Sound QualityWhilst the NB4540 isn't very high, it is suitably wide, which makes it ideal for many of today's larger TVs. The attractive styling means that it will also look very good next to some of the more contemporary designs. The width of the soundbar itself meant that the two forward firing drivers could create an excellent sense of stereo separation. In addition the two sideways firing drivers allowed the NB4540 to generate a fairly wide soundstage that could be quite immersive at times. The active subwoofer also played its part, delivering plenty of low frequency energy, without imposing on the overall sound. Instead the subwoofer just supported the main soundbar, providing bass impact when necessary.
As a result, the experience of listening to the NB4540 could best be described as enjoyable, with a lively sound that complimented both TV programmes and films in equal measure. When watching the World Cup, the crowd felt suitably immersive but the commentary remained clearly anchored to the screen. The same was true of a film like Frozen, where the musical numbers were well handled by the NB4540, as were the effects and dialogue. A complex soundtrack like Gravity had a sense of openness, whilst Pacific Rim had plenty of grunt without being oppressive.
If we had any complaints, they only really related to the mid-range which, on occasion, felt slightly lacking in detail. This is undoubtedly due to the size of the cabinet and the drivers, so whilst the higher frequencies were well served and the subwoofer took care of the lower ones, the middle could sometimes get lost in the mix slightly. It was rarely an issue with TV programmes or films but could be more apparent with music, although the NB4540 certainly offers good file support with FLAC, OGG, WAV, WMA and MP3 all covered. There are also some sound effects that you can toggle through, including Cinema, Music, News, Sports and Bass; although as is often the case we preferred the Standard (by-pass) mode.
The sound quality was very good, although occasionally the mid-range was lacking some detail.
- Attractive design
- Easy to setup
- Entertaining sound
- Lacks in the mid-range
- Sub needs careful placement
- Plenty of alternatives
LG NB4540 Soundbar ReviewThe LG NB4540 is certainly a very capable soundbar and it manages to mostly achieve that difficult task of combining good sound quality with an unobtrusive design and a nice feature set. The overall look is very attractive, with a tapered low form design and a well engineered feel. The soundbar itself has two forward and two sideways firing drivers and there's a matching wireless active subwoofer to bolster the lower frequencies. The NB4540 includes a simple display and an HDMI input and HDMI output that supports ARC, along with Bluetooth and a well designed remote control. The setup was easy and once the subwoofer had been effectively integrated into the overall sound, the results were very good.
The NB4540 could create a wide front soundstage, with good stereo separation that created an immersive experience. The sound was highly enjoyable, with the higher frequencies well catered for and plenty of low-end impact when needed. If we had any criticism, it was that on occasion there was a slight loss of detail in the mid-range, which we put down to the size of the drivers and the overall slimline nature of the NB4540. However, it still did a very credible job with TV, movies and music, making it an ideal upgrade over your TV's built-in speakers. It's a competitive market segment but the LG NB4540 offer enough sound quality, looks and features to make it worth considering if you're thinking of buying a soundbar.
Ease of Use8
Value for Money7
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.