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LG BH9430 (BH9430PW) 9.1 Channel Blu-ray All in One Home Entertainment System Review

There's not much it can't do - or play!

by hodg100
Home AV Review

9

Best Buy
LG BH9430 (BH9430PW) 9.1 Channel Blu-ray All in One Home Entertainment System Review
SRP: £699.00
Last year’s equivalent model, the BH9520 impressed us with its 3D surround processing, video capabilities and comprehensive feature-set and the 9430 promises more of the same. In fact, probably the most startling thing about both is the bargain basement pricing when you consider the 9.1 channel audio, 2D and 3D video playback, as well as all the connected features. Even at its suggested retail pricing of just under £700, the BH9430 still represents potentially outstanding value but seeing as its currently available for nearer sub £600, it might just be the proverbial steal. You stand there and keep watch whilst we check out the swag.

Design and Installation

The BH9430 changes things around a little from last year’s BH9520 and LG has made the rear surrounds ‘stand-less’ as well as omitting one of the mid-range drivers present in the front surrounds. We’ve no real problems with this approach and LG has included a wall mounting option for the rears to aid placement. Also included in the box are a matching centre speaker, a passive subwoofer, a remote control, a radio antenna and the main box of tricks. The main unit is a combination of a 3D Blu-ray player and amplification for the front three speakers and subwoofer. The BH9430 also includes a wireless TX dongle and a wireless receiver with amplification for the rear speakers which, since there is no rear amplification on the main unit, you will have to use. Whilst this eliminates the need to run cables across your lounge to the rear speakers, you do still need to attach the speakers to the receiving unit, so it isn't completely wireless.

LG BH9430PW

The incredible price-point is reflected somewhat in the build quality of the speakers. They are of a very light plastic construction and the drivers aren’t the biggest but since there are quite a lot, it's probably enough to fill the average living room with sound. The main unit sports a two tone finish of glossy black and charcoal grey and feels of better construct than the speakers. The left hand side of this strip is a flip down lid, behind which you will just find a USB port that can also be used for connecting an iPod/iPad/iPhone. Above this flip down lid is the entry slot for the disc drive. On the right hand side, at the top, is the display window and beneath that are some basic controls - eject, play/pause, stop, function, volume +/- and power.

LG BH9430PW

To the rear of the main box are the majority of the connections including colour coded speaker connectors and a large fan at the rear. Also at the rear are two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output, an optical digital input, analogue stereo inputs, a LAN port, an antenna connector for the built-in FM tuner and a slot for the wireless card. The BH9430 comes with a standard LG remote control that is very similar to the ones provided with their TV and, as always, it's well designed, intuitive and comfortable to use. The remote does a great job of cramming in buttons for the Blu-ray player, the amplifier and even a few basic controls for LG TVs without becoming over-crowded or confusing. There are all the standard Blu-ray controls as well as buttons for controlling the radio, changing the volume, adjusting the speaker levels, switching between optical inputs and selecting sound effects.

LG BH9430PW

Menus and Setup

Set up of the BH9540 was a comparative breeze. OK, there’s a lot to connect and construct but we were done in no time once we got going. The BH9540 has built-in WiFi which again is very simple to setup and there is WiFi Direct for connection to other WiDi compatible devices as well as Near Field Communication (NFC) support for compatible devices. If you don't have a wireless router, there is also a LAN socket for making a wired connection.

LG BH9430PW

All the speaker cables are colour coded with easy to use dedicated connectors to make it simple to correctly connect the front left, right and centre speakers to the main unit, along with the subwoofer. You then insert the wireless TX dongle to rear of the main unit and plug the receiver unit in at the back of the room. You need to attach the rear speakers to the receiving unit and again the cables are colour coded to aid in connection.

LG BH9430PW

When you turn on the BH9430 you are confronted with a basic Home page, from where you can access all the system's features. The available options are SmartShare, Premium, LG Smart World, My Apps, Input and Settings. We’ll take a brief look at the most important parts of the Settings Menu and take you through the feature-set later in the review.

The Audio sub-menu is where you setup all the features relating to the BH9540's built-in amplifier. Here you can choose the Digital Output for the Blu-ray player itself, so if you are connecting the BH9520 to another audio device and not using its own amplification, you have the choice of sending the audio as PCM Stereo, PCM Multi-Channel, DTS Re-Encode or Bit Stream. There is a HD AV Sync control for compensating any audio delay for between 0 and 300ms. There is also a DRC (Dynamic Range Control) for compressing the dynamic range when watching content at night.

LG BH9430PW
LG BH9430PW

However, if you're intending to use the BH9540's own amplification and speakers then the most important option is Speaker Setup. There is no automated sound calibration feature but this page provides a graphical interface to help you set up the Distance (delay) and Volume (level) for the five speakers (although not the height speakers) and the subwoofer. To aid in correctly setting the levels for the three speakers, there is a test tone that can be measured using a SPL meter and the speaker levels can be adjusted using a dedicated button on the remote.

LG BH9430PW
LG BH9430PW

The Display sub-menu allows you to set all the options related to the Blu-ray player, including the TV Aspect Ratio, the Resolution, whether you want to output at 24p, the HDMI Colour Setting, the 3D Mode, the Wallpaper and you can turn the Home Menu Guide on and off. If you press the Options button on the remote whilst you're watching a Blu-ray or DVD, you will get a series of selections, some of which can only be changed via this menu. In particular this applies to the Picture Mode, which can be found here and offers a choice of User, Movie, Standard and Vivid. In order to ensure the most accurate image you need to check you have selected Standard in the Options menu.

Features

As we mentioned previously, the BH9430 comes with an impressive set of features, including a 3D Blu-ray player, 9.1 audio system and FM radio. The inclusion of a BD drive means that you can watch BDs or DVDs and listen to CDs but there is no SACD or DVD-Audio support. However, you can record CDs to a USB storage device and you can listen to music, watch videos and view photos from a flash drive or external HDD connected to the USB port. You can also listen to content from a connected iPod, a WiFi Direct compatible device or over a network via the built-in WiFi or an Ethernet cable. The BH9520 is DLNA-certified, so it can also play music and videos and show photos from other devices connected to your home network through the Smart Share feature.

LG BH9430PW

Like all the other LG products we have seen, the BH9430 plays a wide range of formats, including MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, DivX HD, MKV, AVCHD, M4V, WMV, FLV and 3GP. The menu pages that come up when playing any of these files back are clear, simple and responsive, showing cover art where available. The NB3730A may not have quite so many Smart features as LG's TVs but who’d have ever thought you’d be accessing the internet from a speaker? Under the ‘Premium’ banner are everybody’s favourite connected feature – Video on Demand Services. The two biggest hitters, BBC iPlayer and YouTube, are duly present and there’s also subscription based services in the shape of Netflix, LOVEFiLM and blinxbox on hand. The processor inside of the NB3730A is clearly nowhere near the calibre found on LG's TVs, however, as we found accessing, and using, YouTube, iPlayer and Netflix a far more clunky experience than with other devices. Still, they do work even if at times they do feel unresponsive.

LG BH9430PW

Under the banner ‘Smartshare’, users gain access to the DLNA capabilities of the 9430 which was excellent, in terms of file support. The APT X enabled Bluetooth connection was steadfast with a number of devices we use for testing and we also got the NFC feature working nicely with our Nexus 7, which we used to stream internet radio and music files with. LG is not kidding, this really is an all-in-one system.

Video Performance

Being possessed of LG’s own picture processing we’d expect to be impressed by the 9430, and we were. Scaling of DVD’s was excellent as was deinterlacing and cadence detection whilst treatment of 1080i signals was also sympathetic. Being of inherently digital nature, we’d expect next to no difference in output of 2D and 3D Blu-ray between players and provided there’s no underhand manufacturer imposed processing in place, that’s almost exclusively what we find. We’re pleased to report that the LG BH9430 doesn’t let the side down in any way and performed flawlessly with a number of Blu’s we threw at it.

As a Blu-ray player, the BH9430 is very pleasing, with impressive disc loading times and no compatibility problems. Paired with a Panasonic VT65 plasma, we did find the ARC implementation to be sketchy and we forced to perform a kind-of reset each time we wanted audio routed from the TV to the system but, on the flip side, it communicated perfectly well with a Sony W805. The manufacturers will get the hang of HDMI one day, at which point they’ll swap to something else. The main unit is basically an LG Blu-ray player – which they are very skilled at making – with some amplification stuffed in to the extra chassis space. And that’s no bad thing.

Audio Performance

The BH9520 offers a range of Sound Effects that can be selected using the remote control. These sound effects include Natural, Natural Plus, Bass Blast, Clear Voice, Game, Night, Upscaler, Loudness and User EQ, although for the purists, there is also Bypass which avoids any processing. To give the audio a wider presence, there are also the 3D Sound modes which has two choices, 3D Music which is designed to provide a concert-hall like experience and 3D Movie which is designed to give a more cinema-like experience. These latter two modes make full use of the upward firing height speakers on the front and rear speakers There is also 3D Zooming which is designed to project sounds so they move in unison with the images on the screen, which was sometimes successful but at other times sounded plain strange.

LG BH9430PW

Of course, the big selling point of the BH94390 is its 3D Sound capabilities that use the additional height speakers. We tried the 3D Sound mode with a variety of content, from Wimbledon to The Hobbit via The Tudors and The Borgias and it was more successful than we were really expecting. In fact, at times, it was genuinely fantastic. Wimbledon, for instance, really benefited from the sense of additional height with crowd noises going right to the top of the room, creating a grandstand ambience. The sense of echo from some of the scenes set in St. Peter's Basilica (and other papal buildings) was also immense, drawing definite advantage from the extra height speakers – both front and rear. The 3D DSP is truly impressive, although we would advise some experiment as the Bypass mode often provided a richer sonic stage when a true 5.1 soundtrack was available. One thing we would say is that we found the 3D sound modes can be quite fatiguing on the ear so we wouldn’t recommend using it all the time.

The LG BH9430PW isn’t the most musical system in the world and we’d definitely suggest any surround processing is bypassed for that application but it does impress in terms of clarity, if not warmth. We quite liked the Bass mode for music, it added some needed cordiality, and brought the best out of the sub, which sometimes seemed lacking in a touch of finesse. There was plenty of in-yer-face slam and slap but sometimes it was decidedly over-reaching and there’s a lack of agility when dealing with more complex low notes. Let’s not forget the price-point and main intended purpose, though, and the 9430 is very well equipped to dish out room-filling, pulse-racing audio with some incredibly effective 3D sound processing. It’s not HiFi, and doesn’t really pretend to be, so if music is a major concern, you’d be best looking elsewhere but it will serve you very well for both movies and TV.

Verdict

The Good

  • Superb Blu-ray playback
  • 3D surround processing is superb at times
  • Virtually every connectivity option covered
  • Smart features are great
  • Price is outstanding for such a comprehensive package

The Bad

  • 3D sound can be fatiguing at times
  • Subwoofer lacks finesse
  • Some ARC issues
  • Build quality of speakers is not the best

LG BH9430 (BH9430PW) 9.1 Channel Blu-ray All in One Home Entertainment System Review

The LG BH9430 comes with just about everything you need to create a full living room entertainment system. As well as the obvious inclusion of the speakers and 2D and 3D disc player, it also packs an extreme ‘connectability’ factor thanks to Wi-FI, Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Di and Miracast as well as a couple of HDMI ports and a USB input. Setup is a synch, thanks to colour coded speaker terminals and a well thought out menu interface and our only real operational bugbear was some erratic ARC interaction with a Panasonic TV. The included feature-set is hugely comprehensive with the stars being the extensive Video-on-Demand services available as well as a very robust DLNA media player. There’s very little in your media collection the BH9430 won’t play in fact, whether that’s digital or physical media.

Probably the most interesting part of the package is the 9.1 speaker arrangement and LG’s 3D processing takes advantages of it extremely well, delivering a truly inspiring sense of height, at times. We wouldn’t recommend using it universally and it can be quite fatiguing on the ears but we were genuinely surprised at just how well it’s been implemented. Given LG’s heritage of producing excellent Blu-ray and DVD players, it’s no surprise the BH9430 holds the video end of the package up with fine style, producing superb pictures, whatever the format. If there is a chink in the armour, it’s that we didn’t find the system particularly well tuned for music and the sub is a bit brash but given the astonishingly low entry price, we’re certainly prepared to forgive these shortcomings. In fact, we have to question how LG has packed so much in to the BH9430 at such a lowly cost. As an all-in-one entertainment system, for those on a modest budget, this package is going to take some beating – in fact we’ll be surprised if it’s surpassed in the sector.

Best Buy

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
.
7

Connectivity

.
.
8

Ease of Use

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Features

.
9

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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