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LG E9 (OLED55E9) OLED TV Review

Yet another great OLED TV...

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £2,999.99

What is the LG E9?

The LG E9 sits above the C9 in the 2019 range and features a picture on glass design with front-firing speakers. It features the new second-generation Alpha 9 processor which adds new AI features for picture and sound quality. It also features HLG and HDR10 static metadata, with Dolby Vision dynamic metadata systems, but there is no HDR10+.

WebOS is still one of the best Smart TV systems on the market and LG has gone for future-proofing the E9 with the addition of HDMI 2.1 as well as adding a menu place for smooth gradation and Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro, for improved HDR10 performance.

Plus, just like the C9, we can customise the HDR tone map within the CalMAN AutoCal system based on the exact peak brightness performance of the panel. This maps HDR content perfectly to the capabilities of the E9 panel.

So, can the LG E9 offer enough of a difference in design and performance to justify the price increase over the excellent C9? Let’s find out.

MORE: What is Dynamic HDR Metadata?

LG E9 Video Review


Design, Connections and Control

The E9 uses the picture on glass design which extends under the panel at the front to create a see-through stand. To the right side of this glass-area is the LG OLED logo and just above it is the speaker strip. The edge of the panel has the glass design behind the actual panel area, which is a unique design cue.

LG OLED55E9

At the rear is a large counterweight stand with a mirror finish to the side seen through the glass front stand, which gives the impression the TV is floating above your TV unit. The rear stand also has cable management through which to route power and other cables, hiding them under a plastic cover.

LG OLED55E9

To the rear right are the connections which consist of sideways and rearward facing slots. Sideways we have a CI slot and three HDMI 2.1 slots with eARC on HDMI 2, plus a USB port. Rearward we have the fourth HDMI 2.1 slot, two USB ports and antennas for RF and Satellite. We also have a 3.5mm audio out, digital audio out and an Ethernet port.

LG OLED55E9

The remote control is the familiar black plastic LG magic remote which fits neatly in the hand and has all the main keys within easy thumb reach. It has direct access keys for Netflix and Prime Video with central direction and enter keys and an on-screen pointer, which makes it incredibly intuitive to use.

MORE: What is HDMI 2.1?

Measurements

Out of the Box

As we always do within our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a TV must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen.

Calibration is not always an option for end-users, so actually knowing how accurate the out of the box presets are is very important in any honest TV review. We see absolutely no point in assessing and reviewing TVs in only the perfectly calibrated picture modes as this doesn’t reflect what the vast majority of buyers will experience with the TV. We don’t only focus on the calibrated performance here at AVForums.

LG OLED55E9

Looking at the greyscale results we can see that this sample of the E9 is very accurate out of the box in the ISF Dark Room preset. It measures in a similar way to other LG OLEDs we have tested, so it should represent versions you buy in-store given there will be some variance in panels and tolerance of components. We have a small excess of green throughout the greyscale track and a small lack of red, but with DeltaE errors all well under the visible threshold of three, we don’t see these errors on-screen with actual viewing material. Gamma is tracking reasonably well, but with slight darkening at 10% stimulus which can help crush some detail in the darkest reaches of the image with some content.

LG OLED55E9

Moving to the Rec.709 HD colour gamut results, we can see that the E9 is once again accurate to the standards with just a few small errors seen at some saturation and hue points. But overall, these are again under the visible threshold and unseen within actual viewing material.

  So, out of the box, the LG E9 is very accurate to the standards for SDR content

Calibrated

Like all the 2019 LG OLED TVs with the a9 Gen2 processor, you have full calibration controls as well as the option to use AutoCal by CalMAN to calibrate the image. We tried both a manual and AutoCal calibration and ended up with the same results and with no issues of lack of processing for corrections made using these controls.

LG OLED55E9

We managed to get reference level results from our greyscale calibration with all DeltaE errors under 0.4, which makes them invisible to the eye in test patterns and viewing content. Gamma is now also tracking correctly and at the correct brightness levels for each stimulus point, so it is no longer contributing to any crush.

LG OLED55E9

The Rec.709 colour gamut results are also excellent with no visible DeltaE errors at all and again with results under 0.5. The graph is not perfectly pretty but it must be remembered that the DeltaE errors below a threshold of three are invisible with any content, even if graphs with slight errors suggest otherwise.

  The onscreen images are superb and incredibly accurate

HDR Results

While OLED screens do have lower peak brightness measurements in general when compared to high end LED LCD sets, the fact that an OLED can display pitch-black next to full white at the pixel level gives them an incredible dynamic range advantage that creates an incredible HDR image in dim room viewing.

LG OLED55E9

We measured peak brightness (in the most accurate picture mode to D65) on the LG E9 at just under 700nits on 1%, 2%, 5% and the industry-standard 10% window sizes and 125 nits on a full white window in one continuous measurement cycle. As we point out in all our reviews, you shouldn’t just concentrate on the peak brightness numbers on their own as they only tell you a small part of the story when it comes to an HDR10 image. Other factors along with tone mapping can also affect the results seen with actual viewing material, especially with features like the new Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro that is incredibly effective at dynamically tone mapping HDR10 content.

MORE: What is 4K HDR Tone Mapping?

Also new this year is the ability to enter the exact panel peak brightness and adjust the tone mapping to suit. LG assumes that all E9 OLEDs will produce the same peak brightness of 700 nits, but as we all know every panel varies by some degree from each other so you cannot guarantee that every E9 measures exactly the same. With the new tone mapping feature within CalMAN you can measure the exact peak brightness and then enter this and adjust the tone mapping so it perfectly matches the TV's capabilities. There are options to dig even further and start to change the tone map if you so desire.

LG OLED55E9

The PQ EOTF tracking was very good and followed the standard all the way until roll-off just below the 700 nits peak brightness. This was the same for all HDR content types and the greyscale tracking was close to D65 throughout.

LG OLED55E9

Moving to the wide colour gamut results and we can see that the LG E9 tracking is also decent and has the familiar magenta hue error in the saturation tracking chart, but most points from 75% and below are there or thereabouts on the graph. This is identical to the C9 results. The E9 is not capable of covering the entire DCI-P3 colour gamut, which is normal for an OLED screen like this, and is also limited in terms of colour volume.

We measured BT2020 coverage at 71% XY and 75% UV with P3 at 96% Xy and 98% UV.

MORE: What is Wide Colour Gamut?

Performance

The first question that will no doubt be on most readers minds is, just how close are the C9 and E9 for picture quality? And the honest answer is that they are so similar as to be identical to the eye when side-by-side and compared both out of the box and calibrated. We really couldn’t tell them apart when watching the same reference clips we know so well, as we use them in every review.

Panel uniformity was also near enough identical with the E9 having the same slight banding that our C9 sample had at 5% and completely clean uniformity at all stimulus points with no signs of dirty screen effect or brightness differences from edge to edge of the panel. Any differences between these screens were so minimal that we doubt any consumers would be able to tell them apart. There are slight differences in the measured results and in our graphs, but again these are so close that it is impossible to tell a difference by eye. Certainly, what slight differences that are visible and seen now and again don’t point to one being ‘better’ than the other in any way. So, it boils down to the cosmetic differences in materials and design used, rather than picture quality.

  Any differences between these screens were so minimal that we doubt any consumers would be able to tell them apart

But boy is that picture quality good! Like the C9, the E9 gets very close to all the major competition in 2019 for image accuracy and quality. Only the GZ2000 and GZ950 manage to look just a little more natural when it comes to colour saturation and hues along with a slightly warmer white tone. But you really are getting down to the smallest of differences at this point.

Moving to video processing and the E9 again matches the C9 for upscaling performance with no signs of ringing or edge enhancement that shouldn’t be there, rather the image looks naturally sharp and detailed. Motion is also very good with TruMotion switched off and 24fps material is played back without any induced judder or blur being present. You can, of course, experiment with TruMotion with video and fast-moving sports content, but you will quickly find the limits and see artefacts being added, along with soap opera effect. The Black Frame Insertion (BFI) implementation, like all previous OLED TVs we have tested recently, is unwatchable due to the flicker on bright objects and with our UK frame rates. Smooth Gradation has been added to the menu system moving from the 2018 noise reduction menu. It works well but would also appear to still add some noise reduction that scrubs some fine detail, so again you need to use this with care and that knowledge.

  The dynamic range on offer is superb with strong specular highlights sitting next to just above black shadows within the same scene with ease

In terms of picture quality, the E9 is identical to the C9 and produces some incredibly accurate SDR and HDR images from a number of sources. SDR such as streaming shows and Blu-ray discs look excellent with superb blacks and shadow detail adding to the image depth and dynamic range that makes images pop. Skin tones are life-like and believable with excellent sharpness and detail on show. Colours also look incredibly realistic and natural, although at times they can appear a little too hot, something the Panasonics handle a little better. But for everything else, the LG E9 offers superb SDR image quality out of the box and calibrated.

Moving to HDR and, again, we were incredibly impressed with the LG E9. The dynamic range on offer is superb with strong specular highlights sitting next to just above black shadows within the same scene with ease. There is no blooming or crush seen within the vast majority of content we chose to watch, including some absolute classics on 4K UHD disc. Colours, for the most part, are natural and well saturated and we didn’t see any signs of posterisation at any point. We really struggled to find any issues with the image quality on offer and only when you do direct comparisons would you start to see the subtle differences with HDR content on competing sets. The Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro really does a great job of mapping HDR10 content to the LG’s strengths with Dolby Vision also looking incredibly good.

  In terms of picture quality, the E9 is identical to the C9 and produces some incredibly accurate SDR and HDR images from a number of sources

Gaming performance was also identical to the C9 with a lag time of just 12.8ms which is one of the lowest available, so you’ll have no issues with any gaming on the LG E9. Add to this the technology available for VRR, eARC, ALLM and even G-Sync and gamers should pay attention to the E9 if they are looking for a future-proofed gaming TV. And yes, OLED is suitable for gaming use when used correctly. Plus, we have up to date mitigation technology that helps remove any retention and manage the panel when in standby, so serious image retention shouldn’t be an issue in normal use.

The design of the E9 also allows it to have a front-firing soundbar that lifts the audio quality on offer. Sound is nice and clear with a good degree of separation and a nice width to the sound stage. One issue we did find, and it is probably due to our glass mounting surface, but with the glass stand of the E9 sitting on the glass of our stand we did get some resonance issues with bass frequencies at louder volumes. This is probably not an issue for most users, but be aware it could happen and you may need to decouple the stand in some way to stop the issue if you have a similar setup. But overall, we have no complaints at all with the audio quality, which is above average for a TV sound system.

Verdict

9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Identical image quality to the C9 model
  • Stunning black levels and shadow detail
  • Superb accuracy out of the box for SDR
  • Excellent HDR10 image quality
  • Superb Dolby Vision image quality
  • Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro
  • Custom tone map setting & CalMAN AutoCal
  • HDMI 2.1
  • Excellent gaming features and 12.8ms input lag
  • Excellent OS and Smart TV system
  • Superb picture on glass design and build quality

The Bad

  • No HDR10+
  • Slight black crush with SDR in some content

LG E9 (OLED55E9) OLED TV Review

Once again we have a fantastic OLED TV in the LG E9. It is identical to the C9 model for image quality and also adds in a nice picture on glass design and front-firing speaker system. There is no doubt that this TV sits at the same level as the Panasonics for image accuracy in SDR and HDR content with superb dynamic range, black levels and colour reproduction.

Out of the box, the image quality on offer is stunningly accurate with only the odd instance of black crush getting in the way of a reference level performance. The new custom tone curve setting in AutoCal really adds to the HDR10 performance and produces some of the best static metadata HDR seen from an OLED TV this year with excellent tone mapping to get the very best out of HDR10 content. Dolby Vision is also stunning with superb black levels, excellent above black details and lifelike skin tones and colours.

WebOS remains one of the best OS and Smart TV systems available with its fast and stable performance with all applications, along with easy to use controls and menus. Gaming is also a strong point on the LG E9 with excellent motion, HDR performance and a lag time of just 12.8ms. Plus, we have four full HDMI 2.1 ports with 48Gbps and the ability to display higher frame rates up to 120Hz, eARC (enhanced audio return channel), dynamic metadata for HDR, auto low latency mode (ALLM) and variable refresh rates (VRR). This makes the a9 gen2 OLEDs from LG the best all-round TVs for future-proofing, image quality and Smart TV.

The only difference between the LG E9 and the lower level C9 is the design and materials used, along with a front-firing sound system. In terms of picture quality in our testing, both are more or less identical with SDR and HDR content. So the decision to go with the more expensive E9 will come down to your personal preference in the design and sound options. It is yet another outstanding OLED TV from the 2019 line-up and comes Highly Recommended.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

10

Screen Uniformity

.
9

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

10

Video Processing

.
9

Picture Quality

10

SDR Picture Quality

10

HDR Picture Quality

.
9

Picture Quality Out-of-the-Box

.
9

Picture Quality Calibrated

10

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Smart Features

.
9

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease of Use

.
9

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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