Design and Connectivity
Connectivity options are unusual in that whilst the LG NB3730A does feature HDMI compatibility, it only has an ‘out’ port and no ‘in’, meaning you will need a TV with ARC compliance in one of its HDMI ports to get the most out of this package. For those not aware, Audio Return Channel – to give it the full title – allows the TV to act as a conduit for both the audio it produces and that it receives from external sources, such as a Blu-ray player. Frankly, if you haven’t a TV with ARC, the NB3730 is an almost complete waste of your money; so be warned.
The inward HDMI connection has been sacrificed for a LAN port, although it does also have wireless built-in, and there’s the option of 5.1 audio to be piped in from a S/PDIF digital optical source. To the front, beneath a flap, is a USB input allowing audio files to be played from connected devices and the 3730A also features Bluetooth connectivity for your suitably equipped smartphone, tablet or PC. Just above the USB port are some basic touch-sensitive function buttons and small visual display giving feedback on volumes, speaker levels and source input.
Menus and Features
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.
Under the banner ‘Smartshare’, users gain access to the DLNA capabilities of the 3730 which we found a touch flaky, not in terms of file support, which was comprehensive just that connection with our DLNA servers kept cutting out for no apparent reason and that was with both a wired and wireless connection. In contrast, we found the APT X enabled Bluetooth connection to be steadfast and we used it extensively to stream internet radio and cloud based content from our Nexus 7 with no drop-outs whatsoever – which is very unusual for Bluetooth.
Where the LG NB3730A could certainly use some manipulation of the default configuration is in the setting of the Subwoofer level. At its ‘neutral’ level, there’s almost no bass presence over and above what the better flat panel TVs can produce so, unless you live in a box, we’d suggest cranking that up as a first priority. Even with the sub maxed out, the NB3730A does feel lacking in comparison to other products we’ve tested at this price-point, in terms of providing any chest-thudding thrills. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the package; audio levels are well matched, meaning dialogue generally remains clear from the effects and the sense of localisation and placement is also quite good but in pure audio terms we’ve heard soundbars costing half the price perform at least equally as well.
It’s probably with electronic and dance music where the NB3730A performed best; it’s rather crisp nature lends itself well to synths and hi-hats and the excellent Bluetooth streaming stability means it acts very nicely as the jukebox in the living room but it’s generally just a bit thin and flat in most departments; anodyne is probably the word. Judged on its primary function – as conveyor and enhancer of your TVs audio – the LG NB3730A does OK but unless you really want those smart features we’d probably advise looking at the step-down model to save yourself a few bitcoins.
- Good effects placements
- Dialogue always clear
- Easy to set up
- Connected services
- Bluetooth worked very well
- Audio was a bit thin and flat
- Smart features felt lacking in processing grunt
- Reliant on TV with ARC to get the best of it
LG NB3730A 300W Smart Soundbar Review
The LG NB3730A is simply styled with a piano black finished main speaker and matching wireless subwoofer. There’s a handy and unobtrusive visual display located plumb in the middle of the main speaker but were it not for the presence of the LG logo, it could be A.N. Other soundbar from any producer; not that we really care, we’d rather it didn’t stick out.
Let’s get this straight from the start: if your TV isn’t one blessed with ARC compatibility through at least one of its HDMI ports or, more drastic still, you don’t have a TV with HDMI, then the NB3730 isn’t really the product you’re looking for. The Smart functionalities certainly add to the asking price and the lack of an HDMI input is a potential shortcoming. We’d rather they’d have sacrificed the LAN port for an HDMI in and made it Wi-Fi only but as almost all current flat-panel TVs support ARC, there’s still a potentially large target market.
There’s certainly something to be said for having the likes of iPlayer, Netflix and LOVEFiLM built into a multi-purpose device that sits under your telly and the 3730A also has lots of available apps as well as media streaming abilities but we found it a bit lacking on the processing front. Compared to the various Smart TVs and add-on boxes we’ve tested, app implementations felt decidedly pedestrian in their responses and the DLNA functionality was on the flaky side. On the plus side, the Bluetooth streaming proved extremely robust and the 3730 acts as an admirable jukebox for your tablet, phone or PC.
Given the rather lacklustre Smart performance, the question is can the LG NB3730A justify its circa £330 pricetag as an audio product? The answer to that is probably not. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the 3730; the 3D processing is actually rather good and the sense of localisation is pleasing with plenty of elevation but it all feels a bit thin and flat, even with the sub fully engaged.
If HDMI or Smart functions are not a requirement in your set up and you can get by with optical or coaxial digital audio, we’d suggest looking at competing products; or moving further down LGs product portfolio for better, or comparable, audio performance at a reduced price-point.
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