What is the LG SL10YG?
The LG SL10YG is the company’s flagship soundbar for 2019. It sits above the SL9YG and SL8YG, using a 5.1.2 speaker configuration that adds a dedicated centre speaker and larger soundbar. Like the cheaper models, it also includes Meridian technology, a separate wireless subwoofer, support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, high resolution audio, and 4K HDR passthrough.
The SL10 also boasts built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant, making it a fully-functioning smart speaker. Unlike the SL9YG, it doesn’t include LG’s new slim-wall-mountable design. Instead, you simply mount the soundbar horizontally on a stand in front of the TV, or against the wall using provided brackets. The SL10 costs £899 as at the time of writing (October 2019).
The LG SL10YG looks identical to its cheaper sibling the SL9YG, with exactly the same sleek angular frame and low form factor. The build quality is excellent, with a plastic moulded chassis and a wrap-around mesh metal grille.
The soundbar comes in dark grey and has a brushed metal finish on top. The front- and side-firing speakers are behind the metal grille, while the upward-firing speakers take pride of place on top. There’s a five character display on the front right, with four LEDs beneath that indicate the status of Google Assistant.
The soundbar measures 1443 x 63 x 146mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 7.5kg. The width makes it better suited for TVs with screen sizes of 65 inches or larger. If you plan on wall-mounting, LG includes a template, support rubbers to eliminate vibrations, and dedicated brackets.
The subwoofer is made of MDF, with three sides covered in black fabric, and a plain dark grey top plate. It uses a 7-inch front-firing driver with a rear port, and while reasonably well made, it's not as solid as the main unit. The sub measures 221 x 390 x 313mm (WxHxD) and weighs 7.8kg.
This big soundbar is well made and best suited to TVs with screen sizes of 65 inches and larger
Connections & Control
The LG SL10YG has a decent set of connections for a soundbar, with two HDMI inputs and an HDMI output that supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). The HDMI ports are both 2.0 with HDCP 2.2, and are capable of passing 4K/60p and high dynamic range (HDR10 and Dolby Vision).
The HDMI connections don’t support HDR10+, and although that’s unsurprising given the company’s disdain for the format, it seems rather short-sighted. What’s really surprising is that they don’t support eARC either, which is strange considering LG’s 2019 TVs use HDMI 2.1.
In terms of other physical connections, there’s an optical digital input and a USB port, but LG has dropped the Ethernet port. On the wireless side of things, the soundbar also has built-in Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz) and Bluetooth (v4.2 SBC), and there’s support for Chromecast.
The touch sensitive controls on the soundbar itself are located at the top and towards the centre of the main unit. These allow you to select input, change the volume, turn the power on and off, play/pause, mute the built-in far-field microphones, and activate Google Assistant.
The included remote is the standard LG zapper, with a sensible button layout but diminutive dimensions that lend itself to getting lost down the back of the sofa. There are large buttons for main controls like power, volume, function (for cycling through the inputs) and mute.
Beneath these are smaller buttons for selecting sound effects, muting the internal mics, and activating Google Assistant. Towards the bottom are smaller buttons for play/pause and skip forwards and backwards, navigating USB file folders, info, repeat, night mode, and sound tuning.
LG offers its Wi-Fi Speaker app (iOS and Android), which provides access to all the controls found on the remote and even a couple of extra ones: Dynamic Range Control and Auto Volume Leveller. You can also use the Google Home app for limited control.
If all that wasn’t enough, those of you connecting via HDMI-CEC you can use your TV remote to adjust the volume, and thanks to built-in Google Assistant and a pair of far-field mics there's also the option of limited voice control for those who prefer to remain hands-free.
There's a decent set of connections and a host of different control options to choose from
Features and Specs
The SL10YG uses a 5.1.2-channel speaker configuration, based around front-firing left and right drivers, a centre channel, side-firing width drivers, upward-firing front height channels, and a wireless subwoofer.
The two forward-firing speakers and the centre channel are each composed of a 40x100mm woofer and 20mm silk dome tweeter, the upward-firing speakers use 2.5-inch woofers, and the bass reflex subwoofer uses a 7-inch driver.
There’s 50W of built-in amplification for each of the front, centre, side and upward-firing speakers in the soundbar, and 220W for the subwoofer – producing a total of 570W of power. The included side-firing drivers add width, rather than genuine rear channels.
LG provides the option of adding actual rear channels using the SPK8-S wireless rear speaker kit. This provides dedicated surround channels, expanding the system to 7.1.2 with an additional 70W for each of the rear speakers, resulting in 710W of total power.
The SL10YG supports object-based audio in the form of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, thanks to the 5.1.2 speaker layout that creates a genuinely immersive experience. It also supports all the other Dolby and DTS variants (with the exception of IMAX Enhanced DTS:X), along with LPCM.
In terms of file support, there’s high resolution audio with a 192kHz/24-bit DAC and support for MP3, WAV, AAC/AAC+, AIFF, OGG, and FLAC file formats. There’s also Chromecast built-in, allowing you to cast songs, podcasts and stations from TIDAL, Spotify, YouTube and more.
The soundbar includes a number of sound effects (modes), such as Adaptive Sound Control (ASC), Standard, Music, Movie, and Bass Blast – most of which are self-explanatory. Other settings include Night Mode, Dynamic Range Control, Auto Volume Leveller, and a User EQ.
There's an EZ wizard for simple set up, the ability to update the firmware over the internet, a sleep timer, the option to automatically dim the display, and you can playback music files from your smartphone or other connected devices.
If a source is connected to the soundbar using the optical digital input there's an automatic power on/off function, and a sound sync feature. For those using SIMPLINK (HDMI-CEC), there's an AV synch feature available via the remote app (0-300ms).
LG’s latest range of soundbars have Google Assistant built-in, hence the G at the end of the model number. This not only allows voice control of the soundbar but also enables you to find information, play music and much more.
In order to use Google Assistant simply say “Hey Google” or press the Google Assistant buttons on the main unit, controller or remote app. This engages the far-field microphones in the soundbar and, thanks to the built-in AI, you have a fully functioning smart speaker.
Google Assistant is built-in, making this soundbar a fully functioning smart speaker
Setup and Operation
The LG SL10YG is a piece of cake to set up, and for the best results, I’d recommend using the remote app. Not only does it allow you to bypass the useless LCD display at the front of the soundbar, but also provides access to more features than the remote control.
The soundbar was placed on a flat surface in front of my TV (there are additional feet if necessary), with all the drivers free of obstructions. The subwoofer was placed at the front of the room, and paired automatically with the main unit, although it can also be paired manually.
The upward-firing drivers bounce acoustic beams off the ceiling, thus creating the illusion of overhead speakers. For this to work properly, you need a low, flat, and reflective ceiling. If you have a very high, uneven or vaulted ceiling, this kind of technology is not for you.
Finally, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and game console were connected to the soundbar using the available HDMI inputs, while all the other sources were connected to the TV, and their audio sent back via HDMI ARC. If your TV doesn’t support ARC, use the optical digital connection.
For testing, I used a Panasonic DP-UB820 4K Blu-ray player and Sony PS4 connected directly to the soundbar, and a Humax FVP-5000T Freeview set-top box connected directly to an LG 65C8 OLED TV. The TV’s ARC capability with Atmos was tested using its Netflix and Amazon apps.
You need to use the Google Home app to connect to a Wi-Fi network, but this process is quick and easy. I created a Bluetooth connection by selecting the BT function and pairing the soundbar to my iPhone X. I could then test the quality of streamed music.
Once installed, all you need to do was set the levels for the various speakers. You can do this by ear, but it’s better to use an SPL meter (there are plenty of free apps available) and test tones if possible. The DTS:X optimiser in the Wi-Fi Speaker app is handy as well.
The LG is easy to operate, and the soundbar will detect incoming audio signals from whichever input you have selected and decode automatically. For audio signals apart from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, you can apply the various sound effects (modes) mentioned in the previous section.
The SL10 doesn’t include the slim-wall-mount option found on the SL9YG, but this is a good thing. That feature allows the latter to be mounted horizontally in front of the TV, or vertically against the wall. The soundbar detects the orientation and adjusts the processing accordingly.
This approach means when wall mounted, the SL9 is in the wrong orientation. The front speakers are now facing downwards, and the upward speakers are now facing the front. This completely messes up the audio performance of the soundbar, and I’m glad it’s missing on the SL10YG.
The SL10YG is easy to set-up, and only the lack of eARC and HDR10+ passthrough disappoints
The LG SL10YG is an impressive soundbar that delivers a big and bold soundstage thanks to its physical size, powerful built-in amplification and beefy subwoofer. The system as a whole creates a wall of sound at the front of the room that helps envelop you in the audio experience.
Whether you’re watching a TV show, your favourite movie, playing a game, or listening to music, the SL10 has you covered with an accomplished all-round performance.
The front left and right speakers provide great stereo imaging, while the dedicated centre speaker ensures clear dialogue. The side-firing speakers add width (although no real surround presence), and the sub does the heavy lifting at the low-end.
As a result, music sounds excellent, with a delivery that retains clarity and detail. The width of the soundbar helps with stereo separation, producing precise localisation of effects. The mid-range is very well defined, while the higher frequencies are clear and free of sibilance or sharpness.
The new Shakespeare’s Sister EP Ride Again sounds especially good, with Siobhan’s deeper vocals and Marcella’s falsetto both handled with skill. The guitars are delivered with a driving urgency, and the sub gives the drums a pleasing kick.
A regular TV show such as the news, a game show or a documentary is handled just as well, with clear dialogue, nicely rendered music and well placed effects. Watching the Rugby World Cup allows the SL10 to really show its strengths, with a solid front soundstage that envelops you in the noise of the crowd, while keeping the commentators clear and focused.
The sound is equally as capable with 5.1 soundtracks, whether from broadcast TV, streaming or disc. A show like The Boys on Amazon Prime has an excellent soundtrack that delivers the super-heroic antics with an engaging multi-channel mix. There’s no real surround presence, but music, dialogue and effects are spread across the front of the room, while the sub gives punches and explosions more slam.
The soundbar’s performance with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X is particularly effective. The eerie events of The Haunting of Hill House (Netflix) sound fantastic with the SL10YG. A scene where a family are stuck in a funeral home during a thunderstorm offers plenty of opportunities to deliver overhead effects thanks to rolling thunder, wind and rain.
The new 4K Blu-ray of Hellboy boasts a fantastic new Atmos mix that makes full use of all the available channels. There’s thunder and rain above you during the opening sequence, while explosions and bolts of lightning pepper the front of the room. A scene where Hellboy stops an SUV with his big right hand allows the sub to dig deep without embarrassing itself.
Using the Dolby Atmos test disc, it is apparent that there are no real surround or rear overhead effects, but that’s the same with any soundbar that lacks actual rear speakers. You can add surround speakers, but you still won’t have rear overhead channels. If you want the full 7.1.4 experience from a soundbar, you’ll need to buy the Samsung HW-Q90R.
Finally, I watched American Gangster on UHD Blu-ray, with its new DTS:X immersive object-based mix. The SL10 does an excellent job of reproducing the various atmospheric effects that put you on the streets of Harlem in the early 1970s. Gunshots are delivered with a pleasing percussive kick, the elevated trains rumble overhead and dialogue is clear and focused. Once again there’s nothing at the rear, but overall it's an impressive if rather front-heavy performance.
The soundstage is big, bold, and powerful – but due to the lack of rear speakers it's also front-heavy
- Big and bold sound
- Well integrated subwoofer
- Dolby Atmos & DTS:X
- Google Assistant built-in
- Attractive and well made
- No eARC
- No HDR10+ passthrough
LG SL10YG Soundbar Review
The LG SL10YG is an excellent soundbar and subwoofer combination that delivers a big and bold sonic performance. The sheer size of the soundbar itself means it's best suited to TVs with panels of 65-inches and bigger, but it also means the front soundstage is huge. Add in a beefy subwoofer and the results are genuinely impressive with plenty of impact.
The dedicated centre speaker ensures clear dialogue, while the upward-firing drivers are very effective at creating the overhead channels if you have the right kind of ceiling. The lack of rear speakers results in a performance that’s rather front-heavy, but in all other respects this is a well-designed and great-sounding performer.
The SL10 also boasts plenty of features, including Meridian technology, and support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and high resolution audio. There’s even built-in Chromecast and Google Assistant, making this soundbar a fully-functioning smart speaker. Only the lack of eARC and HDR10+ support disappoints but, otherwise, the LG SL10YG comes highly recommended.
What are my alternatives?
The obvious alternative to the LG SL10YG is the Samsung HW-Q80R, which also costs £899. This ‘bar and sub combo boasts a similar 5.1.2-channel speaker layout, and delivers an equally big and powerful performance. It’s also rather front-heavy, but like the LG you can buy optional rear speakers. In terms of features, you get Atmos, DTS:X, Hi-Res audio, and tuning from Harman Kardon. There’s no built-in smart assistant, although the Q80R works with Alexa, but it passes HDR10+.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, the LG SL9YG can be picked up for £799 and offers exactly the same features as the SL10 but is slightly smaller and drops the centre speaker. It also includes the slim-wall-mount feature for those that like a tidy installation solution, regardless of its affect on sound quality. Another great choice is the Samsung HW-Q70R which also costs £799, but provides a 3.1.2-channel speaker layout. Aside from that, it offers the same features as the HW-Q80R, making the HW-Q70R the soundbar to beat in this price range.
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