Unbiased review between Q90R, LG SN11RG and the Sonos Combo

macattackqc

Standard Member
Background/story

Unfortunately, for audiophiles, I believe most online reviewers don’t compare the sound system adequately. Most reviews don’t even use metrics, Rting uses them but they need to add calibrated results as well (like they do with monitors or TVs). Also, most of reviewers test a soundbar at a time and I believe it’s not the right way. You should compare the sound like you do food or wine tasting. Sound (like taste) is way more subjective than vision/image from my POV. Also, I’m not a fanboy of any brands here, I have a LG C9 65 but I don’t care about the brand, I care about getting the best product for my needs.

So, in order to make my decision, I bought the Q90R, LG SN11RG and the Sonos Combo (Arc + Sub + Rears) and compare each of them in the same living room with the same content.

Just trying to help, since comparing all systems in a store is not feasible these days. Even you can do it, you may not have access to the content you care about.

Methodology

I used this real-life content:
  • John Wick 2 tunnel + bar scenes
  • Spotify music
  • TV show - Modern family
  • PS4 Game – Ghost of Tsushima
  • Atmos demo files (not really real life but still good content to test)
Results

For each category, I will give a score (1 =worst, 2= average, 3= best). All reviews and methodologies are subjective so don’t kill the reviewer ;)

Sound quality (front, rears, sub)
  • Q90R: 2 – great sound especially from the soundbar, dialogues are always clear. Rears are quiet – I believe this is due to processing (the way the sound is distributed to the speakers).
  • LG SN11RG: 1 – good sound but the bass is missing and sound muffle in the rears and sub. It’s not terrible per say so don’t take 1 as being awful.
  • Sonos combo: 3 – Sonos combo is different from the Samsung/LG since it’s NOT a ready and plug / all-inclusive package. It is a modular system and since it’s brand new, the Sonos combo is not optimized the same way the Samsung/LG are out of the box. I think the Rthings’s review/scores represents this well. They don’t optimize the sound before they do the reviews (part of their methodology which will change after posting this review – good for them, learning is key). The Arc, by itself, is not the best (yet) but, the dedicated rears are better than the Samsung/LG even though they lack of upward firing speakers. The sub is excellent…. you can feel the bass punch in your chest with every gun shots (JW2) or thunderstorm noises (Ghost of Tsushima). The audio clarity and the definition are a step ahead of the competition.
  • Winner: Sonos combo – If you want the best sound quality, go with Sonos. If you want the most optimized sound out of the box package (minus Atmos), go with the Q90R.
Sound Processing (the way the sound is distributed to each speaker)
  • Q90R: 1 – the sound distribution is lacking to the rears.
  • LG SN11RG: 2 – missing bass in the rears but manages to get better Atmos processing than the Q90R
  • Sonos combo: 3 – No issue with processing.
  • Winner: Sonos combo – If you want the best sound processing, go with Sonos. The fact that each component (Rears, Sub, front) is managed as a dedicated component vs a chain is a huge plus for the Sonos.
Software
  • Q90R: 1 – Worst app ever. Only use of the app is to update the firmware.
  • LG SN11RG: 2 – Good app (combo of Google Home and LG speakers). Responsive and well organized.
  • Sonos combo: 3 – Best app. Always updating. Missing some configurations (ex: center adjustment) but has balance control (which could be huge depending on your room setup).
  • Winner: Sonos combo – If you want the best app, go with Sonos. If you don’t care about the software support, go with any of them.
Atmos immersion
  • Q90R: 2 – Good immersion but lack of definition.
  • LG SN11RG: 3 – Best Atmos immersion.
  • Sonos combo: 2 – Good immersion + audio clarity/definition of the rears and sub make up for the lack of upward firing speaker effects.
  • Winner: LG SN11RG – If you want the best Atmos immersion, go with LG.
Connectivity and sound formats support
  • Q90R: 3 – HDMI inputs on the bar add to the expendability of the system. Support all sound formats.
  • LG SN11RG: 3 – HDMI inputs on the bar add to the expendability of the system. Support all sound formats.
  • Sonos combo: 1 – No Hdmi inputs besides eARC/Arc. Lack of DTS processing. LCPM support is yet to be released – pending a future firmware update.
  • Winner: Tie Q90R or SN11RG – If you want the best connectivity/sound format, go with either of these 2.
Upgradability/Modular approach
  • Q90R: 1 – You can’t modify the setup or upgrade a component.
  • LG SN11RG: 1 – You can’t modify the setup or upgrade a component.
  • Sonos combo: 3 – You can modify the setup in the future. If you ever move, you can decide to break apart the system. If Sonos releases a new speaker, you could upgrade a component.
  • Winner: Sonos combo – If you want the best upgradability, go with the Sonos combo.
Value
  • Q90R: 3 – With value, comes Price and Resale value. If you remove the Resale value of YOUR equation, the Q90R at around $1,000 USD is the best value out there.
  • LG SN11RG: 1 – You can find the LG at around $1,300 using Greentoe. Good value. Resale value will be lower than the Samsung (due to brand, recognition of its sound systems overall)
  • Sonos combo: 2 – Most expensive out of the gate. You can buy 15% code online easily. The resale value will be the best of the 3 by far given the pool of people who want Sonos components (modular) is much bigger than the pool of people interesting only in soundbars.
  • Winner: Q90R– If you want the best value, go with the Q90R. If you plan to upgrade a component or the system within the next 5 years, go with the Sonos Combo.
Overall (using total score) and recommendations
  • Q90R: 13 – If your budget is closer to $1,000, this is the model to get and get it now before it’s too late. The Q950T is replacing this model. It looks like the 950T includes the same sub/rears, but the bar has 2 extra speakers, but it is $1,800 USD. At this price range, I would go for the Sonos.
  • LG SN11RG: 13 – If you want the best Atmos immersion, go with the LG.
  • Sonos combo: 17 – If you are an audiophile and wants the best bass and rears, go with the Sonos. The audio clarity and bass punch make the combo lives in a different class. The app, format support and the optimization between each component will improve over time. If you have a library of DTS movies, go with Q90R or LG instead. If you have a lot of inputs and can’t wait for a HMDI 2.1 splitter, go with Q90R or LG instead.
 
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lgans316

Distinguished Member
Thanks for your feedback. Much appreciated.

Audiophiles prefer separates over soundbars. Also audiophiles prefer support for all key movie sound formats (Dolby and DTS).

And you are judging sound quality based on John Wick 2 tunnel + bar scenes. To me, this will hold good only for this movie. Every movie has a different sound design and mix which can sound different especially in soundbars which seem to be all over the place when it comes to sound reproduction across the spectrum.

Btw, I have downgraded from separates (Klipsch Ref towers - one speaker alone out weighing my entire LG SN11 package) and dual SVS PC-2000 cylinders which offered me 12 Hz! So my feedback is based on experience and not by judging sound quality by looking at YouTube videos.
 

macattackqc

Standard Member
Thanks for your feedback. Much appreciated.

Audiophiles prefer separates over soundbars. Also audiophiles prefer support for all key movie sound formats (Dolby and DTS).

And you are judging sound quality based on John Wick 2 tunnel + bar scenes. To me, this will hold good only for this movie. Every movie has a different sound design and mix which can sound different especially in soundbars which seem to be all over the place when it comes to sound reproduction across the spectrum.

Btw, I have downgraded from separates (Klipsch Ref towers - one speaker alone out weighing my entire LG SN11 package) and dual SVS PC-2000 cylinders which offered me 12 Hz! So my feedback is based on experience and not by judging sound quality by looking at YouTube videos.
This is why it is so strange Sonos is not supporting all formats. Their target market should be all audiophiles but unfortunately they are targeting only audiophiles who don't care about DTS which is not making sense from my POV.

Separate speakers + receiver is better most of the time but the space (cabinet) a receiver takes + wires is a pain especially if you live in a condo/apartment. All about a balance between convenience vs other things.

Thanks for the feedback on the review! These 3 soundbars are the best in the market and all of them are great choices.
 

Tegs200

Active Member
Good informative review and I can't speak for the Q90R as ive not owned it but i have owned the SN11 and its exactly how i found it compared to the Sonos set up with the LG great at impactful Atmos scenes but the Arc a lot better across the board which is what I wanted along with the upgradeablety made it my choice , it is expensive but if you don't need DTS or more inputs it's the winner as it only gets downgraded in reviews due to the lack of inputs and dts and not for the sound it creates.
 

bizzlesnoff

Active Member
Good informative review and I can't speak for the Q90R as ive not owned it but i have owned the SN11 and its exactly how i found it compared to the Sonos set up with the LG great at impactful Atmos scenes but the Arc a lot better across the board which is what I wanted along with the upgradeablety made it my choice , it is expensive but if you don't need DTS or more inputs it's the winner as it only gets downgraded in reviews due to the lack of inputs and dts and not for the sound it creates.
How is the Atmos on the Sonos bundle compared to the LG? Is it a huge downgrade? Or is it comparable? If everything else sounds better but the Atmos is only slightly worse, I may pick it up. But Atmos is definitely important to me.
 

Tegs200

Active Member
How is the Atmos on the Sonos bundle compared to the LG? Is it a huge downgrade? Or is it comparable? If everything else sounds better but the Atmos is only slightly worse, I may pick it up. But Atmos is definitely important to me.
I'm finding the Atmos really good if I'm honest plus it will only get better if they bring out upfiring rears.
 

macattackqc

Standard Member
How is the Atmos on the Sonos bundle compared to the LG? Is it a huge downgrade? Or is it comparable? If everything else sounds better but the Atmos is only slightly worse, I may pick it up. But Atmos is definitely important to me.
Like I said in my comparison, the sound quality of the Sonos (rears+sub) is making up big time the lack of the upward firing rear speakers. To answer your question directly, no it is NOT a huge downgrade. If Sonos adds the option to adjust manually the level of the upward firing front speakers (in the soundbar), it would be even better. To me, it's quality vs quantity. I want quality.
 

magiclak

Active Member
Great exhaustive review, thanks for sharing. I’m sure this will be helpful for those who are looking to invest in a soundbar with a decent trade off, while stepping down from separates.

I still have my 5.2 setup ( Def. tech. 8080 towers/satellites with 2 JL Audio 213 Gotham subs) stashed away in my garage. Never got to set them up, after we moved to our new house. Lol. But I’m enjoying the minimalist approach with sound bars and making the most of it. I currently own the JBL bar 9.1 and looking at adding the Gorgeous Vizio “elevate” whenever it’s released, for my rec room.

I started my soundbar journey with the B/W Panaroma 2, which is built like a tank. Most badass soundbar Imho, which is still delivering the goods paired with the VT25 3D Panasonic Plasma in my bedroom. A true workhorse.

Just wish the JBL Bar 9.1 was included in the comparative review as well.😁
 
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BeefS2

Active Member
This is why it is so strange Sonos is not supporting all formats. Their target market should be all audiophiles but unfortunately they are targeting only audiophiles who don't care about DTS which is not making sense from my POV.

Separate speakers + receiver is better most of the time but the space (cabinet) a receiver takes + wires is a pain especially if you live in a condo/apartment. All about a balance between convenience vs other things.

Thanks for the feedback on the review! These 3 soundbars are the best in the market and all of them are great choices.
Agreed, they have a history of excluding DTS support. If they had even one more HDMI in and DTS support I’d give them a shot. DTS sounds really good on the sn11rg. Thanks for this
 

macattackqc

Standard Member
Great exhaustive review, thanks for sharing. I’m sure this will be helpful for those who are looking to invest in a soundbar with a decent trade off, while stepping down from separates.

I still have my 5.2 setup ( Def. tech. 8080 towers/satellites with 2 JL Audio 213 Gotham subs) stashed away in my garage. Never got to set them up, after we moved to our new house. Lol. But I’m enjoying the minimalist approach with sound bars and making the most of it. I currently own the JBL bar 9.1 and looking at adding the Gorgeous Vizio “elevate” whenever it’s released, for my rec room.

I started my soundbar journey with the B/W Panaroma 2, which is built like a tank. Most badass soundbar Imho, which is still delivering the goods paired with the VT25 3D Panasonic Plasma in my bedroom. A true workhorse.

Just wish the JBL Bar 9.1 was included in the comparative review as well.😁
Thanks for the feedback!

Love the VT25 3D Panasonic, I still have one as well!

Unfortunately, the JBL wasn't included because of the battery powered rears. It wouldn't work in my room layout since the speakers must be installed on the wall.

Good luck finding the right solution for you!
 

SmAShY

Well-known Member
Thanks for the feedback!

Love the VT25 3D Panasonic, I still have one as well!

Unfortunately, the JBL wasn't included because of the battery powered rears. It wouldn't work in my room layout since the speakers must be installed on the wall.

Good luck finding the right solution for you!
You can power the JBL rears via USB so they can stay put.
 

Tegs200

Active Member
Did you specifically place your Sub in a certain position and could I ask which Sub and EQ settings you used? Thanks.
 

macattackqc

Standard Member
Did you specifically place your Sub in a certain position and could I ask which Sub and EQ settings you used? Thanks.
For the Sonos, right?

I used the Rtings recommended settings which is Sub + 7 and everything else at default (i did lower the sub level down at + 4 after testing due to the fact that I live in a condo). I tested it with and without Trueplay. Much better with it.

Sub is next to my couch/sofa. Same location for all systems tested. It's the best location to avoid complaints from the neighbors.
 

jmacc

Distinguished Member
An awesome real life review thanks for taking the time to do it.:clap:
I value reviews like this way more than most "professional" brown envelope reviews :smoke:
 

macattackqc

Standard Member
An awesome real life review thanks for taking the time to do it.:clap:
I value reviews like this way more than most "professional" brown envelope reviews :smoke:
Thanks and I agree. Most reviews of sound systems do not use any metrics and if they do, they don't compare the sound using real life content (games, gun shots, music, etc). I don't understand how you can review something like sound (similar to taste) and not comparing the solutions (in the same room layout) to rate them. That's why I did this, to help people deciding vs buying all the options ;)
 

jmacc

Distinguished Member
Thanks and I agree. Most reviews of sound systems do not use any metrics and if they do, they don't compare the sound using real life content (games, gun shots, music, etc). I don't understand how you can review something like sound (similar to taste) and not comparing the solutions (in the same room layout) to rate them. That's why I did this, to help people deciding vs buying all the options ;)
I just ordered the Sonos Arc with sub and rears.
Arc won't be here for a few weeks yet as back ordered atm.

Sonos made the decision easier for me by providing a 100 day no quibble full refund return, just incase it sounds terrible on my room or for whatever reason.

Another factor for me is the Sonos resell value stays very high, like apple. and like you say it's modular so could easily upgrade to up firing rear Sonos speakers if they take them out, sell the 2 x sl one's and not lose much money at all (especially as I got it all with 20% discount)

Updates.. another big factor for me, These arc bars will stick around for a good few years to come and like all previous Sonos products will get a truckload of updates, LG, Sony, Samsung all release soundbars every year or so... the next year they are forgotten and the updates and resell value fizzle away to nothing very quickly as they rush to get a new (likely unfinished) must have soundbar out the door then rinse and repeat.

The lack of inputs doesn't bother me and in fact I prefer it, keeps all my cable management neater.
My c9 has hdmi 2.1 with earc and so will my future TV, I only plug in 2 devices currently (maybe 3 at a push) to my tv (will be ps5, Apple TV) so just 1 cable to the arc suits me fine but I can see the issue for others with many devices or their tv doesn't support earc.
Makes it all easier for the wife also.. just turn on the TV select hdmi input / internal app on the TV as normal and all sound coming out the arc volume controlled by the c9 remote whenever the TV is on.
 

SimonST

Distinguished Member
An awesome real life review thanks for taking the time to do it.:clap:
I value reviews like this way more than most "professional" brown envelope reviews :smoke:
It's why I really value actual owner feedback so much.

en.jpg


But yeah, great comparison review, thanks for taking the time to do a write-up. Just a shame you couldn't also include the LG E6 OLED's soundbar audio in the comparison; as an owner, I've seen it embarrass many a thousand-pound speaker setups :smoke::rolleyes::laugh::rotfl::blush::love::love:
 

macattackqc

Standard Member
I just ordered the Sonos Arc with sub and rears.
Arc won't be here for a few weeks yet as back ordered atm.

Sonos made the decision easier for me by providing a 100 day no quibble full refund return, just incase it sounds terrible on my room or for whatever reason.

Another factor for me is the Sonos resell value stays very high, like apple. and like you say it's modular so could easily upgrade to up firing rear Sonos speakers if they take them out, sell the 2 x sl one's and not lose much money at all (especially as I got it all with 20% discount)

Updates.. another big factor for me, These arc bars will stick around for a good few years to come and like all previous Sonos products will get a truckload of updates, LG, Sony, Samsung all release soundbars every year or so... the next year they are forgotten and the updates and resell value fizzle away to nothing very quickly as they rush to get a new (likely unfinished) must have soundbar out the door then rinse and repeat.

The lack of inputs doesn't bother me and in fact I prefer it, keeps all my cable management neater.
My c9 has hdmi 2.1 with earc and so will my future TV, I only plug in 2 devices currently (maybe 3 at a push) to my tv (will be ps5, Apple TV) so just 1 cable to the arc suits me fine but I can see the issue for others with many devices or their tv doesn't support earc.
Makes it all easier for the wife also.. just turn on the TV select hdmi input / internal app on the TV as normal and all sound coming out the arc volume controlled by the c9 remote whenever the TV is on.
Good decision. 100 days is a lot time to test the setup so win-win! Good luck with the process!
 

mudshark

Distinguished Member
Another point that you touched on but maybe didn’t expand on is the fact the Sonos is a modular system you can repair the sub with another speaker/pair of speakers. For example I paired my sub with my Five (which nearly shattered my windows!) and then repaired it back to the home cinema set up.

If Sonos release up firing rears (please), the SL’s can be relocated elsewhere or sold.

Also, if you have a house full of Sonos, it’s nice to be able to include the home cinema set up in the multi room audio set up and be able to walk about and listen to the same output throughout.

I only have the Sonos system and thus cannot comment on the others but to me I think it’s fantastic, really immersive and LOUD!

The app could be better and I would like to be able to have the sub linked to more “rooms” at once but hopefully this will be patched.

PS - thanks for the review!
 

BeefS2

Active Member
Another point that you touched on but maybe didn’t expand on is the fact the Sonos is a modular system you can repair the sub with another speaker/pair of speakers. For example I paired my sub with my Five (which nearly shattered my windows!) and then repaired it back to the home cinema set up.

If Sonos release up firing rears (please), the SL’s can be relocated elsewhere or sold.

Also, if you have a house full of Sonos, it’s nice to be able to include the home cinema set up in the multi room audio set up and be able to walk about and listen to the same output throughout.

I only have the Sonos system and thus cannot comment on the others but to me I think it’s fantastic, really immersive and LOUD!

The app could be better and I would like to be able to have the sub linked to more “rooms” at once but hopefully this will be patched.

PS - thanks for the review!
Ha, you say the sonos app could be better. You should try the samsung smartthings app, now that's a real POS. I like the modular concept, and being able to replace or add components. I just wish it was a little more open, but I understand the reasons for keeping it closed. I have a number of apple products myself. If they add upfiring rears and DTS support I might entertain the option.
 

TSage

Member
I'm finding the Atmos really good if I'm honest plus it will only get better if they bring out upfiring rears.
I have two 5.1 Sonos Playbar systems and know it is time to upgrade. If Sonos had DTS decoding the choice would be easy, Sonos Arc. I am a movie and UHDTV fan and need DTS decoding with all the DTS discs I have. One needs to be a bit of an audiophile when being a videophile. It is A/V after all isn't it?
 

macattackqc

Standard Member
I have two 5.1 Sonos Playbar systems and know it is time to upgrade. If Sonos had DTS decoding the choice would be easy, Sonos Arc. I am a movie and UHDTV fan and need DTS decoding with all the DTS discs I have. One needs to be a bit of an audiophile when being a videophile. It is A/V after all isn't it?
If cost is the issue for Sonos for enabling 2 formats (DTS and Dolby), Sonos should give the option to users to "upgrade" to DTS and pay a fee of like $25... similar to Atmos headphones on Xbox. It should be all about pleasing their customers vs restricting them...
 

TSage

Member
If cost is the issue for Sonos for enabling 2 formats (DTS and Dolby), Sonos should give the option to users to "upgrade" to DTS and pay a fee of like $25... similar to Atmos headphones on Xbox. It should be all about pleasing their customers vs restricting them...
Very good idea. I wonder if it could be a firmware update or if chips might be needed.
 

macattackqc

Standard Member
Very good idea. I wonder if it could be a firmware update or if chips might be needed.
Looks like the format being supported is based on the "System on a chip platform" they use. Sonos is NOT a chip company so the chip is being outsourced for sure. My guess is if they use a common chip, they would have access to all formats but maybe they got a dolby specific chip as well.

Sources

Multi formats


Single format
 

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