So you’ve just purchased a fancy new OLED TV and turned-on Disney+ to watch Secret Invasion, only to realize that the sound is barely audible. You end up cranking the volume all the way up to 40 just to hear over the sound of a kettle boiling in the kitchen. This is a common pain point for TV buyers, even in 2023. Despite advancements in technology, even the best TVs still suffer from poor sound quality. Enter the LG Sound Bar SC9S—a 3.1.3 Channel Dolby Atmos sound bar specifically designed to seamlessly pair with LG’s C-Line OLED TVs.
Priced at $1499.00, the SC9S is far from being the cheapest sound bar on the market. However, it offers a powerful 400W system that includes a wireless subwoofer and 4K pass-through with VRR and ALLM, making it compatible with gaming consoles.
Now, let’s address the main concern: $1500 for a sound bar? That’s the price of a whole 65-inch TV. LG seems to be targeting owners of the C3 OLEDs, taking advantage of the physical and software synergy that enhances the sound bar’s performance.
LG Sound Bar SC9S Review
The LG Sound Bar SC9S is a standard rectangular slab that comes in a single Dark Steel silver color, matching the subwoofer. It measures almost a meter in width, stands 63mm tall, and is 125mm deep—perfectly designed to complement most LG TVs. It comes with a special Synergy bracket that allows you to connect both the SC9S and an LG OLED C2 or C3 TV, creating a unified unit that can be wall-mounted or placed on your TV cabinet.
As a 3.1.3 channel sound bar, the SC9S features three 30W up-firing speakers and two 30W front-firing speakers. Above the center up-firing speaker, there’s a touch interface for controls. At the back of the SC9S, you’ll find two HDMI ports—one eARC for audio and another HDMI 2.1 for 4K 120Hz pass-through. Additionally, it offers a Digital Audio Optical Input and supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.
The subwoofer boasts a clean and unobtrusive design that seamlessly blends with your furniture. Although not particularly large, it delivers a powerful 220W of active power that brings the rumbles to life. The subwoofer is wireless, and the SC9S automatically detects and connects to it without any hassle.
In addition to the touch controls on the sound bar itself, LG includes a remote in the box. If you own an LG TV, you can also use the TV’s remote to control the sound bar thanks to the new WOW Interface. Furthermore, LG provides the LG Sound Bar app for iOS and Android, allowing you to control every aspect of the SC9S from the convenience of your phone. I found myself relying on the app more than any other control method, especially when the small remote inevitably disappeared within the depths of the couch.
Moreover, the SC9S supports major voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, enabling you to conveniently command it with your voice. It also offers WiFi, Bluetooth, and Apple AirPlay 2 support, allowing you to stream your favorite tracks from Spotify or other platforms.
The SC9S boasts an impressive list of specifications, including support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X, DTS Digital Surround, and more. In other words, it covers all the necessary codecs for hi-res and surround sound. The sound bar features AI sound calibration, which quickly maps your room and adjusts the sound accordingly.
Upon setting it up for the first time, I initially thought the soundbar wasn’t working. The sound didn’t improve much compared to the TV speakers, but as I turned up the volume a notch and played some movies on Disney+, things became more noticeable. The bass, in particular, gently shook the room with each explosion and the giant stomps from Ant-Man.
The stereo separation was decent, though not particularly wide. I tested a scene from Star Wars Andor where a tie fighter swoops down over our heroes standing in a field. While I could sense the movement from left to right, it lacked the expansive and spacious feel that would be expected from a Dolby Atmos experience.
It’s clear that the SC9S desperately needs additional wireless speakers to fill out the sound gaps and deliver a true Dolby Atmos experience. Without them, it doesn’t sound much better than a good pair of stereo speakers.
Throughout my testing, I noticed a consistent theme: the audio never truly felt like it was coming from above and around me as the advertising suggests. Instead, it felt like my TV had richer bass, but everything still came straight at me.
When it comes to playing games, the SC9S excelled with its large booming explosions, clear footsteps, and detailed environments. The island of Iki in Ghost of Tsushima sounds amazing with rich details, the wind blowing through trees, birds chirping while voices of Mongols were clear and easy to pinpoint.
However, similar to other media, the sound didn’t surround or immerse me any more than a good set of stereo speakers would. While the bass added depth to the experience, there was nothing particularly exceptional.
LG introduced a new feature called LG WOW Orchestra, which aimed to enhance the sound experience. This feature synchronizes the TV speakers with the sound bar speakers to improve spatiality, dialogue intelligibility, and overall power. However, in reality, it did very little to actually enhance the experience and, depending on what you were watching, it could even make things worse.
For instance, when watching broadcast TV with the WOW Orchestra sound mode selected, terrible echoing was introduced—almost as if the TV and sound bar were out of sync. So, I wouldn’t recommend using it for regular TV watching. While streaming content, the audio was in sync, but I didn’t notice any clearer dialogue compared to when WOW was turned off.
I tested the same technology with Sony TVs and soundbars, and the effect was far more pronounced and meaningful. LG still has some work to do to make this feature work well with their devices.
The LG Sound Bar SC9S is a challenging recommendation, especially considering its price tag of over $1000. It certainly outperforms standard TV speakers, and the bass response is impressive. The synergy it creates with LG C2/C3 TVs and the hardware interaction through WOW Orchestra are commendable. Additionally, the abundance of features makes it an intriguing package deal.
However, even without being a home cinema expert, my wife agreed that the overall sound output was disappointing, especially considering the price. At this price point, you could easily obtain a 5.1.2 channel sound bar with additional rear speakers that would provide a significantly better sound experience.
If you are heavily invested in the LG ecosystem, then the SC9S might be worth considering. However, for a straightforward TV and gaming experience, it’s simply too pricey for what it offers.
LG Australia kindly loanded the LG Sound Bar SC9S to PowerUp! for the purpose of this review.