LG OLED TVs remain at the top of the high-end mass TV market, delivering impressive picture quality with deep blacks, vibrant colors and infinite contrast. Unsurprisingly, they are growing in popularity among buyers: for the first time in its history, the company managed to break the 2 million sales milestone in 2020, which is 24% more than in 2019.
And this year, LG is serious about cementing its success with the broadest OLED TV lineup, from the budget A1 4K series to the high-end Z1 8K. Buyers are still looking for top-notch visuals, a range of smart features and powerful gaming performance. In one area, however, LG doesn’t seem to be outperforming the competition – that’s sound.
Struggle for sound
Of course, the image is the main thing that people pay attention to when choosing a TV. However, market competition is fierce and large manufacturers are always looking for ways to differentiate their products with additional features.
“We have reached a point where there is little that can be done to further improve image quality. It is already so high that progress is only taking place through small improvements. So the focus is shifting towards features such as gaming, and you will be surprised to learn how much work has been done in that direction, ”says a Panasonic spokesman.
Panasonic’s flagship OLED TVs are considered some of the best for their audio systems. What distinguishes them from their fellows is not so much the image quality as the sound quality. For example, last year’s Panasonic HZ2000 features an impressive 140W high-channel Dolby Atmos audio system, while the HZ1000 falls short of 30W. And this year’s top model, the JZ2000, went even further, offering more dynamic and surround sound, albeit at a lower power of 125 watts.
Samsung also stumbled upon this issue a couple of years ago after realizing how poor the acoustics of their QLED TVs are. This is how the OTS (Object Tracking Sound) technology was born, which greatly enhances the realism of the picture and creates an immersive experience. It ranges from a multi-channel Pro version for flagships to a virtual Lite version for more affordable models. OTS technology is far from perfect, but Samsung TVs are also more inclined towards the middle segment of the market, without pretending to be premium.
An extraordinary solution is offered by Sony with Acoustic Surface Audio technology, which generates sound due to the vibration of the TV panel. The result of her work is not always perfect, often causing such inconveniences as indistinctness and blurring, but the desire of the Japanese to experiment is commendable.
Philips chose a peculiar path of development of audio systems, placing a bet on cooperation with Bowers & Wilkins. It is interesting that the specialists of this well-known company had a hand in the development of acoustics not only for the top models Philips OLED + 934 and Philips OLED + 935, but also for budget TVs Philips LED9435 and Philips LED9235.
Resting on laurels
But back to LG again. Her 2021 OLED models show almost nothing new in terms of acoustics. The three most common series – B1, C1 and G1 – received the same 40W Dolby Atmos audio systems as their predecessors, while the budget A1 series is content with a basic 20W solution. LG offers its own AI Sound Pro audio processing technology, but it doesn’t overcome its biggest drawback in the form of poor bass quality. It is clear that acoustics is still a minor priority for the company’s engineers, and it is equally clear that the world’s # 2 manufacturer could do more to enhance its premium TV lineup.
Of course, the purchase of a soundbar or speakers can significantly improve the acoustics for any TV. Fortunately, thanks to support for HDMI 2.1 and eARC, LG OLED TVs are able to transmit the highest quality audio signal to external devices.