The LG SP11R is the flagship soundbar of 2021, made up of four separate units: a main soundbar, two rear speakers, and a subwoofer. It can play the latest and greatest “object-oriented” audio formats on all its 7.1.4 channels, including Dolby Atmos and DTS: X.
EARC HDMI support lets you stream Dolby Atmos and DTS: X lossless audio over HDMI from compatible TVs to your soundbar. The total power is 770 watts. In this LG SP11R review, we’ll take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of this soundbar to decide if it’s worth buying.
LG SP11RA – overview
The main soundbar and rear speakers of the SP11R are of very high quality. The soundbar has a slim profile that fits comfortably under most modern TVs. It also has a smooth top edge to give it that premium look.
The two large speakers sit flush with the rest of the top rim. The front and sides have a stiff grill finish that provides a pleasing contrast to the smooth surface of the upper. The rear speakers are surprisingly compact considering they have two speakers each. They have a solid and smooth finish and shape.
The speakers feel heavy. This gives hope that they will not budge at high power. The subwoofer is impressively large, but thin enough when viewed from the front. Since the bass is omnidirectional, the subwoofer does not need to be placed in a specific location.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that many of LG’s new 2021 soundbars, including the SP11R, are the first in the industry to receive an Eco-friendly Product Certification for their Lowest Environmental Impact. The certificate was issued by an independent product testing organization: Societe Generale de Survei, based in Geneva.
The first thing that makes the SP11R a premium soundbar is the number of channels. The main soundbar contains left, right, center, left and right channels, as well as two speakers designed to bounce overhead effects inherent in the Atmos and DTS: X soundtracks from the ceiling. The rear speakers are directed both forward and upward. The subwoofer reproduces bass. The total power is 770 watts.
The sum is the “real” (not virtual) number of channels: 7.1.4. That’s a pretty impressive number by soundbar standards in general. However, the same channel count has been listed on LG’s flagship SN11R soundbar in 2020. Samsung’s latest flagship model, the HW-Q950A , is the first soundbar to support 11.1.4 channels of sound.
Since LG is not increasing the channel count for its 2021 flagship soundbar, improvements over last year’s model should be sought elsewhere. The main ones are two promising new audio processing features: LG AI Sound Pro system and Meridian Horizon mode.
Moving on to more conventional features, HDMIs can transmit 4K at 60Hz with HDR10 or Dolby Vision HDR. However, there is no support for the HDR10 + system here. Admittedly, HDR10 + content that adds extra frame-by-frame information about the image isn’t as common as its Dolby rival.
However, it certainly is. The lack of support for it on HDMI SP11R seems a bit out of place given that many other soundbars now, including Samsung models, support both HDR10 + and Dolby Vision. It’s also a shame that there is no longer support for 4K / 120Hz HDR pass-through, as PlayStation 5 , Xbox Series X, and the latest PC graphics cards can output this revolutionary format.
The LG SP11R soundbar does an excellent job with many sound formats. It creates a sense of height with object-oriented sound systems, especially Dolby Atmos, almost superb. You can hear the vertical layers deployed in good Atmos sound mixes, emerging at different vertical levels, down to the different elements of the score.
In fact, in Dolby Atmos, the heights of the individual effects and vocals are placed so precisely in the hemisphere of 3D sound that you can reach or touch objects. In fact, surround sounds have more presence and clarity than the Samsung Q950A soundbar. This is despite the fact that the SP11R uses the same ceiling bounce approach as the Samsung soundbar.
Sound travels up, down, left, and right so that once you exit the physical body of the main soundbar, you can almost completely forget where the sound is coming from. Built-in auto-calibration technology also helps the system adapt well to small spaces.
In other words, apart from rooms with vaulted ceilings that can interfere with speaker performance, the SP11R can adapt well to an impressively wide range of rooms. The dialogue is always super clean and legible. The left / right / backward / forward sound effect transitions are handled convincingly.
The system has a serious talent for bringing out even the smallest details in the film mix. The strengths of the SP11R soundbar ensure that it delivers a more convincing full surround sound experience than the vast majority of competing soundbars, regardless of room size.
However, there are also disadvantages. The LG SP11R soundbar does not produce as full hemisphere of sound as the recently tested Samsung HW-Q950A. More often than not, you don’t feel like you hear a lot of sound around the sides of the room. While the rears are good with pitch effects, their forward scatter seems a little narrow compared to the front soundstage created by the main soundbar component.
The system can operate very loudly without dropping out or distorting any speakers, and without any speaker rattling. However, the high frequencies can feel a little stiff and harsh at very tense moments. The same problem with high frequencies can sometimes cause high-pitched voices to sound shrill too.
While the dialogue is exceptionally clear, it can sometimes feel a little confusing and narrow, as if it is coming from just below the image. Using something to tilt the soundbar up a bit will fix the problem. However, this will also reduce the efficiency with which the SP11R delivers height effects.
Although the SP11R subwoofer performs very well, depending on the content being played, it can sound slightly restrained with a very long, deep rumble. The sounds of a strong impact do not always have the strength that you would like to hear. Where there is a really complex mix of voices or subtle effects, the soundbar sometimes struggles to “figure out” what the main purpose of the soundtrack is.
AI Sound Pro
The soundbar is the first to feature AI Sound Pro technology, which is also available on premium LG TVs. The system automatically detects the type of sound being played and adapts the playback profile of the soundbar to always get the best playback results.
AI Sound Pro certainly broadens the soundstage in terms of both its dynamic range and sound volume, creating a more aggressive and direct presentation as well as a larger soundstage. This mode also creates an authentic Dolby Atmos-like sound field experience and better preserves vocal detail and clarity.
Plus, AI Sound Pro usually makes movies more immersive and the soundbar feels more powerful than any other preset. These advantages make the AI Sound Pro a worthy addition to the SP11R. In addition, this mode can also slightly boost high frequencies. AI Sound Pro is not as effective at listening to music as it is on movie soundtracks.
However, it cannot be said that the SP11R is not very good for playing music in the standard preset. The perfect balance creates a true hi-fi feeling, and the limitations that sometimes arise from the most extreme treble and rumbling soundtracks of most movies don’t even show up in the brightest high-resolution music.
Bass can be a little strong using the standard settings, but tweaking the subwoofer a little is enough to achieve a smoother, more immersive musical sound.
Meridian Horizon Mode, which is activated when you select the Music preset, converts two-channel stereo content into multi-channel audio for a more immersive listening experience. Many people realize that turning stereo into immersive multichannel sound is not easy.
When playing stereo music, this mode gives the impression of a sound wall filling a room. However, low frequencies tend to become a little hazy and dull, and fine details lose their clarity and presence. These problems can be noticeable, especially when listening to heavy music with an abundant amount of bass.
Summing up the section on sound quality of the LG SP11R acoustic bar, we can safely say that in its standard mode the SP11R is actually a very powerful music device for a soundbar that clearly favors home theater.
The connections on the main soundbar contain two HDMI inputs, one HDMI output, an optical digital audio input, and a USB port. HDMI output supports eARC. This means that the soundbar can receive lossless Dolby Atmos and DTS: X soundtracks from the TV, as well as transmit the image to the TV when using a source connected directly to the soundbar.
The SP11R speaker system has an LED indicator for monitoring volume settings, inputs, and so on. Unlike the Samsung Q950A, the SP11R LEDs are conveniently placed on the front of the soundbar where they can actually be seen.
Powerful, detailed sound with especially good pitch effects.
Elegant, attractive design.
Suitable for both music and movies.
Not too cheap.
Sometimes the experience of movie soundtracks is lacking.
LG SP11RA looks and sounds great when watching movies or listening to music. It also offers some new features in the world of soundbars. However, its price may seem a little overpriced in relation to some other competitive soundbars.