Powerful, immersive sound
Thin, sleek design
Sound signature can be too synthetic
Inconsistent music streaming
The SN9YG is by no means lacking in value—its $1,000 MSRP undercuts Samsung’s Q80R soundbar by $200. But the Atmos soundbar market boasts some impressive offerings at lower prices that are tough to beat, from the premium-sounding Sonos Arc ($799) to Vizio’s shockingly affordable SB36512-F6, which boasts a full surround configuration (including satellite speakers) at around half the cost. That said, though the SN9YG has some quirks, its minimalist design and features like a voice-activated smart assistant and hi-res audio support could make it worth consideration for some—especially at its $800 sale price.
Editor’s note: The first review model I received could not pass HDR from its HDMI input. While the second bar worked as expected, the issue is worth noting, especially for those looking to plug in a Blu-ray player for uncompressed Dolby Atmos content.
About the LG SN9YG
Here’s snapshot of the LG SN9YG’s specs:
- Height x Width x Depth: 2.2 x 48 x 5.7 inches (soundbar), 15.4 x 8.7 x 12.3 (subwoofer)
- Weight: 13.9 pounds (soundbar), 17.2 pounds (subwoofer)
- Speakers/drivers: 7 drivers (soundbar), one woofer (subwoofer)
- Amplification: 300 watts (soundbar), 220 watts (subwoofer)
- Wireless connection: WiFi, Spotify Connect, Google Chromecast, Bluetooth 5.0
- Wired connection: HDMI ARC/eARC, HDMI, digital optical, USB
- Smart features: Built-in Google Assistant
- Sound formats: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS:X DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution, FLAC, WAV, MP3, AAC, OGG
- Video support: 4K/HDR passthrough including Dolby Vision and HDR10
The LG SN9YG’s 40-pound box requires some serious lumbering to get into your TV room. Inside you’ll find the long, charcoal-colored bar along with a digital optical cable, mounting brackets, a small, funky looking remote and batteries, and the usual operation manuals and power cables. Below the bar sits a stout, rectangular subwoofer set in a sea of styrofoam.
One notable omission is an HDMI cable, necessary to source Dolby Atmos content from your TV. Why LG continuously refuses to include one in a $1,000 soundbar package still baffles me.
The SN9YG is a 5.1.2-channel system. Unlike LG’s top-tier bar, the SN11RG, there are no surround speakers included—though LG’s SKY8-S speakers can be added for around $180. Instead, all the speaker drivers (besides the woofer) are in the main bar, including 3 individually powered drivers for the left, center, and right channels, dual side firing drivers, and dual upward-firing drivers designed to bounce sound off your ceiling to create the height element so critical for Dolby Atmos (and its rival, DTS:X). LG says the system is amplified by 520 watts of total power, with a full 220 watts dedicated to the wireless subwoofer.
Other notable features include high-resolution audio support, WiFi connection, built-in Google Assistant, and HDMI eARC, which allows the system to source uncompressed audio from newer TVs like LG’s own 2020 OLEDs.
What We Like
A sleek and slim design (for an Atmos bar)
Unlike some competing bars, including the Sonos Arc, the SN9YG is surprisingly flat for its size and configuration, meaning it should easily sit below most TVs. While its 48-inch length means it's anything but small, at just 2.2-inches, it’s among the slimmest Dolby Atmos bars I’ve encountered. Of course, that also means LG has to get a little creative with digital signal processing to occupy the full frequency range (more on that below).
While its candybar design is reminiscent of Samsung’s soundbar family (among many others), the SN9YG is both thinner and more attractive thanks to its metallic finish.
High-res everything, and features up the wazoo
When it comes to features, LG rolls out the red carpet for its premium bars. As noted above, the SN9YG supports just about every audio format you’ll come across, including high-resolution audio support at up to 24 bit/192 kHz. While that’s starting to matter less in the age of low-resolution streaming music, it’s nice to know there are options for audiophiles. Unfortunately for vinyl-heads, there's no analog input, though that's becoming increasingly common.
More importantly for our purposes, like most Atmos bars, the SN9YG offers a spare HDMI input (something the oft-mentioned Sonos Arc is inexplicably missing) so you can connect a 4K Blu-ray player or Xbox One X directly. Unless you’ve got a newer TV with HDMI eARC, that’s the only way to source uncompressed Dolby Atmos sound. However, since so many of us get Dolby Atmos content from streaming services like Disney+, which use the compressed Atmos format, this is becoming less of a necessity than it was even a year or two ago.
You’ll also get Google Assistant access via built-in microphones: you can simply say “Hey, Google” when the bar is streaming over WiFi or Bluetooth or click the Google button on the remote for other sources. LG’s Wi-Fi Speaker app lets you do things like grouping other LG speakers, adjusting EQ and Sound Mode, and engaging “AI Room Calibration” to tune the bar to your environment. Two bits of warning there: first, I didn’t seem to hear much difference once calibrated, and second, the bar gets extremely loud when it’s initially engaged (which instantly set my dog into a frenzy).
Immersive, powerful sound
The SN9YG's sound signature is crisp and clear when it comes to the bar itself, which leans on the lighter side for everything from gunshots to acoustic guitar. The subwoofer is brauny and relatively accurate on the low end, and does a good job blending with its companion.
When it comes to Dolby Atmos, while the SN9YG doesn’t provide quite the same level of thrilling immersion I experienced with the Sonos Arc, it still does a fine job with Atmos fare, especially for a two-piece setup.
Dialing up my Atmos demo disc proved an impressive display of the bar’s expansive soundstage with clear, accurate placement of effects. The blooming expansion at the beginning of the Amaze demo is particularly impressive: the buzzing and clicking of the forest insects sizzle across the front of the room; the swirling of the jungle bird swooped almost to the back of it; and the bass of the thundering rainstorm boomed with gravitas, bringing the scene to life.
The one nagging portion of the demo that kept me from being totally enthralled was the lighter, metallic flavor of some effects, especially the rain drops, which sounded almost as if they were bouncing off of a reverb plate. That wasn’t the first time I found myself pulled out of a moment due to the bar’s icier sound signature (more on that below).
While acoustic instruments tend to sound less natural than I'd like, the bar is a pretty capable musical companion overall. My favorite moments in most movies and TV shows like Watchmen were the soundtracks, where the bar and sub worked seamlessly to kick out clean, punchy jams. When streaming over Spotify, I quite enjoyed the sculpted synth effects of songs like Beck’s Bottle of Blues, and even Sinatra’s tricky Fly Me to the Moon impressed thanks to well-carved instrumental separation and some welcome dynamic pop—though the brass does get a little snappy at its height.
Detail is ample across media, though day-to-day content from sitcoms sounds good-not-great in the bar's AI or Standard sound modes, and pretty out of whack with the oddly tuned “Movie” mode. As such, I kept the bar in the latter two modes.
What We Don’t Like
The sound comes with a side of aluminum
With all that the bar does well, its slim size means it relies heavily on digital signal processing to squeeze the full frequency spectrum out of its compact drivers. The result is a synthetic sheen on some content, from those metallic raindrops in the Amaze demo to the toyish sound of Elton John’s grand piano on Your Song. That may not be noticeable for some listeners, but my ears vastly prefer the smoother sound signature of the Sonos Arc, which better relays the kind of organic sound you expect from more traditional speakers (though it is quite a bit larger).
It’s physics at play to some degree, and I commend the SN9YG for how much it can do with its skinny frame, but frankly, it’s just not the color of sound I get excited about when spending this much green.
A not-so premium interface
The SN9YG justifies its high cost with a laundry-list of features, including the ability to adjust all channels individually, but the interface to do all of that is a bit lacking. The boarish blast that greets your ears without warning as the AI Room Calibration kicks off feels like a metaphor for the interface itself, which sometimes feels a little thrown together.
For instance, besides looking a bit cheap, the remote’s layout is confusing: next to the volume key is another toggle key but not, as expected, for subwoofer control. Instead, the key hosts a mute button on the bottom and a large “F” on top which apparently stands for Function (AKA source). But even after having reviewed LG bars before, I had to click on the key to be sure.
The LG Wi-Fi Speaker app is well-appointed but its layout, too, feels a little on the budget side. This isn’t something I’d even bring up for more affordable bars, but when you pay a grand you do expect a more premium experience. On the bright side, most of this will seldom come up once the bar is set up to your liking as connecting over HDMI ARC/eARC allows you to use your TV remote for most functions.
I will give points for the display, however, which makes it quite easy to see your source input and other parameters.
A few other kinks
While I got used to the somewhat awkward controls, I did note that, while streaming over Spotify, playback dropped out a few times. In addition, Bluetooth pairing requires you to be connected to WiFi, so it isn't likely to work as a secondary streaming option if your WiFi is out. And while it may have been a fluke, I can’t forget the hours I spent trying to get the first soundbar to passthrough an HDR signal.
Finally, while I commend LG for making the SN9YG upgradeable with surround speakers like some competitors, adding the SKY8-S speakers is a somewhat inelegant solution that requires space for a miniature amplifier and wires to connect the speakers.
Should you buy it?
Only if you demand hi-res audio and all the trimmings
If you're looking for a premium soundbar for $1,000 or less, LG’s SN9YG offers plenty of reasons to grab it. It's got impressive Dolby Atmos immersion, tons of features, and support for virtually every audio format you can think of—including the increasingly scarce DTS:X—not to mention smart functionality (though you’ll be tied to the Google ecosystem there).
However, for my money, the $799 Sonos Arc makes for the better buy. While confined to compressed Dolby Atmos audio for most setups, the Arc performs better across media, even if it lacks the mondo punch of the SN9YG’s subwoofer. The Arc is also easier to use, offers your choice of Alexa or Google Assistant, connects with Sonos’ excellent speakers for a multi-room audio setup, and the system's software is likely to be consistently updated. For the price of the SN9YG, you can even add a pair of IKEA Symfonisk speakers for full surround sound.
For less than either system, you can get a full 5.1.2- Atmos setup or even 5.1.4-channel Atmos setup from Vizio, offering true surrounds sound, most of the same features, and solid sound quality (though the satellite speakers must be wired into the subwoofer). The SN9YG offers more detail above and bigger thump below, but for me it’s not enough of a performance upgrade to justify the price bump.
Still, the SN9YG is a clear and powerful Atmos machine with loads of ways to play. If you want high-resolution audio support, DTS:X, and big sound for $1,000 or less, the SN9YG may be just the ticket.
Meet the tester
Managing Editor - Electronics@ryanwaniata
Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2013. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.
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