LG S95QR soundbar review: Your latest home theater in a (very big) box

LG S95QR soundbar review: Your latest home theater in a (very big) box

MSRP $1,800.00

“LG’s S95QR is an entire Dolby Atmos home theater sound system in a box.”


  • Impressive Dolby Atmos sound
  • Loads of app-based settings
  • Two HDMI inputs
  • Hi-res music support
  • AirPlay and Chromecast built-in


  • Bass lacks some rumble
  • Poor instructions
  • No solution to save preferred settings

Riddle me this: When is a soundbar not a soundbar? Answer: When it’s a full-fledged substitute for a dedicated Dolby Atmos home theater system. I mean, yes, LG’s flagship soundbar, the $1,800 9.1.5-channel S95QR, is a soundbar. But that’s like saying the Burj Khalifa is a skyscraper — technically accurate, and yet also a large understatement.

With a dedicated subwoofer, two wireless surround satellites with their very own up-firing drivers, and tons of settings, inputs, and format support, in regards to the only thing the S95QR has in common with a conventional soundbar is its total lack of speaker cables.

But now that you just’re spending the equivalent of a full A/V receiver-based system, does the S95QR still offer enough benefits? Let’s see how this monster system-in-a-box stacks up.

What’s in that big box?

LG S95QR soundbar seen with all included parts and accessories.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why am I making such an enormous deal in regards to the S95QR’s box? Since it’s massive. At 4 feet by 2 feet by 11 inches and weighing just over 33 kilos, you shouldn’t even contemplate sticking this thing in your automobile single-handedly unless your name is Dwayne Johnson.

And yet, for all its size, it’s a bit deceiving. A superb chunk of the inside volume is used for empty cardboard boxes that act as spacers, because soundbars and subwoofers are inherently awkward shapes that don’t really fit into clean rectangular boxes.

Inside, you’ll find the principal soundbar, the wireless sub, the 2 surround speakers, a distant with batteries, power cables for the entire speakers, an HDMI cable, and wall-mount brackets for the surrounds and soundbar. You’ll also discover a quick setup guide that’s barely enough to get you going (more on that later).

What you won’t find is way in the best way of styrofoam or other plastics. There are still just a few twist-ties and protective wraps, but there’s way less of that than previously.


LG S95QR soundbar seen from the left.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

LG traditionally has favored understated, brushed-metal-and-fabric housings for its soundbars, and this approach remains to be on display with the S95QR. The principal soundbar is fairly wide at 47 inches, however it keeps a low profile at only 2.5 inches in height. That’s low enough to stay under most TVs. But unless you’re planning to wall-mount it, don’t do this — the soundbar’s three up-firing height drivers need room to do their thing.

A set of touch controls grace the highest surface, including power on/off, input select, volume, play/pause, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Briefly, the whole lot you can possibly need, after which some.

Considered one of my chief annoyances with LG’s 2021 SP9YA Dolby Atmos soundbar was the hardwired power cord, which made placement and installation unnecessarily difficult. Thankfully, LG hasn’t made that mistake twice — the S95QR’s cord is fully detachable.

LG S95QR soundbar LED display seen behind the speaker grille.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

There’s a small alphanumeric display hidden behind the material grille that shows you quite a lot of info on your settings, but more often than not it would simply state what input you’re using (HDMI 1, ARC, Wi-Fi, and more). It robotically dims after just a few seconds, but you may’t turn it off, which I discovered distracting at times, provided that it’s at all times front and center. LG tells me that this might be addressed in a future software update.

The wireless subwoofer has a front-ported, side-firing design that’s slender enough that you could probably get creative with its placement, but not too creative — you won’t wish to block that big circular grille.

The included wireless surrounds are outliers within the soundbar game: not only do they sport their very own up-firing height drivers, but in addition they feature two full-range drivers which are angled outward from one another. Which means you may position them beside or behind your viewing seats, which is something smaller, more directional speakers can’t quite do as effectively. But it surely also implies that they’re much larger than traditional soundbar surrounds, and finding a house for them for those who don’t intend on wall-mounting them could prove difficult.


The S95QR is well-equipped for quite a lot of uses. You get two HDMI 2.1 inputs, each of which may go through 4K video with Dolby Vision, HDR10, auto low-latency mode, and variable refresh rate (VRR) at as much as 4K/60Hz. These last two specs might be mostly of interest to gamers.

The HDMI ARC/eARC is all it is advisable to connect the soundbar to a TV. But for those who prefer, an optical connection exists, too. Take into account that for those who go together with optical, you’ll lose several features, including any Dolby Atmos or DTS:X that may be coming out of your TV, in addition to the power to manage the soundbar’s volume/mute functions along with your TV’s distant.

Sadly, there’s no solution to hook your TV as much as the HDMI ARC/eARC port and run a second device through the optical connection — the soundbar views them as fulfilling the identical function, so it’s one or the opposite.

A USB port allows you to access music files from a conveyable hard disk, a Bluetooth connection is included for casual audio streaming from a phone, and there’s Wi-Fi too, which enables a bunch of key music capabilities like Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast built-in, and Spotify Connect.

As a hi-res capable speaker, you’ll have the option to play lossless, 24-bit music from the USB port or streaming services over Wi-Fi, and even your personal music collection with a bit of additional work (more on that later).

Setup and ease of use

LG S95QR soundbar surround speaker side and rear close-up.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

For those who’ve ever installed a soundbar before, the S95QR won’t pose any problems. You plug the soundbar into your TV via HDMI (ideally) or optical (if it is advisable to and have a cable), plug the subwoofer and surrounds into power outlets, then finish by plugging the soundbar into an influence outlet. At this point, you’re good to go so far as TV sound is worried.

However the included “easy” setup instructions aren’t exactly friendly for a first-timer. A sophisticated diagram and less-than-useful text makes it seem more confusing than the method I just outlined above.

Worse still, you’re supplied with a QR code or a URL within the pamphlet so that you could download the total instructions. But take it from me — you are not looking for to attempt to read these on a phone. A tablet might work higher. As an alternative, your best bet is to download the LG Soundbar app for iOS or Android and let it walk you thru the assorted steps involved in getting the system fully up and running, including connections to your Wi-Fi network and triggering the soundbar’s AI-driven room-calibration sequence for the primary time.

Actually, the Soundbar app will develop into your best friend. For those who don’t avail yourself of its various menus and settings, you’ll be forced to make use of the included handheld remote control along with the small, built-in display on the front of the soundbar. Since it might only show you a handful of characters at a time, you’ll must decipher quite a lot of two-letter acronyms to work out what you’re doing.

Admittedly, that is more of an issue when attempting to adjust things like individual speaker levels than when switching between audio modes, but I cannot, for the lifetime of me, understand why LG hasn’t given its flagship TV audio product an on-screen menu system. It makes the TVs which are supposedly the right companion to this speaker, and Sony has already proven how effective such an interface may be.

But even LG’s app has limitations. You get great control over the S95QR’s speaker levels — significantly better actually than a lot of its competitors — in addition to sound modes (music, cinema, sports, games, and more), EQ, and the power to toggle features like auto volume and IMAX Enhanced, but there’s no solution to save these as presets.

So let’s say that whenever you’re watching hockey, you discover that reducing the bass, switching to sports mode, and increasing the extent of the side speakers gives you the perfect results. But music and films require a completely different combo. Unfortunately, you’ll must make an observation of those settings so you may dial them in every time you alter from one variety of media to a different.

If all you ought to do is control the amount, inputs, and audio mode, the included distant works just superb.

Sound quality

LG S95QR soundbar wireless subwoofer seen next to an electric guitar for scale.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

As you would possibly expect from an $1,800 soundbar system, the S95QR doesn’t disappoint on audio quality. Especially for high-octane movies, the presence of 5 up-firing height drivers and the extra 4 surround drivers makes a really convincing argument that we’ve now achieved something near parity with wired, installed, A/V receiver-based home theater systems.

It’s not quite the identical — my personal system’s overhead ceiling speakers are still higher at making a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X sphere of sound. — but given the convenience of having the ability to unbox and arrange this soundbar in minutes, it’s a good trade-off.

For movies

LG S95QR soundbar seen from the right.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

For those who’ve got access to Dolby Atmos movies — say, via Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, or Apple TV+ — and you might have yet to listen to them through a correct Atmos system, you’re in for a treat.

From bullets that ricochet across the room, to airplanes and helicopters flying overhead, or the realism of a live concert, the S95QR has no problem putting you in the middle of all of it.

I queued up some great Atmos titles like Mad Max: Fury Road and Ford v Ferrari, however it was Denis Villeneuve’s Dune that sealed the deal for me. The soundtrack on that film is sort of a member of the solid, and the multiple speakers ensured it was an Oscar-worthy performance.

For all of that audio excitement, dialogue stays clear and intelligible, regardless for those who’re watching a full Atmos movie or a stereo TV show. For me, LG’s room calibration produced no noticeable difference. But I discovered that was true of the SP9YA, too, so your mileage may vary.

My advice is that you just spend a while with the person speaker levels within the app. Particularly, boosting the peak drivers may also help deliver a more immersive experience for those who’re sensing that the sound isn’t all that it should be.

If there’s one weakness, it’s within the low-end frequencies. That subwoofer has no problem delivering power, however it doesn’t rumble as much as others. It’s the difference between hearing bass and feeling it. I didn’t notice this on the SP9YA, but LG has modified the subwoofer design since that model, choosing a slimmer, side-firing layout over the older unit’s more boxy, front-firing setup. Perhaps the brand new box simply has less internal volume, and thus can’t move air as effectively? It’s hard to say. That is more of a note for those considering of upgrading from an older system. For those who’ve never owned a serious home theater before, I don’t think you’ll miss a thing.

For music

LG S95QR soundbar center height speaker close-up.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The S95QR is a solid selection for music, too, but there are quite a lot of parameters that can affect your enjoyment. First, consider Bluetooth a fallback option. You’ll get much better results for those who use AirPlay or Chromecast, which shouldn’t be surprising given Wi-Fi’s vastly superior bandwidth. The system is hi-res compatible, but there’s no support for hi-res Bluetooth codecs like LDAC, aptX HD or aptX Adaptive, so again, Wi-Fi is your friend.

But because there’s no direct support for streaming music within the LG Soundbar app, you’ll must ensure that your selected music source has a Wi-Fi path to the S95QR. In other words, for those who use an Apple device, ensure your service’s app works with AirPlay or Chromecast, or simply Chromecast for those who’re on Android.

The subsequent thing to play with are the sound modes. LG features a music mode that’s been tuned by Meridian, but don’t stop there. It’s good — a pleasant balance of frequencies that makes use of the soundbar’s bass capabilities — but I discovered I desired to push the low-end even further, which sent me into deeper speaker levels and the bass/treble adjustments.

Listening to Dolby Atmos Music is an actual thrill, however the only solution to hear it currently is to make use of a streaming media player, just like the Nvidia Shield TV 2019, connected to considered one of the HDMI inputs. Then, so long as you might have access to Tidal, Apple Music, or Amazon Music’s library of Dolby Atmos tracks, you’ll get a really immersive experience.

Interestingly, even for those who don’t have access to Atmos Music, for those who be sure that the Surround Sound Setting is about to “on,” you may listen to plain two-channel stereo in an upmixed, 9.1.5 presentation, which is pretty awesome in its own right.

It’s price noting that LG doesn’t provide any solution to access music from your property network. So for those who keep you tunes on a PC or NAS drive, you’ll need to make use of a third-party app to play them, after which use either AirPlay 2 (Apple devices) or Chromecast on Android to pipe them to the soundbar.

There’s also no built-in solution to add the S95QR to a multiroom setup, although you’re not without options: Apple Home, Google Home, and Alexa can each be used to integrate this speaker system right into a larger whole-home sound platform inside those respective ecosystems.

Wait, 9.1.5?

LG S95QR soundbar surround speaker front close-up.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

For the audio geeks on the market, you could be wondering about LG’s declaration that the S95QR is a 9.1.5-channel system. The 9 and 1 are pretty straightforward — 9 surround channels and 1 low-frequency effects channel for the subwoofer. But 5 height channels? That’s a bit odd provided that Dolby Atmos height channels are at all times even-numbered: .2 .4., or .6. LG tells Digital Trends that the central up-firing driver on the soundbar, which is credited with that mysterious fifth channel, isn’t actually a real channel from a soundtrack perspective — there isn’t any fifth central height channel in a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X soundtrack.

As an alternative, LG is doing a little clever signal processing to extract just the upper frequencies from the left and right front height channels, and is pushing these sounds to the central driver. I can’t say I used to be ever really aware of the difference that virtual height channel made, but more speakers isn’t a foul thing.

Our take

LG’s S95QR may be expensive for a soundbar, but let’s face it, with 14 channels, two wireless surrounds, a wireless subwoofer, and 810 watts of power, it’s a soundbar in name only. Let’s call it what it’s: a full, home theater substitute that is available in one box and sets up in minutes. As such, it’s a complete success, providing you with an incredible amount of immersive audio for nearly any listening you care to do, whether it’s a blockbuster movie soundtrack or a favourite album.

Is there a greater alternative?

Immediately, for those who want an entire, Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar with dedicated up-firing drivers, rear surrounds, and a wireless sub, you must probably be taking a look at the Vizio Elevate. For $1,000 (or less when it’s on sale), it’s a terrific value. However the Elevate doesn’t offer any form of Wi-Fi connectivity, so it might’t provide the highest-quality music experience, it’s not compatible with any smart home platforms, and it might’t work as a part of a multiroom system.

The LG S95QR, nonetheless, does all of these items, and which means there’s just one real competitor at this price — the recently released $1,900 Samsung HW-Q990B. We haven’t had a likelihood to try the Q990B, but judging by its specifications, it’s an almost feature-for-feature match for the S95QR, with one key exception: it lacks Chromecast built-in, which could just be the tie-breaker for those who’re on the fence.

How long will it last?

Soundbars, like most energetic speaker systems, should last so long as you wish them to, and the S95QR isn’t any exception. As time goes by, LG may not sustain with software updates, so it’s possible that some features that work today won’t work indefinitely — we’ve seen this with Sonos products previously. Still, should this occur, it would almost definitely affect internet-connected features and never the S95QR’s core mission as a house theater solution that uses your TV as its primary source.

Must you buy it?

Yes. For the worth, there isn’t any single soundbar system-in-a-box that gives as much bang for the buck because the LG S95QR.

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