LG Explodes at CES with XBOOM and Soundbars Galore

As usual, LG kicked off the 2019 CES press day with a bang. Or should we say XBOOM? In addition to showing off some amazingly cool new soundbars LG launched a series of exciting audio products in the XBOOM product line. Both the soundbars and XBOOM products reflect LG’s devotion to great sounding products with innovative features.

Designed to blend seamlessly with their new TV line, LG announced an array of new soundbars that take advantage of LG’s collaboration with Meridian Audio including a number that support both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The new soundbars integrate Meridian’s Upmix technology that takes a two-channel stereo signal and creates discrete multiple channels and an immersive listening experience.

The high-end SL10, SL9 and SL8 soundbars offer AI smart connectivity and have built-in Google Assistant for a variety of uses - both simple, such as controlling the volume, or more informative, such as being able to ask what song is playing. The soundbar can also interface with other Google smart devices throughout the home, so you can ask Google Assistant through the soundbar to start your LG robotic vacuum cleaner. Fun with AI.

The SL9 takes design to another plane - literally. A built-in gyroscope detects the orientation of the 57mm-deep unit that can be mounted flat on a wall, or facing up on a flat surface. The unit will adjust the directionality of the sound based on the position.

“LG’s 2019 soundbars deliver amazing performance tuned in close partnership with Meridian Audio with the convenience of smart AI connectivity,” said Kim Dae-chul, head of LG Home Entertainment Company’s audio and video business. “The high-quality sound and versatility of our newest lineup takes home entertainment to a whole new level and satisfies a growing demand for premium soundbar solutions that provide impressive listening experiences, greater convenience and stylish, modern aesthetics.”

Unlike the clean sleek lines of most LG TVs and appliances, the XBOOM product line is big, bold and pretty much in-your-face. As you would expect, they’re loud, but maintain the level of quality expected from the brand.

The XBOOM product lineup includes Go portable Bluetooth speakers, AI ThinQ smart speakers, mini components and all-in-one sound systems, including the flagship CL98 with a massive 3,500-watt output and compression horn for an impactful bass response.

In a new collaboration with Meridian Audio, the XBOOM OL100 outputs 2,000 watts through a folded “Blast Horn”. The OL100 has “Meridian Mode” that creates clearer vocals and is said to provide a more responsive bass. This all-in-one has easy-grab handles and casters so it can easily move to wherever the party is.

New XBOOM Bluetooth speakers support aptX HD codec that streams lossless hi-res audio, and the speakers can be linked to provide stereo or multi-room functionality.

Other new products include LG’s DJ app with DJ Star, Cross Fader, and Party Accelerator designed to let even the most basic amateur turn out creative DJ mixes. For the amatuer performer, there’s also Karaoke Star that claims suppress the vocals on almost any track. It also comes with 18 vocal modes and a light-display feature.

The XBOOM Go PK speakers are the new LG portable options. Featuring an aptX HD codec, they support lossless 24-bit audio.

“LG will continue to expand its XBOOM lineup to provide powerful sound that helps users create an enjoyable atmosphere, whatever the occasion,” said Kim Dae-chul. “We are excited about the present and future of the LG XBOOM brand and will continue to strengthen our offerings and our position in the party-audio market.”

It’s exciting to see a company that was so firmly entrenched in TV and appliances making such a bold statement with this XBOOM launch and truly gorgeous soundbars. We can’t wait to see what else is coming from LG.

YourMainDude's picture

Dolby Atmos and 'Movie' DSP performance on the 2018 SK10Y model was seriously bungled by LG/Meridian. There is a plethora of forum complaints and product reviews that detail the squashing phenomenon that plagued dialog/voice 'objects' during Atmos' most active and intense sound track segments. Even on non-Atmos playback, the SK10Y 'Movie' sound mode would behave similarly, with music & explosions shoving dialog way back into the soundscape - making dialog nearly in-perceivable. LG did release a firmware patch and mobile app update that added a center channel control but it should be common knowledge that Object Oriented surround sound doesn't work on the same principals as previous 7.1, 5.1 or ProLogic methods of sound placement. So in other words, a center channel control isn't a uniquely dialog push/pull control. My best educated guess is that the DSP in the SK10Y is hampered in some way that cannot be addressed with a firmware patch. LG recommends jacking up the center channel control to a max value of +6 but that doesn't uniquely address dialog 'objects' and introduces a myriad of other issues across all other sound modes.

So what does this have to do with the 2019 sound bar announcements? I would surely hope that a few good audiophile sites and product review teams would take a close look at how these new models perform in this regard. I know of one competitor that introduced a 'clear voice/clear vocal' type control and if that works to boost the associated dialog objects, bringing them closer to the foreground with respect to all the other object 'packets' - certainly LG & Meridian can approach the previous problem in a similar fashion. Seriously, one could make a strong case that dialog control is one of the most important aspects to audio presentation in something like a sound bar.

Not trying to bash anyone here - just putting it out there in the ether for serious consideration since little professional attention has been paid to this particular problem plaguing the SKY10Y. I truly look forward to a potential Sound & Vision review of the SL10.