LG HLB54S Blu-ray Soundbar - LG HLB54S

By Danny Phillips

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

Just as we discovered on the BD390, the system's disc loading speed can be ultra quick, taking just 30 seconds to load Spider-Man 3, but Terminator Salvation took a sluggish 55 seconds to load. With the latter, the picture quality on offer is excellent. The harsh, dusty detail of Earth's post-apocalypse landscapes is presented in dazzling clarity, likewise the mechanical minutiae of the CG robots that give our human heroes such a hard time. It's a superb picture, full of subtle shading and impressive contrast levels that make the frequent dark scenes easy to discern. It also nails the Silicon Optix HQV disc, suffering no major slip-ups with any of the tests.

But it's with audio that the LG excels most. We slid the volume up to near maximum and zipped to the scene in chapter 6 where the huge robot attacks the humans, and were mightily impressed by the system's phenomenally rich and powerful sound. The robot's thumping footsteps and massive explosions get the whole room shaking, while the non-stop barrage of bangs and crashes are delivered with attack and intensity.

And when Christian Bale scraps with a Terminator in chapter 2, the sound of bullets hitting metal are fierce and convincing without jarring the eardrums. The unit's surround channels also do a fine job of projecting themselves far and wide, resulting in a soundstage that doesn't completely envelop but does achieve a convincing sense of space and scale.

Inevitably with a one-box product there are a few flaws to highlight. The sound of jet planes racing past the camera is a bit raspy, and while the sub is undoubtedly powerful, there's precious little variation, precision or dexterity behind its bass notes - everything just comes out as a boomy rumble. But on the whole, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

And with music it's much more sophisticated than we expected, handling Corinne Bailey Rae's jazzy rendition of Since I've Been Loving You with a decent sense of timing and lots of detail - you can clearly hear the twanging of the double bass strings, while the tinkling piano high notes are clean and crisp.

Verdict

Let's cut to the chase - if you're after a Blu-ray soundbar, this is the one to beat. With tons of features, including built-in Wi-Fi, HDMI switching and MKV playback, the HLB54S is more appealing on paper than the HT-BD8200, plus its sound quality has a bit more power and presence to it.

Yes it's slightly more expensive than its Korean counterpart - in fact it's expensive full stop - but you are getting a lot for your money. Just be sure to take the lack of built-in BD Live memory, the wall-mounting difficulties and its sonic flaws into account before brandishing the credit card.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 10
  • Performance 9
  • Value 8

chrism

January 28, 2010, 10:33 pm

Danny how does this compare to the other soundbars you have reviewed? - does its surround effect sound as convincing as the more expensive audio only soundbars?

Premfab

January 29, 2010, 12:10 am

£600 fot an LG product!! Sorry. I don't care about the specs. I'll save my money and buy the real thing.





LG have probably priced themselves out of the market with this one.

PoisonJam

January 29, 2010, 2:06 pm

I really want to see WIRELESS rear speakers on one of these!





OK, wireless surrounds are far from truly wireless as you need to plug the receiver into the wall and then run cabled to the speakers, but most rooms have plugs at the rear and the big thing is cutting out the two wires that run from the receiver all the way round the room.

Lawry

February 17, 2010, 1:01 am

This unit sounds great, are there any stockists in Scotland where I can view a live unit?

p1yo

May 23, 2010, 10:54 pm

Recently just bought this HLB54S. I think the sound is awesome!


I'm surprised that only from small tiny speaker soundbar can make great sound.





Although this unit is not 5.1 speaker but it can produce sound like 5.1.


Maybe this unit is tuned by Mark Levinson so it can produce great sound and details 5.1

i.

June 5, 2010, 10:09 pm

i bought it, and took me a while to get my pc video clips playing in the sound bar. dvd discs make quite a noise when inside. sound of the bass is quite mediocre, sometimes you have to put the hand in the speaker to notice if it is working or not because you cannot even listen to them. the highs are ok. a lot of formats cannot be played. the LG service customer sucks and if you contact them, they just put you a lot of nonsense questions. updating was another problem. sometimes when looking for a movie, it just shut down. the menu is not user friendly (for instance compared to my sony tv, years light difference). the design is lovely though and it is not that big. i will keep it, but only to see bluray and play some cds. youtube works well.

Ray Verth

August 13, 2010, 11:06 pm

Just bought and installed this with an LG 42 inch 3D LED unit. All is fantastic EXCEPT the blue ray DVD player is region coded to region 2 only - WHY?? I have many DVD's from many trips overseas and need this unit unlocked to play these well used DVD's...why code ther units in 2010 - what good purpose does this do today?? So if buying check to get a guarantee of region free or avoid this product at all costs! By the way has anyone got a hack?

havregryn

September 4, 2010, 3:38 pm

I am thinking of buying this soundbar and the new philips hts9140 with similar specs. Have not really decided yet. I wonder if you are going to review this unit(hts9140) any time soon!??

Toni Vila

December 1, 2010, 11:37 am

Come on! When using video cable - video and sound are not synchronized!!! Watching dvd content OR other movie from ext. HDD (USB connection used) - sound lead the video and shift is getting bigger with time. I can't believe this. Is this video lagging normal? :-)


Btw, my TV is Philips Cineos.

rob

October 11, 2013, 1:32 pm

how to put in a headphone? Or is it only possible for phones without a cable??

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