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The HT503TH is one of two new LG home cinema systems to have been specially tuned by world renowned audio guru Mark Levinson, which is a real coup given his legendary status among high-end audiophiles. But despite his involvement, the 500W system comes with a price tag that won’t break the bank, which means we could have a real bargain on our hands.
One thing you can always expect from LG no matter the price point is a stylish design, and the HT503TH doesn’t disappoint. The main unit is adorned with a fingerprint-attracting gloss black fascia that sports a row of satisfyingly chunky buttons, plus a volume dial on the right that’s surrounded by an alluring red light. Up close, it’s a well-built unit that feels a lot less hollow and plasticky than you might expect from a £200 system.
On the sloping section just below the fascia is a flap that conceals a USB port (which we’ll discuss later) and a 3.5mm minijack input for connecting portable music players. The step-up HT903TA, which costs around £100 more, adds an iPod connection.
On the rear panel is a solid set of sockets, most interesting of which is an HDMI port that outputs all-digital video upscaled to 576p, 720p, 1080i or 1080p (selectable in the setup menu) or you can let it choose the correct resolution for your TV automatically. It’s also pleasing to see an optical digital audio input, which enables you to connect a Sky box and enjoy multichannel Dolby Digital broadcasts using the system’s built-in decoder. These sockets are joined by progressive scan-capable component video, composite and RGB SCART outputs, plus stereo audio input and an antenna terminal for the built-in FM radio tuner.
In the rather large box is a set of four tallboy speakers, all of which are elegant and unimposing. Their soft curves and tapered bottom section is reminiscent of LG’s jaw-dropping champagne flute system, the HT762TZ. Assembly is simple - they screw into the circular plastic feet and the supplied speaker cable connects to the screwclip terminals on the bottom.
The subwoofer is slim and compact, but it’s of the passive (non-powered) variety, which doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in its capabilities. Still, with 150W of power being piped into it (with 70W delivered to each of the other five channels) it might surprise us yet. Completing the package is a horizontally shaped centre speaker that should easily find a home beneath your TV.