If you hate clutter, then LG’s BB5521A could be the home cinema system for you. It throws all the components you need (Blu-ray player, 4.1-channel amplifier, audio processing and speakers) into a single soundbar that you can place in front of your TV, leaving the rest of the room free from boxes and cables.
Well almost – the soundbar can’t provide room-filling bass all on its own, so LG has included a powered subwoofer to handle those all-important low frequencies. But the good news is that it’s wireless, which means you can place it wherever you like without worrying about cable trails.
The soundbar offers two front channels and two surround channels, with 70W going to each channel and 150W supplied by the sub. Of course with rear speakers placed at the front of the room and no centre speaker, the BB5521A will always struggle to replicate the experience of a real 5.1 system, but the combination of 430W amplification and virtual surround technology means you’ll still get a loud, room-filling sound that’ll put your TV speakers to shame.
Since this unit is destined to be the focal point of your living room, its looks are almost as important as how it sounds, and thankfully LG has done a terrific job with its design. The snazzy brushed silver finish catches the eye instantly, while the front panel is augmented by a curved platform that houses the disc slot and a USB port. A slim display panel sits above it, imparting its operational wisdom, while two silver speaker cones and a black tweeter are embedded into each side of the front panel. On top you’ll find a row of touch-sensitive controls set into a gorgeous gloss-black panel.
The soundbar sports a rather bulky back end, with the outward-facing connections lined up along the back. This and the unit’s deep cabinet make it nigh-on impossible to wall mount, which is unusual for a soundbar. Instead it’s designed to sit on top of your TV stand, so be sure that you have the surface area to support it before buying.
There’s a generous range of connections on the back though, underlining the unit’s status as an entertainment hub as opposed to simply being add-on speakers for your TV (as many soundbars are). Alongside the HDMI v1.4 output, which lets you pipe 3D images to your TV, you get two inputs, allowing you to run digital TV boxes, games consoles and other HD kit though the system. That’s a nice touch, and not something that all soundbars offer.
They’re backed up by an optical digital audio input, composite video output, an Ethernet port, an FM aerial input, a 3.5mm minijack input for non-Apple MP3 players and a port for the supplied iPod/iPhone dock.