Slide a Blu-ray disc into the slot and the LG BH5320F conjures up impressive sound quality. Rise of the Planet of the Apes sounds wonderfully crisp and detailed but with a decent amount of punch in the low frequencies and excellent dialogue clarity.
The opening scenes showing the apes being captured in the rainforest is awash with tiny details like rustling leaves and distant voices. And the following shots of the lab are also nicely handled, with real-sounding dialogue and an atmospheric backdrop.
When the action hots up, so does the LG. As the chimp goes ape and escapes from its cell, it smashes into doors, smashes trolleys to the floor and jumps from table to table in the lobby with a satisfying thump. The score is urgent and dramatic, and when the chimp smashes through the boardroom window the crashing glass sounds clear and realistic. All of these effects are conveyed with drive and attack without sounding overly bright, although some of the chimp’s shrieks are a little shouty at loud volumes.
We had to reduce the subwoofer level from the factory setting, but afterwards it did a decent job, injecting the security guard’s fatal gunshots with just enough bass to make an impact without overpowering the satellites. On the whole the BH5320F’s sound quality is hard to fault – sure it’s not the most refined or insightful we’ve ever heard, but for a one-box 2.1 system it’s surprisingly good, and certainly better than the Panasonic SC-BTT182.
It backs up its impressive sound performance with top-drawer pictures. The movie’s super-detailed CGI looks razor sharp and noise-free, with fluid motion tracking, solid blacks and a convincing colour palette. 3D pictures scrub up equally well, with clearly defined layers within the image and no artefacts to sully the experience. Panasonic’s pictures have a little extra poise, but on the whole you’ll be hard-pressed to find any flaws with these pictures.
BBC iPlayer videos look juddery but that aside the clarity of the hi-def images is superb, likewise our hi-def MKV files. YouTube videos stream smoothly without constant buffering.
Although the LG BH5320F costs a little more than some of the less stylish 2.1 systems we've tested recently, it also provides better sound quality. And an altogether very pleasant interface.
The LG BH5320F is one of the most stylish systems we’ve seen for a long time, with a striking design that sets it apart from its rivals. Hats off to LG for daring to do something different. But it’s much more than just a pretty face – it’s also bursting with features and musters superb sound quality with Blu-ray movies. Sure it lacks the polish of decent dedicated speakers yet there’s enough detail and depth in the sound to please most movie lovers.
We did have a problem streaming files over a network and some of the web features were out of bounds, which takes a little of the shine off, but otherwise this is a terrific 2.1-channel system.