In terms of performance the LG BH8220B falls some way short of a decent AV receiver/compact speaker combo, but still delivers an exciting, room-filling sound that sidesteps many of the usual budget system shortcomings.
Starting with the good stuff, the LG BH8220B makes busy, boisterous action sequences sound dynamic. At sensible listening levels, it blasts effects into the room with gusto, blessed with plenty of bite but no brightness. This well-judged balance is what pleased us the most – some systems get a bit hard and spitty with metallic effects and explosions, but the LG BH8220B keeps everything sounding easy and natural.
High frequencies are crisp, plus the surround speakers tease out little background details that add depth and atmosphere to the overall soundstage. It’s not as polished or pristine as a dedicated compact speaker system but we didn’t expect it to be. As all-in-one systems go, this is certainly one of the better examples.
We also like the sense of expansion, helped along by the 3D sound processing, which engulfs the listener more effectively than the other modes but does take the edge off detail. Dialogue clarity is excellent, there are no jarring shifts in tone as sounds move between speakers and the subwoofer delivers reasonably solid bass to bulk out the action, but it lacks the tightness and punch of an active sub.
Inevitably, it’s not all positive. The system loses grip when you push the volume past its comfort zone. Some high-pitched effects begin to sound a little strained and shrill, something that you probably wouldn’t get from a more assured separates system. Thankfully the LG BH8220B’s naturally powerful sound means you don’t have to push the volume much further than half way to make an impact, so this won’t be a problem most of the time.
So overall the LG BH8220B’s performance is terrific by one-box system standards, offering a ballsy, fulsome sound, but if you’re looking for more silkiness, bass punch and composure at loud volumes, then it would be wise to put your cash towards a separates system.
On the picture front the LG BH8220B reproduces Blu-ray discs with intense detail, gloriously vibrant colours and beautifully defined edges. Its images are stunning. Subtle colours and shading are handled with a suitably delicate touch, while blacks are deep and pure. Movement is handled smoothly with no judder too, which is a bonus for fast-moving action scenes. These qualities carry over into 3D material, which looks as deep and immersive as you’d hope.
The LG BH8220B is every bit the premium system in terms of design and features, which help justify the premium price tag. With built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and web content, plus iPod/iPhone support, extensive format support and sound modes galore, you get a lot for your money, while the robust, stylish speakers are much better than you might expect from an all-in-one system.
It offers impressive sound quality too – if not quite up to the level of a decent separates system – backed up by terrific picture quality, all of which makes the LG BH8220B a great purchase.