So many all-in-one systems talk a good game but fall at the crucial performance hurdle. The LG BH9430PW is not one of those systems.
It delivers excellent sound quality with Blu-ray discs, blessed with a knockout combination of power and finesse. There are one or two signs of its budget origins but its performance is so wildly entertaining that any misgivings melt away in the excitement.
But let’s start with the good stuff. It’s remarkably powerful, mustering a large-scale sound with the volume pushed barely half-way. As a result, The Hobbit’s busy action scenes sound thrilling – as Smaug invades Erebor during the film’s prologue, the dragon’s wanton carnage is fast and forceful.
As it crashes into buildings and storms the door of the mountain, its footsteps are deep and weighty, while Dwarfish armour clatters cleanly from every speaker as they’re cast aside. There’s plenty of detail too, demonstrated by kites rustling in the wind and the delicate chink as gold coins rain down around you.
After reducing its volume from the default setting, the sub integrates tightly with the speakers. It minimises the bloatedness and lag you sometimes get from passive subs, but makes its presence felt with deep, punchy bass. In fact the sense of cohesion across the whole system is impressive.
The soundstage is wide and immersive, but confident placement of individual elements means you never lose your sense of position within it. Activate 3D sound processing and the stage opens up further. There’s a clear sense of vertical expansion – particularly as the rain lashes down during the Stone Giants battle – and the sound feels richer and louder.
But the 3D processing does get a little overpowering, particularly from the rear speakers, which seem unnecessarily loud even after turning them down to their lowest level. We much prefer listening in Bypass mode, which offers greater subtlety in the surround channels.
Any flaws? Well, the speakers get a touch raspy when the dragon roars, particularly with the volume up loud. It lacks the absolute composure we look for from a sound system. Dialogue could do with a little more depth too, although voices are nicely detailed.
Blu-ray pictures are decent, although they’re grainier than we’d like and skin tones seem a little waxy. But they’re still enjoyable to watch thanks to their intense sharpness and boldly defined edges, while 3D pictures are utterly absorbing.
Although £700 seems expensive, the LG BH9430PW throws in an astonishing amount of features for the money. 9.1-channel sound, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Smart TV, DLNA, 4K upscaling, 3D, Miracast, wireless rears… it’s like a home cinema A to Z.
What’s more, it’s stunning to look at, easy to operate and offers powerful, detailed and immersive sound quality, despite being occasionally rough round the edges.
The lack of catch-up TV is the only major drawback, an area that arch rival Samsung currently has sewn up, but its flagship system HT-F9750 costs twice as much, making the BH9430PW look like even better value for money.
The LG BH9430PW backs up its phenomenal feature list with exhilarating sound quality and a stunning design – all for a much lower price than you might expect. That makes it a must-buy in our book.