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To test out the HB954PB's performance, we used two Blu-ray discs - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Transformers. The effervescent Dolby TrueHD soundtrack of the former is communicated with bucketloads of energy and detail throughout, particularly the scene inside the Mixing Room - the whirring machines and subtle lapping of the chocolate lake coming from the surround speakers are crisp and immersive, while the Oompah Loompah's song is layered with punchy brass, solid bass and unusually clear vocals.
The more aggressive TrueHD track of Transformers is handled with equal aplomb. During the gigantic robot-on-robot scrap at the end, the sounds of clanking metal, blasting rocket launchers and falling debris ping around the room with well-controlled vigour, without ever sounding harsh. Meanwhile the sub pounds out heavy robo-footsteps and explosions with pleasing heft, plus the excellent dialogue reproduction gives Prime's gruff voice real presence. The only flaw is that the sub is a tad loose and boomy in places, which doesn't help its integration with the satellites.
If you're planning on using the system in place of a hi-fi, you certainly won't be disappointed. A blast of Michael Jackson's Off The Wall CD reveals a pleasing balance across the frequency range and enough energy and rhythm to get those toes tapping ten to the dozen.
Picture quality is also better than you'd expect from an all-in-one system. With Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the HB954PB's top-notch detail retrieval provides remarkable insight - the minutiae of the Mixing Room looks sharp and focused, plus facial close-ups reveal delicate textures and nuanced shading. Vivid colours are handled with eye-popping depth too, and when combined with the pin-sharp detail it forms an irresistibly rich and punchy picture.
The HB954PB is yet another top-quality all-in-one system from the LG stable. Not only does it provide a convenient way of getting a Blu-ray player and 5.1-channel sound system in one fell swoop, it's also immensely stylish and packed with features - the iPod dock, YouTube access and USB port are particular highlights. It's not the last word in picture and sound performance but the key here is value - if you can piece together a better separates system for the same sort of money, then we'll eat our collective hats.
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