Installation is a breeze. Obviously tabletop mounting is the least stressful method, but even wall mounting looks easy thanks to the wall bracket and template supplied in the box.
Thankfully the NB3530A comes with a well-designed remote. This compact handset has a practical layout, with buttons labelled in clear capital letters.
The input selection and volume keys towards the top are coloured differently and placed on a hump, which makes them easy to find in the dark. There are controls for LG TVs at the bottom and a cluster of large playback buttons in the centre.
The lack of onscreen menus isn’t a problem thanks to the informative front display panel, but to be honest there isn’t much to tweak. You can adjust the subwoofer level (from -40 up to 6) by pressing the ‘Woofer Level’ button followed by the main volume controls.
You can also set an audio delay to correct lip sync issues, activate the Auto Volume mode and toggle through the ‘Sound Effect’ modes. These include Bass Boost, Clear Voice, Game, Night, Upscaler, Loudness, Natural and 3D Surround. A Bypass mode turns off all processing.
Although the NB3530A’s sound quality isn’t quite up to the standards of the step-up NB4530A, it’s still an impressive performer in its own right. It makes movies sound suitably loud and bassy while side-stepping distortion. If you’ve been slumming it through your TV’s speakers, then the LG’s sound will be a real eye (and ear) opener.
With Avengers Assemble on Blu-ray, piped into the optical input from a Blu-ray deck, the LG takes command of big action scenes, firing out effects with relish. It also generates a wide soundstage with a good sense of scale. The 3D Surround mode does a decent job of spreading out the soundstage too, making action scenes feel more involving.
The massive battle between the Avengers and Loki’s army at the climax is the perfect demonstration of this. When the huge Chitauri spacecraft lumbers into view, the rumble is solid without being overpowering. As Hulk pummels aliens into building walls, the effects are tight and forceful but not harsh. Dialogue also cuts through the carnage clearly.
Detail reproduction is decent too. Glass tinkles crisply when the spacecraft smashes into cars and Thor’s lightning really sizzles from the speakers. Everything sound crisp and clean, if not quite up to the same level of refinement offered by Philips’ HTL5120 or the step-up NB4530A. But while these soundbars deliver high frequencies with a little more finesse, the NB3530A musters a pleasingly open sound on the whole.
The only real negative is that the soundbar relies too heavily on the subwoofer for bass and lower mid frequencies, lacking depth and punch when you hear it in isolation. Luckily it’s a competent subwoofer, offering taut bass notes and minimal lag, but you don’t get the same smooth crossover and cohesion between sub and soundbar as some systems. You also need to be careful when setting the bass level, as it’s easy to make everything sound overly warm and muddy.
But these are minor criticisms – the NB3530A is a smooth and entertaining performer for the money. That continues with the system’s enjoyable music playback. The subwoofer makes kick drums and basslines sound punchy and rhythmic, and there’s an airy feel to hi-hats and percussion.
The NB3530A is an attractive soundbar and a decent performer, but there are rivals on the market that offer more for the money and better sound quality. Philips’ £250 HTL5120, for example, offers two HDMI inputs, a classier design and a more refined performance. On that basis we’d opt for the Philips, but that doesn’t change the fact that the NB3530A is an impressive soundbar, with a solid feature set, excellent build quality and a chic design.
Its sound quality and feature set might not be the best in its class but the NB3530A is still an impressive sound bar for the money, with Bluetooth and wireless sub the feature highlights
Read more: Best soundbars to buy