The system’s features-to-price ratio is fairly generous. Virtual Sound Matrix (VSM) is an obvious highlight given the lack of rear speakers, as it attempts to replicate a 5.1-channel effect from two speakers. Other cool features include CD ripping onto a USB stick or MP3 player, and DivX, MP3, WMA, JPEG playback (but sadly not DivX HD).
Power output is rated at 300W in total, with 75W to each speaker and 150W to the sub. Audio can also be spiced up with a range of EQ modes, and there’s a mode to optimise the quality of MP3 files.
The onscreen menus are fast and functional but not particularly exciting to look at. The setup menu covers the basics, including speaker level setting and test tones, but there are no HDMI resolution settings – to do that, you have to press the dedicated button on the remote. Meanwhile the clear, logical displays for MP3/WMA playback make it easy to find the tracks you want. The remote is undeniably crowded, but the helpful placement of the often-used menu and playback controls makes easy to pick up and use. The surrounding buttons are cluttered but clearly labelled.
The HT32S doesn’t offer the best sound quality we’ve ever heard – at this sort of price we wouldn’t expect it to – but it’s a lot better than you might imagine, particularly when compared with Samsung’s HT-X720G. Like most of LG’s systems it has been tuned by Mark Levinson and maybe that explains why the system avoids making top-end frequencies sound excessively harsh and why dialogue is expressed with pleasing candour. Or maybe it’s because it uses the same speakers that blew us away on the HB354BS system. Whatever the reason, we’re impressed.