LG SP9YA: Great Sound and One Fatal Flaw


The LG SP9YA sound bar has some impressive sound. The nine speakers (including a wireless sub-woofer) do a great job of approximating the sound of a 5.1.2 setup – the simulated rear speakers are more vague than pinpoint accurate, but the front sound stage is much wider than the sound bar itself.

I used it to watch some TV (Psych on Amazon Prime Video), parts of different movies (Gone in 60 Seconds, Snake Eyes, Godzilla vs. Kong, Apollo 13 and Captain Marvel), and played games on my Xbox Series S (Battlefield 2042, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Myst and Forza Horizon 5).

With gaming, the sound wasn’t the same as my proper home theater system with real rear surround speakers, but it was close enough that I could tell there was something happening behind me in the chaos of Battlefield 2042. It is a really great sounding sound bar that is crisp and dynamic, though the bass is a bit muddled.

I would have kept it, except there was one fatal flaw.

LG SP9YA Display

Whoever at LG that decided not to allow users to turn off the display on the front of the sound bar has no concept of good design and user experience. A sound bar is designed to sit in front of a TV, in the line of sight of a TV watcher. When using the LG SP9YA in a dark room, the display is very distracting. It has two states: Bright when something changes (input or volume) and then after 15 seconds it dims. But even in the dimmed state, it is still rather bright. Having “E-ARC” glowing in my field of view while trying to watch a movie is a horrible experience.

This is a the fatal flaw of the LG SP9YA. It is unfortunate because the sound bar sounds rather good.