Pros / This sound bar has the best surround sound simulation in our test group.
Cons / Its subwoofer is weak compared to the best models we tested.
Verdict / The LG SJ8 is a great sound bar if you have a small entertainment room and enjoy watching action movies in surround sound.
The LG SJ8 has the newest sound bar technology, so it’s a future-proof option to upgrade the sound in your entertainment room. It has all the important connections, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and HDMI ports. In addition, its 4.1-channel surround simulation uses the Dolby Atmos codec to add theater-quality depth and character to your movie-watching experience. If LG had paired this sound bar with a bigger, more powerful subwoofer, we probably would have ranked it number one.
To test audio quality, we surveyed a panel of listeners as they watched a clip from the movie X-Men: Apocalypse. Our panel gave the SJ8 top scores for surround simulation. In fact, the scene we used for this test has a helicopter that uses the sound bar’s vertical Atmos channels, and we noticed a couple of the survey participants looked at the ceiling in our AV lab for speakers that weren’t there. That is a good sign that this sound bar properly simulates vertical-facing speakers.
The LG SJ8 had a hard time reproducing theater-quality bass. The front-firing enclosure houses a 6-inch woofer, which is the average size of the subwoofers we reviewed. However, it seemed underpowered compared to its competition. You don’t need floor-rumbling bass when you watch television shows or comedy and drama movies, but if you are a fan of action movies, a powerful subwoofer is an important component.
This sound bar has the best connection options of all the products we tested. The SJ8 can stream content wirelessly from your phone, tablet or laptop using a Bluetooth connection or your home’s Wi-Fi network. It also has Google Chromecast, which uses a Wi-Fi network to transmit audio and video at a higher quality than you can over a Bluetooth connection. If you have an LG television with Sound Sync technology, the SJ8 can connect to it wirelessly with a Bluetooth connection. It doesn’t yield the best audio results, but you won’t have a tangled mess of cables to deal with.
The SJ8’s HDMI input and output support 4K video pass-through. The newest stream boxes, like the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV, can stream UHD content – if you plan on using one of those devices, this LG model is a good choice because its HDMI ports won’t degrade the image quality.
Also, if you plan to stream music from your phone to your sound bar, the LG SJ8 can make it sound better. It uses upsampling technology to convert low-resolution audio tracks to better-than-CD quality and plays them back at that higher sample rate. This is the only sound bar we tested that can play high-definition audio formats like FLAC, and you can use the built-in Google Chromecast to stream high-resolution content from services like Tidal.
If you use your sound bar as the primary audio source in your entertainment room, you need a remote to control the volume. As such, we evaluated the quality of each sound bar’s remote control and tested its maximum range. The SJ8’s remote had no problem changing settings from more than 60 feet away, but it is one of the smaller ones we tested, so keep that in mind if your remotes tend to disappear. Still, its build-quality is solid, and it should last many years.
The one feature missing on this remote is separate volume controls for the subwoofer and sound bar. Being able to control the subwoofer’s volume is helpful if you switch between multiple input sources, since you may not want as much bass reinforcement when listening to music as you do when you watch action movies.
LG includes a one-year warranty if you purchase the SJ8 from an authorized retailer. You can contact the company’s support staff by email, phone or live chat if you have questions about the sound bar’s features or how to connect it to your system. Live chat is the fastest way to get answers to most questions.
The LG SJ8 has all the newest connections and sound modes, and its slim design and wireless subwoofer make it easy to integrate into your current setup. If you want a future-proof sound bar and enjoy watching action movies in surround sound, this is a great way to upgrade your TV’s built-in speakers.