Okay, so quick story time. I’m borderline obsessed with Harry Potter. I’ve read all the books more times than I can count, and at any given point during my work week, I have the movies playing in the background while I work. I even have multiple tattoos on my left arm (told you I was obsessed). Like any great book, every time I read them I find something new. Another little detail cleverly hidden that makes me fall in love with them all over again. That love never extended to the movies. They’re just fine—some are even pretty good. And who doesn’t love a good John Williams score? But I’ve seen them so many times that I know everything about them like the back of my hand. Hence why I figured they’d be the perfect way to test the LG SK10Y Soundbar and matching expansion system that showed up at my place to review.
I expected to have a better movie watching experience. What I didn’t expect was to damn near duck out of the way as Harry’s owl Hedwig flew towards the camera about 15 minutes into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. I didn’t expect to come away with a newfound love for the sound design in these movies that I’ve seen a hundred times. Sure, I’m gushing a little. I can say with confidence that while the LG SK10Y Soundbar isn’t perfect, its advantages far outweigh its shortcomings—including price. This soundbar is a great pick up for just about everyone that has an interest in upping their home theater game, so it might be better to say who this isn’t for.
The LG SK10Y soundbar might not be for you if:
- You’re a student. If you’re a student, chances are you’re living at home or in a dorm and don’t have a lot of money to work with. And that’s one of the biggest cons about this soundbar. It’s pricey as heck, and you don’t have to spend this much to improve your home theater experience.
- You don’t have a large place to work with. OK, you can get by if you have a small place with just the soundbar and sub, but the expansion pack might be overkill. Not to mention that the SK10Y Soundbar is 1.46m (57.7in) long, so if you don’t have a good place to put it and can’t mount it to your wall, then you might want to reconsider. It’s just so large and long that it’s going to take some planning before you pull the trigger.
- You don’t have money to blow. You don’t have to be a student to know that a $1,000 on the soundbar alone is excessive. If you’re building out a home theater space and are looking at investing in some quality gear, then this won’t let you down. But it isn’t the kind of product you need to dip into your savings for. There are cheaper soundbars out there.
It doesn’t take a lot to improve your home movie experience. There are plenty of options out there and they’re not even as expensive as you might think. Besides, let’s be real, anything is better than the speakers that come built into your TV. But the LG SK10Y does a lot of things damn near perfectly. Before we get into what it does well and what needs more work, let’s get some of the tech specs out of the way.
|LG SK10Y Soundbar Tech Specs|
|Dolby True HD||Yes|
|Dolby Digital Plus||Yes|
|DTS Digital Surround||Yes|
|Adaptive Sound Control||Yes|
|Meridian Audio Technology||Yes|
|Formats||Dolby Digital, DTS Surround, FLAC, Ogg, WAV, ALAC, MP3, WMA, AIFF, AAC|
|Inputs||Optical, 1 x HDMI 2.0 (HDCP 2.2) Out, 2 x HDMI 2.0(HDCP 2.2) Input, Aux in|
|High resolution audio||24bit/192kHz|
The LG SK10Y is well built, and it’s big
Unlike a number of Bluetooth speakers that need to be durable enough to be tossed in your bag on your way out the door, soundbars don’t have to live up to any kind of durability test. There’s no IP rating you have to know, and they don’t usually have eye-catching designs. When it comes to soundbars, simplicity is the name of the game. The LG SK10Y is just a big block of plastic that’s supposed to blend in with your decor. The soundbar dimensions are 57.7″ x 2.4″ x 5.8″ so if you really want it to match your setup, LG recommends a TV of 55” or above. Of course, that isn’t mandatory though I will say that it looked kind of ridiculous hooked up to my 32” TV. If you have a newer 4K TV you won’t have to worry about losing on quality because the SK10Y does have 4K passthrough.
The soundbar has a mesh grill wrapped all around to protect the five 50W speakers—three pointing forward, two on the side aiming left and right, and two on top of the speaker which point upwards. Besides the SK10Y itself, you’ll get a matching subwoofer which is also encased in black plastic. It’s 200W and, by nature of being a subwoofer, is pretty large and clunky at 8.7″ x 15.4″ x 12.3″. So if you have the perfect place in mind for the slim soundbar, make sure you know where you’re going to put the sub as well.
How to connect to the LG SK10Y?
Easy, it does it all automatically. Connecting everything together is seamless as long as you remember to download the LG Wi-Fi Speaker app beforehand. It’s so easy. As a matter of fact, I was frustrated multiple times when trying to figure out why nothing was happening only to play something and find out that everything was already connected. This happened with the subwoofer and the surround sound expansion pack. As it turns out, I’m now a pro at setting up this speaker after having read the instructions unnecessarily front to back. So if you do have problems getting everything to wirelessly connect, there are ways to pair manually.
For the subwoofer, you’ll have to press the button on the back for a few seconds until it locates and automatically connects to the soundbar. When pairing the small LED will flash green rapidly, and then it will stay green once connected. This takes about 20 seconds, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t connect instantly. As for the two SPK8-S speakers, you’ll have to find a pin and push in the tiny pairing button on the back of the base.
Once I had everything set up that’s where the fun began. The LG SK10Y is packed with features and ways to connect. It connects everything over WiFi, has Bluetooth v. 4.0, an optical input, three HDMI ports one of them being ARC, a 3.5mm input, LAN input, and even Google Chromecast built-in. If you’re an Airplay fan you’re out of luck, but you can always connect via Bluetooth to play music is you choose to.
Where does the LG SK10Y fall short?
With all that said, there are a few quirks with the soundbar and speakers. Namely, the right SPK8-S speaker randomly disconnects and then instantly reconnects while watching movies. It doesn’t happen often, but it did happen enough to be annoying. The other issue is the Chromecast functionality. When playing music with Spotify over Chromecast, everything runs smoothly until you start skipping between songs. For some reason, if you’re skipping fast enough, it disconnects and plays music on your phone instead of through the speakers. Then you have to reconnect to continue playing music. It’s probably something that can be fixed with an update, but it’s still annoying.
Speaking of issues that can be fixed with an update, you may have read some users complaining that vocal clarity was terrible on the soundbar. Luckily, by the time I received my unit, LG had already fixed it with an update and I didn’t have any issues with dialogue in movies. Sure, some modes sounded better than others, but I think switching between the sound profiles did the trick. You can choose between bass blast, standard, movie, music, or adaptive sound control (ASC).
The adaptive sound control monitors the sound and automatically changes the sound settings to better fit what you’re watching, but it’s worth mentioning that I couldn’t get it to work. Every time I tried, I would get a message saying that what I was watching was incompatible. If that’s a feature that you’re into, just be aware that it might not work 100 percent of the time. Lastly, you’re not going to have a plethora of HDMI options as there are only three on the back. If you have more than three devices that need to be hooked up, you’re going to have to find a workaround.
What the LG SK10Y does well
The LG SK10Y pretty much excels at everything else, and that’s what makes it special. For one, connecting was a breeze. All you have to do is plug everything into a power source and make sure that the soundbar is connected to your internet by using the LG Wi-Fi Speaker app. After that, the subwoofer and the two other speakers just immediately connect.
Another aspect that’s worth mentioning is the quality of the sound effects or the different modes that are tailored to a few different listening situations. Changing between modes changes the experience dramatically. The first thing I did once the soundbar was set up and running was play music to it via Spotify. Naturally, I put it on music mode for this. Afterward, when I started playing movies, I had a hard time hearing dialogue until I changed it to movie mode. Dialogue immediately became clearer, and the background music that was so overpowering just a second before melted into the background. Each sound effect mode does a good job at playing to the strengths of whatever it is you’re using the bar for at that time.
Another useful feature is that you can turn surround sound on or off by holding down the “auto vol” button on the included remote. So if you want to only use the soundbar for music and then turn on the surround sound when watching a movie, it’s easily accomplished. Plus, the entire setup gets insanely loud and makes movies that much more enjoyable.
How’s the sound quality?
Sound quality on the LG SK10Y soundbar is, as you might expect, pretty great. Even without the surround sound speakers, the soundbar and subwoofer combine for a solid listening experience. The SK10Y has a hi-fi DAC built-in that can do 24-bit/94kHz audio, which is way more than my Spotify account allows me to do. This is also one of LG’s first products that resulted from a partnership between the Korean company and hi-fi darling Meridian, which results in some of the best signal processing you can get. I already spoke about how it did while watching movies, but it’s just as impressive when it comes to music.
For the purposes of the review, I had the soundbar set to “music” mode, and it sounded great. The thumping bass kicks of the song Generator ^ Second Floor by Freelance Whales caused anything in the mids to dip. The subwoofer did a good job at keeping them separate while still weaving it into the rest of the instruments. If there’s anything bad to say about the lows it would probably be that it wasn’t powerful enough at times, but you can always go into the app and give the woofer some extra loudness until it’s to your liking.
Notes in the mids also came through loud and clear. The Caribbean drums and tones throughout the song Far Nearer by Jamie XX sound like they’re floating back and forth between the left and right channels, an effect that’s made even better with the help of the surround sound SPK8-S speakers. If you’re only using the soundbar for music then you’ll hear those tones move from the left to the right of the speaker, but with the SPK8-S speakers, you’re put in the middle of the sound. Almost as if it’s surrounding you (sorry, I couldn’t resist). All jokes aside, soundstage definitely improved with the 5.1.2 setup as the smaller satellite speaker take some of the load off of the soundbar that’s right in front of you. And though it’s wireless, it isn’t doing this over Bluetooth so there isn’t any lag in movies or TV shows and music lines up nicely as well.
Overall, the LG SK10Y Soundbar doesn’t disappoint. Die-hard home theater fans will be upset that it’s rocking standard DTS Digital Surround instead of something like DTS:X, but if you can look past that the soundbar still does a great job at providing an immersive experience. Hence why I felt the need to duck when a bird flew at the camera in my favorite Harry Potter movie.
Setting it all up is seamless, and LG seems to be on top of the issues releasing timely updates for complaints. Of course, the elephant in the room is the price. Even if you find it on sale you’re looking at spending around $1,000, so it’s no small purchase. And if you’re already going to be spending that you might as well get the optional SPK8-S speakers too, because they really do add another layer of audio that makes your wallet hurt a little less. In short, if you have the money and space for a soundbar of this size it’s hard not to like it.