42SL9000

Now that flatscreen television pictures have equalled, if not surpassed CRT sets in just about every department, the only thing that still has us occasionally hankering for the bulky old sets of yore is the sound quality.

Ray-tube-driven sets might have weighed a ton and occupied about a quarter of your living space, but those large echoey cabinets not only provided the physical space in which to mount decent speaker drivers, but also the several cubic feet of air for it to bounce around in.

The advent of flatscreens, particularly the most recent super-slim generation, has robbed the average television set of any approaching decent audio. So when you audition an LCD that's no wider than a cigarette packet at its widest point and with no visible speaker grille to boot, hopes for a rollicking audio ride are, naturally, on the low side.

Meaty mid-range

The LG manages to exceed, without entirely confounding expectations: there is a surprising amount of volume at your disposal, with enough welly for most normal-sized rooms at around 50 per cent of the way up.

The muscle is not, however, backed up by any appreciable depth, with little or no low-end rumble to underpin things like explosions.

The sound also gets a little harsh when cranked, with mid-range and treble stuff becoming flat and shouty. You can go most of the way up before things really start to deteriorate, though and general fidelity is good, although the audio 'image' is locked rather too closely to the screen, existing in two dimensions rather than three.

The various pseudo-surround sound options on offer do little to alleviate this and tend to push less aggressive components of soundtracks, like dialogue, towards the back of the mix.

Still, measured against its peers, the 42SL9000 has a perfectly workmanlike sound system that will cope easily with broadcasts and won't by any means disgrace itself with movies.

It would be a shame, however, not to do those excellent pictures the courtesy of matching them up to a decent home cinema system for anything more challenging than your everyday TV viewing.