The LG SK10Y is the soundbar that would be king. With Dolby Atmos support, High-Res Audio certification and Chromecast compatibility, it’s not shy when it comes to features, and a new partnership with British hi-fi specialist Meridian Audio does much to boost its sonic credentials.
Having driven the luxury TV agenda with OLED, LG now wants to do a take similar leadership with audio, and Meridian seems the perfect partner to help. The high-end audio outfit has been involved in component choice as well as physical construction, but has this really made a difference?
The SK10Y heads a trio of LG Dolby Atmos soundbars; at launch it’ll be joined by the smaller SK9Y, and entry-level SK8. We had the opportunity for an ears-on at an early preview of the SK10Y during its Global Audio Press Tour unveiling, where it quickly became apparent that LG is deadly serious about carving a niche in the premium soundbar market.
Design and features
The SK10Y is a big beast. A full 65 inches wide, it’s the largest soundbar LG has ever produced, and requires either a really wide AV table or wall mounting; the latter is achieved via an L-shaped bracket, and this causes the big bar to jut out, which in purely aesthetic terms isn’t a great look. The soundbar has integrated Dolby upfiring speakers, so it can’t be positioned in a cabinet.
The SK10Y comes with a wireless, 15-liter, front-firing subwoofer, to handle deep bass. This just needs to be parked nearby.
Usability seems excellent. With Chromecast built in, the SK10Y can be integrated into a Google-based multi-room audio system, and controlled by voice via Google Assistant. Bluetooth streaming is standard, and connections include 4K HDMI passthrough and an optical audio input.
Fired up, the LG SK10Y certainly creates an impressive wall of sound. It’s designated as a 5.1.2 Atmos solution, which means that in addition to twin top-mounted speakers there’s a triple array on the front fascia (left, center, right), plus side-firing channels at either edge. These side drivers aren't designed to bounce sound off a wall; instead they use Acoustic Phase Matching to alter the timing of the audio, which creates an impression of surround sound.
The SKY10Y isn’t just about movies. It’s High-Res Audio-ready, and 24-bit 192kHz-capable. It supports the usual selection of lossless codecs, but not MQA.
Aluminum tweeters are able to reach up to a High-Res Audio badge-certifying 40Hz. LG also says these cones provide a higher sound pressure level over silk dome tweeters. The SK10Y had no problem pressure-loading our listening room.
Volume is prodigious. With total power output is rated at 550W, you’ll probably not want to run it on full whack.
While all Dolby Atmos soundbars feature a height component, they tend not to create a fully immersive listening experience, at least when compared to a Dolby Atmos AV receiver using multiple physical speakers.
The SK10Y tries hard to combat this. For one, it has variable overhead volume, which enables users to compensate for different ceiling heights. The company is also offering a separate pair of wireless rear speakers, the SPK8s. This package comprises a pair of diminutive, wireless forward-facing squawkers and a standalone 140W two-channel amplifier. When paired with theses rears, the SK10Y will offer full 5.1 surround sound, plus height; effectively 7.1.2, with a total power output of 690W. It was in this configuration that we listened to the system.
The SK10Y has been built around the standard Dolby DAP chipset, and includes features common to that, namely a dialogue enhancer, volume leveler and volume modeler. The latter is used to maintain levels of bass, even when volume levels are decreased. It prevents the audio stage wimping out when sensible listening levels are applied.
However, it also means the SK10Y can’t support DTS:X, the rival immersive audio format. However, the soundbar will decode DTS Master Audio, and this and other non-Atmos sound sources can be upscaled for all-channel listening.
Our early verdict
LG's inaugural partnership with Meridian has resulted in a Dolby Atmos soundbar with surprising clarity and refinement. We’ll have to wait for a final sample to see just how immersive it is, but there’s little doubt that with the SK10Y, LG has indeed raised the bar.
- Will the LG SK10Y make it onto our list of the best soundbars you can buy?