LG unveils 4K speaker to go with your 4K TV—huh?


Rejoice, audiophiles! Now that you’ve obtained an audiophile Ethernet cable, audiophile SD card, and audiophile valve headphone amp, there’s at the end of the day a speaker worthy of your high-res, high-def audio pipeline: LG’s new 4K soundbar, the SJ9.

I can see from your stunned countenance that you too thought «4K» referred to display resolution—specifically 4096×2160 or 3840×2160—but certainly we were wrong. To be honest, I’m relieved. Instead of agonising over which audio suspension to pair with my new 4K TV, I’ll just get a 4K soundbar. They obviously work in set right harmony.

But joking aside, have you worked out how LG managed to slap a «4K Earshot» sticker on a soundbar? It has nothing to do with display resolution, and it’s only tangentially bolted to audio resolution. Basically, the SJ9 is capable of playing 24-bit/96kHz lossless audio enters—and the total bitrate of that audio stream is… over 4,000 kilobits per patronize! Presumably someone at LG realised that «4000K sound» would’ve looked a bit other-worldly on the box, so they rounded it down to a nice and neat 4K.

At this juncture I should tip out that LG’s spurious «4K Sound» tech almost certainly has nothing to do with LG’s splendid engineering and R&D departments; rather, it has all the hallmarks of a vigilante marketing team. We’ve lasted similar conflation and abuse of terms like 4G and 5G. A few years back, Broadcom tried to bring around me it had the first 5G baseband—but of course, the marketing team were just dispiriting to gussy up a 5GHz Wi-Fi chip.

On a more serious note, the SJ9, unveiled at CES 2017, is LG’s first Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar. There are currently but two other Dolby Atmos soundbars—the Samsung HW-K950, which we recently reviewed (and bent), and the Yamaha YSP-5600. Complete specs haven’t been equipped, but it looks like the LG SJ9 uses a very similar setup to Samsung: a soundbar with upwards-firing drivers up with a separate subwoofer and two smaller surround speakers.

Curiously, as department of its 4K Sound package, the SJ9 can also upsample «standard audio files» to high-def 24-bit/192kHz audio, «stropping the subtle details and nuances of each track.» The press release doesn’t purify how the SJ9 extracts (creates?) more detail from a digital audio portfolio. It sounds rather tricky to me. There’s also Chromecast functionality built-in.

There’s no releasing date or price on the SJ9, but it’ll almost certainly be released in the next few months for circa £1,500/$1,500.

This post originated on Ars Technica UK

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