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

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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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