LG SH7

 

SH7 subThe SH7’s soundbar and sub are each relatively compact — the soundbar 106cm wide but just 53 x 85mm in cross section, the dinky subwoofer (171mm x 320mm x 252mm). Both come in the silver grille finish that has become common to many LG products and its MusicFlow wireless multiroom speakers in particular.

And that’s part of the offer here — the SH7 offers not only the usual soundbar functions but also wireless multiroom streaming and app control too, courtesy of LG’s MusicFlow ecosystem.

Be aware, however, that LG Australia is no longer selling the separate MusicFlow speakers (which we reviewed here and here) here in Australia, and hence you'll see little mention of the SH7's MusicFlow functionality on the local LG website. But you should still be able to download the MusicCast app for iOS or Android, and to use MusicFlow with any LG MusicFlow speaker you already have, or which you obtain from other markets where MusicFlow continues, or indeed with another MusicFlow LG soundbar in another room. As we note below, MusicFlow is an excellent multiroom platform, capable of high-res audio streaming and a wide codec support. Publicised or not, it's in the SH7, and fully detailed in the owners' manual, so you can enjoy it. 

Meanwhle the physical connections are kept fairly simple on the soundbar, with just one HDMI input and then an HDMI output to your TV, the output having ARC audio return so able to play from anything else plugged into your TV assuming the two ARCs prove compatible (not always the case). Failing that you can just give the bar an optical digital connection from your TV, or a minijack analogue connection, if you absolutely must. And you can wallmount the SH7 easily, with brackets provided in the box.

There’s a mini remote control provided,or you can use an LG smart TV remote as noted above, or for for music streaming you can load up the MusicFlow app for iOS or Android. The sub simply connects wirelessly with the soundbar, requiring no user interaction other than giving it a power connection.

LG SH7

LG SH7 appPerformance
The sound quality seems tilted towards delivering speech, for which the LG certainly provides an upgrade on the weediness of built-in TV speakers, and indeed the SH7 proved to have plenty of wick available for presenting TV and movies. LG quotes some high power figures, totalling a stonking 360W, though 200W of this is in the subwoofer, with 2 x 40W to each of four channels in the soundbar (two designated as left/right, and two as surround). LG is kind enough to detail the specification of these power ratings, measured at 1kHz only, and with 10% THD. Comparisons with hi-fi-specified power should not, therefore, be made.

Things can, as we said, go quite loud, and there is an underpinning of bass from that separate subwoofer. But it’s a relatively soft upper bass, able to thump out an upper bass line but contributing to an overall sound that is boxy in tone, lacking the life or speed music deserves. Indeed musicality proved a weak point overall, with limitations quickly apparent. We ran an episode of ‘Rockwiz’ and there was no trouble following speech, but the flattening of musical content had us itching to switch back to our normal stereo speakers to retrieve the missing life and dynamics. Tonally this affects all material, and while you may not notice it during action or speech sequences, it’s immediately apparent if you’re watching your favourite tracks on ‘Rage‘ or running an Adele concert on Blu-ray.

SH7 appThere are two EQ options available. ‘Cinema’ thrusts up the bass and makes music sound superficially more powerful but a bit thumpy and ultimately still less satisfying. A second setting ‘ASC’ didn’t seem to do anything specific — LG’s explanation is that ASC “analyzes the property of input sound and provides the sound optimized for the content in real time”. So it changes the EQ constantly based on the source? Interesting. The third setting, ‘Standard’, we took to mean flat, although LG also describes this as “optimized sound”. A ‘night’ setting reduces dynamics further.

The manual indicates bass and treble adjustments are also available through the app, but apologies, we did not find these in time to experiment.  

Of course a lack of musical balance kinda puts the whole music streaming side of things at a disadvantage. We’ve enjoyed LG’s MusicFlow speakers before, although LG Australia has now ceased carrying them in its local range. MusicFlow has good specs, able to play high-res audio files from your network up to 24-bit/192kHz, and with wide compatibility for different file-types — MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, FLAC, WAV all delivered. (It attempted but refused DSD, playing one track incredibly slowly.) Various streaming services can be accessed, while there's also direct Bluetooth streaming available.

One quirk worth noting is that in a MusicFlow system at least one product must have a cabled Ethernet connection to your network; as with Sonos in the early days, it can’t all be on Wi-Fi. So if you want to use this soundbar for its MusicFlow abilities, and it’s your only MusicFlow product, you’ll need Ethernet available by your TV, or you’ll need to invest in the separate MusicFlow bridge - and that's now a problem if, as we're advised, LG Australia stops selling it. Mac users are also advised also to install Nero MediaHome 4 software to deliver DLNA-like sharing; alternatively put your music on a suitable NAS drive.

SH7 app - DLNABy this second method we streamed 24-192 FLACs entirely successfully, meaning glitch free, remembering we were using an Ethernet network connection, though the high resolution was delivered rather boxily, restraining the life-force of these beautiful recordings. ‘Night Train’, a Naim Audio recording, had Sabina Sciubba’s vocal sounding as if sung from a shoebox, while Antonio Forcione’s guitar was stripped of its scintillating edges and softened into indistinction.

Conclusion
But this is to review LG’s SH7 in a hi-fi context, compared with a good pair of stereo speakers either side of your TV. As a soundbar it plays a half-decent tune, and in particular can play remarkably loud as you crank its numbers up to 60… the subwoofer keeps on adding until you are well into the party zone. It’s Google Cast compatible too, especially handy for Android users, though we experienced some instability in this mode, with volume adjustments oddly ignored or even reversed both via the app and more strangely even via the physical remote control. 

This quirk aside, the locally-disowned MusicFlow app remains excellent for control and access to your music, and we’ve enjoyed some of LG’s standalone MusicFlow speakers (now discontinued in Australia) in the past. But the sound from this soundbar is not one that will recommend this breed of audio system to music lovers, and didn’t seem musical enough to justify the inclusion of a music-streaming system here. It achieves only the fundamentals required of a soundbar, delivering a level of impact for movies and TV material far above the abilities of a TV alone.

SH7

LG SH7 soundbar + subwoofer
Price: $799

 

Quoted soundbar power: 40W x 2 front, 40W x 2 ‘surround’, all Class D measured at 1kHz, 10% THD
Quoted subwoofer power: 200W (no measurement specs offered)
Inputs: 1 x HDMI , 1 x optical digital, 1 x analogue minijack, Ethernet, USB (service only), Bluetooth, Google Cast
Outputs: 1 x HDMI with ARC
MusicFlow* file type support: MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF
Streaming services: Spotify Connect, Deezer Premium+, TuneIn
Dimensions (bar): 1060mm x 53mm x 85mm
Dimensions (sub): 171 x 320 x 252mm
Weight (bar): 2.6kg
Weight (sub): 4.3kg