Design - 90%
Movies Performance - 80%
Music Performance - 85%
Inputs and Features - 90%
Price / Quality - 88%
Cheapest Places to Buy :
A couple of months ago we had the pleasure to review The LG SK10Y, the premium soundbar in LG’s 2018 lineup which offered adequate sound performance but ultimately fell short of offering a complete immersive experience while it’s price left us disappointed. You can read our detailed review of the SK10Y HERE. Today we will be reviewing another model of the 2018 lineup with the SK8Y being the third in line after the SK10Y and the SK9Y.
With so many models in this year’s lineup we were curious to see how many differences there would be between them and if the huge difference in price would affect it’s performance. If their top of the line model left a lot to be desired how can a lower priced model perform, and can it deliver what it is advertised for? All these we will see in our LG SK8Y review that follows.
Design, Inputs and Features
Design wise the SK8Y is a lovely looking soundbar without having anything fancy that would attract attention. It sports a compact design that is just over a meter long making it ideal for TVs 55″ and up while it’s 57.5mm height makes it ideal if you have little space to place it. In contrast to the SK10Y, the SK8Y has only front firing woofers meaning that you will not have a problem to place it in closed space around the top and the sides.
The soundbar is being advertised as a 2.1 channels soundbar by having only two front firing woofers and this made us scratch our heads as it is a bit odd with just two woofers to be advertised as a Dolby Atmos soundbar. When a soundbar like the SK10Y that is equipped with side and up firing woofers cannot replicate a fully immersive surround field what the SK8Y can do with only two? But we will talk about this a bit later when we will analyze it’s performance. The soundbar also comes with a 200W wireless subwoofer in order to offer deeper lows.
The SK8Y comes in a nice and sleek metallic grey finish and has nice rounded corners while the subwoofer has a bookself-speaker size and can easily be placed anywhere in the room. It sports a mildly glossy top edge and rounded corners while the front panel is all black cloth grille covering the sub’s driver. On the back we find the sub’s air port and a power connection.
On the front of the soundbar we find a LED display that shows the various modes or actions you select either from the remote or the side panel which is located in the right side of the soundbar. On this side panel we find buttons to control the volume, a power button as well as Input and WiFi selection buttons. The placement of this panel can be rather troubling if your furniture obstructs both sides of the soundbar forcing you to only use the remote for control.
The rear panel of the SK8Y houses all the connections and what we found here is two HDMI ports, one input and one output (with ARC support) with both of them being v1.4, one optical out port, one 3.5mm AUX in jack and a USB that is used only for service. For this price range we would say what is on offer is what you should expect but we would like to have another HDMI input but we will have to make do.
As for connectivity the SK8Y can connect to the internet either through WiFi with support for both 2.4G / 5G or with a wire through the included Ethernet port. Additionally there is Bluetooth connectivity that supports various features of the soundbar.
The included remote is pretty small and provides all the necessary and important functions like power, volume, input select and playback controls. Under these we get a few small buttons that control various functions of the SK8Y like sound effects, adjusting the EQ, AV Sync, Info, Auto power and Auto volume. In general we found the remote very comfortable and easy to handle with it’s rubber buttons but unfortunately there is no backlight function at all.
Another feature of the SK8Y is that it’s compatible with Google assistant meaning that if you own a Google Assistant speaker you can control the soundbar’s functions through voice commands. Another handy feature is that the soundbar will switch into Atmos mode when it detects a Dolby Atmos track which can be very practical. Music playback can be achieved either by direct connectivity from the soundbar’s ports or with wireless connection through WiFi or Bluetooth to your home network.
The SK8Y also supports a wide range of online music streaming services if you connect it to the internet with services like Spotify, Tidal, Deezer and YouTube Music services with the help of Chromecast. Last but not least there is support for Spotify Connect.
Another welcome feature is the support for Hi-Res Audio files. This includes types like FLAC (Up to 192kHz), WAV, WMA and Apple Lossless.
The soundbar also comes equipped with a AV sync feature with which you can adjust the audio delay output up to 300ms if there are lip sync problems.
Last but not least you will find the Adaptive Sound Control (ASC) which is a feature of the SK8Y that can adjust the soundbar’s audio parameters according to the audio source. This comes as an addition to the Movie and Music modes available and expands the soundbar’s capabilities beyond the Dolby Atmos support.
Being a Dolby Atmos soundbar means that it can decode all Dolby Digital tracks from the old 5.1 Dolby Digital to the latest Dolby Atmos track. But as with the SK10Y that we reviewed before, the SK8Y cannot decode DTS:X or DTS-HD: Master Audio tracks as it will strip them to their core DTS track only, a major drawback in our opinion.
Setup was relatively easy as connecting the soundbar was effortless and fast. The subwoofer comes paired from the factory but nevertheless pairing is very easy if you follow the instructions manual. Also connecting to the internet is easy and without effort.
The SK8Y is rated at 360W power and although it may not be as powerful as the SK10Y it is enough to fill your small to mid sized room without much trouble. We wanted to test how the soundbar fairs with factory settings so we decided not to manually calibrate the soundbar but used one of the available modes to see how it will go. Naturally for our movies testing we tried the Movie mode and used our 4K UHD disk of Pacific Rim: Uprising in various scenes.
The first thing that is immediately apparent is that there is no sense of sounds coming from the back. The sound field is 100% in front of the viewer and this immediately lowers the immersion a lot. All surround effects come from the front but in a slight dull tone.
In the front things get better with the sound separation between the right and left channels being clear and precise. Sound separation gave a sense of expansion beyond the soundbar’s physical chassis expanding a little the immersion audio bubble to the sides. Dialogue is also very clear and separates nicely from the rest of the sound effects and environmental ambient sounds. There is also a slight sense of elevation of the center channel making it feel like it directs from the screen rather than the soundbar.
As for the Dolby Atmos effects the SK8Y makes valiant efforts to give a sense of height but only partially manages to do so. Overhead sound effects give a sense of elevation but never rise above the viewer’s head. Projectiles and fighter jets flying overhead can be heard but not as clear and high enough as if there were dedicated height speakers present.
The bass on the other hand was a mixed bag. A lot of times it felt like the soundbar was passing the lows but the subwoofer was not very active making the soundbar, even in scenes where the bass should dominate the scene, to be the most active one making the scene feel flat and empty. Only when we boosted the bass we were able to get some sense or rumbling and made the overall audio performance feel more rich.
We tried to crank up the sound a notch and the soundbar delivered without much problems. Sound was clear without distortions or any chassis rattling.
For music playback we decided to use the Music Mode that was available and the results were pretty good in our opinion. The soundbar managed to deliver a crisp and clear performance although it felt like bass was lacking a bit. Manually adjusting the EQ settings and boosting the bass on the soundbar and subwoofer improved things a little delivering a much improved performance.
With music tracks we got a better overall impression and this mainly has to do with the fact the SK8Y hides it’s main weakness that is the inability to faithfully reproduce surround effects. Thus with a bit of manual tuning we were able to get the soundbar to perform at satisfactory levels and spend a few hours of music enjoyment.
The SK8Y performed more or less as we expected. Although it had the necessary power to fill the room easily it’s performance was lacking in many departments. First of all it was LG’s mistake to advertise this soundbar as a Dolby Atmos one as there is no sense of surround audio from the back while height sounds in no way felt like they were above the viewer. Also the subwoofer disappointed us with it’s performance as many times it felt like it refused to join the fun making the viewing feel flat and empty. Another glaring omission is no DTS: Virtual X support or DTS: X in general as it supports only the basic DTS track.
But not all is doom and gloom for the SK8Y. As far as the fronts sound reproduction is concerned the soundbar delivered very clear reproduction and nice separation between the two channels. Dialogue was also clear and very distinguishable from the rest of the sounds. It also sports a nice design with a small footprint making it ideal for tight spaces, the connection ports on offer are more than adequate for this price range and the feature set that LG decided to equip this unit with is above what is offered on average.
If you want a soundbar for mixed use without being very picky then the SK8Y will serve you well. It may not offer a complete surround viewing experience but it will expand the sound field just a bit more than a usual 2.1 setup while having enough power to crank up the sound a notch. The price has gone down since it’s release making it a far better deal now than when it came out so if you are tight on budget and space then the SK8Y is a good alternative to satisfy you home theater needs.
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Cheapest Places to Buy :
- Channels : 2.1ch
- Total Power : 360W
- Speakers : Front 80W X 2, Subwoofer 200W (Wireless)
- Features : Dolby Atmos®, High Resolution Audio up to 24bit/96kHz, 24-bit upsampling, Hi-Fi DAC, Group Play Mode, Chromecast Built-in, Wireless Surround Sound Ready (SPK8-S), Bluetooth Streaming, Adaptive Sound Control (ASC), Works with Google Assistant
- Convenience : TV Remote Compatibility, BLE EZ Setup, Smartphone Remote App (iOS/Android), Auto Volume Leveler, Audio Return Channel (ARC), Dynamic Range Control, SIMPLINK, Firmware Over-the-air (FOTA), Night Mode, Display Type LCD (5 char.)
- Sound modes : ASC (Adaptive Sound Control: Default), Standard, Music, Movie, Bass Blast
- Audio formats : LPCM, Dolby Atmos® Virtual Height, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital, DTS Digital Surround, FLAC (Up to 192kHz), OGG (Up to 48kHz), WAV, ALAC, MP3, WMA, AIFF, AAC / AAC+ – Streaming (Wi-Fi), AAC / AAC+ – Streaming (Bluetooth)
- Connectivity : Ethernet, Wi-Fi Band 2.4G / 5G, Wireless Active Subwoofer, Bluetooth (ver. 4.0), LG TV Sound Sync (Bluetooth), LG TV Sound Sync (Optical), HDMI 1.4 Out, HDMI 1.4 Input, Optical Output, USB (Service Only), AUX In (3.5mm)
- Dimensions / Weight : Sound Bar (WxHxD) 41.7″ x 2.4″ x 3.5″ / 1061.0 x 57.5 x 87.0mm – 6.6 lbs / 3.0Kg, Subwoofer (WxHxD) 8.7″ x 15.4″ x 12.3″/ 221.0 x 390.0 x 312.8 – 16.8 lbs / 7.6Kg