LG’s Curved HS8 Soundbar: Australian Review

LG’s Curved HS8 Soundbar: Australian Review

If you have a curved TV, buying a straight soundbar or flat external speakers kinda misses the point; you want something that matches your screen not only in style but in shape. There are a few different models out there, but LG’s HS8 curved soundbar looks just about as good as all-in-one sound systems for your TV can.

I spent a couple of weeks with the amazing 65-inch LG EG960T — a curved, Ultra HD, OLED TV that I first saw back in July last year — paired up with the HS8 (otherwise known as the LAS855M). I went in extremely sceptical of soundbars — apart from the Sonos Playbar, I’m not really a fan — but was pleasantly surprised by the sound quality, especially given its relatively small size overall.

It has a surprising amount of power, considering its thin aspect. It’s only 45mm tall and barely 80mm deep, but packs 160 Watts of audio power into two front-facing and two 45-degree, outward firing virtual surround sound speakers. The front-firing speakers are three times as powerful as the surround ones, so the dialogue that you’re hearing is much louder by default than the surround effects — one of the most annoying features of most of the other home-theatre-in-a-box systems that I’ve heard, where especially in a small room the surround channels are far too loud and intrusive on your movie-watching experience.

It’s the right size for a 55- to 65-inch TV. At right on 1.2 metres wide, the HS8 is within an inch of the width of a 55-inch EG960T TV, and its five-metre radius — the aggressiveness of its curve — matches the TV too. It doesn’t look undersized around the larger 65-inch, though, even if it does blend a little more into the stand. There’s one thing worth considering though — while a flat soundbar will sit flush against the wall underneath your curved TV, a curved soundbar will stick out like a sore thumb if you ever upgrade to a flat TV in the future. Keep that in mind when you’re committing to the purchase.

It’s surprisingly smart, but it doesn’t have to be. The HS8 has integrated, always-on Bluetooth, so you can throw music to it easily from a pre-paired device — or you can use any Google Cast compatible app once you’ve connected the HS8 to your home’s Wi-Fi. Doing that also gives you access to LG’s Music Flow in-home multi-room audio ecosystem, which is useful if you have other LG speakers in other rooms. I will admit that for the most part, I only ever used the HS8 as a dumb soundbar that was playing the audio that was output from the TV connected to it, but having the option there is nice.

LG’s Curved HS8 Soundbar: Australian Review
LG’s Curved HS8 Soundbar: Australian Review

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It’s really pretty straightforward to set up. For a simple, TV-only setup, all you need is the HS8’s power cable, an identical power cable for the wireless subwoofer, and some method of sound input. On any half-decent TV — definitely any curved TV, as long as it’s not an ancient fishbowl curving in the wrong direction — then HDMI should be your first choice. The HS8 has a HDMI input and output, so if you’re connecting an external device like a Blu-ray player you have video pass-through to your TV. Beyond that, you also have digital audio input and a legacy 3.5mm headphone jack.

The subwoofer is good, but needs a bit of tweaking. In the box, you only get the soundbar itself and the 200 Watt ported subwoofer. That’s a simple setup, but it also puts a lot of pressure on the subwoofer to perform both lower bass notes and higher mid-bass that larger front-firing speakers would usually handle. If you find the subwoofer’s bass is a bit boomy and indistinct, you can partially plug the bass reflex port and tighten it up a bit, trading some of that outright power for slightly quicker response and tighter punch. It’s still a room-filling sound, but it just has a little less decay to it.

You pay for that curvy exterior. At a $999 RRP, the LG HS8 is LG’s most expensive soundbar — which makes sense, since it’s designed to suit its most expensive TVs. It justifies this price with the feature-set and the surprising quality of the sound that it puts out, but it’s still a significant extra expense on top of an already exxy TV. You can find it for around $700 if you look around, though — it’s currently at $699 at Bing Lee, although most other stores have it for around $100 more. It’s well worth it, at least.