Ahead of the world’s biggest consumer tech show, LG is talking up speakers that will read the room and work out how best to play sound.
If you’ve held off on buying a sound system for your new home entertainment setup, CES might just deliver what you’ve been looking for, particularly if that reason was because of 3D sound.
An area we’d expect most home theatre sound systems to be missing, 3D sound delivers sound that occurs all around you, bouncing sound waves off the ceiling using top speakers, while allowing surround speakers to create the back channels as they have for years. The result is an all-encompassing sound, and one that filmmakers have been using in movies for a number of years now, which can typically be found attached to 4K releases of films.
While you’ll need a 4K TV to get the special 3D sounds to come out, you also need that special 3D sound setup, and that’s where DTS:X and Dolby Atmos sound systems come in. Whether you grab one with a home theatre amplifier or a soundbar, you’ll be needing one of these if you are to make the 3D sound work, and that could mean a new sound system is on the cards.
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen more brands come out with specialised 3D sound systems, including Sennheiser’s $3999 Ambeo soundbar last year, but there are other options. Based on the early news coming out ahead of CES in Las Vegas next week, you can expect to see more than a handful.
LG is first in with that news, talking up a 2020 soundbar range that includes the SN11RG soundbar with top speakers that supports 7.1.4 channels through both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. For those playing along at home not familiar with the number as, that’s 7 surround channels, 1 subwoofer, and four 3D channels firing up and around.
To make this happen, it appears the LG SN11RG uses five speakers surround speakers in the soundbar itself with two upward facing speakers in the same place, as well as two rear speakers for the remaining two channels in surround and two speakers firing up, pairing this with an external subwoofer, as well.
It’s a setup LG says should provide 360 degrees of sound, and come with support for technologies developed from its partnership with Meridian Audio, which includes a widened sound stage and an “Image Elevation” to change the perceived height of instruments and vocals.
There’s also support for room calibration handled by artificial intelligence, which means LG’s flagship soundbars will support a form of self-calibration that bounces sound in the room, reading the waves as they appear in your room, adjusting the sound accordingly. It’s not unlike Sonos’ TruePlay, which on every speaker that isn’t the Sonos Move requires an iPhone to setup. Bang & Olufsen has a similar speaker-based calibration technology found in some of its products, as well.
However it’s something that you can likely expect to see more of, and will appear in the flagship LG soundbar for 2020, the SN11RG, and possibly a model without those rear speakers in the SN9YG, which we assume is a 5.1.2 model based on the pictures we’re seeing.
If anything, we suspect we’ll learn more and at least hear the products for ourselves when we go eyes- and ears-on with them next week at CES 2020 in Las Vegas.