What better way to slay four birds with a stone than with the new SJ7 Sound Bar Flex from LG. You can enjoy this soundbar in not one, but three four ways. Clearly, this is not your average soundbar which makes it worthy of a review. Read on!
Build Quality and Design
It’s got an all-black matt finish that’s meant to blend in with your decor, rather than pop out from your furnishings. The system is relatively small and unobtrusive – a welcome trait for small homes and rooms. Still, the SJ7 comes in three separate parts – a 34cm left speaker with all the important connections, a similar right bar with just one power input, and a 33cm tall wireless subwoofer. Each bar has an array of four drivers comprising 2 mid-range and two tweeters. So as a complete sound bar, the SJ7 has 8 drivers in total.
When arrayed as a sound bar, the SJ7 is about 3 inches tall (8cm) which blocked the IR sensor of my TV. As such, I prefer to take advantage of the SJ7’s small footprint and set it in a separate stereo config. And why not! This way, you’ll get a wider and more open soundstage.
The three components link to each other wirelessly when switched on. The right bar could be set as a Rear-channel surround speaker, or as a dedicated portable Bluetooth speaker. In this way, you have a total of four possible configurations with the SJ7.
You will need three power sockets in total, as all the components have to be powered separately.
Features and Performance
The SJ7 accepts one optical input from your TV, as well as a HDMI input (and output) to pass through a Full-HD signal from your Media Player or Game Console. It is important to note that (according to the manual) the SJ7’s HDMI connection will only work if your TV supports HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel). You could also stream to the sound bar via Bluetooth. What’s missing is any sort of native WiFi music streaming, although that’s something you’ll usually find in more expensive sound bars.
A small IR remote control is included with all the essential controls and toggles. You’ll find an indicator LED display behind the left bar’s speaker grill. The information displayed there is useful and clearly legible, but only from the front.
You could set the SJ7 in four different sound modes like ‘BASS’ for some low frequency boost, and ‘ASC’ (Adaptive Sound Control) which optimises the sound based on what your listening to. So how did these modes impact the listening experience?
The SJ7 belted out a focused mixture of relatively clear mids, highs and track separation, equalised for small speaker drivers. Great for TV programs and some light evening tunes over dinner. Usually, I prefer my sound served without any salt and pepper. But the SJ7 could do with a little less bass, even on Standard mode. TV Programs sound fine, but when you’re watching action movies like Logan, common low frequency rumble can slightly overwhelm the dialogue. Fortunately, dialling the bass down to my desired level was a simple affair with the remote.
There were some audio to video syncing problems, but no issues! That could also be finetuned with the remote.
I wasn’t so impressed with the SJ7’s ‘BASS’ and ‘CINEMA’ modes. Even at regular volume levels, the low registers caused important dialogue to sound muffled. So I usually leave it at ‘ASC’ mode, which is a souped up version of ‘STANDARD’ that adjusts its EQ based on what I’m listening.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the right bar is also a portable Bluetooth speaker with its own battery. So does that means more flexibility with where to put it? Sure, if you don’t mind a drop in sound output! The system is designed to conserve power when you use the right bar as a portable speaker, resulting in softer, less dynamic audio performance.
Even with a drop in output, the Bluetooth speaker is a good performer. It is definitely one of the more pristine-sounding Bluetooth speakers out there, and pretty loud too.
Bluetooth connection is reliable, such that you can even take the right speaker to the kitchen (up to around 10m away) and still stay connected. There was a negligible audio delay watching videos over Bluetooth. Otherwise, Bluetooth connection between all the components was reliable with no signal drops.
Battery Life (Right Speaker)
The portable speaker’s battery life lasted longer than expected. It had a paper reading of 4 hours, but I got out 6 hours of play from it before I had to recharge it.
This system may not seem as affordable at S$1,088, given that other sound bars could offer comparable performance for less. Despite some of the SJ7’s minor shortcomings, other sound bars will not have the same flexibility, nor will you get an included portable speaker. So if flexibility is what you crave, the LG SJ7 Sound Bar Flex is a fantastic choice.