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LG LAP340 SoundPlate - high expectations

2/8/2014 8:16:20 PM
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Our reference screen, the Panasonic TX-P42GT60B, has a smoother, clearer and more  focused sound. Yes, we were shocked too

You know something’s wrong when your TV sounds better than the soundbase that’s supposed to provide it with an audio upgrade.

The LG LAP340 SoundPlate came with high expectations. LG’s budget soundbars, after all, have won group tests and Awards in the past year. In this new soundbase form, we expect LG to deliver just as good TV-bettering sound.

So we’re baffled, and downright disappointed, that the LG LAP340 SoundPlate sounds so shockingly poor. This soundbase delivers a confused, disorganized sound. It sounds very weak, and has a coarse, harsh edge that’s really hard to ignore. Or like.

LG LAP340 SoundPlate

LG LAP340 SoundPlate

Unpleasant combination

The sound manages to be both boomy and bright – it’s a rather unpleasant combination. The bass is loud and unruly, while the top end is prone to brightness. It tones down after a couple of days’ running in, but the bright edge doesn’t fade entirely. Activating the Cinema Sound mode does open up the performance, but it also over-emphasizes the bass.

The midrange has a scooped-out quality to it. Voices sound lost and hollow and, coupled with the muddled detail definition, there’s precious little emotion conveyed through dialogue.

When it’s all put together there’s a real lack of cohesion and refinement here. Even worse, we found ourselves preferring the smoother, clearer and focused sound of the TV we were using for the test. Our reference screen, the Panasonic TX-P42GT60B, has a smoother, clearer and more focused sound. Yes, we were shocked, too.

Points for design

We can see why LG calls the LAP340 a ‘Plate’ – it’s slimmer and flatter than any other soundbase we’ve seen so far, and an ideal design for the minimalist-minded, tucking away neatly under any big-screen TV. Despite the LG’s somewhat lightweight and plasticky feel, we’ve no doubt its sturdy 38kg weight limit will easily support most large tellies. It’s nicely put together too, although it doesn’t quite exude the same quality of finish as the Canton DM 50 or Panasonic SC-HTE80.

The bare minimum

The SoundPlate has an optical input, and Bluetooth streaming. And that’s it. Given the $414.9 price, we feel short-changed. Compared with the multiple HDMI and analogue connections offered by the Panasonic SC-HTE80 and Maxell MXSP-SB3000 for $414.9 and less, the LG’s sparse offering leaves us underwhelmed.

Still, a color-changing LED makes it clear when the soundbase is muted (red), connected via optical (green), or in Bluetooth mode (orange).

LG LAP340 SoundPlate

LG LAP340 SoundPlate

We do like the LG’s remote control, though. It’s small and light, but with big, simple buttons that are easy to find in the dark. The black rubber finish with orange accents is nice, it’s responsive, and we like how simple it is to use.

There are also control buttons for power and volume, but they’re at the back of the unit. Why? We have no idea.

We’re dismayed by the LG LAP340 SoundPlate’s performance. It’s relatively pricey, too, which further hurts its case. A $580.8 bill comes with certain expectations of sound quality and features, and the LG simply fails to deliver.

We’re surprised at how much LG has missed the mark here, given its soundbase successes. As a solution to improve the sound of your TV, the LG SoundPlate fails spectacularly.

Rating

For: Slender build; easy to use; good remote control.

Against: Unwieldy bass; coarse treble; lacks cohesion; limited features; expensive.

Verdict: We’re utterly disappointed by this LG – an uncharacteristically poor performance.

Specifications



·         Front: 2 x 20W

·         Subwoofer: 2 x 20W

·         Surround: 2 x 20W

·         Output power: 120W

·         Convenience: LED Indication Lights, Bluetooth 3.0, Cinema Sound Mode, Sound Sync

·         Dimensions: 700 x 35 x 320 mm

·         Weight: 3.7 kg

·         Price: $580.8

 

 
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