To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

LG LAB540W Sound Plate review

LG Soundplate LAB540W

We get our first proper listen of LG's upcoming LAB540W Sound Plate, the speaker bar that will replace your TV's integrated speakers and your Blu-ray player too

Sound bars have been growing in popularity for the past year or so, but their days may already be numbered; LG’s LAB540W Sound Plate is one of several speaker systems designed to sit underneath your TV, rather than in front of it, taking up no extra space but significantly increasing the audio capabilities of your set. We got to put the LAB540W through its paces yesterday at the company’s InnoFest European trade show to bring you some first impressions.

LG Soundplate LAB540W

More than just speaker drivers in a flat box, the LAB540W has an integrated Blu-ray optical drive which means it can replace your standalone Blu-ray player as well as upgrade your sound. The slot-loading drive sits in the centre of the unit, next to a single line LCD display which reads out basic details such as play time or chapter selections.

The sleek metallic silver finish gives the Sound Plate a striking yet minimal appearance that manages to sit underneath a TV without drawing too much attention. Naturally it will fit under a TV from any manufacturer, up to a maximum of 55in, as long as the TV stand is centrally mounted, but it is clearly intended to slide between the easel-like feet of LG’s upcoming range of 2014 TVs.

LG Soundplate LAB540W

The accompanying wireless subwoofer matches the Sound Plate in terms of build quality, but is compact enough that it should comfortably slip behind a sofa. In LG’s demo room it was impossible to tell whether there was any delay between Sound Plate and subwoofer, so the sub should easily be able to sit on the other side of a large room and provide bass without having to worry about cables.

To test the LAB540W’s sound abilities we were shown the hectic forest scene from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – the exploding howitzer shells produced surprisingly powerful bass, with the subwoofer kicking out a rumble that we could feel from several feet away. Positional audio was great too, with clear separation between the left and right channels.

Volume was very high for such a small unit; paired with the single subwoofer driver, the 4 speaker drivers produce a combined power output of 310w – enough that at high levels you might start to annoy the neighbours. We could hear subtle details in the mix, even with other journalists and staff around us – we had no trouble hearing speech even when trees were exploding around Holmes and Watson. We weren’t able to test music playback, however, so can only comment on how films sounded.

LG Soundplate LAB540W

Unlike some sound bars, which opt for a simple audio-only connection, the Blu-ray equipped LAB540W is naturally built with video in mind. It connects to a TV via HDMI, adding the same smart TV features found in LG’s other home cinema systems. The hardware on display was designed for the European market so UK-centric services like BBC iPlayer weren’t installed, but we were told to expect YouTube and on-demand video apps when the LAB540W arrives in Britain. A single HDMI input will let you connect a set-top box or games console. There’s also a digital optical audio input, along with USB port for playing multimedia files from a flash drive or external hard disk.

There are plenty of wireless options too, with integrated Bluetooth streaming from a smartphone or tablet and Wi-Fi for playing files from a DLNA media server. It will also connect to certain LG TVs wirelessly too, meaning you would just need a power cable to give your TV a sound boost.

We were impressed with the LAB540W’s clarity and smart TV features, and will be interested to see how it performs in a small living room rather than a trade show floor; we can’t wait to give one a full review as soon as we get it into the lab. Hopefully we won’t keep you waiting too long, as the LAB540W Sound Plate should be on sale in the very near future. UK pricing has yet to be revealed.

Read more

First Look