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LG LAB540 Sound Plate review

Katharine Byrne
28 Jan 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
400
inc VAT

Sound quality isn't brilliant, but the LAB540's built-in 3D Blu-ray player and extra Smart TV services add some extra value

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Specifications

Speakers: 4.1, RMS power output: 320W, Dimensions: 700x320x39.5mm, Weight: 3.76kg (SoundPlate), 7.64kg (Subwoofer), Dock connector: No, Networking: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, DLNA

TVs are continuously getting thinner, but this leaves less and less room for a decent set of speakers. Not everyone has space for a wide sound bar though, which is why sound plates are becoming a popular alternative. LG's LAB540 sits neatly underneath your TV, but goes a step further than other sound plates by squeezing a 3D Blu-ray player into the front, letting you streamline your home cinema setup even further.

The LAB540 is pleasingly slim and discreet at just 39.5mm high, 700mm long and 340mm deep. According to LG it can accommodate 55in and smaller TVs, although this will very much spend on the design of your TV’s stand, as the wide spokes of our 46in Samsung reference TV only left a couple of centimetres of room in each corner. You’ll also need to find some room for the wireless subwoofer, but with dimensions of just 296x332x296mm, it’s one of the more compact subwoofers we’ve seen in recent months. Setting it up is easy, too, as it automatically pairs with the sound plate as soon as you plug it in. 

Of the three sound modes to choose from, Standard was by far the most balanced. We still felt it could have done with a touch more bass at times, particularly when listening to film soundtracks over Bluetooth. Our test tracks from How to Train Your Dragon 2 sounded much flatter on the LAB540 compared to Samsung’s similarly-priced HW750 sound bar, as the LAB540 wasn’t able to deliver the same pounding impact of a crescendo or create the same sense of clarity between high and low sounds.

Music mode stripped back the bass even further, putting a firm emphasis on the main melodies of George Ezra’s ‘Budapest’ rather than the supporting guitars and percussion. Cinema mode redressed this balance, adding a pleasing amount of bass to the mix, but the top frequencies sounded a little thin as a result, draining our music of the cinematic presence they deserved.

Turning up the volume creates a distinct muffling effect in the bass on all three modes, as if the sound plate was straining to hit the full acoustic range of the soundtrack. It didn’t happen all the time, but the subwoofer did start distorting when playing tracks from Interstellar, creating an unpleasant, high-pitched vibration sound as it struggled with the bass. This isn’t what we’d expect from a sound plate at this price, and trying to adjust the levels of the LAB540’s four internal drivers and subwoofer did little to alleviate the problem. 

The muffling wasn’t quite so noticeable when watching films on Blu-ray, but the LAB540 nevertheless failed to make much of an impression. Dialogue was clear at all times, but while it’s certainly a cut above your average TV speaker, it couldn’t create the same kind of palpable atmosphere as other dedicated sound bars.