The LG SL8Y Soundbar is a soundbar with Google Assistant. The assistant is directly approachable via the wide speaker. As a result, it is possible that you can control your smart devices at home with the Dutch-speaking Assistant. You can also request things like news and weather forecast.
LG SL8Y Soundbar – specs and design
The LG SL8Y is a soundbar that is slightly more than one meter wide and about twelve centimeters deep. In addition, the device is 5.7 centimeters high, so that it fits perfectly under a television that stands on legs. The soundbar is intended for televisions from 49-inch. Of course you can also use it for smaller TVs, but then you notice that it can stick out on both sides. The dark silver finish does not make the broad speaker exactly neutral, but will nevertheless fit many TVs.
The soundbar offers support for Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, high-resolution audio and 4k content. The soundbar’s power is 440 watts and the subwoofer’s 220 watts. Furthermore, there is support for surround sound and the LG SL8Y can provide optimum sound settings through Adaptive Sound Control. There are two HDMI ports, including HDMI arc, there is a USB port and there is an optical connection. In addition, there is WiFi and Bluetooth and you can use Google Assistant, Google Cast and Spotify Connect.
LG SL8Y installation
The installation of the LG SL8Y is so completed. When you take both speakers out of the box and put the plug in the socket, you are already halfway. When you connect the soundbar to the television with an HDMI cable, you are actually ready for basic use. Make sure you plug the cable into an HDMI port on your TV that supports HDMI arc, so that in the future you can manage basic functions with one remote control. That way you don’t always have to use the other remote for volume management, for example.
However, if you want to use all smart functions, then you will have to go one step further. Via the Google application on your smartphone or tablet you can add the soundbar to your wifi network and also have it recorded in a multi-room audio network . In principle, the steps are self-explanatory because everything is explained, but otherwise you can go to Smarthome Magazine for a detailed explanation (by clicking on the link provided above). This usually requires no more than a few minutes of work; Cleaning up the box takes longer.
LG SL8Y – in use
You can operate and use the soundbar in three ways: with the remote control of your TV (if you are using HDMI) arc), the supplied remote control or the Google Assistant. You can manage the volume with your own remote control. In daily use you will not want to do a lot of other things, since a lot also goes automatically. For example, if you switch from Wi-Fi to HDMI, the system will arrange that itself. And vice versa too, when you use Spotify Connect or Google Cast.
However, there are also times when that does not happen. For example when you switch to Bluetooth (logical, because that simply works manually) or you want to use the other HDMI port (where you can connect an external device). Switching to it automatically often works well (depending on the device), but when you want to return to the normal HDMI arc mode, you have to do that manually. You will therefore always have to keep the supplied remote control close to your TV remote control.
The third has to do with the Google Assistant. You can also use this to set the volume higher or lower. This can be useful when you listen to music and someone is suddenly at the front door. You then speak aloud to the voice assistant (“Hey Google”) and then give the command that the music should be softer. Things like this work better when you have multiple smart speakers in the house, so that the system does not depend on that one soundbar that is located in a specific place in the living room.
That command “Hey / Okay Google ”Is of course useful to get things done at home (you can manage smart home products, get the news and weather and even check personal things), but it can also work against you. More than once the system thinks that someone is calling “Okay Google” when a sentence is spoken on TV that uses “Okay, cool” (or something similar). Then the audio drops out and you no longer hear what is being said for a few seconds.
Now we must mention that we have also encountered this problem with speakers such as the LG WK7 and Google Nest Hub but it happened so often now that it started to stand out and became annoying. This seems to be a typical soundbar problem and we can imagine that we will cite it more often in the future as we test soundbars with Google Assistant. Google should come up with a solution for that – although a lot of false voice commands will undoubtedly be filtered.
Another point of irritation is the fact that the soundbar often automatically switches to mute when you switch it off. Why the LG SL8Y does this is a mystery to us: in a rare case this does not happen, but usually it does. When you start Spotify with your voice and only music comes from the other corner of the room (via a connected speaker) and you still have to walk to the remote control to turn the music on, then that gets pretty annoying in the long run . Hopefully this is something that can be solved with a firmware update.
LG SL8Y – sound quality
Fortunately we have no complaints about sound quality. The soundbar supports various audio modes. The most used mode is Movie, whether we were watching a movie or series or were playing a game. The sound is nice and warm and sounds both clear and smooth. Fine details come to the fore in the lower regions, while the higher segment is certainly well utilized. Then we have the Music mode, in which the sound field is broadened and the higher tones are in fact much better presented. , then there is fortunately the standard mode. That mode broadens the sound without really going deep into the depth or height. The conversations sound clear and intelligible, without background or other effects taking over. The ASC (Adaptive Sound Control) stand has not been able to convince us. In almost no case did that mode present a pleasant sound setting.
Then we have the support for surround sound in all kinds of audio formats, such as Dolby Atmos and DTS Digital Surround, for example. Although you do hear that the LG SL8Y is able to move the sound around the house, it sounds far from optimal. You get a good impression of what film, series and game makers had in mind with the sound fragment, but of course you get the most optimal reproduction with speakers in the back of the room (luckily you can also use the two rear speakers from LG for this). 
LG SL8Y – conclusion
The LG SL8Y costs around 600 euros. Although that is not the cheapest price that you can put down for a good soundbar, it is certainly not the most expensive. As far as we are concerned, this soundbar offers a premium soundbar experience for a midrange price if you look purely at (or listen to) the sound, and on top of that throws all kinds of smart functions that can be useful for people who have invested in Google Assistant products, or looking for a soudbar that also functions as a smart speaker.
The biggest disadvantage of the LG SL8Y is that the sound can sometimes disappear when the soundbar believes that someone in the room has called “Hey Google”, while that sound was actually brought into the room via the TV along the wide speaker. Moreover, there is no support for HDR content, so you may not be able to use all your connected devices optimally. Furthermore, we are fortunately impressed by the complete package that LG offers and we are very satisfied with the smart functions.
- No HDR support
- Sound can sometimes drop out
- Mutes during shutdown