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LG Eclair QP5 Dolby Atmos Soundbar System Review: Size Matters


One of the most important benefits of a soundbar system is its size, and the ease of installation that comes with a one-or-two speaker package. Usually small enough to fit on a TV table, and with simple wiring requirements, a soundbar is a convenient way to improve the sound for your TV viewing at home. That said, soundbars are typically long, and may therefore be a bit difficult to safely place in very compact spaces. A super-compact soundbar, such as the product I’m reviewing here, aims to offer a solution to that problem.

The LG Eclair QP5 is touted as the company’s smallest soundbar with Dolby Atmos support and is priced at Rs. 59,990 in India, although it is available for a fair bit less in online listings. What makes this soundbar system so unique is the size of the bar speaker, and the fact that you also get a subwoofer in the package. The QP5 has a 3.1.2-channel speaker system and a rated output of 320W, with the tuning performed by Meridian Audio. Is this the best super-compact home theatre system you can buy right now? Find out in this review.

Connectivity options on the LG Eclair QP5 include HDMI, Digital Optical-in, USB, and Bluetooth

 

LG Eclair QP5 soundbar and subwoofer design and specifications

Although the LG Eclair QP5 is marketed as a soundbar system, a quick look at the primary speaker will have you question that logic entirely. The ‘bar’ speaker is just under 30cm in length and weighs only 1.55kg. This compact size means that it doesn’t look like a typical soundbar at all. LG states that the QP5 system is best matched with a 40-inch television, and the bar speaker looked absolutely tiny compared to the 43-inch Sony KD-43X75K television I used it with for my review.

The ports are at the back of the bar speaker and these include one HDMI-in port, one HDMI-out port with support for ARC, a Digital Optical-in (Toslink) port, a USB Type-A port, and a DC-in socket for the power adapter. The buttons for basic controls are also at the back, just above the ports, and these include power, volume, source selection, and Bluetooth. There is no display on the speaker system, but there are three LED lights on the front which indicate power, connectivity status, and volume.

While the bar speaker may be small, the included wireless subwoofer certainly isn’t, and this creates a rather odd visual mismatch when looking at the LG QP5 system. Although the two components have similar shapes and fabric texture on the outer sides, the size difference is quite stark and uncommon in this segment. The subwoofer alone weighs 7.7kg.

The subwoofer has no visible buttons when placed upright, and can be positioned in just about any orientation that you find convenient. I had it lined up parallel against the wall to avoid it jutting out too much. There is a pairing button on the underside which you’ll presumably only need to use once during the initial setup, to connect it wirelessly to the bar speaker.

The LG Eclair QP5 bar speaker has a 3.1.2-channel speaker setup, with three forward-firing drivers and two upward-firing drivers, and the subwoofer has two bass ports firing outwards. The positioning of the drivers on the bar speaker is such that it is said to deliver more width in the sound than a speaker of this size would ordinarily suggest, while the top-firing channels direct the sound to bounce off overhead surfaces for virtualisation of overhead channels.

Sound output on the LG Eclair QP5 is rated at 320W for the entire system, but the subwoofer alone accounts for 220W. The five drivers on the bar speaker are rated for 20W each, for a total of 100W of output. The speaker has Bluetooth 4 for connectivity, with support for the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. There is also support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio formats, and LG states that the QP5 has been tuned by Meridian Audio in continuation of the two companies’ long-standing collaboration.

A remote for the LG Eclair QP5 is included in the box, offering pretty much the same controls as the on-device buttons, along with a couple of extra buttons for sound modes, and a d-pad for navigation and selections which is activated in some situations. The remote uses two AA batteries for power. I had the QP5 connected using HDMI ARC, which also activated HDMI CEC support and meant that I didn’t actually need to use the soundbar’s remote a lot, since my TV remote handled power and volume adjustments.

LG Eclair QP5 soundbar and subwoofer app

Despite the lack of a display on the LG Eclair QP5 system and the minimalistic remote, the device isn’t held back when it comes to customisation and tweaking of settings. The QP5 uses the LG Sound Bar app (available for iOS and Android) to customise and control preferences on the speaker system. The app uses Bluetooth to connect to the QP5, similar to how wireless headphones, earphones, and speakers work with their own apps.

lg eclair qp5 soundbar review remote LG

The LG Eclair QP5 has a remote which can be used to change the sound modes and control playback, in addition to basic power and volume adjustments

 

With Bluetooth turned on and connected to your smartphone, the app displays a neat visual interface for various settings and controls on the LG QP5. You can set the source, adjust the volume, change the sound effect preset according to the type of audio (Automatic, Music with Meridian, Game, and Cinema), and adjust the specific sound levels for the woofer, centre speaker, and overhead speakers.

You can also update the firmware, adjust various other settings such as sound format activation, HDMI CEC activation, and more. After the initial setup, I didn’t really need to use the app often except for the occasional tweaking of the subwoofer volume. The sound effect modes could be changed from the remote itself. The app is useful on the whole, and a good feature to have.

LG Eclair QP5 soundbar and subwoofer performance

The design and size of the LG Eclair QP5 soundbar means that installation and positioning will likely be much more convenient than with more traditional, larger speaker systems. However, the size also raises questions of the capabilities of this soundbar speaker system, and indeed performance was a bit of a mixed bag.

The five drivers on the bar speaker of the LG QP5 are angled for width and soundstage, and indeed I did experience a wider sound than I would typically have expected from a soundbar of this size. I had the speaker system connected to the Sony KD-43X75K television using HDMI ARC for this review, and had access to varied content with audio formats going up to Dolby Atmos.

Since I had the LG QP5 set up in the bedroom with a 43-inch television, much of my viewing was in the evening or at night, and tended to be limited to casual viewing of sitcoms, Formula 1 races, or game shows, most of which were limited to basic audio encoding or 5.1-channel surround sound encoding. However, I did also watch some Dolby Atmos content, particularly episodes of Our Great National Parks and Love, Death & Robots Season 3.

lg eclair qp5 soundbar review meridian LG

The subwoofer of the LG Eclair QP5 is considerably larger than the bar speaker, and is rated for 220W of sound output

 

Dolby Atmos on a small soundbar such as this was always going to be an uncertain proposition, but the device did deliver some improvement in the sound when used with the right content. Spaciousness in the soundstage was present in all directions, particularly in the haunting ship scenes of the ‘Bad Travelling’ episode of Love, Death & Robots.

Although the forward-firing drivers did offer some sound reflection off the walls, the upward-firing drivers weren’t quite capable enough of providing proper overhead virtualisation. That said, this did allow for a bit of spaciousness in the height as well, with the virtualised soundstage managing to cover the screen area of the TV, if not the entire room. This was also the case with Our Great National Parks, with the sounds of nature adequately serving the small room that I was using the soundbar in.

The subwoofer of the LG Eclair QP5 is not only visibly bigger than the bar speaker, but also much more powerful. This tended to cause a bit of a mismatch in the sonic signature where the lows were considerably louder and more aggressive than the mid-range and highs. It is possible to use the app to tone the subwoofer down a bit, but it always felt a bit too strong for me, particularly with the eerie soundtrack of Better Call Saul: Season 6.

With vocal-focused content such as the sitcom Kim’s Convenience, the LG QP5 system tended to rely less on the subwoofer and more on the centre-channel driver of the bar speaker. While the sound was definitely louder than what the TV offered, it sometimes felt a bit awkward and shrill, necessitating reducing the volume to levels that weren’t ideal. Interestingly, the occasional cuts with hip-hop music sounded impressive, although these did make for some sudden volume spikes that needed to be quickly turned down.

Although the QP5 can get very loud, high volume levels were sometimes a bit risky due to unpredictable volume spikes and unexpected rumble from the subwoofer. At moderate volumes, it was more than enough to fill a 100-square-foot room though, and definitely added a bit more crispness than the ordinary, bottom-firing speakers of the television.

Bluetooth in the LG Eclair QP5 can be used either for wireless connectivity with a compatible television, or if you need to use the soundbar as a speaker system for music when connected to a smartphone or tablet. The QP5 was quite enjoyable for the latter, offering room-filling, attacking sound, and a beautiful soundstage even at low volumes. Fast, punchy tracks such as Show Me Love by Steve Angello and Laidback Luke were fun to listen to, and the tuning seemed to suit music a bit more than the TV viewing it’s largely meant for.

During my time with the LG Eclair QP5, I faced a few occasions where the sound intermittently blanked out and resumed for a few seconds, even when using HDMI ARC from the TV as the source. This would usually fix itself and didn’t happen more than once every couple of days, but it was definitely annoying when it did. When using the TV’s remote to adjust the volume, the level jumped by 3-4 increments either way to keep up with the volume levels of the soundbar. This wasn’t really a problem, but did look a bit strange and lacked uniformity when trying to increase or decrease the volume.

Verdict

The LG Eclair QP5 is a rather unique soundbar, primarily because of how it looks, and how easy it is to install thanks to its compact size. Despite the latter, the sound on offer is significant and although I did face some issues with audio stability and occasionally shrill and unbalanced sonic output from the system, the overall experience was largely positive. Support for Dolby Atmos, good performance with Bluetooth and music, and a very good subwoofer certainly helped its case.

However, at Rs. 59,990 (or even the lower online price of Rs. 42,990), the LG QP5 is undoubtedly a bit too expensive for what’s on offer. This is a soundbar system best paired with a 43-inch television, making it more expensive than most TVs of this size at the moment.

Furthermore, the lack of Wi-Fi or smart connectivity and the handful of issues I faced further underline that the price is perhaps a bit too high. There’s a lot to like here about the design and the capabilities of the LG Eclair QP5, so it might still be worth it if you’re looking for a premium soundbar system and have limited space for installation.


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