LG's SH5 is one of the most attractive soundbar and subwoofer combos around. From the subwoofer's cuboid-patterned finish to the almost book spine-like design of the soundbar itself, the SH5 has a classy and understated look.
The SH5's stands a mere 53mm tall, the soundbar should easily slot underneath most TVs. With the length of 945mm its best suited to screens that are 42 inch or larger and the subwoofer is equally compact, measuring 171 x 320 x 252mm.
Ports and connections
It comes with a reasonable selection of ports, too, including a pair of HDMI connections, one of which supports ARC (audio return channel). This means you can send audio from your TV to the SH5 as well as from external devices, and only have one wire connecting the soundbar to your TV.
One disappoint, though, that these HDMI ports only meet the 1.4 standard, rather than the newer HDMI 2, so they won't be able to handle 4K pass-through from an Ultra HD Blu-ray player. There's also an optical S/PDIF output, a 3.5mm stereo input and a USB port. These are all located at the rear of the SH5, making it possible to either set the soundbar on a surface or wall-mount it.
LG in their wisdom decided that it was a good idea to place the power, source function and volume-control buttons on the back of the soundbar. Which means even if the soundbar is perched in front of your TV reaching the controls is awkward.
Fortunately, the remote control supplied with the SH5 replicates these buttons, and provides direct access to several other options as well, including the SH5's night mode, media-playback controls and EQ settings, so you shouldn't have to reach around the back of the soundbar too often.
Since this is only an entry-level 2.1 channel system, the SH5's audio is not the most powerful, but it’s still a better option than the standard TV speakers. There's plenty of volume on hand, for starters, and its subwoofer adds solid bass. In our Batman vs Superman test soundtrack, the drums and double bass were delivered with warmth and depth, while the whining guitars on top came through loud and clear.
You'll probably want to keep the sound profile set to Standard or Adaptive Sound Control (ASC) for general music, though, as Cinema mode places a far heavier emphasis on the bass and sometimes muddles the mids and trebles.
According to LG, its ASC mode is meant to automatically analyse vocal levels in real-time. It should reduce the bass when it senses more prominent dialogue, for instance while you’re watching the news or soap operas, and ramp up the bass again when voices are a little less prominent. In this mode I found it was definitely a touch clearer than Standard when listening to vocal music, and I also preferred it for listening to classical tracks, too.
Cinema mode came into its own when watching films and TV shows, with much clearer-sounding and pronounced dialogue than the other two modes. Speech was still a little bit muffled though, even in Cinema mode, but on the whole I found the SH5 enjoyable to listen to.
Another useful feature is the SH5's Night Mode, which cuts down the bass so you don't wake the neighbours late at night. It works brilliantly, too: the rest of the frequency range remains intact, so it doesn’t feel like you’re compromising the overall sound quality by having it turned on.
With its good looks and great sound, LG's SH5 is an excellent entry-level soundbar, with an extensive selection of ports also gives it plenty of flexibility.
The SH5 is a worthy upgrade over some other top budget soundbars, such as the Steljes Audio Calliope. The SH5’s dedicated subwoofer makes a big difference to the overall depth and warmth of the music, and the LG’s superior build quality is also a notable difference. It's a great buy for the money.