LG is launching its first smart speaker at CES 2018, expanding its selection of soundbars with Dolby Atmos decoding, launching its first soundbars with DTS Virtual:X, and expanding its selection of high-res-audio soundbars.
The company also teamed up for the first time with high-end audio supplier Meridian to design a high-end soundbar, the smart speaker, and all three new Bluetooth speakers to enhance sound quality and differentiate the brand.
Here’s what the company is announcing:
Soundbars: With the launch of seven new soundbars, the company expanded its selection of Dolby Atmos-equipped models to three from one, launched its first four “Works with Google Assistant” models, and expanded the high-res selection to six SKUs from four. The top two bars feature 192/24 FLAC, ALAC and WAV decoding, and the rest feature 96/24. The top three also up-convert audio to high-res. All high-res models will carry the Japan Audio Society’s High-Res logo because of their decoding capabilities and ability to produce sound out to 40kHz.
The company also adopted DTS Virtual:X for the first time, offering it in three soundbars that do not come with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. The Virtual:X bars will deliver virtual height and surround channels from any audio source, though Virtual:X is said to be optimized to work with soundtracks featuring any DTS surround codec.
The four “Works with Google Assistant” models can be voice controlled through a networked Google Home speaker and play back Google Home speakers’ audio services. The quartet also features Chromecast built in (CCBI) wireless multiroom audio.
The highest-end model among the new soundbars, the Atmos-equipped SK10Y, is among LG’s first audio products designed in consultation with high-end audio supplier Meridian to improve sound quality. Meridian also participated in the development of two of three new high-end Bluetooth speakers and LG’s WK7 smart speaker.
The top two Atmos soundbars produce 5.1.2-channel surround and feature upward-firing drivers to deliver height channels. The third Atmos model lacks up-firing height speakers but uses Dolby virtualization technology to deliver height and surround information. The top model adds separate volume control for the height drivers.
Wireless rear speakers can be added to the top two Atmos models to create 7.1.2-channel surround. Wireless surrounds can also be added to two DTS Virtual:X models to boost output and provide 4.1 channels of sound instead of 2.1 channels. A third soundbar with DTS Virtual:X is packaged with wireless surrounds.
With the introductions, wireless speakers are available as standard or optional on all models but one. In 2017, in contrast, only two of seven new soundbars came with optional wireless rear-speakers, none with included wireless surrounds.
The soundbars are due in March and April.
Smart speakers: The company is building Google Assistant into all of its 4K OLED, 4K Super UHD LCD, and 4K UHD LCD TVs as well as into its first smart speaker, which also incorporates Chromecast built in.
The company is positioning itself as a lead device developer of smart speakers with built-in Google Assistant and will engage in co-marketing and promotion with Google.
It incorporates the Android Things IoT home-automation platform, which uses Google’s Thread wireless mesh-network technology and Weave application layer, enabling it to control Google’s Nest-branded smart-home products and other compatible products. The smart speaker, designed in partnership with high-end audio supplier Meridian, also controls LG’s SmartThinQ products, which include major appliances and its robot vacuum cleaner. It also controls compatible TVs, soundbars, lights, door locks and other smart-home devices.
High-res audio: The company expanded its selection of soundbars with high-res audio to six SKUs from four, with the top two bars feature 192/24 FLAC, ALAC and WAV decoding and the rest featuring 96/24. The top three also up-convert audio to high-res. The high-res models will carry the Japan Audio Society’s High-Res logo because of their decoding capabilities and ability to reproduce sound out to 40kHz.
Bluetooth speakers: All three portable models, due in April, can be paired wirelessly via Bluetooth to operate as separate left-right speakers, with the top two adding AptX HD decoding. ApsktX HD steps up resolution to 24 bits and the transfer rate to 576kbps from the standard Bluetooth codec’s 16 bits and up-to-328kbps transfer rate.
The top two models were developed in partnership with high-end audio supplier Meridian.
The top two are IP-X5 splash proof, while the entry model is IP-X7 submersible up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
All feature a grab-and-go design, with the top two featuring X-Grip carry handles.