LG's new Dolby Atmos soundbar is truly unique, but there's a catch for PS5 owners

The new LG soundbar looks incredibly powerful, and promises more Dolby Atmos channels than any other system so far, but the HDMI passthrough will frustrate some

LG S95QR on yellow background
(Image credit: LG)

LG has started to drip information about its upcoming launches at CES 2022, which starts on January 4th, and they include a soundbar that sounds fascinating, but has has one potentially annoying flaw.

The LG S95QR soundbar system features a soundbar, sub and two rear speakers, and it does something totally unique: it delivers 9.1.5 channels of sound. It's the first soundbar to include five upfiring speakers for Dolby Atmos sound – four is generally the maximum. They're arranged with three on the soundbar itself (one left, one right and one centre, which is the new addition), plus one on each rear speaker.

LG says that this new upfiring setup will "improve clarity and enlarge the soundstage for the ultimate in realism". Which is nice.

LG hasn't given any information about how the rest of the setup works, other than the say total output power is 810W, which is… very impressive. For comparison, the five-star Samsung HW-Q950A is our current gold standard for soundbar Dolby Atmos, and that features 616W of output power, so LG is really stepping it up a notch here.

When it comes to the nine channels of surround sound, each of the rear speakers features two channels, leaving five to come from the soundbar (centre, forward left and right, and then a wider left and right).

LG says the rear speakers are design to provide an even sound in a 135-degree arc, meaning that they're more flexible for placement than some rivals, which is certainly handy if you have an awkward space to fit them in.

Combined with 'AI Room Calibration' to tweak the sound to compensate for the shape of your room (meaning small details should be easier to hear in the mix), I absolutely cannot wait to hear how this thing sounds – it could be the best soundbar of next year for sheer scale of the sound.

120 hurts

LG also notes that this soundbar will be great for gaming, but that's only half right. Its HDMI passthrough port supports VRR and ALLM, which help to make sure that any gaming is super-responsive and smooth… but there's no support for 4K 120Hz passthrough with HDR.

If you have a PS5 or Xbox Series X (check our PS5 restock guide and Xbox restock guide if you're still trying!), this might be a frustrating limitation. 4K 120Hz with HDR is one of the coolest next-gen features of these consoles!

The won't be a problem for everyone – if you have an LG C1 or higher-end Samsung TV such as the Samsung QN95A, then all four of your ports supports HDMI 2.1 and 4K 120Hz, so losing one compatible port to your soundbar isn't a problem.

But with more mid-range products, including the LG B1 or Sony X90J, there are generally two HDMI 2.1 ports (at most), and one of those is the HDMI eARC port that you'll want to connect to this soundbar. So when you plug in this soundbar, you now only have one full HDMI 2.1 port available for 4K 120Hz. And if you have both consoles… well, now one doesn't have 4K 120Hz. Sorry.

Maybe it's something LG will update in the future, and there will also be plenty of people who just don't care about this limitation anyway. But we expect this soundbar to be pretty pricey, so it's a shame that this might put some gamers off it.

Matthew Bolton
Matthew Bolton

Matt is T3's former AV and Smart Home Editor (UK), master of all things audiovisual, overseeing our TV, speakers and headphones coverage. He also covered smart home products and large appliances, as well as our toys and games articles. He's can explain both what Dolby Vision IQ is and why the Lego you're building doesn't fit together the way the instructions say, so is truly invaluable. Matt has worked for tech publications for over 10 years, in print and online, including running T3's print magazine and launching its most recent redesign. He's also contributed to a huge number of tech and gaming titles over the years. Say hello if you see him roaming the halls at CES, IFA or Toy Fair. Matt now works for our sister title TechRadar.