In this LG QP5 Eclair Dolby Atmos review, we're looking at a teeny tiny soundbar (and its accompanying, much more conventionally sized, wireless subwoofer). It’s meant to do what any of the best soundbars with Dolby Atmos is meant to do: take an appropriate soundtrack and deliver it with an impression of overhead sound. But it intends to do so from an enclosure that’s a fraction of the size of any nominal rival.
The soundbar portion of the QP5 Eclair (we suppose it looks a bit like an eclair if you squint at it) is fitted with five drivers to get the job done, while the subwoofer has a couple more arranged opposite each other to minimise vibration as well as maximise bass action. But while it has adequate connectivity and a number of control options, it lacks a few of the features (such as any network or streaming options) that bigger premium soundbars offer.
But the LG has one big USP: its tininess. Those titchy dimensions aren't totally enough to justify the sizeable asking price – and while it is one of the best soundbars for small TVs, it seems as though getting down to the small size has caused some issues with the sound that you'll need to know about.
LG QP5 Eclair: Price & release date
The LG QP5 Eclair is on sale now, and in the UK will set you back a hefty £699. In the United States, the asking price is a more attractive $599 or so. Australian customers, meanwhile, should expect to hand over AU$829 or thereabouts.
Competition at this sort of money is considerable, of course, even if all the alternatives are much more, well, soundbar-sized. Brands like Samsung, Sony and Yamaha (as well as LG itself) will sell you an accomplished soundbar for this sort of money, with more impressive Dolby Atmos effects.
But it won't be as cute.
LG QP5 Eclair: Features & what's new
Trying to force an impression of surround-sound from a single speaker enclosure is nothing new, of course – and attempting to deliver some sound with authentic height to its presentation is hardly a novelty either. Trying to do so from a cabinet that measures just 296x60x126mm, though… that’s a first.
The QP5 wants to deliver sound in a 3.1.2 configuration. Handling the ‘3’ are a trio of 51mm full-range drivers: one faces forwards and constitutes the centre channel, while the other two are angled out towards the edges of the enclosure and are designed to offer some width to their presentation of the left and right channels.
On the top of the cabinet there are two more of these drivers (forming the ‘.2’), which face upwards and are charged with bouncing sound from the ceiling of your listening room. This, in theory, is where the all-important sensation of sonic ‘height’ in Dolby Atmos soundtracks is coming from.
Which just leaves the ‘.1’ - and that’s dealt with by the wireless subwoofer. At 291x388x185 it’s hardly a bloater by subwoofer standards, but nevertheless looks amusingly chunky next to the soundbar it’s partnering. It’s fitted with a couple of 133mm drivers, firing outwards and arranged opposite each other in an effort to minimise cabinet vibration, and make sure that you hear the bass from the drivers, not from it making your furniture rattle.
On the back of the soundbar are a couple of HDMI sockets: one eARC-enabled to connect to the TV, and one that passes through 4K HDR video from another device. There's also a USB input and a digital optical socket. Bluetooth 4.0 deals with wireless connectivity, and that’s your lot – there’s no Wi-Fi, so no AirPlay or Chromecast here.
LG QP5 Eclair: Performance
As far as doing the bare minimum, the LG is an unqualified success: it sounds much bigger, much fuller and altogether more cinematic than your unassisted television sounds. As far as scale, low-frequency presence and straightforward drive are concerned, it’s not even a contest.
But, much cheaper soundbars achieve that too. When you’re dropping this much on it, it needs to do a bit more than ‘sound better than your TV’. And while the QP5 can do a bit more, it doesn’t do it with all that much aplomb.
All is relatively acceptable at the very bottom of the frequency range. The wireless subwoofer (which pairs rapidly and stably with the soundbar) is decently rapid and undeniably punchy – which is as it should be, given it has 220 watts of power at its disposal. But for all its alacrity, it’s not the most tonally expressive device you ever heard. The bottom end thuds along with very little variation.
As far as tonality goes, though, it’s the soundbar that has the bigger problems. Full-range drivers of this size can often struggle to cover the full frequency range, and sure enough the LG soundbar runs out of breath somewhat as it moves up the range.
Consequently, treble sounds are dull and rounded off, with less bite and shine than is ideal. Midrange reproduction isn’t ideal, either: though it’s more detailed, varied and informative than either the top or the bottom of the frequency range, there’s a slightly boxy quality to the way it delivers voices that is far from naturalistic. Imagine each actor is cupping their hands around their mouth as they deliver their lines… that’s a bit like what the Eclair sounds like.
And when you consider the frequency handover from soundbar to subwoofer is far from seamless, it means the system often sounds like two distinct entities rather than a unified whole. It's not ideal.
Most significant, though, is the relative lack of width and height to the sound the QP5 delivers. No one’s expecting miracles from even the most accomplished Dolby Atmos soundbar, of course – Sennheiser’s superb Ambeo, for example, costs many times what this does, yet can’t quite con you into thinking there are speakers in your ceiling. But the LG struggles to escape the modest confines of its cabinet in any meaningful way – there’s a degree of width to its presentation, but the height element that’s meant to be its raison d’être is sorely lacking.
LG QP5 Eclair: Design & usability
As befits a product designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, the QP5 Eclair is tidily built and finished. Both the soundbar and the subwoofer feature pleasantly curved edges, and the acoustic cloth covering is expertly applied. You may not get an awful lot of physical volume for your money, but what you get is very professionally made indeed.
As far as usability goes, there are a few options – although fewer than most price-comparable alternatives. The soundbar features some physical controls (on the rear of the cabinet, which is a slightly odd place to put them), covering ‘power on/off’, ‘input selection’, ‘volume up/down’ and ‘Bluetooth pairing’. There are three little LEDs on the front of the ‘bar that light up in different colours to let you know what’s what.
There’s also a shiny little remote control handset that covers those basics and adds a few other functions too, most usefully the ability to toggle between the four EQ settings (‘cinema’, ‘game’, ‘standard’ and ‘AI sound pro’). Switching between EQ settings provokes an extremely perky verbal confirmation from the soundbar. This doesn’t happen if you use the LG Sound Bar control app. It’s a clean and useful app, adding the facility to adjust channel-specific volume levels and a few other tweaker-satisfying options too.
There’s no voice-control option, though, and along with the lack of online functionality it leaves the Eclair looking a bit less smart than its rivals, though we suspect that some of the target audience for this bar won't necessarily mind that.
LG QP5 Eclair: Verdict
No one’s arguing with the concept. A tiny soundbar and reasonably compact subwoofer combo that’s able to deliver a facsimile of Dolby Atmos and/or DTS:X soundtracks? There's nothing else quite like it out there, and so it's kind of automatically the best of its kind, and may be worth buying for that reason.
But while LG has nailed the physical side of things, the subsequent performance seems a bit of an afterthought. Unless you're dead set on having the smallest and most unobtrusive soundbar possible, we'd recommend going for something that takes up a bit more space, even if that means losing the dedicated upfiring Dolby Atmos drivers. You'll be better off overall.
LG QP5 Eclair: Also consider
If it’s ‘small’ you want, you should look to the Sonos Beam (2nd Gen), which is small enough to work with TVs of 32 inches and up, but sounds just superb. Detailed, clear and punchy, it also handles music with aplomb. There's no HDMI passthrough, sadly, and no subwoofer – but it's still the best choice overall, simply thanks to astounding audio quality. Here's our full Sonos Beam (2nd Gen) review.