We all want big sound from a small box, but will LG's FA163DAB Hi-Fi system let you achieve that? We get listening to find out.

In our First Look back in July we were impressed by the big sound, and overall the performance, so has our feeling changed now we've had time to hear a wider range of music on it?

The FA163DAB is a UK-specific model, although comes in different skews for other territories, and features a FM/DAB radio, CD player and iPod dock on top, as well as the ability to burn tracks straight from a CD to a USB-enabled MP3 player.

The black box is devoid of most buttons on the front instead insisting on a touch-enabled circle on the front that lights up and responds to your finger presses.

Following our brief play for our First Look and now longer in the home/office environment the touch buttons come across fiddly and annoying to use.

While the play/pause fastforward/rewind buttons are easy to use, changing volume is an ugly experience. Applying a decent amount of force you have to move your finger in a circle motion. Due to a lack of weight to the device, it's budget after all, the whole system wobbles, which is kinda cheap.

As for the design, it's the typical black gloss and metal that LG has rolled out across its Hi-Fi range, however while it looked good in the demo, at home it looks very tacky, unless of course you are going for the 80s bachelor pad look.

For both the system and the speakers the front and sides are black gloss while the top is aluminium (real not fake, as one spokesman told us).

The top of the system sports a toaster slot drive CD player, the iPod dock and a couple of extra buttons while the rest are hidden under a flap at the bottom of the main system. The two speakers, which are separate from the main unit offer 160W of sound and both feature a subwoofer, rather than in a separate box, for extra oomph.

Additional sound options include a XDSS bass button that makes everything sound like you are in car fresh out of Pimp My Ride and there is something called Virtual VSM which gives you the impression you've got more than two speakers or that the music is coming from a stage.

The other thing worth noting is that its actually very loud when on. We aren't sure why, but there is a constant humming from the Hi-Fi system that's rather annoying.

So what's it sound like?

We listened to a series of tracks via the iPod dock, a PC that had been connected to the system via the Line-in and a CD and were suitably impressed when in came to ballads and acoustic based songs.

Using a reference disk collection from Mark Levinson, the famed sound engineer tasked by LG to make this system sound better than it would ordinarily would, we listened to songs like Eva Cassidy's Fields of Gold and guitar based tracks such as Bill Sims. The results were stunning with clear tones resonating through. For once the virtualisation software on-board made everything sound noticeably better and we were very impressed.

Job done then? Not quite. Throw more "modern" tracks at it such as The Presets, Smashing Pumpkins or The Killers and it starts to struggle. The XDSS bass system completely fails.


When we first saw the FA163 we said that it would be good to hear a more "dynamic range of music rather than just classical or female vocal artists" and it’s clear now having lived with the unit for a couple of weeks why LG wasn't keen to play that more dynamic range at the First Look.

The FA163 therefore is great if you are planning on listening to a more subdued range of music or to utilise the DAB radio for stations like Radio 4 or Jazz FM.

But the biggest annoyance here is the pathetic volume control system, which is virtually impossible to use without reverting to the remote.

Lots of promise, but in the end disappointing.