LG recently addressed the growing market for upscaling surround sound solutions with its HT902TB. This 5.1 arrangement also improves standard definition picture quality up to 1080i with the supplied DVD/amplifier unit and offers a total of 1000W of power. The LG adopts a similar tower speaker design to the impressive Panasonic SC-PT50 we reviewed recently, but unfortunately doesn’t offer the same degree of flexibility.
While the majority of these setups give you the option to either wall-mount the speakers or arrange them on the floor by mounting them in the supplied bases, LG forces you to choose the latter. This won’t be a problem for some but considering all it would have taken is a couple of mounting holes and a more versatile wiring design we’d have liked to be able to choose.
In addition to the tower speakers for front and rear channels you’re supplied with a generously sized center speaker a massive subwoofer, one of the largest we’ve seen on any surround speaker setup outside of the Carling Academy. You’ll get 225W of power from this behemoth, which is actually less than far smaller rivals, and will find 155W output from each of the other speakers.
Building and wiring them up is pretty easy if you’ve done this sort of thing before, you’ll find the amp includes Scart, HDMI, component, composite and optical connections, so you’ll have no problem integrating it with the rest of your A/V equipment. As mentioned the DVD player also upscales to 720p/1080i, which while not quite full-HD should be suitable for many current setups.
In addition to standard definition DVDs you’ll also find you can play back compressed audio and video files and digital photos burnt to disc or stored on a USB storage device that can be plugged in directly. This is a nice bonus, and we were fairly impressed by the range of file support here. Finally you’ll find an FM tuner built-in for quick access to the radio if this appeals.
We’re pretty impressed by the range of features so far then, but what’s really important is how the speakers perform. You won’t find any kind of auto-setup process here, but there is quite a wide range of virtual surround modes that offer a decent amount of versatility. Luckily, the quality of the audio and surround experience available just by playing with a few of these modes is good enough to make our biggest problem with the speakers far less damning than it could have been.
Unlike many other surround setups it’s very awkward to fine-tune audio here, you’re required to switch inputs to the DVD player to get to the setup menu, then browse through far too many menus to manually adjust the volume of each speaker.
We’d expect to be able to do this through the LCD display on the amp, and it’s rather frustrating to have to interrupt what you’re watching to fix audio issues in this way. Another big problem was that we often noticed a significant audio delay, allegedly caused by the conversion of an analog video signal to a digital one.
This can be fixed by adjusting the HD AV sync through the amplifier’s setup menu, but we found ourselves having to do this far too often which again, interrupted programme viewing.
A/V sync issues aside, the majority of the qualms we had with the design and control of LG’s setup may not be an issue to all users, in which case the connectivity, features and performance, which were all very impressive, make the SC-PT50 an extremely well priced solution.
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