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LG’s 2023 soundbars go wireless, get on-screen controls, and game-friendly inputs

CES 2023 is still a couple of weeks away, but LG is already offering a sneak peek at the soundbars it will be bringing to the show. Two new models will be on display — the SC9 and SE6 — and LG says they will seamlessly integrate with the company’s 2023 TVs, a trend we’ve seen evolving from Samsung, Sony, and Vizio.

For 2023, LG is expanding what its Wowcast technology can do. In addition to providing a fully wireless audio link between the soundbar and a compatible LG TV, the speakers and TVs can collaborate on audio duties via Wow Orchestra — LG’s version of Samsung’s Q Symphony — so that all speakers on the TV and the soundbar are being used to create the most immersive sound experience.

LG's 2023 SC9 Dolby Atmos soundbar.

A new mounting bracket lets you position the speaker directly below an LG TV, whether you choose to wall-mount or stand-mount the devices.

Another new feature is the ability to access all of the soundbar’s settings via an LG TV’s Home Dashboard, which should prove to be far more intuitive than either LG’s soundbar mobile app or working with the small OLED display on the front of a soundbar.

The new models offer the usual array of immersive surround sound formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, with triple sound technology — LG’s unique triple-set of up-firing drivers. New for this year is “triple level spatial sound technology,” which LG says will employ channel analysis performed by an HRTF-based 3D engine to add a “virtual mid-layer.”

HRTF stands for Head-Related Transfer Function, and it’s typically used to understand how the shape of a person’s head and ears affects how they perceive 3D sound. But what’s unusual about LG’s implementation of the tech on a soundbar is that HRTF is normally used for improving headphone experiences.

Despite this, LG says the result is “incredibly lifelike sound with a convincing sense of space that puts listeners at the center of an immersive audio environment.” We’ll hopefully get a chance to try this in person in the coming months.

Sticking with the triple theme, the new soundbars will also have a “triple sound optimizer,” which is LG’s version of audio up-scaling that can take standard, two-channel audio and turn it into a more immersive, 3D-like experience.

Finally, gamers will appreciate that the SC9 and SE6 offer full passthrough of HDMI 2.1 features like variable refresh rate (VRR), auto low-latency mode (ALLM), and 4K/120Hz. These features have become common on high-end TVs, but support for these signals through soundbars has been hard to come by.

LG hasn’t yet said how much its new soundbars will cost (other than to say they will “deliver outstanding consumer value) or when we’ll be able to buy them. That’s pretty standard for LG — we’ll likely get the full details sometime before the end of the first quarter of 2023.

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