|Review: LG ARX-8000 Home Theatre|
Friday, 14 January 2011 16:18
Before LG's snappily-named ARX-8000 came along, South Africans interested in a home theatre system with big speakers were limited to two choices.
The first was to go the proper home theatre route: a component system with an AV receiver, an active subwoofer, a set of big-name speakers and so on.
For many, the bespoke mix and match route wasn't an option. An AV receiver alone can cost as much as an entire home-theatre-in-a-box (HTIB).
The other option was to get one of Sony's big home theatre kits. Presently, it's the Sony DDW-1600, which comes with six speakers, of which two are chunky floor-standing main speakers, two subwoofers, a DVD player and a receiver.
Spotting this gap in the market, LG knew it had to pounce. So, out of Korea came a team of engineers to evaluate what was needed. After extensive market research and technical consultation, the ARX-8000 was born.
Once set up, it stands loud and proud. Each of the five main speakers is finished in gloss black and boasts extroverted styling, with ostentatious curves and no speaker grilles. The big floor standers are quite hefty, despite having just a single subwoofer and horn tweeter in each.
I suspect a lot of that weight is in a ballast plate fitted to the base; tall wooden structures sometimes need a bit of anchoring mass. The centre channel also uses a horn tweeter, with two smaller woofers, while the rear satellites have a conventional tweeter and sub arrangement.
The system has plenty of bass in reserve, too. While setting it up, I started playing some music to just test out the two main speakers. It immediately had me reaching for the remote control to find the option for turning down the bass.
Sadly, there's only an option to turn it up – through a bass boost function – and then I realised I'd yet to connect the two 20cm subwoofers.
LG's decision to choose horn tweeters seems wise, in retrospect, since they don't seem to be overpowered by the massive abundance of low-end grunt.
The tweeters – being fitted in all three front speakers – also go some way to giving the sound stage a good amount of depth. They manage to project sound accurately and fill the room whether watching movies or playing music.
It's easy to expect that the amplifier driving all of this would be back-straining bit of metal. Surprisingly (and fortunately for my bad posture) it doesn't even weigh more than one of the floorstanding speakers.
It's nowhere near as hefty as the Yamaha, Marantz and Denon amplifiers in component home theatre systems. In fact, it's so light that it's not hard to imagine all that bass is actually the result of sorcery instead of circuitry.
Yet it manages to power all seven speakers (since it's a 5.2-channel system) without straining. It also has a USB port for connecting a flash drive, and playing MP3s stored on it. There's an auxiliary audio port for an iPod or other music player.
Around the back there is an HDMI output for your HDTV, too. It falls short on inputs, though. There's a single HDMI input, for the included DVD player or Blu-ray player (the latter is a cost option, should you opt for it).
This limits connecting things such as an Xbox, PlayStation or DSTV decoder – especially in conjunction with the aforementioned DVD/Blu-ray player. Instead, the ARX-8000 accepts audio from those sources, while video would have to be connected directly to the HDTV.
While it was probably done for cost reasons, the omission of more HDMI inputs (and letting the receiver act as the switching source) is inconvenient, at the very least.
And it's that – cost – that makes the ARX-8000 an attractive alternative. It's not designed to compete with component home theatre systems, so I won't compare its sound quality to one of those.
It offers big sound, with lots of window-rattling bass, for a really over-the-top cinematic experience. It might not bring Vivaldi or Chopin to life, but it'll wake up the neighbours without busting your budget.
Good: Big, bad sound system looks; decent sound staging; value
Bad: Limited inputs; bass heavy
Price: R5 999
System output: 800 watts
Speakers: 2x main; 2x satellite; 1x centre; 2x subwoofer
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