Dolby Atmos has been with us for a few years now, but the price of sound bars that will play remains pretty high — especially compared to the excellent selection of budget non-Atmos bars

The LG SK10Y costs $1,099, £1,200 and AU$1,699, and its size is as massive as its price. It includes a wireless subwoofer and the option of rear speakers, and its sound quality favors home theater with a bright energetic sound. But do you really need a speaker that costs this much?

While there’s a lot be said for limiting your budget — $300 is a sweet spot for sound bars — the LG is nonetheless one of the least costly ways to get Dolby Atmos into your home. If you want those atmospheric “height” effects but don’t want to bother with a full receiver and multispeaker combo, it’s worth a look.

Design

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Atmos sound bars do a lot of stuff. Models such as the LG SK10Y project audio forward, upward and to the sides, which takes a lot of drivers. And space. As a result the LG SK10Y is huge! It’s easily the longest if not the largest sound bar we’ve ever had in the CNET listening room. Move aside, Yamaha YST-5600.

The SK10Y’s 57.7-inch width matches up well with that of the company’s 65-inch TV’s, which is obviously by design. The sound bar is also not too tall that it blocks your IR port at 2.5 inches (though if it does, sadly there’s no IR repeater). The matching subwoofer is relatively large at 8.7 inches by 15.4 inches by 12.3 inches.

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The remote control is quaint, and allows access to the most commonly used functions, but after setup most people will either use the TV remote or the smart phone app.

Features

The LG is a 5.1.2 channel sound bar whose selling feature is its ability to play Dolby Atmos soundtracks — the “atmospheric” format that appears on Blu-rays and some Netflix programs, and which adds an extra layer of height effects.

However, now that the LG’s main competitors — the Samsung N850 and the Sony HT-S5000 — include both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X it makes the LG’s holdout on the latter seem like an unnecessary omission. A small number of discs, including the 4K Blu-ray versions of Harry Potter, include a DTS:X soundtrack without Atmos, so you may be missing out on some effects by buying the LG.

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