BLUF: If you aren't in the market for a full audio system setup (i.e., AV receiver plus speakers for 7.1/5.1, etc.), but want a great, easy, and cost-effective audio upgrade, this is the soundbar for you! It gets the job done with ease, and the system gets even better if you add in the optional rear speakers. I'm a happy customer that would purchase again!
NOW for the full review:
I have a some experience with speaker setups. In my old house, I personally ran wires behind drywall and in the attic to install a 600W 5.1 system. But I moved to another city for a job, and I was looking for a cheaper and easier solution for the time being. I decided on the SJ5Y for several reasons. (1) price, (2) good balance of price vs output (wattage per speaker), (3) ease of adding wireless, true surround speakers, (4) Dolby, DTS, and FLAC decoders, (5) connection options - HDMI in & out, optical, and bluetooth, and (6) it looks good and matches my LG TV.
I was not looking for Chromecast, Apple, Spotify, Pandora or any other built-in applications with my soundbar. I have a phone and a game console, and between the two, I have convenient media streaming options covered. If you NEED those applications baked in, then look elsewhere.
System setup is very simple. Plug in your cables between TV/SoundBar/Other media device, plug in your power, and then start listening! The subwoofer paired automatically without any prompting by me. Same for the rear speakers (item SPJ4). Distance from sub to soundbar is about 10 feet, and the rear to soundbar is about 20 feet. Once I downloaded and installed the updated firmware via USB, as well as threw out the pack-in optical cable and used a quality one, the system's sound interruptions stopped once and for all.
On the 2.1 setup (No rear speakers): Sound quality is exceptional and clear for what it is - 60W per channel with a 200W Sub. Again, coming from a larger, more expensive 5.1 setup, I can tell the difference between output and range/fullness for the individual speakers. BUT, I was VERY IMPRESSED at what this system can do. This soundbar is easily able to fill the room. I have yet to even come close to maxing out the volume on this baby, and expect I never will. The Adaptive Sound Control (ASC) is my preferred sound mode for TV shows - it enhances voices very well - but I switch it over to BASS while listening to music to help get a more robust range of highs and lows.
On the 4.1 setup (With rear speakers): I experimented with my game console outputting uncompressed 7.1 audio over HDMI. This awesome soundbar was able to handle all that data and push it out to the different channels superbly. So I am able to hear that wonderful behind-the-head zooming fly-by or ambient noise when the protagonist is in a crowded room. My movies and games sound wonderful; oh, how I had missed surround sound! For my movies and games, I usually change my sound mode to STANDARD. The CINEMA option is OK, but I think it tries to widen the sound field too much, causing some distraction for me.
To those of you with an LG TV: in my experience, the LG SoundSync limits sound output to stereo from both front and back - not true surround sound. It is great to control the TV and sound with one remote, but not at the expense of true surround. Haven't been able to determine if this is simply a limit imposed by my TV or not, or my choice of connecting soundbar and TV with an optical cable, but once I turned Sound Sync off, the true rear channels returned to action.