I'm beginning to like soundbars more and more. I know my wife likes, no, loves 'em, which is why I've designated our new living room as a soundbar-only setup. In our previous home, our living room doubled as my main theater/listening space, so you can imagine what hassles that put my wife through. No longer, as soundbars are aimed as much at quality as they are convenience and the $299.99 LG NB3520A (3520A) 2.1-channel soundbar system, reviewed here, is one of the best at both.
The 3520A's fit and finish is first-rate, despite its plastic materials.�
The 3520A's controls and ease of use are among the best I've seen and simple enough that even my wife could get it to sing without consulting the manual ... or me.�
The 3520A's sound quality is slightly cool or lean of neutral, though it's not the end of the world for enjoyment. Where the 3520A excels is in its ability to sound more like surround sound than its direct competition does, despite being a 2.1 system.�
The wireless subwoofer is among the easiest subs to set up, though level and placement can be a little fussy.
The 3520A's Bluetooth connectivity is a huge plus and so easy to connect that it puts costlier AirPlay components to shame.�
The 3520A lacks grilles to protect its left and right speaker drivers, which may be a deal breaker for those with curious children or pets.�
The subwoofer included with the 3520A does take a bit of finessing on the listener's part in order for it, and subsequently the rest of the system, to sound its best.�
The 3520A's high-gloss finish is prone to showcasing dust and fingerprints, though I applaud LG's inclusion of a microfiber cloth to combat the issue.�
Competition and Comparison
There is no shortage of soundbars these days, especially ones costing less than, say, $400, with many falling between the $200 and $300 price points. While I consider the 3520A to be a leader in its respective space, it does have some stiff competition, starting with the Panasonic SC-HTB20 I spoke about earlier. There are a number of soundbars from Vizio that also sound good, as well as Samsung. If you want to step up to that next tier in terms of performance, it is my belief that you'll have to spend upwards of $800 or more and begin looking at soundbars from the likes of ZVOX, Aperion, Polk and MartinLogan.
For more on soundbars, please visit Home Theater Review's Soundbar page.�
The LG NB3520A 2.1-channel soundbar at just under $300 is yet another example of not having to spend a lot in order to get a lot. While it isn't about to replace a dedicated home theater system any time soon, it is a very worthy upgrade to your HDTV'sinternal speakers. Moreover, its looks, simplicity and ease of use give it a high WAF rating. It's Bluetooth connectivity and copious sound options make it a good fit for today's popular music services like Pandora, too. Careful subwoofer placement is key to extracting the most out of the 3520A's overall sound performance but, once there, the 3520A should reward you with years of pleasing, trouble-free sound.