“Novelty is the common cry – novelty someway!” wrote Auguste Escoffier, father of French delicacies, in 1907, whereas criticising the fragile gimmickry of overpriced meals developments. When first confronted with LG’s new pastry-themed soundbar, the Eclair QP5, Escoffier instantly springs to thoughts. Primarily as a result of he knew a factor or two about nice patisserie but in addition, maybe, as a result of he understood the worth of not falling into the entice of innovation for innovation’s sake.
Though Dolby Atmos soundbars might appear to have little in frequent with the world of positive eating (the sometimes monolithic black slabs not often provide a lot aesthetic finesse), LG has this yr delivered a relatively uncommon palate cleanser with the Eclair QP5.
Petite (you may match nearly 5 of them inside the corporate’s flagship LG SP11RA) and with comfortable curved edges, completed in a woven material that offers the included wi-fi sub the looks of an IKEA footstool, the Eclair QP5 is a refreshing change of type from many different fashions presently in the marketplace.
It’s additionally a reasonably distinctive product in making an attempt to supply immersive audio in an ultra-compact footprint, which should, undoubtedly, be a tough endeavor. This can be a Dolby Atmos soundbar for individuals who don’t have area for a historically fashioned soundbar, aimed squarely at these residing in flats. There’s no requirement for an enormous cupboard and there aren’t any wall mounting choices, whereas the separate bi-directional sub is meant to supply cinematic bass with out disturbing the neighbours. A lot consideration has gone into the Eclair’s goal and design, and it’s an interesting concept.
At £700 ($600, AU$820), the Eclair QP5 is simply over midway up LG’s Dolby Atmos soundbar vary and is equivalently priced with one other of the model’s 3.1.2 packages, the SP8YA. Whereas it might provide the identical configuration, the SP8YA goes additional on options, supporting hi-res music and community connectivity with Apple Airplay 2, Chromecast and Spotify Join in addition to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa compatibility.
Samsung’s equally high-specced Q700A is priced at £700 ($700, AU$1000) nevertheless it’s extra probably that folks eager on the Eclair would even be involved in different streamlined choices such because the Sonos Beam. That What Hello-Fi? Award winner prices £400 ($400, AU$600) and doesn’t have a separate sub or Atmos capabilities, nevertheless it does boast five-star sound, wi-fi streaming smarts and might be expanded with two Sonos One surrounds (beginning at £149, $149, AU$169 every) or constructed right into a wider Sonos multi-room system.
Though the Eclair features a respectable quantity of recent options, reminiscent of eARC and 4K HDR passthrough, its lack of any community capabilities looks like a reasonably important omission at this value – and never solely due to the absence of streaming choices. When utilizing LG’s telephone app, which is the one technique to entry sure settings, you need to first swap the Eclair to Bluetooth mode. So in the event you’re watching TV or a movie and need to make an adjustment you need to interrupt the audio, after which manually pair your telephone to the machine earlier than resuming and utilizing the app.
Rapidly toggling supply enter might be performed both utilizing the small included distant or the buttons on the rear of the principle unit. Beneath these are ports for HDMI in, eARC, optical enter and a USB drive socket. Three colored LED lights on the entrance face of the principle bar give visible suggestions on adjustments made utilizing the distant, and there’s a energetic voice affirmation too.
The distant additionally offers entry to the Eclair’s 4 sound profiles: a Meridian-tuned ‘Normal’ mode, a wider ‘Cinema’ profile that upmixes to the peak drivers, a ‘Sport’ mode, and an AI possibility that lets the soundbar robotically swap for you. In contrast to different LG soundbars, which have a ‘Music’ mode, we discovered that AI on the Eclair QP5 wasn’t significantly correct and would usually playback music in Cinema mode. There’s the choice to let a 2020/21 LG TV take over processing duties with the ‘sound mode share’ function, nevertheless it’s price noting that when watching Dolby Atmos or DTS:X content material all different sound modes are locked out.
LG Eclair QP5 tech specs
Connections 1 x HDMI out, 1 x HDMI in, optical, USB
Chosen sound format help Dolby Atmos, Dolby True HD, DTS:X, DTS-HD, LPCM
Bluetooth model 4.0
AirPlay 2 No
Voice management No
Dimensions (hwd, cm) 6 x 30 x 13 (bar); 29 x 40 x 19 (sub)
Weight (kg) 1.55 (bar); 7.7 (sub)
Crammed contained in the Eclair are a quintet of 5cm drivers: a centre channel, left and proper channels (positioned at 45-degree angles to widen the soundstage), and two up-firing drivers for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X top results.
The sub, in the meantime, has a pair of 13cm opposing drivers to minimise any vibration generated by the motion of the cones. On the underside is an LED to point a connection to the principle unit, and on our pattern, the 2 items paired robotically and remained steady. Whereas it’s curved, slender and pretty compact in comparison with lots of its friends, the sub is in no way tiny and discovering a place for it might be tough in very small areas.
We’re unquestionably curious as to what this tiny morsel of a soundbar can produce, and watching the opening scene from Child Driver in Dolby Atmos, we’re instantly struck by how the sound of the Eclair extends to the extremities of a bigger display screen.
Because the automobile pulls up in visitors, remarkably there may be some sense of a sweeping sound and the opening guitar chords and vocals of Bell Bottoms are enthusiastically belted out. However the identical can’t be stated of the remainder of the association.
There’s little in the best way of treble sparkle and the low finish feels disconnected and sometimes out of time with the principle bar, which is especially noticeable with loud results reminiscent of gunshots and gearshifts that are supposed to be tightly syncopated to the music. Within the following sequence the place Child goes to get espresso and folks on the road transfer throughout his path, their voices sound oddly filtered and distracting as they transfer from the centre channel to the boundaries of the soundstage.
Swapping to Gravity (additionally in Atmos) confirms that, relating to spatial precision, the Eclair can’t compete with the highest performers because the opening scene’s dramatic mixture of orchestral rating and hurtling satellites shortly turn out to be cacophonous. The tiny predominant unit works exhausting to mission sound upward nevertheless it’s imprecise and missing in placement or movement. In the meantime, the voices from the astronauts’ radio comms spotlight the areas of the spectrum the place the Eclair struggles. Whereas Sandra Bullock’s voice is comparatively clear and crisp, the dialogue of the male actors is a contact muffled and never really easy to grasp.
When watching the extra sedate drama The Chair, on Netflix, we will recognize that the Eclair is a step up from our TV’s inbuilt audio system and it’s good to listen to the bursts of the classical music rating sounding zealous and punchy in distinction to the quiet scenes of educational life.
Streaming music over the Bluetooth connection, we discover that the sparse and mellow orchestration of Mohabbat by Arooj Aftab retains the soothing dreaminess of the harmonium and element of the guitar. Though the sub’s sound is perfunctory, it provides some heat resonance to the tabla and we really feel snug cranking up the quantity with out it verging on harshness.
However with extra forthright tracks reminiscent of Jane’s Habit’s Simply As a result of, the Eclair shortly turns into fatiguing to take heed to. The searing guitars sound pushy and the hovering vocals have a boxy, nasal high quality. The 2 compete for a similar slender audio bandwidth of the Eclair, whereas the bassline from the sub appears indifferent and monotone. General the supply is a mixture of sonic clashes and disjoints that may be incoherent to take heed to.
The Eclair QP5 is a singularly small soundbar that delivers ample quantity past its stature. Nonetheless, with a brash character, disjointed bass and lacklustre dealing with of immersive sound codecs, customers in search of a compact TV sound improve is likely to be higher off getting a better high quality, non-Atmos bar. The Sonos Beam, whereas actually greater than the Eclair, continues to be greater than neat sufficient for many set-ups and is obtainable for considerably much less cash.
It’s a disgrace that delivering cinematic sound is past the scope of such a diminutive speaker, however the Eclair has unquestionably whet our urge for food and we’re wanting to see extra imaginative and trendy designs in house cinema audio. A croquembouche encompass system maybe?
Need extra choices? See our round-up of the greatest soundbars 2021
Learn our in-depth Sonos Beam assessment
Take a look at our assessment of the LG SP8YA Dolby Atmos soundbar
Learn our Samsung HW-Q800A Dolby Atmos soundbar assessment