Does the prospect of shopping for a new soundbar excite you? Everyone wants to stretch their dollar and get maximum value for their money, and buying a soundbar for your TV is no exception.
Read up on our LGS95QR vs. Sonos Arc soundbar comparison below.
In this corner, we have the S95QR, a high-resolution sound bar that boasts a total of 17 speaker drivers hidden in four components, namely the soundbar unit, subwoofers, and two rear speakers.
The soundbar sits smack dab in the middle of the price range, with a price tag north of $1,000 at full MSRP. The S95QR is also the first of its class to have an up-firing center channel for clear voice quality, and Meridian Audio Technology that makes each frequency sharp and distinctive.
- 9.1.5 channels firing at an incredible 810 watts
- Meridian Horizon technology for clear high and low frequencies
- Works well in a large room
- Lack of setup guide in the manual
- You may need to reset the soundbar for different streaming services
In the other corner is the highly popular Arc, which Sonos labels a ‘Wireless Atmos Home Theater Soundbar’. Its singular appearance can be deceiving, because once you plug the Arc in and complete the setup you’d be amazed by its powerful sound output.
The Arc is currently priced at below $1,000, and you’ll find it to be a seamless addition to your home theater. When you’re not watching, the Arc is a capable speaker and smart assistant for streaming music and controlling your other smart appliances.
However, it should be noted that the Arc comes as a stand-alone soundbar, so if you choose to add a Sonos Sub or a pair of One SL satellite speakers, the price of the Sonos setup will greatly exceed that of the above LG.
- Quick and easy setup
- Premium wireless surround sound
- Doubles as a smart home assistant
- No Bluetooth connectivity
- Wall mount not included
The S95QR has a discreet look about it, which is exactly what LG was aiming for. The soundbar is meant to disappear within your space or home theater setup, only coming up when you’re watching your favorite TV show or movie.
The soundbar unit sits naturally below the TV and provides a minimalist feel to the whole thing, while the subwoofer and rear speakers can be placed anywhere you want. Without wiring to worry about, you’ll have plenty of options to go with.
The four pieces are covered in a matte black shell and fabric, with the exception of the soundbar unit’s surface. It’s worth noting that there’s a bit of heft to each unit, so make sure your stand or shelf can handle them.
The Arc is all curves, except for the flat end on each side. You can choose to get either the black color option or the white one depending on your room decor and theme.
At the front is a lone Sonos logo emblazoned in the middle. Since there aren’t any physical buttons, the soundbar appears anything but to the casual observer. As far as appearance goes, it is tough to find anything to criticize — this is a nice looking soundbar.
The Arc has a smaller footprint, therefore making it more adaptable than traditional sound speaker systems. You can place it atop your TV cabinet or mount to an adjacent wall or surface to enhance its appearance further.
The big difference between the Arc and the S95QR is that the Arc is a standalone soundbar. This makes for easy setup and simple functionality but comes at the expense of audio sounding “flat” without the satellite speakers and subwoofer.
The S95QR has a slew of connectivity options, making it a great choice for a wide variety of TV brands and models.
On the wireless front, you’ll be able to connect the soundbar to a TV or device via Bluetooth for a quick and easy fix. Wi-Fi connectivity is a must to unlock the S95QR’s full potential.
If you want a true wireless setup, then you can get the LG WowCast (sold separately), which connects to your TV’s HDMI and acts as a dongle for the S95QR.
As for wired, there’s a dual HDMI 2.1 input (with eARC) and a single HDMI 2.1 output, optical, USB and the WowCast technology. The S95QR supports HDMI Passthrough for HDR10, 4K and Dolby Vision so you can still experience a level of immersion while playing games or streaming content.
While you won’t be able to stream to the Arc using Bluetooth (because there isn’t any), you’d be able to find a way to play your favorite music and playlist with integrated AirPlay 2 and Sonos Voice Control.
Connecting to the home network should prove to be easy, thanks to the Arc’s Ethernet port and 2.4GHz option. Most routers nowadays have the dual frequency of 2.4GHz (for longer range) and 5GHz (shorter, but higher speed capacity), as well as hardwiring to the devices that need a stable flow of data.
Other than that, you will have to rely on HDMI to connect to the TV and hear the sound from there. Choose the HDMI eARC/ARC port for higher fidelity, and if your device only supports optical then you can attach the included optical audio adapter and go from there.
Having an up-firing center channel may not seem much, but it’s actually an excellent feature especially if you’re fond of watching movies and shows.
There’s the requisite Dolby Atmos support, and LG has even thrown in IMAX enhanced and DTS mode for greater immersion. Sweet spots are no longer a trial-and-error process, thanks to Meridian Audio. You get distinctive highs and lows on local sound optimization, and the hefty bass is icing on the cake.
As far as control is concerned you can either turn to physical or remote. Most modern soundbar nowadays have some kind of voice assistant built in, and the S95QR is no exception. Google Assistant and Alexa can handle the most common audio tasks if for some reason you have your hands full.
As for room audio calibration, the S95QR has AI Room Calibration Pro to detect the size using spatial awareness technology. From there, the soundbar ‘thinks’ and automatically balances the audio settings according to the environment.
The sound works even better if you have a compatible LG TV. The S95QR taps into the TV’s processing power to optimize sound quality, and you can freely switch between sound modes using the LG TV remote. Gamers can enable variable refresh rate and auto latency mode to reduce stutter and lag input via HDMI cable, and it really works to a degree.
The S95QR offers HDR10 and Dolby Vision Passthrough, custom room tuning via app, and 4K Passthrough via HDCP 2.3. Audio can reach up to 24bit/96kHz, and there’s the surround sound expansion and 24-bit upsampling as well.
Lastly, compatibility with WowCast can cost you more, but if money is no matter and you want to impress your friends with a wire-free home theater, then you’ll be happy to know that it’s possible. There’s also a wall mount bracket for the soundbar for aesthetic purposes and to keep it off children’s and pet reach.
The Arc is a thing of beauty and very easy to set up. You can download the Sonos app first, then just follow the instructions and you’ll be ready to go in less than 15 minutes.
Cinematic sound gets a nice boost in Dolby Atmos, which works for TVs that allow Atmos-encoded content. The technology maps out the space in your room and simulates a 3D audio for an enhanced home theater experience.
Digging further, there’s Trueplay tuning that matches the soundbar’s output depending on the room it’s in. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to have an iOS device to do this, but the gain in quality is well worth it.
Sonos Voice Control and built-in Alexa and Google Assistant give the Arc the edge as a smart home companion. Without using any device, you can have the soundbar play music via Sonos Radio, have your iPhone, iPad or Mac stream music through AirPlay 2, and control other smart home devices.
Invisible touch controls lend a coolness factor to the Arc, but it does take some time to get used to. You can swipe or tap the soundbar’s surface to adjust the volume, skip tracks, play, and turn off the mic. There’s also a helpful LED interface that shows mic activation, mute status, connection status, and errors.
If the sound isn’t enough, then you can always add rear speakers and a subwoofer which connects via Wi-Fi. You can mix and match with other Sonos audio products to create your ideal home theater experience.
Having the Arc wall-mounted requires an additional expense, as does attaching the soundbar to an existing TV mount.
The S95QR churns out an impressive 810 watts of power, with the subwoofer taking the lion’s share at 210 watts. The soundbar does an excellent job of filling a medium-sized room, and there’s very little doubt that it can accommodate a home theater system in a large space.
The up-firing channel deserves special mention, mainly due to the voice clarity it brings. Barely audible whispers can be heard, and it’s a separate element from the sound effects and background music.
The bass is meaty and works at the right time. When combined with a compatible LG TV and Dolby enabled, the experience is hard to beat. You can even customize the sound settings with preset modes, including Bass and Bass Blast+ for tunes, Game for videogames, Clear Voice and Cinema, just to name a few.
The Arc has the ability to catch people by surprise. Inside its sleek frame lies eleven internal speakers, and with Dolby Atmos enabled you’ll swear that you’re listening to a premium home theater system.
Numbers do count for soundbars, and the more speakers you add to the Arc the better the experience is. It works well enough on its own, and the 3D effect is enough to make you think that the purchase is worth every cent.
The Arc shines in both TV and non-TV sound. When there’s a party, a single soundbar is all you need to get the crowd up and moving to the beat. Likewise, it serves to enhance the mood and atmosphere during those quiet sit-downs and when you need ambient music.
The lack of Bluetooth means you’ll have to have the Sonos app up and running constantly. Also, it’s better to familiarize yourself with the touch controls so you can turn down the volume or switch to another song when needed.
LG S95QR vs. Sonos Arc Conclusion
The S95QR is the big brother in the picture – it’s loud, clear and powerful in its own right. The fact that it comes bundled with satellite speakers and a subwoofer actually means that it is “cheaper” than the Arc if you choose to add similar accessories to the Arc.
The Arc is the more refined soundbar, with ample audio quality to enhance your movie experience. Sonos provides software and features that are second-to-none, even though LG put forth a solid effort with their soundbars, as well.
Both soundbars give you excellent value for money. Whether you choose the Arc or the S95QR, you’re sure to have an enjoyable time, sound-wise because of their room-filling and 3D surround capabilities.
Ultimately, you should be realistic with your budget and future goals. If your maximum budget is in the $1,000 to $1,500 range, I would choose the S95QR — for this price, you get the entire setup. If you already have an LG TV, the S95QR becomes even more compelling.
If you are willing to spend a bit more money, consider the Sonos Arc with the added Sonos Sub and a pair of One SL speakers. Although this will run north of $2,000 at full MSRP, the proposed setup is certain to outperform the S95QR. Another nice benefit is that you can purchase the Sonos Arc right now (with a sub-$1,000 price tag) and then add the satellite speakers and sub later, as your budget allows.