We first tested the LG LAP340 SoundPlate in our February 2014 issue, where we were deeply disappointed with the soundbase’s disorganised and lacklustre performance.
LG has since then updated the LAP340 SoundPlate with tweaks to the sound, and given us a brand new sample. Has it done enough to deliver a more enjoyable performance?
it’s definitely an improvement over the original sample we heard. Instead of a muddled, unpleasant sound that reveals little detail, the updated LAP340 delivers a clearer, snappier sound.
It sounds as if a thin layer of murkiness has been scrubbed clean, revealing the detail hiding underneath. It’s a little more listenable than before.
However, underneath that cleaner slate, the same issues we heard before are still present. There’s still neither the organisation nor enough finesse at either frequency extreme to convince us.
We’re no great fans of the midrange either, which has a scooped-out quality to it –voices sound indistinct and, coupled with the lack of insight, there’s precious little emotion conveyed through dialogue.
It’s a far cry from the detailed, punchy and dynamic talents of the best soundbases we've heard, the Canton DM 50 (£400) and the Cambridge Audio Minx TV (£200). Next to the cheaper and more enjoyable Minx TV, the LG still sounds coarse and unrefined.
The initial brash quality of the sound tones down after a couple of days’ running in, but a bright edge still remains.
Activating the ‘Cinema Sound’ mode does open things up, giving the LG’s sound more space and width – but it also emphasises the bass too much.
It’s worth experimenting with the feature to see which suits your preference.
We can see why LG refers to it as a ‘Plate’ – the LAP340 is slimmer and flatter than any other soundbase we’ve seen so far.
It’s an ideal design for the minimalist-minded, with the sleek soundbase tucking away neatly under any big-screen TV.
The carbon-fibre effect on top offers greater grip, and comes in either matte black or grey finishes.
It’s nicely put together, although it doesn’t quite exude the same quality of finish as the Canton DM 50 or Panasonic SC-HTE80.
Despite its somewhat lightweight and plasticky feel, we’ve no doubt its sturdy 38kg weight limit will easily support most large tellies.
The LG SoundPlate has an optical input, and Bluetooth streaming. And that’s it. Given that £350 price-tag, we feel short-changed.
Compared with the multiple HDMI and analogue connections offered by the Panasonic SC-HTE80 and Maxell MXSP-SB3000 soundbases for £250 and under, the LG’s sparse offering leaves us underwhelmed.
There’s no display, although considering the LAP340 only does two things (TV via optical; and Bluetooth streaming), it probably isn’t needed.
A colour-changing LED makes it clear when the soundbase is muted (red), connected via optical (green), or in Bluetooth mode (orange, strangely).
We do like the LG SoundPlate’s remote control, though. It’s small and light, but with big, simple buttons that are easy to find in the dark.
The black rubber finish with orange accents is nice, it’s responsive, and we like how simple it is to use.
There are also control buttons for power and volume, but they’re at the back of the unit. Why? We have no idea.
While there are some improvements from the original sample we reviewed, we’re still not convinced with the LG LAP340’s performance.
It’s not as unpleasant and discordant a sound as before, but it’s still miles away from catching up with its rivals, even many of those without five stars.
The Panasonic SC-HTE80 may not have much bass weight, but it justifies its £250 price tag with a strong, agile and articulate mid-to-top range performance.
It’s relatively pricey, too, which further hurts its case. A £350 bill comes with certain expectations of sound quality and features, and the LG simply fails to deliver.
The LG LAP340 SoundPlate came with high expectations. LG’s budget soundbars, after all, have won group tests and Awards in the past year.
In this new soundbase form, we expected LG to deliver just as good TV-bettering sound.
Sadly, even with a second chance, this hasn’t been the case. There are some improvements, but it’s not enough.