As tech companies buckle up for the upcoming IoT or “Internet of Things” trend, these very companies are doing their very best to make their devices smarter. Smartphones and TVs are already given but even seemingly basic products like sound bars and routers are getting smart treatments as well. Modern speaker systems are adequately feature packed already with things like Bluetooth and the ability to wirelessly link with other speakers. The LG LAS851M continues onward with that trajectory while offering some interesting extras exclusively for people settled in LG’s growing ecosystem of living room products.
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About the LG LAS851M
The LAS851M is a member of a trio of high-end LG sound bars outfitted with the company’s proprietary Music Flow technology. In terms of price, the LG LAS851M is the midrange model but it is also the oddball of the group if you look at the spec sheet alone. With a $599 price tag, the LAS851M costs a full $100 more than the LAS751M which has the same set of features. However, the 160-watt wireless subwoofer that comes with the LG LAS851M is different and less powerful at least on paper. The subwoofer bundled with the LAS751M is 200 watts but it is smaller and 6 pounds lighter than the subwoofer you get with the LAS851M.
The sound bar unit itself is identical to the one in the LAS751M package. It is a 4.1-channel sound bar equipped with two 40-watt front speakers along with an additional pair of 40-watt speakers for surround sound. On the back of the unit is a vast selection of ports including both an HDMI input and output, optical input, portable audio in, Ethernet jack and USB port for servicing. The bundled accessories include a remote control with batteries, wall mount bracket and an optical cable.
The LG Music Flow technology is the main selling point of the LG LAS851M. Its best trick is its ability to create a MESH network consisting of other LG products with the Music Flow technology. If you have a couple of other Wi-Fi-enabled LG speakers lying around, you can put them in other rooms and let the sound bar’s dual-band Wi-Fi do the trick. Streaming music to the sound bar means full playback across all other speakers in the network resulting to a great multi-room experience.
If for some reason the 4.1-channel sound bar unit isn’t enough to power the home theater experience, you can place the other LG Music Flow speakers in the living room too. There is this special Music Flow mode called Home Cinema which optimizes the settings of each speaker creating a more natural surround sound experience. Even just a single LG Music Flow speaker can add considerable depth.
The LAS851M also received Google’s blessing with full Google Cast support. Google Cast is basically Google’s answer to AirPlay and it is more platform agonistic. Supported mobile apps on Android and iOS can easily stream music from Pandora, Google Play Music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio and plenty of others. Because the stream comes directly from the cloud to the sound bar unit, audio quality is optimal. The LG LAS851M also carries the same functionality a typical Wi-Fi-enabled sound bar has. iOS and Android devices on the same network as the sound bar can use the Music Flow Player app to send local audio files to the LAS851M as well for immediate playback. Even Bluetooth 4.0 is onboard allowing older devices to stream audio at a limited distance. If you have an LG TV with Sound Sync, you can use the Bluetooth to wirelessly pair the sound bar to the TV. The only real thing missing is AirPlay support but Google Cast is a step in the right direction when it comes to openness.
The 4.1-channel arrangement benefits movies more than music. There are no fancy virtual surround sound technologies present but the latest Blu-ray movies have more audio details than LG’s 2.1-channel sound bars. Utilizing the MESH network bumps up the audio quality even further. Music quality isn’t mind-blowing given the price tag but at least the sound bar can handle lossless audio formats including FLAC and WAV. Playing upbeat bass-heavy tracks is great though thanks to the larger size of the subwoofer.
• Music Flow can be very powerful if you have other LG speakers.
• Perfectly pairs with modern LG TV.
• Google Cast is great news for Google and Android fans.
• 4.1-channel arrangement makes movies sound pretty good.
• Lots of ports.
• A bit pricey for a music speaker.
The LG LAS851M is a powerful addition to any living room filled with LG-branded stuff. If you already have other LG speakers or plan on buying them in the future, the LAS851M is a sure bet as it solidifies the surround sound or multi-room experience. Music Flow really works well but if you want to save $100 and don’t mind a smaller subwoofer, get the LAS751M instead.