Big is beautiful, the bigger the better, big foot ... all are sayings which were most likely applied to the LGFB164DAB during its inception. This system is one of the larger (and heavier) integrated hi-fi units we have tested, providing functionalities like iPod connectivity, digital and analog radio, as well as CD and DVD playback from within the one unit.
It's also a bit of a looker, if piano black and electric blue accents are your thing. At the front, a touch-sensitive panel with a circle in the centre glows every time a part is touched. And given its response, this is something you'll want to be doing again and again: just mind the fingerprints. From this circle you can control playback options as well as adjust the volume.
The system features a slot-loading CD/DVD player at the top of the unit, just behind which is a USB port (more on this later) and a sliding flap that reveals the iPod dock connector. The remote is full of control options, which gives a clue to this system's other life: as a DVD player when hooked up to a TV.
The blue accents give this unit an out-of-this-world look. (Credit: CBSi)
A simple display at the front provides information on the stereo's current function, as well as digital radio information and a line that bounces in time to music played. Underneath a fold-down flap is a headphone input, 3.5mm input, plus clock, timer and EQ demo buttons.
The 160-Watt three-way speakers pack a punch — quite literally — with their heft making the rest of the system feel sturdy and well-built. Overall, the system looks great to our eyes, but the piano black is a fingerprint magnet as would be expected.
Audio and video output options found on the rear of the LGFB164DAB. (Credit: CBSi)
Using an iPod on the LGFB164DAB is straightforward; just plug and play. The remote control can be used to switch tracks and control the iPod itself. The navigation pad on the remote acts like the control wheel on the iPod. The LGFB164DAB also charges an iPod when it's docked.
Attaching an iPhone 3GS to the unit resulted in an on-screen message stating that the stereo was not directly compatible with the iPhone, but in our tests it worked fine. Note that during iPod playback, the screen on-board the stereo doesn't display artist or track information, merely the "iPod" function.
Given the considerable price of the LGFB164DAB, it's to be expected that it is jammed full of additional features, including USB recording and playback. It can also be used to view photos and video from the drive when plugged into a television. The system can record from CD or radio playback (but not iPod playback), resulting in a relatively low quality MP3 (128Kbps) that won't be ideal for audiophiles, but will be adequate for casual recordings.
Given the sheer size of the unit, it's not surprising that the system favours a bass-heavy sound when first playing back music. There's an equaliser with several presets that allow you to tweak the settings to the music of your choosing, though none of them really rid the music of booming bass. At high volumes the LG did a good job of not distorting too much, though there is a noticeable amount of treble drop-off; volume fall-off is not particularly noticeable in areas that aren't directly in front of the speakers.
CD and DVD playback works well, though if you do hook up the LG to work alongside your television as a dedicated sound system, note that the power cord and supplied video cable are fairly short.
The LGFB164DAB is an attractive and viable audio companion to a home theatre set-up, providing integrated CD and DVD playback as well as digital radio. It's perhaps a bit too bulky to use as a stand-alone stereo system if you're considering other mini hi-fi units, though the iPod connectivity works in its favour.