The LG XBOOM Go series paddles in the same space as Ultimate, Ears, Sony and JBL. They are BT 5.0/3.5mm, IPX5, rechargeable battery, SOUND BOOST, drink bottle-sized speakers.
We led with the punches because LG is one of the latter entrants in the BT speaker market. One that is already quite crowded with some excellent devices. We need to find out if LG XBOOM Go earns a place.
It has three ‘PL’ 2020 models that join its 2019 range PK 3/5/7
LG (Est. 1947) is a South Korean company making electronics, displays, household appliances, chemicals and telecommunications.
First impression – PASS
It is quite solid and squat at 201mm x 79mm round with obvious passive radiators at each end. The two (stereo) forward-firing speakers are under a perforated rubberised grill.
Across the top, you have Power, BT, volume +/-, Play/Pause and Sound boost buttons under a rubber buffer. It has a flat base and a rear flap for USB-C in and 3.5mm (close it for water resistance).
Like all BT speakers, it has a handsfree mode and voice control (long press Play/Pause).
Setup – PASS
Charge the device – USB-A to USB-C cable but no charger supplied. You need to a 5V/2A or higher USB-A or USB-C PD charger.
It asks for location permission (for BT connection) and access to the phone storage for music. It will update firmware, and you are ready to go. We also tested with Microsoft Windows – PASS.
APP – Basic but does all you need – PASS
The LG XBOOM app (Android and iOS) offers some other utility for light control and party modes.
You can connect up to 100 PL series XBOOM in Party Link mode or as a stereo pair, or as multiple stereo pairs.
There is no EQ – it is sound boost on or off.
We look at marketing claims and seek to prove them
LG XBOOM GO PL5 with Meridian technology gives you premium quality sound. Hear deep Bass and rich tones when you play music.
Sound Boost amplifies sound power and widens the sound field.
Passive radiators produce bold beats powerful enough to start a party wherever you go
Up to 18-hour battery life
We are also looking for clear dialogue for podcasts, adjustment for other music genres and sound stage.
If you forget the marketing hype it reasonably lives up top its claims.
Sound – depends on content – PASS+
Meridian does a great job tuning LG’s sound products. I guess there is only so much you can do with 10W 1.75” stereo speakers and passive radiators.
Rather than allow it to have ‘Franksensound’ via an EQ, Meridian has Standard (Meridian tuning) and Sound Boost (non-Meridian) settings via a physical button and the app.
That is smart but in the grand scheme that Meridian flat response (Balanced) means it is largely at the mercy of the content, genre, its bit/sample rate and then the BT SBC or AAC lossy codecs. To be blunt, a crappy compressed MP3 sounds just that. Good content sounds great and even better over the 3.5mm AUX in.
We measured frequency response with and without Sound Boost. The latter tends to improve mid and treble, making the sound signature almost flat from 100Hz to 14kHz. That is no mean feat given what you have to work with.
Deep Bass: 20-40Hz
Middle Bass: 40-100Hz
Building steeply from 50Hz
Building more slowly
High Bass: 100 to 200Hz
High Treble: 6-10kHz
flat with slight decline to avoid harshmess
Dog whistle: 10-20kHz
Off the cliff at 12kHz
Off the cliff at 16kHz
But that Balanced signature is not the best to listen to all genres.
Jazz wants ant Warm and Sweet (bass/mid boosted, treble recessed).
Heavy metal wants Bass: (Bass boosted, mid/treble recessed)
Don’t get me wrong – it is as good as you can get, but you may want to listen to your favourite genres on different speakers first and make a comparison.
For example, I like the JBL sound signature – warm and sweet as I listen to Jazz. But I also like crisp dialogue (Mid) when so I use an old Altec Lansing portable as a travel companion to reinforce hotel TV!
My son loves UE because of the Bass signature – perfect where vocals are not important.
My wife loves Bose – that is as synthetic sound as you can get.
And as for a sound stage – it is not wide, but that is what we expect from stereo forward-firing speakers. This speaker would benefit from a little height and perhaps being placed in a bookshelf to give more reflective oomph to the passive bass radiators.
So bottom line – what you put in you will get out at up to 82dB. At maximum volume, distortion is relatively low. The passive radiators dance around – it is not tightly controlled Bass.
Battery – EXCEED
It is a 3900mAh battery. It has a USB-A to USB-C cable and needs a 5V/2A USB-A charger (not supplied) or any USB-C PD. Larger capacity chargers do not affect charge times. Charge times are around two hours with the unit off and up to five hours if it is playing music.
LG claims up to 18 hours of life (at 50% volume, BT). It also has auto-power off.
But given the size of the speaker and those lights, the real run time is less.
Tests (note that all tests were with Sound Boost)
75% volume, BT and no lights – 14 hrs
As above with lights – 11 hours
100% volume, BT and no lights – 12 hours
As above with lights – 9 hours
So LGs claim is reasonable, if unobtainable.
Build – EXCEED
It looks like it can take a few knocks. The only caveat is to close the rear hatch. It is IPX5 – more water-resistant.
BT PAIR – EXCEED
It supports Multi-point (two devices at the same time) but not in Dual Mode and Multi-Mode.
Handsfree and voice control – PASS
It has heaps of volume, but the single mic means you need to be close to the unit. Both require you to long-press the pause/play button to activate,
Lights – PASS
This is not serious RGB lighting. It comprises a light ring on each passive radiator that can use pre-sets of Party (multicolour), Water (Blue), Forest (yellow) and Jellybean (semi customisable) and changes in sync with the music.
GadgetGuy’s take – Put the LG XBOOM Go on your BT Portable shopping list
Good sound, good battery life and fair pricing.
On the plus side is that it is stereo and has Meridian sound tuning. On the negative side lack of a waterproof IP, rating means JBL and Ultimate Ears are probably better for that use.
Interestingly we went back to our Meridian tuned LG WK7 and we can notice the same characteristics that earn it pride of place as an OK Google speaker.