The LG PK5 sits in the middle of the XBOOM Go trio both in size and price. I’ve reviewed both the compact PK3 and the bigger PK7 just recently. But I was interested to see whether this might be the Goldilocks of the range! It combines most of the features of its two siblings. It has 20W of output with lossless aptX HD support, up to 18 hours of battery life, an IPX5 water resistance rating, integrated lighting and it can be paired in stereo mode to another identical speaker, which I’ll be testing out later.
It’s retails at £150 or $150 but is often discounted to half this price so check the link below for current pricing. I’ll run through its features and then compare how it sounds to the PK3 and the PK7. I’ll also pair two PK5s in a stereo pair so you can hear how that sounds. Finally I’ll compare the PK5 to the Anker Soundcore Motion+ and JBL Flip 4. So let’s take a look.
Inside the box you get the speaker itself, a USB-C to USB-A charging cable and a brief instruction manual. I’m pleased to see the latest USB-C charging. Only the PK7 requires a proprietary AC adapter. There’s no supplied 3.5mm auxiliary cable.
The speaker has the distinctive carry handles of the larger PK7 which does make it larger and a little heavier than it needs to be. It weighs 1215g and measures 220 mm by 129 mm by 119 mm.
This newer model comes in white but there’s also a slightly older model available in black. The internals haven’t changed. I like the design and it’s well built like all the speakers in the range, made from a rugged plastic with a metal grill covering the drivers. Like on the PK3 and PK7, the dual passive radiators are perhaps its most vulnerable components. But it still has an IPX5 splash proof rating – the same as the PK7, but not the IPX7 waterproof rating of the smaller PK3, which comes with a tighter fitting flap around the back that covers the ports. But this one is easier to remove, like on the PK7.
There’s the USB-C charging port, a 3.5mm audio-in port, a reset button and the Dual Play button for pairing to other PK5 or PK7 speakers, which I’ll come back to.
There’s no USB port to charge your gadgets like on the Anker Soundcore Boost which I would have liked. Make sure this flap is fully seated before getting it wet.
The top of the PK3 houses the rubberised buttons. There’s the battery LED, power button with power LED, Bluetooth pairing button with Bluetooth LED, volume controls and the pause | play button. A double press skips forward a track and a triple press skips back. The button also answers and ends phone calls.
There’s the voice command button which activates your voice assistant. Holding down this button for two seconds cycles the “mood” lighting mode from the default multi coloured “Party” mode to various other modes with the last setting turning the lighting off
Finally there’s the Meridian Audio tuned, Clear Vocal and Enhanced Bass buttons with their accompanying LEDs, which are on by default. And there’s the microphone for voice commands and phone calls.
The bottom of the speaker has four rubber feet to dampen any vibrations.
Like the PK3, the unit is a little fussy on chargers. Although it’s USB-C, it wouldn’t even attempt to charge using a USB-C to USB-C cable to my desktop charger. You’ll need to use a USB-A to USB-C cable like the one provided.
The battery LED lights red whilst charging and turns green for 15 seconds when fully charged and then turns off. The LED also indicates the battery status for 3 seconds when the speaker is turned on and not charging. You can check the battery level any time by pressing the power button for 2 seconds with the speaker on. Unusually and like the other XBOOM speakers, you don’t see the battery level displayed on iOS devices.
When you turn the speaker on with a single press of the power button for the first time the Bluetooth LED will flash. Connect to LG-PK5(XX) in your Bluetooth device settings. The Bluetooth LED goes steady. Sound accompanies turning the speaker on and off, Bluetooth pairing and reaching maximum and minimum volume. You can turn the audio prompts off in the accompanying app, which is only available on Android at the moment.
A single press of the button turns the speaker off or it turns off automatically after 15 minutes if not in use. You can’t disable the auto power off.
It’s a simple process but there’s no NFC support for even easier pairing on supported Android devices like on the Soundcore Boost and Tronsmart Force.
The speaker supports multi-pairing with two devices at the same time. Press and hold the Bluetooth button for two seconds until its LED starts flashing and connect your second device. If you try and connect a third device, one of your devices will be disconnected.
It’s dependant on device and application, but you should be able to pause music on one device and start playing on the second paired device.
If you have two PK5s you can pair them together as a stereo pair for a much improved sound stage which you’ll be able to listen to when I cover sound quality. Press and hold the Dual Play button for two seconds on each speaker.
The button’s accompanying LED will flash white while they pair, which takes a few seconds. The speaker you first started the pairing on, will be the left channel. There’s a confirmation beep and the LEDs on both speakers stay white. I’ll come back to this shortly.
The LG XBOOM app
The PK5 and the PK7 can be configured using the LG XBOOM Go app, which is unfortunately only available on Android with no iOS version planned.
You can update the speaker’s firmware, control the lighting modes, configure Dual Play mode and turn the EQ modes on and off. The latest firmware provided a new Sound Boost setting under the Enhanced Bass switch which makes the speaker louder. I measured an approximate 2-3dB gain in loudness with this enabled, which was noticeable.
If you have two PK5 or PK7s paired you can choose to have them in stereo or twin mode. If they’re In the same room you’d most likely use the default stereo option which separates the left and right channel and sends them across to each speaker. In twin mode, the speakers both play the complete stereo recording, the better option if they’re in different rooms.
You can only connect two speakers together unfortunately, but you can pair a PK7 with a PK5 if you like. With their different sound characteristics this can only be in twin mode.
I covered the LG Music Flow Bluetooth app in more detail in my PK7 review so please take a look at that for more details. Both apps are virtually identical and you can use either.
Sound quality and performance
The PK5 has two mid-range drivers and dual passive radiators, very much like the smaller PK3.
It too sounds well balanced but with its larger size is has a little more depth. It handles bass well whilst still maintaining clarity in the mids and highs. I prefered Enhanced Bass on for most of the music I listened to but I generally preferred the Clear Vocal EQ off. It does make the speaker sound brighter in the mids which you might like, but for some music I listened to it sounded a little overdone to me. It’s slightly disappointing you can’t configure custom EQ settings in the app.
It has 20W of output and there’s very little distortion even at maximum volume, like all the speakers in this XBOOM range.
It’s not the loudest speaker of its size, although with the latest firmware update you can turn on the Sound Boost option as previously discussed which will easily fill a medium sized room. I did find the highs started sounding a bit harsh, so I mostly left this off.
Unsurprisingly, there’s not much separation with a speaker this size, but if you do end up with two, they sound really good as a stereo pair. Apart from the improved sound stage, music also sounds richer, especially for more busy tracks where the two channels can get muddled on a single smaller speaker.
They don’t remember their pairing after you turn them off so you’ll have to setup the pairing every time you turn the speakers on, so not ideal for a permanent setup.
In the video at the top of the article, you can listen to a comparison between the LG PK5 with its EQ presets on and off, the PK3, PK7, and the comparably priced Anker Soundcore Motion+ and JBL Flip 4. Finally you can listen to the PK5s as a stereo pair.
I also have full reviews of all these speakers playing other music tracks, so take a look at the links in the video’s description or search this site for the written articles.
I recorded the sound test with binaural microphones that capture stereo sound, to try and provide the closest representation of what I’m hearing so it’s recommended to use decent headphones to listen to the video.
All the PK series handle audio sync well, even with YouTube on iOS which is often troublesome, and the PK5 is no exception.
Battery life is quoted as 18 hours which assumes playback at 50% volume with lighting and equalizer modes off. I used it generally at louder volumes with lighting on usually Enhanced Bass on too and got over 10 hours which is pretty good.
Like the other XBOOM speakers the PK5 uses the older Bluetooth 4.2 standard, not the latest 5.0 but range was still good, making it to the far end of the next room of my brick built house. I didn’t get any dropouts in normal use, only when I configured two speakers as a stereo pair. Upgrading to the latest firmware on both speakers appears to have fixed this issue.
Receiving phone calls sounded clear but you’ll need to get close to the mic for the recipient to hear you.
The speaker supports a wide range of audio formats including the higher quality aptX and aptX HD. It will drop to the AAC codec on Apple devices that don’t support aptX which is still better than the default SBC codec. You’d need to be using a premium streaming service like Tidal to really notice any difference. And for the best quality you could potentially connect with a 3.5mm audio cable.
The LG XBOOM Go speakers all offer well rounded sound, good build quality and some nice features. The PK5 is probably my overall favourite. It’s not much bigger than the PK3, still has the convenient USB-C charging, has the lighting, Dual Play and EQ modes of the bigger PK7 and arguably most importantly it sounds good. A pair of PK5s sounds even better, although I’d consider this a useful feature if you have two speakers in your household, not a permanent wireless stereo setup.
Probably its biggest competitor, out of the speakers I’ve tested recently, is the Anker Soundcore Motion+. It also supports wireless stereo sound with another Motion+ speaker, has dual tweeters, is IPX7 waterproof, supports custom EQ and is around 2-3db louder. But it doesn’t have the lighting modes and it’s generally a little bit more expensive than the PK5. Sound quality is close between them and it’ll mostly come down to personal preference.
In LG’s line up the PK7 can often be had for only a little more too. It has an even fuller sound, but it’s much bigger and has its own proprietary charging cable.
Overall the PK5 is an impressive portable Bluetooth speaker that I’d give some consideration if you’re after a speaker in this category, even more so at its often heavily discounted sale price.
Don’t forget to take a look at my YouTube video at the top of the page, and subscribe to my YouTube channel where I’m releasing videos every week on the latest technology and how to get the most out of it. If you tap the bell icon when you subscribe you’ll get a notification as soon as I release a video, and there’ll be a link to my site here for the written article. YouTube is also the best place to leave a comment. I read all of them and respond to as many as I can!