The LG PK7W XBOOM Go Bluetooth speaker is a fair bit larger than your typical portable speaker, but has 40W of output with aptX and aptX HD support, up to 22 hours of battery life, an IPX5 weather resistance rating and integrated lighting. LG have partnered with Meridian Audio, a British company with over 60 years of experience in HiFi audio, to attempt to deliver the best sound possible.
It retails at £200 or $230 but it’s often heavily discounted to less than half that so check the current prices.
I’ll run through its features and then compare it to the Anker Soundcore Motion+ I reviewed recently, a smaller Bluetooth speaker, but I was impressed with its sound; the Sonos One with a similar RRP but mains powered, and for good measure the Sonos Play:3 which is similar in size to the XBOOM and although also mains powered, a useful benchmark for what a speaker this size can deliver.
The speaker comes well packaged, with a getting started guide, a figure eight power cable and a 19V 1.7A AC adapter. Unfortunately this speaker can’t be powered via USB-C like its smaller siblings, the LG PK5 and LG PK3, although with those you’d need your own wall charger. There’s no 3.5mm audio cable or case supplied
The first thing you’ll notice is its size. This is a big portable speaker at 320mm x 167mm, standing 152mm tall and weighing in at 3kg. It has distinctive carry handles on the front of the unit, which despite its size and weight actually makes it quite portable, but it’s not ideally suited for travel.
This newer model comes in white, but there’s also a slightly older black model with some subtle differences. The branding has slightly changed on the white speaker, and it loses the LED lighting that runs horizontally. The firmware can be updated on both the white and black speakers to make them a little louder and basically bring them in line from a sound perspective. I’ll come back to that shortly.
The build quality is very good. It’s built from a rugged white plastic which has very little flex, with a metal grille covering the drivers. It has an IPX5 splash and dustproof rating like the smaller PK5, not the IPX7 waterproof rating of the smallest PK3.
Removing the flap around the back reveals the ports. There’s the DC-in port, a 3.5mm audio-in port, a reset button, the Dual Play button to pair with a second speaker for wireless stereo and an associated Dual Play status LED.
The flap also acts as a seal against the elements so you’ll need to make sure it’s fully seated again after removing it.
Disappointingly on a speaker this size there’s no USB port to charge your gadgets.
Around the sides are the passive radiators, perhaps the speakers’ most vulnerable elements but I’ve not had any cause for concern in my testing.
The top of the XBOOM 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.
Then there’s the voice command button. A single press activates your voice assistant. Holding down this button for two seconds cycles the “Mood” lighting modes from the default multi coloured “Party” mode to various other modes with the last setting turning the lighting off. I’ll discuss the mood lighting further when we look at the accompanying Music Flow app. Finally there’s the Meridian Audio tuned, self explanatory 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.
Charging the speaker’s 5200mAh lithium ion battery takes around 3.5 hours from flat, although it will take longer if you’re playing music at the same time. 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. It lights green if the battery has more than 70% charge remaining, amber if the battery is between 10 and 70% and flashes red continuously when there’s less than 10% of charge remaining. You can check the battery level any time by pressing the power button for 2 seconds with the speaker on.
You can also check the battery level on Android devices in the Music Flow app I’ll come to shortly, but unusually the battery level isn’t 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-PK7(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 disable the sounds in the Music Flow app which again I’ll come to shortly.
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, even using the app.
It’s a simple process but there’s no NFC support for even easier pairing on supported Android devices.
There’s a free app to configure the speaker and update the firmware. Unfortunately this is only available on Android.
Connect to an Android device and download the Music Flow Bluetooth app from LG. There’s also a Music Flow Player app from LG for configuring their WiFi speakers. So make sure you select the right one!
I’ll be coming back to app as I discuss updating the firmware and some of the speaker’s features.
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 turn on turn on Party mode under Settings | Multi-play mode, you don’t need to pause playback to play music on another device, allowing two people to control the speaker at the same time, a feature I wish more speakers had.
The speaker will only connect back to one device when you turn it back on. You’ll need to connect to the second device manually.
The Music Flow Bluetooth app
Most of the options available in the app can be set on the speaker itself, but there are a few additional features that can only be configured using the app, which means if you’re on iOS you may want to find someone with an Android device.
Battery life is shown in the centre of the screen. Under Settings turn off “Beep Sound” to disable the speaker sounds.
I’d recommend checking your speaker has the latest firmware. Even my new speaker had a fairly significant update to apply. Go to Settings | Device version info and see if any update is available by tapping the Info icon. Apply the update tapping the icon to the right.
It takes a few minutes to download the update and send it across. The speaker will turn off when the update is complete. You can turn it back on and check you now have the latest firmware.
With this latest update there’s a new Sound Boost toggle when you have Enhanced Bass turned on. Tap the Sound Effects icon to enable this. You can also switch Clear Vocal and Enhanced Bass on and off. The speaker needs to be turned off and on to apply Sound Boost. The speaker was noticeably louder after updating the firmware and turning the Sound Boost effect on.
Unfortunately, apart from these preconfigured profiles, you can’t define any custom EQ settings.
If you have another PK7 speaker or the PK5, you can set them both up as a stereo pair using the Dual Play feature. Unfortunately I don’t have another speaker to try out this feature.
Lighting effects lets you switch between the Mood Lighting modes, or turn the lights off. There’s a My Style option to choose your own colour and speed. And you can turn Beat Lighting off if you don’t want the lights to be synchronised to the music’s beat.
Tapping the screen in the various lighting modes makes the speakers’ lights perform a unique lighting action.
You can also use the app to play music stored locally on the device.
Sound quality & performance
The two mid-range drivers, two tweeters and passive radiators around the sides deliver a very well balanced sound that also manages a decent amount of separation even without pairing with another speaker.
Vocals and bass come through clearly even at higher volumes and there’s little distortion. With Sound Boost on I found treble sounded a bit harsh at over 80% volume, and overall I preferred the sound with the Sound Boost off, but with Clear Vocal and Enhanced Bass on. It sounds a bit flat without these to my ear.
Before the firmware update, my one slight criticism was that considering the size of the speaker it wasn’t that loud. But after the latest update and with Sound Boost on I don’t think this is an issue. It would fill a large room and could be used outside, especially with its IPX5 rating.
Although its output does drop when running without AC power. According to LG its output decreases from 40W to 30W which doesn’t really mean a lot. But I measured a drop of around 3dB running on battery at around 1m away from the speaker.
Sound Boost adds around 3dB to the output, again measuring 1m from the speaker with a calibrated sound level meter.
There are louder speakers available, but this is one of the best sounding portable speakers I’ve listened to. The collaboration with Meridian Audio seems to have paid off.
In the video at the top of the page, you can listen to a comparison between the LG PK7 XBOOM Go with the EQ presets on and off, a Soundcore Motion+, a Sonos One and a Sonos Play:3. The sound test was recorded with binaural microphones that capture stereo sound, to try and provide the closest representation of what I’m hearing. Please listen with headphones for the best experience.
Audio sync was good, even with YouTube on iOS which is usually troublesome.
Battery life is quoted as 22 hours but this is at 50% volume and with lighting modes, clear vocal and enhanced bass off. In general use at around 70-80% volume, with the default lighting mode and both EQ profiles on, I still got at least 12 hours of use.
The speaker uses Bluetooth version 4.2, not the latest 5.0. Range was ok making it to the next room of my 50s brick built house, but not further.
Receiving phone calls sounded clear but you’ll need to get close to the mic for the recipient to hear you clearly, around a forearm’s length away.
The speaker supports a wide range of audio formats including the higher quality aptX and aptX HD. Neither of the Samsung devices I tested support aptX HD but I confirmed they were streaming via aptX. You’d need to be using a premium streaming service like Tidal to really notice any difference.
Apple doesn’t support aptX or aptX HD but I did confirm that my MacBook at least was streaming via the higher quality AAC codec. There’s no way of checking but I imagine my iPhone and iPad were too.
There’s a lot to like about the LG PK7 XBOOM Go, most notably the sound quality which is impressive. It’s well built with an IPX5 splash and dust proof rating, battery life is good and the lights, which can be turned off are quite novel.
I would have liked USB-C charging and limiting the app to Android only is not going to endear Apple users. It’d be nice to have the ability to define custom EQ profiles in the app, although I found the Clear Vocal and Enhanced Bass presets sounded pretty good for most of what I listened to.
At its RRP it’s a good buy, but if you can get it for less than half the price as it often is, I don’t think there are many speakers that would come close, if you’re after a speaker this size.
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’re 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!
LG PK7W XBOOM Go: https://amzn.to/2HLw33u
LG PK5 XBOOM Go: https://amzn.to/2ZxlzzN
LG PK3 XBOOM Go: https://amzn.to/2ZxlCeX
Anker Soundcore Motion+: https://amzn.to/2PKMbsn
Sonos One: https://amzn.to/2Lp9fYl