When it comes to speakers, these days most of us have a heap of smart speakers around the house. What those speakers aren’t good for is taking out of the house, that’s where Bluetooth speakers come into their own, and the new LG PL Boom line of outdoor friendly speakers is ready to serve on this front.
First, the basics. The Xboom Go PL5 sells for around $159 in Australia. The speaker includes dual speakers and radiators with 20W of power. The PL5 has an impressive 18 hours of battery life in the 200mm long body which is also IPX5 rated so it can sustain a low-pressure water jet spray meaning it’ll be ok to get wet, but not immersed.
LG has sent along a PL5 for review and I’ve used it a fair bit this week all over town, so here’s how it went.
Design, Hardware and Sound
The pill shaped Xboom PL5 speaker isn’t terribly exciting in terms of colour- it’s your basic black, but it’s serviceable and after a few years of producing portable Bluetooth speakers LG knows what they’re doing in terms of designing a durable outdoor speaker.
The speaker has a rubberised texture that feels good in the hand, and it’s actually easy to hold in the hand too. The texture protects it from the knocks of everyday use and there’s a nice rubber foot to keep it stable.
The speaker is mostly dominated by the big grille at the front for the two 1.75-inch speakers, while dual radiators are positioned at each end. There’s multi-coloured ring-shaped LEDs covering the radiators which are spring mounted and can pulse in time with the music – which looks pretty great at night.
The control bar on top of the speaker makes for easy access that shows a battery indicator light next to a power button. volume controls, Play/Pause control that offer skip and rewind with multi-press and of course the ‘Sound Boost’ button.
The Play/Pause button also offers an option to skip tracks with double or triple presses and also
activate Google Assistant on your Android phone or Siri on Apple iOS devices by holding it for 2 seconds. It’s an interesting feature, but not one I found I used much on the go.
There’s another panel on the rear of the PL5 covered by a rubber panel which hides controls for Dual and Multi Mode, as well as control for the LED ‘Mood Light’ which can be switched off here, or in the app. There’s also a 3.5mm jack for connecting a device, and a USB-C port for charging (USB-C to USB-A cable IS included in the box) and a reset button.
The Dual and Multi Mode buttons are for setting up pairing with other speakers. In ‘Dual’ mode you can stereo pair with other PL5 or PL7 speakers, or with multiple speakers using the ‘Multi’ mode.
Unfortunately I only had a single PL5 speaker so I couldn’t try the Dual or Multi modes out. I also couldn’t try out the Xboom speakers ability to pair with a 2020 model LG TV and be used as rear channel speakers, now that would be neat.
The speaker goes all night and then some. The 18 hour battery life claim is solid with a full charge keeping the speaker going for hours.
There’s an easy way to check the battery status in the app, or you can hold the power button for two seconds to get a rough idea. The LED indicator lights up green if it has more than 70% power, amber for more than 10% and blinks red when less than 10%.
You do lose a bit of battery life with the multi-coloured LEDs on either end are active, but hey, they’re cool and you’re not in danger of losing audio if you’re on a full charge.
The 18 hour battery claim is ‘at 50% volume’, but in a small-medium sized area that 50% was more than enough for a decent sound without blasting out the place, or getting distortion. The battery life on the XboomGo PL5 is good, so don’t stress, and just charge it up when you have access to a power point between uses.
Sound quality on the Xboom PL5 is pretty good, provided you have the ‘Sound Boost’ activated. That’s understandable with British audio specialists Meridian providing the tuning for Sound Boost mode which LG describes as ‘premium quality sound’.
Despite the Meridian enhancements, you can turn the tuning off with Standard mode. You’ll likely want to turn Sound Boost on though as Standard sounded quite muted and flat while Sound Boost sounded pretty decent. I really didn’t spend much time with the Sound Boost off, finding it offered good mid and high range clarity, but while the bass is ok, it could be better.
There’s a fair bit of oomph in the PL5 sound though it does get a little distorted at the absolute top-end of the volume which is expected. You can fill a fairly decent area with sound with just a single speaker, though a pair of these could be a good way to go for a bigger, stereo sound.
It’s 2020 so of course there’s an app for the LG Xboom Go speakers – available for Android and iOS – though there’s not a lot you really need to use it for. Unlike the LG TONE Free wireless earbuds app, you can’t engage different Meridian tuned audio settings in the app, it’s all just down to the Sound Boost.
The app is fairly simple to look at, there’s a battery indicator at the top, and controls for turning the Sound Boost on and off. There is a local media player in the app to let you play locally stored content, or you can just stream your favourite music service.
There’s also probably the biggest reason to use the app: settings to control the lights.
The light scheme section of the app offers presets for Party, Water, Forest with ‘special features’ when you tap the icon in the various modes. You can also choose ‘My Style’ which lets you take manual control of the lights. There’s options to flash the lights fast, medium or slow, or in time with the beat. You can also change the colour to only glow selected colours perfect for matching a party scheme.
Should you buy it?
The LG XboomGo PL5 is a good speaker. It’s got enough oomph where it counts to make it worth the time to check out, and the party effects with lighting are also notable inclusions.
The lack of full waterproofing is disappointing, though it’s got enough to protect if from any accidents you may have just shy of dropping it into some water.
On the whole it’s a good speaker that offers good sound, and excellent portability and is worth checking out.