It’s Not a Space Lantern, or a Weird Kettlebell — It’s a Killer LG Speaker

It’s Not a Space Lantern, or a Weird Kettlebell — It’s a Killer LG Speaker
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia
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I have to admit I wasn’t expecting anything life-changing from the LG XBOOM 360 speaker. When LG announced the speaker back in September, I called it a cross between the $4,000 Bang & Olufsen Beosound 2 speaker and a lantern. I mean, it’s still lantern-adjacent and still looks reminiscent of the B&O, and it also isn’t exactly life-changing, but it’s so very, very good.

I don’t have much bad to say about the LG XBOOM 360. The sound is terrific, the colours ‘dancing’ to the beat of the music is fun, it’s easy to use, portable, its overall aesthetics are pretty – this thing is great. Here’s why.

LG XBOOM 360

WHAT IS IT?

'Premium', portable Bluetooth speaker from LG

PRICE

$569

LIKE

Terrific sound (indoor and out), looks great, fun (but useful) features.

NO LIKE

Battery life could be longer, power cable is awkward, not the best for apartment living.

Set up & connecting

Step 1, take out of box. Step 2, turn on. Step 3, download LG XBOOM app. Step 4, connect to speaker from your phone via Bluetooth. Step 5, play music. Step 6, waste the next hour playing with the settings in the app (more on that later). Honestly, this was super easy and I was immediately impressed.

The battery cable is the only annoying thing I’ve found with the XBOOM 360 speaker – LG has tucked it up under a break in the device, which makes it neat, yes, but I struggle to pull the cable out without rolling the speaker on the floor and putting a lot more pressure on it than I want to. But the LG XBOOM 360 charges from flat to 100 per cent in 5 hours and once at 100 per cent, it took 8 hours of solid play before it started to blink out and died before hour 9 (LG says 10 hours, so it must have been because I was annoying the crap out of it by changing the lights, skipping through songs, playing airhorn sounds, etc).

TL;DR: the battery life isn’t as good as I was hoping (I’m probably being unrealistic wanting ~15 hours) and charging it is a punish.

LG XBOOM
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

While I only used the Bluetooth connection, there is the option for AUX (3.5 mm) and USB. Two phones can also simultaneously connect to the speaker, which although not tested, could be handy in party situations (and also if someone you live with just wants to troll you and override your choice of music with theirs). You can also link another LG XBOOM speaker up for a surround experience. I couldn’t connect a non-LG XBOOM speaker up (tried with the Apple HomePod Mini and the Google Nest Audio).

The speaker sits 50 cms tall, so it’s not small, and it also weighs around 5.5 kgs, but the handle helps a lot. You will be tempted to do kettlebell swings with it. Don’t.

Settings & features

The app is a lot of fun. It’s honestly pretty gimmicky but I don’t care, it’s fun. There’s also a lot that’s useful, still.

Firstly, the ability to select music style. This was pretty bang-on. Rock for metal was perfect, Pop for Halsey was also perfect and Bass Blast was, yep, perfect for some EDM. As someone who doesn’t listen to jazz, playing jazz with the Jazz setting selected elevated the sound and I can only assume this was good. Outdoor is the only preset you can have when you’re outdoors (more on that later). You can also fiddle with the settings yourself via Custom – you just can’t edit, for example, Rock, it’s fixed. The sound cuts out for a few seconds while you’re switching EQ, so you’re unable to instantly hear the difference, which is my only complaint.

It’s Not a Space Lantern, or a Weird Kettlebell — It’s a Killer LG Speaker
Image: Screenshots from LG XBOOM app

Next up in the app is the lighting. The light feature is bomb. It’s so bloody cool. Anyway, you can set ‘moods’ and change colours. The pitch from LG is “Whether you need to relax, meditate or party, there’s a lighting mode to suit your mood” on the XBOOM 360. Ambient Mode gives you ‘refreshing morning’, ‘warm afternoon sunlight’ or the ‘comfort of a cozy night’; Nature gives you ‘restart’, ‘peaceful rest’ or ‘gentle flutter’; and Party Mode gives you ‘passion of youth’ (lol I wish), ‘cheerful celebration’ or ‘gorgeous night view’. You also have the option of picking your own combo of colours. The LG XBOOM 360 is immediately responsive to your colour changes and the lighting changes/flickers in line with the music.

It’s Not a Space Lantern, or a Weird Kettlebell — It’s a Killer LG Speaker
Image: Screenshots from LG XBOOM app

DJ feature can be filed straight under gimmicks. The first button, ‘Club 1’ is an airhorn; there’s also drums, cymbals and a whole bunch of sliders, including the ‘wah’ that adds a sliding guitar effect. You can also swivel the XBOOM dial to scratch the deck over the sound. This ‘Nu Metal’ feature is unnecessary but it was super fun. I spent a good 20 minutes matching the effects up to Slipknot’s self-titled album where all of them (except the airhorn) form part of each song. You can also record snippets of songs. I’m sure someone will find a use for this, but I do not have the patience.

It’s Not a Space Lantern, or a Weird Kettlebell — It’s a Killer LG Speaker
Image: Screenshots from LG XBOOM app

None of my photos of the colours being super cool are as good as LG’s promo ones, so here’s an idea of how cute you can get with this thing around a bonfire or gazing at stars.

It’s Not a Space Lantern, or a Weird Kettlebell — It’s a Killer LG Speaker
Image: LG

The LG XBOOM 360 sound is perfect

I know that’s a pretty big call, but it’s great.

Firstly, it offers 360-degree sound, which already gives it an up on other speakers which tend to deafen half the room and leave the other half unable to hear what’s playing. The 360-degree speaker means the LG XBOOM doesn’t have to be up 100 per cent volume for it to be heard. LG is calling this omnidirectional audio.

It boasts a two-way, full-range speaker with a 1-inch titanium compression tweeter and a 5.25-inch glass fibre woofer. The clear treble makes for mint sound – the titanium tweeter expresses accurate and detailed treble, while the woofer creates rich and dynamic bass. LG says the XBOOM 360’s tweeter boasts a solidified diaphragm, resulting in clear high-pitched sound. The 5.25-inch woofer, meanwhile, is made with glass fibre, a lightweight yet high-strength material that results in dynamic low-end and clean vocals. Creating ‘deep bass’ is a result of the structure of the duct. The design makes more sense as you really pay attention to the sound.

LG XBOOM
If only you could see the little woofer doing its thing. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

There’s consistent bass and clarity across all genres. The LG XBOOM 360 handled everything well and it’s everything I want a speaker to sound like. In a bass-heavy song, the speakers didn’t shake on the table or ground, avoiding that awful resonance vibration so many speakers get with a song like that. The sound is clear at all levels, there’s no splashing of tones and every instrument or beat can be heard without overpowering the other. Full volume was insane – the sound was crisp, clear and at full volume, was not distorted and definitely could result in many a noise complaint from everyone in this apartment complex.

Watching the sub bounce up and down in unison with the light was also great.

It’s hard to get across that at any volume, this sound slaps. The guitars can be heard, so can the drums, and neither overpower the vocals. Setting the EQ through the app depending on what genre of music you’re listening to is definitely worth it – the experience is elevated.

In my apartment, the sound fills a room well before hitting max. But… It’s just not perfect for apartment living because I’m limited to 50 per cent volume so as to not annoy my neighbours.

Road trippin’

As I said above, it’s hard to test a speaker with such epic sound in an apartment, so I decided to take it to the park and see just how good the 360-degree sound is and just how far the LG XBOOM sound can travel when outdoors.

It’s Not a Space Lantern, or a Weird Kettlebell — It’s a Killer LG Speaker
Please excuse my filthy car. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

As I also said above, Outdoor is the only preset you can have when you’re outdoors, which means rock music, pop music, etc is all limited to the outdoor settings. The sound full blast while standing around the LG XBOOM 360 was phenomenal, even outside. It was clear, crisp, and I could simultaneously hear vocals, drums and guitars without one instrument being sacrificed for another. The 360 sound meant standing/sitting anywhere was the same experience. This would be perfect around a bonfire.

With the volume at 100 per cent, I thought it would be great to test how far it can travel when outside. How to measure distance? A footy field, of course. Playing some Tame Impala, I lost the sweet sound of Kevin Parker by the 60 metre line but could still hear there was music on at 100 metres. Back at 50 metres, he was audible again. Of course not as clear as ~30 metres and closer, but still audible. This experience was affected by the wind, however, as it was pushing the sound away with it (it was coming in and out at 50 metres, however, because the wind was blowing away the sound).

LG XBOOM
LG XBOOM 360 blob, 60 metres away. Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

This was also a good opportunity to test how far the Bluetooth connection went. 50 metres was its limit – no further than 40 metres if you want uninterrupted play.

LG XBOOM 360, the verdict

The LG XBOOM 360 is really looking to compete with the JBL PartyBox 310, which retails for $699.95 and looks childish in comparison; the Ultimate Ears Hyperboom Wireless Party Speaker, which retails for $599 and although it’s quite pretty, it also looks quite delicate; the underwhelming $650 Sonos Move speaker and the B&O Beolit 20, which costs $549 and honestly isn’t all that good to look at.

The LG XBOOM is $569, offering a cheaper option for the premium speaker space it plays in. Oh, at the time of publish, The Good Guys had the speaker up for $549.

It doesn’t look like a typical Bluetooth speaker, it’s quite nice to look at. The lighting is fun, it’s easy to control and the sound is exceptional. After spending a weekend with the LG XBOOM 360 speaker, I have to say I really like it, I just wish I could get the most out of it in an apartment.