This RP4 is the biggest and boldest of LG’s range of big, bold Xboom 360 wireless speakers. It’s designed for (relative) portability, it’s designed to go loud, it’s designed to entertain, and it’s designed to fill any space in which you place it with music. Oh, and it’s designed to light up like a Christmas tree while it’s at it.
All of these are worthwhile ambitions, of course. But there’s not much point in delivering great big sound if it’s not nice to listen to. Especially when brands as significant as Sonos and Sony already have a dog in the fight…
LG Xboom 360 RP4: Price and release date
The LG Xboom 360 RP4 is on sale now, and in the United Kingdom it’s yours for £319. In the United States it sells for $399, while in Australia it’ll cost you AU$469. For once, America seems to be getting the rawest deal where pricing is concerned. No matter where you buy it, though, the Xboom RP4 is a lot of speaker for the money.
It’s not without competition, mind you. The Sonos Move is an obvious rival where price, size and configuration are concerned, while Sony’s SRS-XG500 is a high-achieving alternative too. And when you start to talk about truly portable speakers (rather than ‘transportable’ speakers like this LG), everyone from Bang & Olufsen and Bose to JBL and Ultimate Ears has a product with which to tempt you…
LG Xboom 360 RP4: Features and what's new?
As far as ‘features’ go, the LG Xboom 360 RP4 has a couple of categories. The first is ‘features most speakers have’, the other is ‘features you may not be expecting’.
In the first category, the RP4 is quite sensibly specified. For instance, it’s fitted with a couple of speaker drivers. There’s a compression-horn titanium tweeter hidden in the upper portion of the cabinet – it fires upwards onto a dispersal lens that is intended to distribute the high frequencies the driver produces through a full 360 degrees. The other is a 133mm mid/bass driver – this is visible from its position at the very top of the lower section of the cabinet. It too fires upwards, onto a plastic cone that, again, is designed for as wide a dispersal of sound as possible.
The plastic cone also functions as a light – it can shine in a number of colours. LG describes this as ‘emotive 360-degree lighting’, and there’s no denying that, as far as features go, it’s an unusual one. This, more than anything, is what we were thinking of when we mentioned ‘features you may not be expecting’.
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The lower part of the cabinet also features a reflex port that vents onto the foot of the speaker and provides low-frequency reinforcement. Power to the pair of drivers is Class D, and totals 120 watts.
The LG can be mains-powered, using a figure-of-eight cable that plugs in near the base of the cabinet. It’s also fitted with a fairly hefty lithium-ion battery that’s good for 10 hours of playback (or a little less if you find yourself leaving that emotive lighting switched on). Charging from ‘flat’ to ‘full’ takes a remarkably leisurely five hours.
Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth, of course, but the specific version isn’t all that easy to establish. It supports MP3 and WMA file formats, and SBC and AAC codecs for sure, but it’s not up to dealing with a hi-res Tidal Masters file.
LG Xboom 360 RP4: Performance and sound quality
When a product is first and foremost designed (as this one is) to offer room- or garden-filling sound, it’s generally foolish to expect class-leading fidelity. And sure enough, similar money spent elsewhere will buy greater sonic precision. But the LG is far from a disaster in this respect, and it makes thumpingly good on its primary mission of ‘sounding massive’.
It’s tonally very consistent, and impressively even from the top of the frequency range to the bottom. Fiddle with the EQ settings and it’s possible to skew the sound quite fundamentally, but leave them alone and the Xboom 360 RP4 is a burly and expansive listen. Bass sounds are prominent but commendably controlled, leaving space for the midrange to communicate quite eloquently. Top-end attack is nicely judged, granting just enough shine to the overall sound.
Scale is considerable, while dynamism is pretty impressive. If you want a speaker that can fill a room with sound, a speaker that won’t disappear when it’s asked to play outdoors, well, here it is.
Of course, going out your way to deliver 360-degree sound inevitably means a lack of focus, and while the LG is well short of being indistinct it’s hardly the most rigorous speaker you'll ever hear. Stereo focus is non-existent, of course, and that’s both predictable and forgivable – but its overall presentation is just slightly hazy. There’s a lack of positivity to the way it describes the attack and decay of individual sounds, and this shortage of straight edges means the sound shoves when it should punch, and slurs when it should enunciate. It’s a trade-off that’s pretty much inevitable, but you should nevertheless adjust your expectations accordingly.
LG Xboom 360 RP4: Design and usability
Unlike, say, the Sonos Move (which just looks like an overgrown Sonos speaker), the 51cm tall LG Xboom 360 RP4 looks like you want a big, transportable, go-anywhere-within-reason wireless speaker to look. It’s mildly conical and ruggedly finished – that hard-wearing fabric, so tempting to every cat that comes into contact with it, is available in burgundy, green, beige or charcoal.
There’s a sturdy aluminium handle on top for ease of movement, and near the bottom there’s a recess underneath a robust and close-fitting cover. Here’s where the LG keeps its auxiliary inputs (analogue 3.5mm and USB-A), a ‘reset’ button and a control to pair a second Xboom RP4 should you so desire. Overall build quality is good, and durability seems assured.
The LG can be controlled using the physical interface on the speaker’s top surface, into which the carry-handle is sunk, or by using the remarkably comprehensive control app. The speaker’s top panel includes soft-touch controls covering ‘volume up/down’, ‘play/pause’, ‘power on/off’, input selection and battery status. Right in the centre there’s a control for cycling through that light’s different modes.
The control app offers three ‘moods’ of lighting: ‘ambient’, ‘nature’ and ‘party’. Within each ‘mood’ there are three presets, plus the opportunity to set your own light show. My favourite, of course, is ‘gentle flutter’. You may feel differently.
The app also has input selection, volume control, seven EQ settings, and a five-band equaliser for you to specify your own. There are some deeply irritating ‘DJ’ effects, the ability to utterly skew the sound of your speaker using adjustable flanger, phaser, wah and delay controls, and a ‘sample creator’ that utilises your smartphone’s mic. If you can’t get the sound you want out of the LG, in other words, you’re just not trying.
LG Xboom RP4 review: Verdict
‘Fun’ is an underrated virtue in audio equipment, but the LG Xboom 360 RP4 brings plenty of it. You’ve a choice, basically – you can buy a smaller battery-powered Bluetooth speaker for similar money that will offer greater sonic fidelity but won’t fill a room with sound or put on its own disco lights while it does so. If you’re after ‘portability’ that extends no further than the bottom of your garden, a feature-packed app and great big sound, give this LG a listen. It’s fun.
LG Xboom 360 RP4: Also consider
Next to the LG Xboom RP4, the Sonos Move looks authentically tedious – and, if we’re being totally honest, less expensive too. But (like almost all Sonos speakers) the Move has it where it counts – it sounds big and well-defined. For all its power and fidelity, though, it can’t fill a room as easily as the LG – and it doesn’t light up like the underneath of a boy-racer’s Vauxhall Corsa either.
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