LG XBoom XL7 review: a thunderous karaoke party speaker on wheels
“True to its name, the LG XBoom XL7 is a portable light and karaoke show that booms.”
- It’s loud
- Sound is balanced and distortion-free
- Telescoping handle and smooth wheels
- 20-hour battery
- Fun LED light and DJ features
- Karaoke mic and guitar inputs
- Excellent app
- LED lights aren’t that bright
- No stereo sound
- Guitar input sound isn’t great
It’s safe to say that if you pull up to a pool party, barbecue, birthday bash, or weekend get-together with the LG XBoom XL7 party speaker rolling along behind you, things are going to get fun. And really loud.
True to its name, the XBoom XL7 is a booming party on wheels with more than a few tricks up its sleeve. Part 250-watt speaker, part karaoke machine, and part DJ rig complete with LED light show — and, yes, air horn for days — the LG XBoom is a behemoth of a Bluetooth speaker fit for any good time.
Sure, there are loads of Bluetooth speakers out there that sound better, are plenty loud, and cost less. But let’s be clear: the $600 LG XBoom XL7 is on a whole other level. It’s a portable tower speaker built to rock a crowd and fill bigger spaces with sound. Or piss off your neighbors. More on that below. But for now, I spent some time with the XL7 — and boy was it fun.
Design: big, rugged, and surprisingly portable
I could hear the courier drop the box for this thing on my porch from my office upstairs. At 34.2 pounds, the LG XBoom XL7 Portable Tower Speaker (that’s the official name) is a beefy speaker box on wheels that measures 27.6 inches in height and 12.2 inches x 12.4 inches in width and depth. That big cabinet houses three drivers — an 8-inch woofer and two 2.5-inch tweeters that pump out the XBoom’s substantial 250 watts of power. On the bottom of the front face are two passive woofer ports for extra oomph.
A bit taller and slimmer than a standard carry-on suitcase, you get the idea that LG’s designers must have been spending a lot of time in airports because they smartly outfitted the XL7 with a telescoping handle and two rubberized wheels on the bottom backside.
The thing rolled smoothly around my house, my cottage, on my bumpy wood deck, and even through some packed sand and gravel. When I needed to pick it up, just like a suitcase, a button press allows for easy retraction of the handle into the base. There’s also a strong, static handle on the top and even an indented handle on the bottom for secure lifting of the unit (don’t forget to lift with the legs). Heavy? Yes. But I was surprised at how well the speaker moved around and navigated obstacles, and how sturdily it stands upright when positioned.
Cleverly, though, LG has also put four low-profile rubber feet on one side of the XL7 in case you want to lay it horizontally, like on a table or surface for elevation, or maybe just to keep it from getting knocked over by your drunk, dancing uncle. But if someone did knock it over, it would be just fine. It’s made of some pretty rugged plastic, has a metal perforated grille on the front, and all the buttons and controls on its top (power, play/pause, input select, Sound Boost) are made of sturdy rubber and are almost flush with the surface, meaning they won’t catch on anything or get snapped off by overstimulated kids up way past their bedtime. Oh, it’s also IPX4 splash-resistance rated, so pool parties (and the inevitable spilled beverage) are a go, too.
Let’s get right to it: this thing pumps out sound. I usually include a setup and connectivity section in Bluetooth speaker reviews, but since it was so easy and standard (it supports SBC and AAC codecs), I don’t really need to go into it. It’s a Bluetooth speaker — but bigger — it pairs up nicely, and I did my testing with a mix of Spotify and Tidal, even though the speaker doesn’t support the latter’s hi-res music streaming. The XL7 also supports Bluetooth multipoint, which means you and a friend can connect to the speaker at the same time and trade songs back and forth, and it has a USB port on the back that you can play MP3 and WMA files off of. It will even charge a device.
To put the XL7 to the test, I retreated north of my home in Toronto to my family’s cottage where I could really let it fly. With a Canadian holiday long weekend approaching, I knew my noisy neighbors would be cranking the Steve Miller and The Tragically Hip (nothing against either) around their firepit till the wee hours. But this time I’d be ready to respond.
First, I wanted to get a sense of the XL7’s three EQ settings that are accessed through the LG XBoom app. I threw on Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which has a great range of lows, mids, and highs, as well as quiet-to-loud spots. Twenty-five percent volume is where I started, and the speaker filled my cottage’s medium-sized, high-ceiling room with sound easily, at a comfortable listening level.
The XL7’s Standard EQ preset is more or less flat, with low, mid, and high frequencies all seemingly leveled at zero. This setting is actually the best in a pinch and a good standard pick for this speaker for most uses. SOUND BOOST (yes, it’s stylized in all caps) was just that, a boost of pretty much everything. This one I didn’t like so much as it sounds like all the EQ sliders were just cranked up. It’s bolder and a bit too aggressive at higher volumes, but I could see it coming in handy for some extra impact in a large crowd of noisy partygoers. Lastly, the Custom option was my favorite, as it offers a three-band slider EQ (more would have been nice, but this isn’t an audiophile speaker, after all). I like most music with a low-end boost, the mids a little below flat, and the highs boosted, too, about equal to the bass. The Custom setting gives you the basic tools to dial it to your liking.
Bringing the boom
Friday night rolled around and, right on cue, like a big ‘ol jet airliner, the neighbors started a-rockin’ me. So, I wheeled the XL7 out onto my back deck and hit them with Nine Inch Nails’ intense and timeless track Closer and Dua Lipa’s club hit Levitating — I knew they’d love that one — to test out the bass. Even at 30% volume, the speaker sounded fat, balanced, and clean. But pushing the XL7 into the 70% to 80% range is where the magic really starts to happen, and I couldn’t help but laugh as the convincing power of the XBoom completely submerged the neighbor’s usually dominant system in glorious, distortion-free, chest-thumping sound.
My point made, and not wanting to start a full-out volume war, I raised a beer in truce, shouted “Sorry!” and switched things up with a little Steely Dan and Fleetwood Mac at a more reasonable volume to let the mid and high details shine. Steely’s Do It Again conga intro bounced up into the surrounding trees while the shimmering acoustic guitars and kickdrum of Fleetwood and Co.’s The Chain seemed to be coming from all around, too, which is weird because the XL7 is not a stereo speaker (unless paired with another XBoom). Perhaps the placement of the dual tweeters at the top of the cabinet contributes to the separation. And in case you were curious, earlier testing indoors also revealed the XL7’s ability to deliver rich mids and clear highs that were not harsh or tinny, adding to its versatility.
In short, the XBoom XL7 sounds good, doesn’t deteriorate at high volumes, and can easily be put anywhere to do it, accommodating any kind of gathering, whether driven by vengeance or not.
Light show and DJ features
LG doesn’t categorize the XBoom XL7 as a “Party Speaker” for nothing — it comes equipped with LED lights and a bunch of fun and cheesy DJ features that you can control and program through the app.
For the lights, the boldest attraction is the LED ring around the 8-inch woofer that produces colorful lights that spin, flash, and pulse along with the music or can be customized or set to one of a handful of presets that, while fun, all seem pretty random no matter which you choose — and that’s fine. The XL7 is also outfitted with two small strobe lights at the top and bottom of the speaker cabinet that work with your chosen presets and can even be synced up to trigger the flashlight on your connected smartphone. Not sure why anyone would want that, but maybe the kids will think it’s neat.
The light show gets a little more interesting with the XL7’s “Pixel LED” panel that sits above the woofer and features 11 dot-animated scenes you can pick. They feature cute animations and moving rhythm visualizations, as well as scrolling text messages that you can customize (I went with “Steve Miller Sux” and a winky emoji). You can even create your own animations in the app. Don’t get me wrong here: the lights are fun and bright enough to offer a dazzling little light show in a small or medium-sized darkened room. but if you want nightclub-level visuals, leave those expectations at the coat check. Maybe you could up the lighting wow factor by connecting several XBooms together (for added stereo sound impact, too) vi the Wireless Party Link feature. I only had one review unit, and I can only imagine the impact of having a few of these linked together.
If you do find yourself MCing a bachelor party, not only is there a quarter-inch mic input tucked away on the back panel of the XL7 (more on that and the karaoke features in a sec), but the app features some hilariously fun DJ effects, including a turntable-style digital scratch pad and several sliders that can add trippy club effects to your music like flanger, phaser, wah, and delay. And what would your DJ kit be without a bunch of pads you can hit to send air horn shots, cowbell, cymbals, hand claps, and spacey disco sounds out over the crowd? You can even record or create samples with the app’s Sample Creator to assign to a handful of empty DJ pad slots. I told you, this thing is a party on wheels.
OK, the karaoke features of the XBoom XL7 were the last features I tested because I didn’t have a microphone available at first, but I have to say that they’re unjustly understated in the marketing materials for the speaker because they’re robust and a hell of a lot of fun.
Hidden away and protected behind a rubberized panel on the back of the unit (that flips open and thoughtfully magnetizes to the surface to keep it from flopping around), there are two quarter-inch inputs, one for a microphone and one for a guitar. From this physical control panel, you’ll get instant sound and volume control from individual knobs when you plug in, but you can also add two levels of mic echo here.
Plugging in also activates all the features in the app’s Karaoke section, and they are vast. From the app, you can also control the basic volume and echo, but it gets awesome after that, with 19 vocal effects that do everything from drop your voice down to deep bass level (think Oh Yeah from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), up to soprano heights, or even higher for a weird helium effect. While they do vary in quality there are effects that can make you sound like a robot or like you’re singing a duet with someone, and there are echo versions of each of them for added karaoke spacy-ness.
But what about the music playback? You can, of course, stream any music you want from your streaming services to sing along to, as well as vocal-free karaoke tracks from anywhere, including off a USB drive you can plug into the back of the speaker. But there’s also a cool feature in the app that manipulates the vocal and instrument frequencies in any song to bring the vocal tracks down so yours can come through better, like a proper vocal-free karaoke track. The effect works better on some songs than others, but that’s not likely to matter with the mic turned up and your talents shining through. There’s also a neat flat-to-sharp slider that can change the pitch of the song to better suit your singing range. Again, it doesn’t work the same on all tracks, but it’s still a cool option to have if you just can’t hit those Mariah Carey octaves.
The guitar input, however, is pretty limited in that you can line directly in, but the raw tone isn’t that great, it overdrives easily with any kind of harder strumming, you can’t add any echo to it, and the only tone control you have is on the guitar itself. I didn’t try going through a mixer or preamp first to improve the sound, and there’s nothing stopping you if you want to run your guitar through a couple of effects pedals too, but I’m going to just say that while it would be neat to jam a little guitar along with the karaoke, it’s not going to blow you away.
Whether your plan is to keep 30 kids flailing around on the dance floor to Katy Perry and Taylor Swift songs or drown out your neighbor’s classic rock, LG says that the XL7’s lithium-ion battery will do it for up to 20 hours with the LEDs off, which is comparable to the competition’s similar models of speakers (more on those below). It also charges fully after just 3.5 hours, which isn’t bad. Although my hours of testing totaled roughly 10 hours, I never once plugged the XBoom in and I ran the LEDs for most of that time. For longer sessions or late-night karaoke, you’d probably want to plan to plug it in anyway.
If you’re looking for a big, powerful, portable party machine that sounds good and can fill medium-to-large rooms of people with music, then the LG XBoom XL7 is $600 well spent (you can find it for $500 right now). Its massive 250 watts of power keeps the sound stable and clean even when you need it to rise above the party, and ample EQ options let you either quickly get up and running with a preset or spend some time fine-tuning. And it has bass for days. Is it for audiophiles? Heck no, but it’s not meant for that.
Built like a tank with rugged plastic and rubber features (and an IPX4 splashproof rating), the XL7 cleverly marries the entertainment value of an all-in-one karaoke light machine with the mobility features of a carry-on suitcase so you can literally roll the thing in place, plug in a mic, and get your Don’t Stop Believin’ on.
Of course, there are other options in the realm of party speakers. Sony and JBL have been duking it out for some time, with the former recently releasing its latest offering, the $649 SRS-XV800 (that actually does support Sony’s hi-res LDAC codec, FYI), and the latter pushing its popular Partybox lineup, which includes the $550 JBL Partybox 310. They’re all pretty similar in sound and light-show features — we hope to review more of them soon. And both JBL and Sony offer additional connectivity options such as line-in AUX and optical, but the LG XL7 stands out with its animated and personalized LED options, so if that’s a sticking point for you, then keep that in mind. The DJ features of the XBoom XL7 are also more sophisticated than JBL and Sony, if that’s more to your liking.