The LG XBOOM PL5 portable speaker is an interesting proposition. It’s priced somewhat competitively, it’s lightweight and has IPX5 water resistance, but the sound is a bit of a mixed bag. So does it warrant the S$209 pricetag?

Let’s take a look at how this speaker is designed first. It’s a rounded speaker with no sharp edges and a flat bottom for it to sit securely on tables. There are passive radiators on either end with a LED circle that flashes in time to the bass. Unlike LED lights on other speakers that might have a preset flashing pattern, these actually do change with the beat, which is nice.

On the back, there’s a debossed XBOOM word along with a connections panel that’s covered with a tightly sealed rubber flap for that IPX5 water resistance. You get buttons to connect multiple speakers, control the LED lights, reset the speaker as well as a USB-C charging port and 3.5mm aux input here.

On the top, there’s a control strip for power on and off, going into pairing mode, volume and play/pause controls, as well as a “Sound Boost” button. We’ll get into the Sound Boost button in a bit, when we’re talking about the sound.

The speaker itself weighs 0.62kg, which is definitely one of the lighter portable speakers around. I’d be wary of throwing it into a bag unprotected though, since the passive radiators on the ends are exposed.

Let’s move onto the sound. Equipped with Meridian Audio’s technology, it’s actually a bit of a surprise to find that the speaker struggled when handling bass-heavy tracks. At higher volumes, distortion becomes a pretty big problem.

The speaker is able to get really loud though, and when the Sound Boost is turned on, it becomes even louder with more emphasis and clarity injected into the treble. I’ve found that the source of the music is quite evident, with tracks from Spotify introducing fuzziness in the mids if the volume is pumped up too high. When listening to Master tracks on Tidal, however, there wasn’t that issue.

It’s honestly quite surprising to be able to hear the difference between track quality so clearly on a portable speaker, so props to LG and Meridian on this.

Personally, I highly recommend turning on Sound Boost. The treble and high mids become much clearer and vocals do take a step forward. After getting accustomed to the sound profile on Sound Boost, the default sound ends up sounding muffled and definitely not as pleasant.

The battery life on these is said to go up to 18 hours, but it’ll definitely be less if you’re using them at a high volume. It takes around 4 hours to charge to full, and I noticed that the speaker just outright refused to charge with other cables so I had to use the provided one. Not a big deal, but it does mean having to keep space for another cable.

It does also support multipoint connection, so you can pair two phones to the speaker and use it as you’d like. There’s also an option to daisy chain more XBOOM PL speakers of the same model, so if you have a few speakers and you’re hosting a big party, everybody can groove to the same song.

So is this worth the money? Perhaps. If you’re not going to be playing music on loud volumes, you’ll minimise a lot of distortion. I do have to admit that the speaker does sound pretty good if Sound Boost is turned on.

If you’re looking for something that’s portable, water-resistant, has nice lighting and offers decent sound, the LG XBOOM PL5 is a decent choice. For the best sound quality though, look elsewhere.

More information about the LG XBOOM PL5 is available on the LG website.