There's no shortage of Bluetooth speakers on the market, from cheap no-name speakers found on eBay to the more well known Beats variety. But for a Bluetooth speaker to be great, it has to sound good, have long battery life, and something, anything, that sets it apart from the crowd.
LG may be the first name you think of when it comes to TVs, but to the average audio listener the South Korean electronics manufacturer isn't the first name in sound. However, at CES 2015 the company stepped up its audio game by infusing its products with smarthome technology called Musicflow.
There are various sized speakers under the Musicflow moniker – from the monstrous HS9 soundbar to the sturdy H7 Hi-Fi speaker – but today we'll be looking at the smallest member of the family, the Musicflow P7.
The design of the Musicflow P7 is generic, but it's a form factor that works.
The speaker features a rectangular design with a subtle "V" shape when looking at it from the top down. It measures in at 184 x 55 x 63mm (W x H x D), which is nearly identical to the Razer Leviathan Mini, and also weighs just over a pound, making it easy to carry with you.
The LG Musicflow P7 features two speakers and passive radiators to aid bass response. There's a 20w amp onboard, which is enough to fill a smaller-sized room with sound.
On top of the speaker are all of the buttons you'll need to control the speaker: a large power button surrounded by a ring of four buttons for volume up/down, pairing and play/pause/skip.
On the right side you'll find the microUSB port for charging, as well as a 3.5mm aux input for hooking up devices that don't have Bluetooth.
Finally, on the inside of the P7 is a 2600mAh battery, which is rated for 9 hours of battery life.
Unlike the UE Boom 2, one of the highest-rated speakers of the last 12 months, the LG Musicflow P7 is not waterproof – meaning you might want to leave it behind when you're planning your next trip to the pool. The best place for the P7 is really inside your house.
But that's partially because Musicflow, LG's answer to Sonos, might make the P7 the cheapest way to create a connected multi-room speaker setup. Like Sonos, LG uses Wi-Fi to link up its speakers for a stable connection, better range and the ability for you to control music from anywhere in your home using the accompanying MusicFlow app for iOS and Android.
But if you're not quite ready for a multi-room setup, you can buy two Musicflow P7 speakers and can chain them together for true stereo playback. The stereo function comes with a caveat, however: if you do use the Musicflow P7 in stereo mode, expect to cut battery life in half, but we'll get to that in a minute.
If there's one thing a Bluetooth speaker has to nail, it's sound quality. Unfortunately, while the LG Musicflow P7 hits a few high notes, overall it falls a bit flat in the performance department.
The sound signature is very mid-forward, favoring the human voice but lacking in bass and treble clarity. How that can impact your favorite music, for example, is if you're a big Adele fan, her voice drowns out all her accompanying instrumentals. This problem extends beyond Adele, obviously, and probably the biggest letdown you'll have when testing the P7 for yourself.
Bass is also disappointing, especially when compared to the Razer Leviathan Mini, which offers a ton of bass in a device that's almost identical in size.
Admittedly, the P7 isn't alone when it comes to the lack of oomph. It's a common problem among portable Bluetooth speakers lack bass quantity and punch.
But the low-end isn't the only problem spot. The treble also lacks clarity and range, meaning music that depends on lively guitar riffs or soaring piano melodies sounds flat and lifeless. At times, the Musicflow P7 sounds like it's playing music through a pillow, lacking the energy and soundstage to make the speaker sound bigger than it actually is.
But that rich, full sound I mentioned earlier isn't completely out of reach for LG's pint-sized audio device.
Remember how I mentioned earlier that you can sync two P7s together to create a true stereo setup? Well, as it turns out, doing so brings a much-needed spaciousness to the sound. Place the two speakers in opposite corners, and you'll be treated to a room-filling sound.
Problematically, however, while stereo separation is great it can't fix the speaker's lack of bass and treble clarity – for that you'll have to step up in size or jump over to one of its competitors. Oh, and keeping the units in stereo mode isn't always the easiest task, either. On more than one occasion the speakers decided to randomly unpair themselves.
And, whether you want to download it or not, LG requires the Musicflow app to pair up the speakers. The app is a bit buggy at times and places an annoying non-functional music player in the Android notification shade when audio is playing.
Lastly, battery life is a somewhat middling 9 hours of playback when used as a single speaker, and closer to 4.5 hours when paired with a second speaker in stereo mode. In comparison, competitors like the UE Boom 2 and Creative Sound Blaster Roar can last up to 15 hours on a single charge.
The LG Musicflow P7 is a solid entry-level speaker for those who live in LG's ecosystem. Its features are great, especially the ability to pair up a second speaker. But LG failed to nail sound quality. It doesn't matter how many features a speaker has if you don't enjoy listening to it.
Admittedly, at $150 / £129 / AU$189, the LG Musicflow P7 is good value for what you're getting – it's not easy to find a Bluetooth speaker that can do multi-room audio for under the $200 mark. But the kicker is that, to actually get a full-sounding experience that you'll enjoy, you'll have to drop $300 for a pair to use it in stereo .