When junior wins the sibling rivalry

Packing a big punch in a compact package, the LG XBoom XL5S is a case in point when smaller models steal the thunder over their bigger stablemates

By Anirban Bagchi

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Published: Tue 21 Nov 2023, 9:46 PM

To be a younger sibling is to be born with the uncanny ability to annoy the older one. And even upstage them in key moments. Those of us with siblings know this well. And so does the LG XL7S XBoom Bluetooth speaker – which is not the subject of this review.

Instead, it is the aforementioned speaker’s younger sibling – the XL5S XBoom Bluetooth speaker – that we are taking a look at today.


But why, then, did we start with the bigger one? Because a month or so ago, when we reviewed LG’s flagship large portable Bluetooth speaker, the XL7S impressed us and came away with flying colours. We thought then that it was a pretty good offering from the LG stable, with several commendable features, not the least of which was a very powerful and punchy sound output.

Fast forward to the present day and after we have sampled its sibling – the XL5S – it is clear that the smaller LG steals the thunder from right under its big brother’s nose. And it does so not by outmuscling the bigger speaker, but by cleverly warming up to listeners with its sweeter tone. You know, just the way younger siblings do.


Lighter but less portable

With a 200-watt power output, the XL5S falls 50W short of its big bro’s 250W. It is also much smaller in size and weighs in at 13.5kg compared to the XL7S’s 18.5kg. Whereas the bigger speaker has a retractable telescoping handle and wheels to drag its bulk around like a piece of carry-on hand luggage on an airplane, the XL5S simply has a grab handle to lift it. We think LG missed a trick here. Th XL5S would have benefited from a similar set up to move it. After all, 13.5kg is no pushover either.

On the features side, the XL5S sports a 6.5-inch woofer and the same twin tweeters as the XL7S. And this set up is probably what makes all the difference. It leads to a pleasing balance between bass and treble and generally between low and high frequency sounds, making the XL5S sound a lot more balanced - and therefore better – than the bass-heavy XL7S.

That’s not to say it does not have good bass. The XL5S delivers a thumping low-end that can rival much larger speakers. But that bass is not overwhelming. It’s taut and clean, and does not reverberate in a lasting sonic boom that eats up all other sounds except the tinniest, as if the speaker just broke the sound barrier.

From the deepest bass notes to the crispiest highs, this speaker provides a well-balanced and immersive audio experience. Whether you’re into hip-hop, rock or EDM, the LG XBoom XL5S caters to a wide range of musical preferences with its impressive sound profile. And plain old vocals sound just fine too, so those with more classical listening habits are amply covered. It’s just a balanced, sweet-sounding speaker compared to most others in its category. Of course, it’s not audiophile grade or something you can put in a concert hall; the party remains its main purpose. But it’s not a one trick pony.

Visual delight

But parties are not close-you-eyes-and-listen-to-the-music affairs. There is a visual aspect to them as well, which the XL5S amply covers – with its design. This speaker doesn’t just want to be heard; it wants to be seen. The sleek shape and finish exudes a modern aesthetic, and there are dynamic LED lights pulsating with the rhythm, adding a visual dimension to your music. And there is of course LG’s accompanying app, which not only lets you fine-tune the music, but also choose the colours of the LED lights for your favourite groove.

Whether you’re hosting a rooftop party or just chilling in your living room, the speaker’s design adds a touch of flair to any setting. It’s like having a mini light show to accompany your favourite music, turning mundane moments into memorable experiences. And the build-quality is right up there, too. The XL5S surely seems capable of taking a few knocks and drops, and, with its IPX4 water rating, some splashes as well.

Meanwhile, the Bluetooth range is commendable, giving you the freedom to control the playlist from across the room without sacrificing audio quality. Additionally, the inclusion of multiple connectivity options, such as USB and AUX ports, adds versatility, accommodating various devices and preferences. Whether you’re singing Karaoke or playing your guitar through the speakers, it’s got you covered for lot.

However, even the most promising gadgets have their downsides, and for the LG XBoom XL5S that comes in the form of the somewhat limited battery life. LG claims 12 hours of playtime and we consistently got around 10. While this is respectable, it might leave you yearning for a bit more, especially with the full recharging time being a long 3.5 hours.

The second drawback is the portability factor. While the overall design is sleek, unlike its bigger sibling, there’s no wheels or pull-out handle to drag this 13.5kg lump behind you. And the weight, while being at least 5kg less than the bigger LG speaker, is not insubstantial for the grab handle. You wouldn’t want to carry this speaker around too much or for too long, which is a pity, because LG might as well have given it wheels and a similar retractable handle as the XL7S without adding too much to its reasonable Dh999 price-tag.

Overall, though, the XL5S is good meeting point of the right size, the right price, features and music output. And an instance when the junior sibling puts it across its big brother.

LG XBoom XL5S portable Bluetooth speaker

Hits:

- Balanced sound quality

- Compact dimensions and design

- Good connectivity

Misses:

- Battery playtime

- Portability

Price:

Dh999

Rating: 4 stars


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