Home Game device LG UltraGear gaming speaker needs a polish or a lower price tag

LG UltraGear gaming speaker needs a polish or a lower price tag

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LG’s UltraGear game monitors are fan favorites – LG is one of the top five suppliers of them – and since the company also makes TVs, soundbars, and bluetooth speakers, a product like the UltraGear GP9 game seems like a natural fit. And it’s a cute little stereo soundbar with a varied skill set, but for $ 500, it’s too much of a weird hodge-podge to justify the price.

Plus, it’s telling that LG is pushing the speaker through bundles with its monitors, offering $ 200 off if you buy them together. At that effective price of $ 300 for the speaker, it’s a lot less painful, but it still feels too high.

As

  • Place in front of or under a monitor without the need for an external subwoofer
  • Multipoint Bluetooth is convenient
  • Works well as a conference speaker
  • Big buttons
  • Decent bass given that there is no external subwoofer

Do not like

  • Too expensive
  • No HDMI connection for Xbox Series X / S or PS5, so can only connect through the optical port of the TV
  • Only can customize it via bluetooth and mobile application
  • Not great for music considering the price
  • Despite the size of the mic button, it’s hard to know where you’re pressing it
  • Battery life is not great

The GP9 is a 20W stereo speaker bar with built-in 2 inch woofers. It has wired USB and optical inputs, 3.5mm headphones and an auxiliary output. The headphone and auxiliary jacks differ because the former provides virtual DTS Headphone: X 7.1 surround sound to connected headphones.

The speaker also incorporates LG’s Quad DAC, a sound processor that helps improve audio quality – and it’s a vestige of the telephony activity which has now disappeared from the company.

You can also use the speaker wirelessly through bluetooth and it supports multi-point bluetooth. This is good if, for example, you want to connect to your laptop and phone simultaneously in order to receive notifications while gaming, and it works pretty well by swapping control between two devices. But you can’t simultaneously use Bluetooth and USB connections to do the same thing – a technical limitation that probably isn’t LG’s fault, but one of the ways a lot of people would like to use it.

And a lot Bluetooth speakers have batteries that last over 10 hours, which makes LG’s five-hour rating (and my experience) underwhelming. Especially since it takes up to 3.5 hours to recharge and cannot recharge (or be powered when connected to a system) via the USB-C connection. There is a separate power brick. And given the size and weight of the speaker (3.3 lbs / 1.5 kg), you’d think LG could have crammed something a little better than a 2,600mAh battery, a lower capacity than found in most phones these days.

Considering its specs, this isn’t a speaker that you would really want to use in your living room connected to a console, which is why it’s weird that LG included an optical input specifically for the console input. ; stranger still, since Sony and Microsoft have abandoned the connector of their most recent consoles. You can use it with a console through a TV, but an HDMI input might make more sense. (It would have made more sense if Sony and Microsoft supported USB for audio.) It’s almost like the speaker was designed over a year ago. But if you have an older Xbox One X or PS4 in your bedroom, or fancy running a long analog line from your controller to the speaker, this could be a good (albeit expensive) match.

Connections include USB-C, optical input, and two audio output ports. When connected to anything with a wire, the back cover folds up unattractively at the back.

Lori Grunin / CNET

The built-in mic is really handy and a novelty among gaming speakers. It’s a solid mic optimized for chat and very handy for conference calls, but its Clear Voice Chat technology, which “distinguishes surrounding noise and playing sounds of your voice ”, couldn’t even distinguish my keyboard from my voice. Not even a noisy, clickable mechanical keyboard: a quieter membrane SteelSeries Apex 3 TKL. I really like the size of the button – it lights up when the mic is on – but it’s a bit picky about where you need to press it.

Audio doesn’t sound bad for music and movies, but it doesn’t really stand out either. Not surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of stereo separation. The FPS preset adds virtual 7.1 surround simulation and RTS expands the soundstage. You can certainly hear the difference between the two and the surround is pretty good for such a compact device. To me, it feels more like five front and side channels than seven – I really have no idea anything behind me – but I don’t expect any magic either.

If you connect headphones, that’s great. The DTS Headphones: X delivered really precise surround sound, even with a relatively cheap Astro A10 stereo headphones. But you can also get it in any number of inexpensive helmets. It may not sound as good, but money.

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The big knobs for sound profiles and connection choices along with the huge volume dial are a great aspect of the design. The speaker has preset profiles for FPS and RTS games and two EQ presets (one for movies and one for music), and you can create custom presets in the app.

Lori Grunin / CNET

When you add the fact that you have to use the mobile app to update the firmware, adjust single zone lighting, edit and select from equalization profiles – there is no desktop app – it really looks like LG originally intended this to be a wireless gaming speaker.

Basically you’re paying a lot for LG to combine all of these different features – which I don’t think people are clamoring for – into one speaker. And if you fancy a USB gaming speaker that is also a kind of headphone amp and you can take with you for a few hours of cat play on PC, then go for it. If the price drops below $ 250, then this jack of all trades can get a little more exciting.

If LG simply pulled out the speakerphone and wireless mic and charged a lot less, that would be a solid, recommendable option that would fill an underserved set of gamers and likely be an obvious choice for mobile gaming.


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