Home Mobile device LG UltraGear GP9 review | PCMag

LG UltraGear GP9 review | PCMag

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Gaming headphones are usually the best way to get high-quality sound for gaming, but headphones and even gaming laptop speakers can’t exactly fill an entire room with sound. If you want powerful sound for your PC, you need a separate speaker system. The LG UltraGear GP9 at $ 499.99 is a soundbar designed specifically for gaming, with a design that can fit under your monitor. It supports Bluetooth playback, sports RGB lighting, and even has a headphone port that allows it to function as a surround-compatible sound card. Most importantly, it produces a loud and clear sound. That said, it’s pretty pricey, especially compared to options like the gaming-focused Razer Leviathan ($ 199.99) and the more versatile Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 ($ 299.95).

Designed for play

The GP9 has a trapezoidal trapezoidal design with industrial-themed elements very targeted at gamers, such as angled slats that sit on metal grids and RGB lighting that illuminates those grids and the centered UltraGear logo. The speaker measures 2.9 x 14.8 x 3.9 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.3 pounds. It’s short enough to fit comfortably under your monitor and heavy enough to sit in place on your desk.

The GP9 relies on two sets of 2-inch woofers and 0.8-inch tweeters, each paired with a passive bass radiator at the rear; it has a maximum output power of 20 watts.

A large volume wheel sits above the speaker, in addition to a mic mute button in the middle. The volume control works separately from your connected PC or mobile device. The power, input, and headphone buttons are to the left of the dial, while the FPS, RTS, and custom EQ sound mode buttons are to the right, next to the pinholes for the top microphones. speaker. The rear houses a power connector, USB-C port, optical audio input, 3.5mm auxiliary output, and a pinhole reset button behind a rubber door. Another 3.5mm port for connecting a gaming headset is to the right of the door. The headphone jack lets you easily switch between speakerphone and wired headphones with just the push of a button.

The GP9 works best when you connect it to a PC via USB or to a TV via optical audio input. The two wired connections of the speaker allow better sound quality than via Bluetooth. It also supports 7.1 channel sound with DTS Headphone: X through its 3.5mm port, but it is limited to two channels.

LG UltraGear GP9

You cannot use Bluetooth and wired connections at the same time, but you can connect your phone to the speaker via Bluetooth and use the GP9 as a speaker. Otherwise, Bluetooth connectivity seems to be a secondary function as the GP9 is not ideal for use as a portable speaker; it has very modest battery life (up to five hours between charges) and has no IP rating.

Application controls

LG does not offer an app for macOS or Windows systems. Instead, you need to install the Xboom app for Android or iOS and pair your mobile device via Bluetooth to change the speaker’s settings or update its firmware. The app lets you switch between EQ presets intended for FPS and strategy games, or use a custom setting with a 10-band EQ. You can also adjust the color and brightness of the speaker lighting, which is useful if you keep the speaker in your room.

LG UltraGear GP9 app controls

The app also offers the option to use the UAC 2.0 audio interface to connect the GP9 to a PlayStation 4 or 5, as well as a -6dB headphone gain switch in case your headphones sound distorted. . This is all handy, but we’re not sure why there isn’t a macOS or Windows app to access these settings.

Big sound from a small speaker

The GP9 is small and doesn’t have a dedicated subwoofer driver, limiting its ability to drive low frequencies. In our bass test track, “Silent Shout” by The Knife, the speaker delivers modest bass and midrange; the synth bass notes and bass drum hits lack serious strength. Digital Signal Processing (DSP) seems to have a strong presence in the mix, as the beats stabilize at fairly low volumes, presumably to avoid distortion.

Find out how we test the speakers

Those issues aside, the GP9 doesn’t sound thin with most music. The plucked opening guitar in Yes’s “Roundabout” achieves good resonance in the lows and low mids, with lots of string texture due to the finesse of the high frequencies of the speaker. When the track starts correctly, the speaker balances the loaded mix well. The bassline sounds punchy, while the hi-hat and vocals cut to stay prominent. The track also sounds louder at higher volume levels than when playing “Silent Shout,” indicating that the DSP is less aggressive here.

LG UltraGear GP9

The “Born Too Slow” of the Crystal method also sounds loud on the GP9. The rear driving beat receives an appreciable amount of thumping noise in the low frequencies and sounds a bit disturbing, as expected, although it doesn’t hit the subwoofer ranges. Higher frequency riffs and vocals have a lot of advantages to stand out in the mix and provide balance.

We also like the GP9’s gaming audio performance. Doom appears powerfully through the speaker; The heavy assault rifle and the super shotgun are distinguished by a hard-hitting, almost thunderous force. The game’s rumbling and atmospheric soundtrack rings full, while the speaker clearly exhibits the grunts and growls of demons. Because it is relatively small, the GP9 cannot produce the same kind of subtle imagery as high-quality simulated surround sound through headphones, but its stereo panning from right to left is excellent, producing a sound field that seems wider than the speaker itself.

Voices are clear thanks to the GP9, which makes it useful for listening to conversations or podcasts, but its built-in microphone isn’t great. Test recordings seem distant and blurry, and are comparable to the sound you get from a laptop microphone. Using a wired headset with a boom microphone or a dedicated USB mic is far preferable.

The headphone port on the GP9 works as advertised. It is simply a 3.5mm pass-through that uses the speaker as a digital to analog converter (DAC) from your connected device. It can output more volume than the typical headphone jack on your phone, and possibly more than the jack on your laptop or game controller.

LG UltraGear GP9

Powerful, but expensive

The LG UltraGear GP9 ($ 499.99) is a powerful soundbar that can be placed under your monitor to deliver powerful, detailed sound for games and any other sound you play. Still, it’s very expensive and not especially portable. The versatile headphone jack and customizable lighting add some value, but you can certainly get comparable power sound for less money. For starters, the Panasonic SoundSlayer speaker ($ 299.95) and the (admittedly aging) Razer Leviathan are both up to the task and more affordable; the Leviathan even includes a separate subwoofer for a powerful bass response. You can also consider non-gaming stereo PC speakers, such as the $ 499 Audioengine A5 + Wireless, an Editor’s Choice winner that delivers audiophile-level sound quality, or the Harman Kardon SoundSticks 4 at 299. , $ 95, which also comes with a subwoofer.

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