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LG Music Flow H5 and H7 review: adding the smarts to good ol' speakers

|June 29 2015 |accessories, LG, Reviews, Mobile Accessories, Audio devices, Bluetooth

“LG’s Music Flow series is for the ‘connected generation’. Here’s our review of the top-end speakers in the range, the H5 and H7”

The world around us continues to get smarter. Stuff which required human interference before can now be completely automated, and in fact, some devices are intelligent enough to make certain decisions too (think driverless cars). Our smartphones can highlight the best examples to show the progress of technology since they make the whole world accessible to you in a small and pocketable form factor. 

However, one thing that hasn't changed completely with the times would be speakers. They still are big and bulky, usually require a wired connection with an audio source, with a handful of them offering Bluetooth support to be connected wirelessly. But they don't go beyond that, and LG's latest range of speakers dubbed Music Flow attempts to change that perception. In accordance with their name, the music 'flows' through the speakers (in case you own many of them) and you can control the playback in numerous ways.

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While the Music Flow range has a vast number of offerings, we were able to test the H5 and H7 stereo speakers which sit at the top in the portfolio. Let's find out why we think these speakers are smarter than the others, and of course talk about their sound quality.

Unlike smartphones, where the candybar shape has become somewhat of a standard, a speaker can be designed in any shape or size. Korean manufacturer LG has employed an interesting design language with the H5 and H7. While the overall shape of the speakers is rectangular, the front and back offer an hexagonal structure. Both H5 and H7 are similar in terms of design, build and colour scheme, except that the latter is bigger because of bigger driver size (and of course, the price).

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The H5 has dimensions of 340 x 207 x 88mm and weighs 3.25kg, while its bigger sibling, the H7 measures 370 x 110 x 232mm and tips the scale at 4.1kg. 

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On top, the speakers feature the main controls. A dial is available for increasing or decreasing volume, while in the centre, a button can turn it on or off. The device also sports LED notification lights at the front, with their symbols up top. They indicate how the speaker is connected to the audio source.

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Built with silver frames running around the edges, both the H5 and H7 are quite sturdy. At the base, the devices get a hollowed-out area with a frame. Towards the back, you'll also find a hollow area, which makes it easy to carry the speakers around. There are several  functional elements here - the power input, Ethernet connector and auxiliary input, along with a a couple of buttons, the purpose of which we'll discuss later.

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Overall, LG might not have reinvented the wheel when it comes to the design aspect of the Music Flow H5 and H7, but there's a little doubt that they do stand out from the crowd and look good.

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Now, let's talk about why the H5 and H7 are smarter than the rest. To start with, they can be connected with any audio source, especially phones in multiple ways. Along with the usual auxiliary cable, you can use Bluetooth and even Ethernet or Wi-Fi to connect. On top of it, you don't need to go through the hassles of pairing via Bluetooth if your mobile device has NFC, since all you need to do is to tap it once with the speakers and voila, they're connected. The Music Flow H5 and H7 are also Cast ready, what that means is that the apps which support Google Chromecast will also be able to play music via these speakers.

LG Music Flow app (8) LG Music Flow app (9)

To manage the connectivity better, LG is also offering the Music Flow app on the Play Store and iOS. The app not only makes it easier to connect, but it also acts as a music player and offers intelligent playlist functionality along with integrating with several streaming services. It allows you to play music from Tunein Radio and others. Another interesting way to control the Music Flow H5 and H7 is by chatting with them. Yes, LG has partnered with LINE app to offer a dedicated channel dubbed Homechat, where users can send some basic commands to play or pause the music, as well as put the speakers to sleep.

LG Music Flow app (3) LG Music Flow app (4)

But that's not all, the real power of the Music Flow range is that you can connect to multiple speakers via Wi-Fi. This is really useful, as you can use a pair of speakers in a stereo setup, or place the speakers in different rooms and control the playback at the tap of a button. The app also gives the option to configure the volume levels of different speakers separately. For doing this, you simply need to press the add button available at the back of the H5 and H7. But for that to work, one of the devices should be connected to the wired Ethernet port, while the other can be connected to Wi-Fi. Another option is to get a wireless bridge launched by LG for this very purpose, allowing you to add as many Music Flow speakers as you want.

LG Music Flow app (10) LG Music Flow app (11)

LG has also another app on the Play Store in the form of Music Flow Bluetooth, which as the name suggests, can be used when you connect to the speakers via Bluetooth technology.

LG Music Flow app (1) LG Music Flow app (2) LG Music Flow app (5)

In our usage, connecting via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or NFC was a breeze, and you can start playing songs almost instantly. Although, we faced slight difficulty when connecting both the speakers together.

In terms of the sound quality, the higher-end of the H7 offers a balanced output. It's 70W driver has loud sound doesn't clip even on the high volume levels. It also has a tweeter of 2.5cm and 10cm woofers. We played songs like How Many Times and Take Five and the speakers did complete justice to them. The bass has solid thump, but in some situations it seems to overpower everything else as well, resulting in not-so good treble and mid range.

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The Music Flow H5 on the other hand, suffers with the opposite issue. It has a 40W driver which delivers rich sound on normal levels, be it the treble or mid-range. However, the bass seems to be underwhelming. 

As can be guessed, the Music Flow H5 and H7 are full on features, but they charge a premium for the same too. While the H5 will set you back by Rs 38,990, its sibling the H7 is available at Rs 52,990. While they might not please the audio purists, the speakers manage to deliver a seamless listening experience thanks to wide range of connectivity options offered, along with the app. While there are certain options such as Sonos for these kind of scenarios, they aren’t present in India and hence LG speakers are in a class of their own.

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However, you should only go for them if you’re looking for a multi-room audio solution that can also work as home theater.

Editor's rating: 7 / 10

Pros

  • Good design
  • Numerous connectivity options and ability to pair multiple speakers
  • LG’s app to control music

Cons

  • Pricey proposition
  • Grouping of speakers isn’t easy

Photos by Raj Rout



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