LG XBOOM 360
“The XBoom 360 keeps the party going with a slick mix of loud sound, lights, and DJ effects.”
- Nice, smart design
- Gets loud in both indoor and outdoor settings
- Includes USB and aux-in ports
- Excellent app support
- LED lamp adds nice ambience
- No water resistance
- Battery life could be better
- Doesn’t always feel portable
It’s not an adage, but it makes sense that the bigger you make a Bluetooth speaker, the bigger the sound you should expect from it. But the bigger a speaker gets, the more it can become an eyesore as it’s something to be heard, but not necessarily seen.
LG’s XBoom 360 makes us question that conventional wisdom. It’s a big, powerful speaker that manages to also fit in as a decorative piece in a home, thanks to an elegant, lantern-like design, a built-in LED light, and a dedicated app that lets you do way more than just play music.
What’s in the box
No doubt it’s a big box, but you won’t find much in it. Apart from the speaker itself, you get the power cord, a slip showing you the various controls, a simple user manual, and that’s about it. LG doesn’t supply any other cables that could plug into the XBoom 360.
Burgundy is one of those colors that fits in well in a variety of settings, much like the charcoal black and peacock green variants do, and it’s no wonder LG tried to be bold without being loud that way. It likely wanted the sound to do the loud part, which I’ll get to, but as a speaker, it does have a unique profile. Its conical design gives it a fair bit of height at 20 inches and weight at just shy of 13 pounds.
Despite its considerable height, it has a fairly small footprint, letting you place it in all kinds of locations.
But despite its considerable height, it has a fairly small footprint, letting you place it in all kinds of locations — many more than conventionally shaped boomboxes. However, its height and slimmer base could make it easier to accidentally tip over if you bump into it.
LG wrapped the XBoom 360 with burgundy fabric that gives it a nice, sophisticated look and soft texture, but this isn’t the kind of speaker you want to plant within splash distance of a pool. As much as LG might consider this thing to be “portable,” it’s not always a pleasure to move around. The handle at the top helps a lot, and its higher center of gravity makes it kind of feel like carrying a heavier shopping bag, but again, you do have to consider where you take it. Forget about the beach. Sand will get all over it, and with the fabric, it will nestle in everywhere. Pools should be fine at a distance from the water, but without a proper IP rating, this is a speaker you’re using at home, be it inside, or outdoors in the safety of a backyard or deck.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Beach-friendly speakers aren’t hard to find, whereas big speakers that won’t stick out like sore thumbs in a home can be. The XBoom’s 360-degree sound is ideal for outdoor use, and LG has an “outdoor EQ” mode for just such a purpose, while the default setting tamps things down just enough to serenade you indoors.
Powering that sound is a 5.25-inch glass-fiber woofer and one-inch tweeter in an inverted cone-shaped baffle that is designed to more efficiently to play sound in a decidedly omnidirectional way. Basically, you should feel like the speaker sounds exactly the same no matter where you’re sitting (or standing).
The LED lamp in the open concave faces the exposed woofer, adding a visual element to the XBoom 360. It’s more mood lighting than something to light up a room, but it’s got both relaxing and party modes for ambiance. There is a dedicated button to cycle through the lamp’s different light modes, with the app digging much deeper to offer more customization.
You can’t create and save your own presets, so you need to keep tweaking the sole custom one to change how it sounds.
As for ports, LG placed them at the bottom, including singular USB-A and aux-in ports. The USB port doubles as both a playback port and 5-watt charger for other devices, so you can use it in a pinch for your phone or tablet. LG didn’t do the same for the aux line-in jack, so if you have designs on plugging in a microphone and being an emcee, it won’t let you. The power cord plugs in underneath the bottom, and takes a fair bit to wiggle it out when you want to go fully wireless.
Setup and configuration
The process to pair with the XBoom 360 was easy. After doing it with both an iPhone and Android device, I then downloaded the app, which recognized the speaker right away. The app acts as the controller for the speaker beyond just the basics. The main buttons are clearly visible at the top of the speaker, a few of which even include Braille for the vision impaired.
The app includes an EQ with seven presets and a custom option that you can tweak how you want. You can’t create and save your own presets, so you need to keep going back to tweak the sole custom one to change how it sounds. Otherwise, you can select one of the other seven presets. This is separate from the Outdoor EQ that I noted earlier, which ramps things up to get louder outside.
LG says that if you turn off any equalizer you may be using on a music app, the XBoom 360 plays with better quality and less distortion. I’m not sure I noticed a significant difference either way, but it may be worth experimenting.
The DJ features let you interact with music playback in fun ways through sound effects. You get drum, club, and other options to create transitions or effects overlaid on top of the track playing. It lays out a bunch for you to start, so you’re not starting from nowhere. The Sampler Creator lets you record five seconds of whatever sound you want to play or mimic and then transfer it over to the DJ Mode. After that, you can play it anytime you want over a song. If you’ve ever wanted to be a hype man, or say something over a favorite song, you might have fun with this one.
In case you really want to get loud, the XBoom 360 does support adding a second speaker. You won’t get stereo pairing for distinct left and right channels, only mirroring of the audio playing from the master unit, making it ideal for larger parties where one may not be enough.
LG wants to get loud with the Xboom 360, but not at the expense of the entire audio spectrum. That became obvious to me when I played through a variety of different tracks in various genres. The bass is clear enough, with the woofer doing the heavy lifting, and you will notice it at lower volumes if you chose Bass Boost in the EQ section.
Whether I was playing something old school from Creedence Clearwater Revival or something current from The Weeknd, the speaker can handle whatever you throw at it in a playlist. It also accorded itself well at higher volumes, with distortion only starting to kick in at volumes that were just ridiculous for indoor listening.
The key is the mids, where instruments come through with some distinction.
The key is the mids, where instruments come through with some distinction. Big speakers sometimes drown out the mids to amplify the lows and highs so they can get louder. LG maneuvers somewhere in between, letting you hear enough detail in a complex track to enjoy it for what it delivers. We’re not talking audiophile quality here, mind you, as sticklers for hi-res sound aren’t likely to come away impressed. After all, the XBoom 360 only supports the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, so your only other option is to play tracks via USB. I tried it, but didn’t like the experience because of the general lack of consistency and control. Aux-in is easier because you control everything from the connected device.
I was also hesitant to park it in a corner because of the spatial sound it’s supposed to pump out. I tried it, just to see if the sound coming out of the rear would bounce off the walls for a fuller or concave effect, but I’m not sure it was really there. When I put it further out from the wall, it sounded less one-directional, and more omnidirectional as originally intended. It could easily cover an apartment or condo, and outside noises won’t drown it out in the backyard. I wouldn’t necessarily use it at a banquet hall for a wedding, as a stereo pairing might be better for events like that.
What I found bizarre were the inconsistencies with Bluetooth connectivity. For reasons I couldn’t figure out (despite plenty of troubleshooting), my Pixel 6 Pro never played nice with the speaker, constantly dropping the connection, to the point where I would have to repeatedly manually connect them again. I had no such issues with a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra or iPhone 13 Pro. There were cutouts and hiccups with those two phones, except they happened because of distance or obstructions, like being a few rooms away. With the Pixel 6 Pro, the phone could be two feet away and still drop the connection.
The Mood Lighting section gives you presets based on the kind of effect you want. You can also tap My Pick to select whatever color you want to see. The lamp’s dynamism depends on what mode you go with. For example, Ambient just keeps the light static, Nature goes with a slow pulse, andParty pops with a more frenetic show. You pick the mode manually, as the XBoom 360 doesn’t have the smarts to switch it automatically based on the tunes playing from it.
It would be unfair to call the XBoom 360 a full-on LED lamp, partly because the light can only flow out laterally, given where it’s situated. It doesn’t face forward, like other party boxes, nor up top to bounce off walls and a ceiling in unison. That could put a damper on the “party” side of the equation if you were looking for something more widespread, but I can understand what LG was trying to do here.
The XBoom 360 looks great as a speaker playing music with ambient light coming out of it. There’s subtlety that a guy like me can appreciate, but I recognize that not everyone would agree. Even the party lights work for what they are. While I couldn’t get the kind of depth or effects a Philips Hue or Nanoleaf system might offer, I can say putting the lamp inside makes the speaker look more like a decorative piece to display than a tech device to accessorize.
LG says the XBoom 360 can last up to 10 hours per charge, which is mostly true if you never explore louder volumes. Since you almost certainly would, the real number can seesaw between six and eight hours depending on how loud it gets. The LED lamp is another battery drainer if it’s always on and active. You could also save on battery by playing audio through the aux-in port and keeping Bluetooth turned off.
The app keeps you apprised on how much battery you have left, but don’t look for context as to how much you might save if you turn the light off or lower the volume. You could always plug it in to an outlet to keep it charged. That may be a good idea, considering it takes up to five hours to fully charge the speaker from an empty battery. No fast charging for this big guy.
LG launched the XBoom 360 for $400, and it’s now easier to find at $300. That’s not a bad price for what you get, assuming you have somewhere to put it, and feel it’s mobile enough to take it with you to other parts of your home or outdoors. It definitely helps if you entertain people at home, or like to throw parties and want something with a light and DJ mode.
Is there a better alternative?
There certainly is if you want that DJ-style experience. Thecosts about the same and does almost everything louder, including the lights. JBL has a whole line of speakers like that at various prices, giving you some food for thought on how big you truly want to go. The is very much a DJ-ready speaker if that’s what you’re looking for, though you do pay upwards of $1,000 to get it. On the budget side, isn’t as big as a JBL Partybox, but does come with a handle and features a light show and up to 18 hours of battery life.
If you’re thinking of a boombox, Monster’s Blaster 3.0 comes in around the same price, except you can’t do much with the existing audio profile. Sony has its ownboombox for $450 that’s more durable thanks to IP66 water and dust resistance.
How long will it last?
Keep it away from water and sand, and you’re likely to see this thing playing for years. The only other real threat might be playing it too loudly for too long, but that’s hard to predict. LG built it with components for a wide range of volume, so you should be fine. It offers a standard one-year warranty to cover any malfunction, though not any physical damage.
Should you buy it?
Yes, so long as it fits what you have in mind. By that, I mean a bigger speaker that needs some room and will mostly play indoors or in safer outdoor settings. The app plays a key role in making the XBoom 360 what it is, and learning that part of it could pay off when it’s time to entertain a crowd at your place or someone else’s.