LG WK7 Google Assistant smart speaker review

There's no doubt that when people think of multiroom audio, Sonos features pretty heavily. Yet in recent years rival brands have begun carving out slices of multiroom pie, and have been pushing the category forward with the addition of hi-res audio support, voice control and more. For instance, LG's WK7 XBOOM AI ThinQ Speaker tested here (to give it its full name), partners hi-res playback talents with Google Assistant-enabled smart interaction.

Google Assistant, for the uninitiated, 
is the Big G's rival to Amazon Alexa. You get all the expected party tricks with the LG WK7: use the wake phrase 'Hey Google' or 'OK Google' and you can ask the speaker to read out local weather info 
or a recipe for a cottage pie, add things 
to your shopping list or calendar, tell you a (usually pun-based) joke, and much more. There's quite a lot of fun to be had from this functionality, and at times it can be disconcertingly intelligent. Sometimes, though, a sensible question or command 
is met with a baffled response, and you'll need to be quite tech-minded to make the most of Google Assistant – I make 
my shopping lists with a pen and paper.

More obviously, you can talk to the WK7 
to control music playback. Skipping/pausing tracks, adjusting volume level, calling up your personal Spotify playlists... you'll find yourself happily chatting away quite quickly.

I found the integrated microphone, which can be switched off via a button on the back of the cabinet, wasn't always up to the task of capturing my mumblings. And having to shout 'HEY GOOGLE!' to be heard over music playing at a loud volume gets tiring. That's where the volume touch keys on the WK7's top come in handy.

To fully use the WK7, you'll need to download two apps. The first, Google Home, 
is vital in setting up the speaker to work with voice commands and wider functionality, such as control of Google Home products (smart light bulbs, for instance); the second, LG's Wi-Fi Speaker app, works as a media player for networked/locally stored content, and lets you fiddle with the WK7's EQ.

Two become one
For this speaker, and other 2018 audio products, LG has collaborated with high-end marque Meridian, tapping into its signal processing and hardware design nous. It certainly seems to have been worthwhile, 
as the WK7 puts in a likeable shift. It's monophonic by design, featuring a single tweeter and midbass driver, so stereo replay lacks any sense of imaging, but it has punch and well-rounded delivery, and reaches a volume level that'll be enough for most users.

Voicing does seem to err toward lower frequencies, but not to the point where its performance feels unduly thickened. There's enough low-end heft here to add body to rhythm sections and electronic party anthems, whereas smaller, less well-endowed designs can sound thin and lifeless.

The opening riff/drum beat of AC/DC's Shake a Leg, for instance, streamed via Spotify, pulses 
with rock'n'roll intent. However, a run out of London Grammar's Hey Now finds the WK7 slightly boomy on some of the bass notes.

Higher frequency details can also sound a little shy, but this means there's no overtly crisp 
or grating aspect to its presentation.

Mid-range info, such as vocals and the haltering tones of Google's AI assistant, 
are clear and well-defined, and the speaker 
has enough about it to separate different instruments from complex tracks. It sounds fine with low-quality streams too (all sources are upsampled to 24-bit/96kHz), which is obviously a boon considering the likely 
end user. That said, Deezer Hi-Fi subscribers can stream to the WK7 in lossless FLAC.

If you want to tweak the WK7's output, however, you'll quickly run into a brick wall. LG's app features just two selectable EQ adjustments, Clear Voice and Enhanced Bass. The former doesn't seem to solely boost mid-range clarity, having a detrimental 
effect on the speaker's overall balance. The latter does what it says on the tin, but is too aggressive to be used permanently. A little more flexibility would be welcome.

Overall, this smart speaker impresses, 
not just with the tricks and convenience of Google Assistant, but with its unobtrusive design and audio performance. There are 
a few minor niggles, though.

HCC Verdict


Price: £200 

We say: A solid debut for the new LG/Meridian mashup, offering punchy audio and a neat design. Some room for improvement, though.

Performance: 4/5
Design: 4.5/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4/5


Drivers: 1 x tweeter; 1 x aluminium dome mid-range driver
Onboard power (claimed): 30W
Connections: No physical connections
Dimensions: 135(w) x 210(h) x 135(d)mm
Weight: 1.9kg
Features: Chromecast Built-in; Google Assistant; Clear Voice and Bass Enhancement EQ modes via LG Wi-Fi Speaker app; voice control of Spotify, Google Play Music, TuneIn internet radio and more; multiroom; 24-bit/96kHz upsampling; ALAC, FLAC, WAV, MP3 file playback; microphone mute function; Meridian technology