LG ULTRAGEAR GP9 review: Versatile but expensive mini soundbar

 There is nothing wrong with offering suitable sound solutions in addition to TV sets and monitors. We already know soundbars from LG, the extremely compact UltraGear GP9 is even available in a bundle with different displays. The thunder bar for gamers, however, has its price. LG would like to have a full $499 RRP for it. You have to expect a lot for that much money, but LG fails to meet those expectations.


The LG UltraGear GP9 has PC gamers in its eye, that much is clear at first glance. The very compact mini soundbar with 37.6 x 8.6 x 10.8 cm basically fits under any monitor and the optics are also designed for gaming. An aggressively fat front grille and configurable RGB lighting leave little doubt and the option to also operate voice chat via the integrated microphone emphasizes this again.


The connection options alone are impressive. Connections for 3.5 mm jack, optical cable (incidentally not included), USB-C to USB-A cable and Aux are hidden on the back. There is also BlueTooth 5.0 with SBC and AAC, which can be used to connect up to two devices in parallel. The GP9 can therefore be used on pretty much anything that the gaming world has to offer. And even portable, because the GP9 can also be used on the move thanks to the integrated battery, even if only for up to about five hours. Incidentally, the fact that the 3.5 mm port is on the back is slightly impractical for headphones or headset use, but it's good.

LG ULTRAGEAR GP9 review

The controls are so simple it almost hurts. Power button, source selection, headset mode, volume control, microphone button and buttons for the presets are conveniently located on the top, well lit and almost a matter of course. The Xboom app available for iOS and Android allows further setting options, from lighting and source selection to a 10-band EQ, which unfortunately does not include any presets.


Simply connect your tablet or smartphone to the GP9 via BlueTooth and you can control everything conveniently by remote control. It is even possible to make hands-free calls using a smartphone. However, it is incomprehensible that there is no dedicated Windows app with these functions. Even firmware updates have to be carried out using a mobile device, which did not work at all with our copy - the update was interrupted every time because the BlueTooth function apparently gave up during the installation process.


Amazingly, thanks to the integrated microphone, the GP9 even offers the option of using voice chat in games in addition to hands-free calling. That works surprisingly well, the noise cancellation does a pretty good job of filtering out background noises or the sound of the GP9 itself. Due to the distance, the voice transmission sounds a bit hollow and muffled, but it is easy to understand.


At first glance, the inner workings give hope for quality. An ES9038 Pro DAC, a 32-bit quad DAC with 132 dB DNR, which allows hi-res audio and 3D gaming sound with the HRTF algorithm, slumbers in the extremely robust housing. DTS Headphone: X is also supported via jack, so the GP9 can even serve as a headset amplifier. This interior fires two 2-inch broadband speakers (4 ohms impedance) and passive bass diaphragms that blow 20W of power out of the front grill, which is more sufficient for gaming on the monitor.


So far, it all sounds pretty good - versatile and easy to use. But at the latest with the first sounds it becomes clear that the UltraGear GP9 is still too expensive for what is offered. When used with headphones connected, the device still cuts a good figure, not least thanks to the virtual surround sound, an improvement on the normal headset sound can be noticed.


In speaker mode, however, it looks different. In our test, we first started with different music genres from the smartphone and PC. The GP9 suffered tremendously in both cases and even improvements to the EQ did not bring any real improvement (presets for films and music are not available, only for the game genres shooter and strategy).

LG ULTRAGEAR GP9 review

The GP9 sounded relatively hollow and there was a clear lack of powerful and transparent bass and clear highs. It was clear from the start that we couldn't expect miracles in this area without a subwoofer, but that was just too thin for us. It looked a little better with videos and films, but the performance didn't convince us either.


It became clear when gaming that the GP9 is primarily designed for gaming. Overall, the GP9 cut a decent figure here, not least thanks to the useful presets. The virtual sound broadening allowed a useful directional perception and with the RTS preset a pleasantly broad sound image emerged. But here, too, we mainly lacked the low frequencies - explosions or firefights sounded a bit thin from the membranes in the end. No matter what we tried: it wasn't bad, but basically lacked substance.


Don't get me wrong, the GP9 still sounds better than the majority of dedicated PC speakers, but that's just not enough for the price it is asking for. Despite all the versatility and scope - for half the money you can get good 2.1 systems or mini soundbars without any problems, which have a few fewer features, but can easily wipe the floor with the GP9. We can therefore only recommend the device if you do not have high demands on the sound and can get it somewhere in the sale for half the price.


CONCLUSION

Painful gap between price and performance

On paper, the UltraGear GP9 sounds pretty good. Versatile, compact, with a good DAC, primarily geared towards gaming and the list of features also sounds quite impressive. In fact, LG got a lot right with the GP9 and you could fall in love with the small box. Until you look at the price tag and take a close look at the practical operation. In terms of sound, the small Donnerbalken ends up in the middle of the field and only with goodwill. The GP9 is largely unusable for music, films and videos are just fine. The mini soundbar cuts a slightly better figure in gaming, but it lacks the hoped-for impact.


That would still be acceptable, especially since the GP9 still sounds better than most dedicated PC speakers if the price tag weren't for an extremely high price. Almost $500 does not seem justified in total, because compared to other mini soundbars, such as the Teufel One, or even inexpensive 2.1 speakers such as Edifier or Klipsch, the GP9 clearly draws the short straw, especially since it really only plays a role in gaming makes a useful appearance. If you also want to enjoy music or films on the side, you will not be happy with it. The idea is good, but in the end the gap between price and performance is far too wide.


Pro

  • versatile connection options
  • compact dimensions
  • Connection and operation pretty simple
  • decent gaming sound
  • amazingly good working microphone
  • good headset DAC

Con

  • no optical cable included
  • far too expensive for what is on offer
  • pretty weak bass
  • rather useless for music
  • sound just mediocre
  • no windows app

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