Ludicrously overpriced at launch, a recent 50% price reduction makes the LG UltraGear GP9 gaming speaker a worthy consideration for those on the hunt for a simple, minimalistic one-stop solution for headphone-less gaming.
- Wide soundscape for more immersive gaming
- Gamer aesthetic
- Built-in microphone
- Compact build
- Poor music playback
- Significantly overpriced RRP
- UKRRP: £499
- Customisable RGB lightingAllows you to alter the colours of the RGB lighting on the speaker
- Built-in mic with noise cancellationCan use the speaker to chat to your friends online, while blocking out background noise
- Up to 5-hour battery lifeCan be placed out of reach of a plug socket thanks to internal battery
More than a decade of testing and reviewing tech has, I admit, turned me into a far more cynical critic than the optimistically eager, younger version of me that gazed upon every new gadget with adoring eyes.
Had my young self come across the LG UltraGear GP9, he’d have been sucked in by its “XTREME GAMER” marketing and aggressive, angular looks. And, of course, the RGB lighting. There was no such thing as too much flashy LED action back then (and, depending on your perspective, there still isn’t).
Now, years on, my immediate impression of a product such as the GP9 is that of cautious cynicism. The trend of releasing tech injected with stealth-bomber design DNA and slapping a “Made for Gamers” tag on it has become all too prevalent, and too often better performance can be elsewhere, albeit in more “boring”-looking packages.
Having said that, the UltraGear GP9 gaming speaker has plenty going for it. It promises to elevate your gaming experience with a crisp, vast soundscape, with a plethora of connectivity options, and even a built-in mic for comms to boot. All of this is wrapped in a compact package that neatly sits under your screen – and it’s even battery-powered, if you wanted it to double up as a Bluetooth speaker.
However, with an eye-watering RRP of £499 it’s priced as high, if not higher, than some top-notch desktop speakers that outclass its audio capabilities in every conceivable way. While the likes of Currys has recently slashed that price in half (strongly supporting our way-overpriced theory), it’s still a fair chunk of change to part with – which is the reason I spent a few weeks with it as our main speaker to give you the full lowdown.
- Gamer aesthetic
- Built like a tank
- Delightfully compact
While some people might prefer a plain black box sitting on their desk (which is more than fair enough), looks are completely subjective, and I applaud what LG’s design team has done here.
The aggressive, angular look of the LG UltraGear GP9 is striking, and its trapezium-esque shape and slanted front grilles, complete with RGB lighting, absolutely nails the coveted gamer aesthetic. It won’t be everyone, but if this is the sort of look you’re after to complement your RGB setup and have an in-your-face gaming monitor, the GP9 will feel right at home.
Despite being made from plastic, the GP9 feels as sturdy as a rock– and weighty enough that you wouldn’t want to lug it around for an extended period of time, nor accidentally drop it on your toes. Bar the headphone jack, all of the rear ports are hidden behind a large rectangular rubber flap, while two bass ports on either side are cleverly hidden from the front by the angled corners.
As for the RGB lighting, it’s most prominent in the gamified LG logo on the front of the speaker, as well as at the top of the slanted grilles. Regardless of which colour you choose (set via LG’s Xboom app), the effect in the dark is quite striking, with light bleeding out of the grilles and spilling across your desk. If you have a specific colour theme in your battle-station setup, the GP9 will comfortably blend in.
- Multiple connectivity options (although no AUX in)
- Adjustable EQ in the LG Xboom app
- Built-in microphone
The LG UltraGear GP9 packs in multiple connectivity options, offering some welcome flexibility in the form of USB-C audio, optical and Bluetooth. If you’re rocking a gaming PC then USB audio makes the most sense, especially since there’s a USB-C cable included in the box.
Bluetooth will primarily be used with a smartphone for music, especially since the built-in 2,600mAh battery lets it double up as a portable Bluetooth speaker. Given its weight, long shape and questionable music performance (more on that in the next section), however, you’d be better off with an actual dedicated Bluetooth speaker for on-the-go listening.
It’s worth noting that if you have a PS5 or Xbox Series X, then you might run into problems depending on your setup. Since both next-gen consoles have dropped optical output, you’ll have to connect the GP9 to your TV/monitor via an optical cable instead. This isn’t a problem, unless your console is hooked up to a monitor. If that’s the case, you’re essentially out of luck, since monitors don’t have optical or USB-C outputs. They do tend to have AUX outputs, though, which would work, except the GP9 rather shockingly lacks an AUX-in port.
Long story short, if you have either of the new consoles hooked up to a monitor as opposed to a TV, the GP9 will be about as useless as a brick (albeit a bright and flashy one). Part of the blame lies with Microsoft and Sony for not allowing their consoles to output audio over Bluetooth (which remains ridiculous); but still, an AUX input on a speaker at such a price is hardly a big ask – especially since it is, you know, made for gamers.
There’s some good news when it comes to the Xboom app, though – it works well, letting you easily customise your RGB lighting and create a tailored EQ preset. The latter can be activated by an EQ button on the top of the speaker, where it’s joined by FPS and RTS buttons too. These buttons toggle your chosen mode, depending on what you’re playing.
Lastly, there’s a built-in headphone jack on the speaker’s rear if you fancy wearing headphones for a more immersive, private gaming session. Here, you’ll find a beautifully tactile and chunky volume dial, too, which also houses the mute button for the handy built-in microphone. These features mean the GP9 is a great option for video calls in addition to gaming, making it a useful tool whether you’re blowing up aliens or going through a mind-numbing deck on a work Zoom call.
- Immersive sound for gaming
- Poor music performance
- Decent mic
Fire up a game with the LG UltraGear GP9 for the first time and you’ll be very pleased with the results. Using the FPS preset on Halo Infinite results in a beautifully clear and wide soundscape. Gunshots echo threateningly, explosions are crisp, and everything just feels more immersive.
There is a noticeable difference between the regular mode and FPS mode, with the latter making it easier to hear enemy footsteps, including the direction from which they’re coming. No speaker will beat a pair of headphones for immersion, of course, but the GP9 does a superb job of bringing games to life. The RTS mode flattens things out a bit more, and even with no special modes on, gaming audio impresses across the board.
Plug in a pair of headphones and you’ll be treated to a virtual 7.1 DTS headphone experience, too, which delivers top-notch positional tracking and even better immersion. The trouble is, this is a gaming speaker with a £500 RRP, so while a nice to have, this feature seems a bit moot given the fact that you could spend less money on headphones for the same virtual experience.
The thing that really lets everything down, though, is the GP9’s non-gaming performance. It’s all very well having a speaker that lets you know when an enemy spartan is running up from behind looking to skewer you with an energy sword, but the same soundscape applied to music sounds… well, it’s pretty awful.
Across different genres, the music experience on the GP9 isn’t exactly a pleasant one. With frequencies muddying together, imbalanced bass that often overpowers, and a general feeling of underlying tinniness and occasional clipping at higher volumes, it isn’t good news. You can help things out a bit by playing around with the equalizer settings in the app, but for a £500 speaker (or even a £350 speaker given the current price slash), you’d expect much, much more.
Ending on a more positive note, the built-in microphone works surprisingly well, although I mostly used it for work calls, as I’d much rather be using headphones for gaming with voice chat on.
Should you buy it?
You want a mini-soundbar with a gaming aesthetic:
LG has nailed the look and feel of the GP9, with its aggressive styling and customisable RGB smarts.
You want value for money:
Looks and gaming performance aside, it makes far more sense to spend less money on similar/better-sounding products.
There’s no two ways about it – at £500, the UltraGear GP9 is one of the most insanely overpriced products to ever grace my desk. There’s simply no way in any conceivable reality where that’s a fair price given its music performance.
With its recent price cut at some retailers bumping the price down to £250, though, the GP9 is obviously a bit more appealing. After all, it offers great gaming performance and aesthetics, and the built-in mic is a genuinely useful addition. If you’re a hardcore gamer looking for a compact desktop speaker only for gaming that oozes RGB-style, there’s nothing else out there quite like the GP9.
How we test
We test every soundbar we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested over several weeks
Tested with both games and music
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Technically, yes, but the PS5 and Xbox Series X lack the required optical connection, so you’ll need to plug it into your TV instead. If you have a monitor that lacks that connection, you may be out of luck.
No, you need to use your smartphone.