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LG ND4520 Audio Docking Speaker with Bluetooth Streaming Review

Steve Withers docks his iPod with LG's ND4520

by Steve Withers Aug 3, 2012


Home AV review

1

SRP: £130.00

Introduction

The impact of the iPod on the way we listen to music has been nothing short of seismic. From storing our entire music collections on a device smaller than a cigarette packet to downloading music instead of buying physical media, it’s fair to say things will never be the same again. In fact the impact has been so great that entirely new products have developed in the iPod’s wake and one such product is the audio dock. These days people want convenience, so rather than listening to a CD, they just plug their iPod into a dock and they’re off. In fact you don’t even need to plug your iPod into the dock anymore as many offer a wireless connection using AirPlay or Bluetooth.

We recently reviewed a number of audio docks and now we’re taking a look at LG’s nifty little ND4520 docking speaker. Despite its size, the ND4520 works with iPads as well as iPhones and iPods, and it includes Bluetooth so it can also be used with other phones and MP3 players. It has an interesting design, a USB port and a line input, as well as LG’s remote app for smartphones and a regular remote control. That’s not a bad set of features for £130 but how does it measure up in practice? Time to start playing some of our favourite tunes again...

Design and Setup

The look of the ND4520 is certainly different but, as with a lot of LG’s products this year, the designers may have gotten a bit carried away. The design is composed of two distinct parts, with the main section making up the speakers and base and the second part composed of the docking cradle, basic controls and indicator LEDs. The main section is essentially a rectangular box made of hardened white plastic and it is covered in a grey metal grille. There are rubber feet on the bottom and also some basic connections at the rear. The second part is made of glossy black plastic and sits at a slight angle along the middle and poking out by a few centimetres on the right hand side. The design is unusual but it does give the ND4520 a slightly unbalanced look and we would have preferred something a bit more symmetrical. Any reservations we may have about the look of the ND4520 certainly don't apply to its construction however and the overall build quality is very good, giving it a solid feel.


There is a gap between the white and grey main section and the glossy black section into which you can fit your iPod, iPhone or even iPad. Thanks to the unusual design, the ND4520 can comfortably accept an iPad, although obviously only in portrait mode, and it doesn’t look silly when one is docked. The slight incline, a thin rubber strip and a spring loaded cradle ensures that any iOS devices connected to the ND4520 are held securely in place. On the left hand side of the glossy black section, there are some basic LED indicators which show if you have selected the iPod/iPhone/iPad cradle, the Bluetooth connection, the USB port or the audio line-in. On the right hand side of the black section there is an on/off button, a volume up/down control and a function button marked 'F' which is used to switch between the different inputs. The speakers are built into the top of the main section, behind the metal grille and they fire upwards. For this reason it is obviously better to have the ND4520 positioned down on a table rather than high up on a shelf. There are two speakers, each rated at 5W and delivering 10W in total. In terms of overall dimensions, the ND4520 measures 320 x 60 x 150mm and weighs in at 1.54kg.


At the rear of the ND4520 there is the connector for the AC power adapter, a USB port and a 3.5mm jack for analogue audio in. The inclusion of a line-in means that even if you don't have an iOS device, you can still connect your smartphone, tablet or MP3 player to the ND4520. You can also listen to music via the USB port using a thumb drive although, since there is no screen on the ND4520, you can't select files and it just starts playing the first track automatically. Of course one of the main benefits of the ND4520 is that you can connect it to any Bluetooth enabled device and wirelessly stream music. Pairing the ND4520 to a Bluetooth device was simplicity itself and we had no problems connecting an iPod, an iPhone and an Android tablet. Although the ND4520 doesn't have a built-in battery, there is a battery compartment at the bottom which takes six AA batteries, should you wish to add some mobility.

Features

The built-in Bluetooth offers a range of 10m and uses the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) protocol. As mentioned previously, pairing a device with the ND4520 is very easy, you just select Bluetooth using the function button and the Bluetooth LED will start flashing. You will see LG AUDIO ND4520 appear on the display of the device you are trying to pair and once you select it, the two devices should connect without the need for a PIN code. If for any reason a PIN code is required, just enter '0000'. The ND4520 comes with a basic remote control that is made of white and black plastic and includes controls for on/off, function, play/pause, skip back/forward, mute and volume up/down.


However, you can also download the LG Remote app which is far more useful and essentially supersedes the need for a normal remote control at all. The app is free and available for both iOS and Android and LG even include QR codes for them in the manual. Alternatively you can download the apps from the Apple App Store or Google Play and once installed you can control every aspect of the ND4520 from your connected device. The app shows you what is currently playing on the ND4520 and allows you to select which function you want to choose (iPod, Bluetooth, USB or Line-in). It also shows you any track list, which makes selecting tracks from a USB thumb drive much easier and allows you to play, pause, skip and change volume. You can also select different sound effects using the app and there are four available - Pop, Classic, Rock and Jazz.

Audio Performance

The audio performance of the ND4520 is actually very good and the positioning of the speakers does make for a more expansive sound stage than some recent devices we’ve tested. Of course, as is the case with any audio dock, the proximity of the speakers to each other does tend to result in the sound having a rather mono feel to it. However, overall the ND4520 could deliver a very pleasing audio that certainly made a good effort at sounding like a true stereo product. It isn’t perfect and like all audio docks it probably isn’t the best piece of equipment to listen to orchestral recordings on but it manages to avoid the pitfalls of sounding like a mono box very well.

The sound retained an excellent level of detail, which made it easy to pick out subtle nuances in the recordings. The midrange and top end of the ND4520 has a pleasing richness and realism, as a result voices, in particular, retain believability. The bass response of the ND4520 is not quite as convincing but it does have a decent sized footprint for an audio dock and enough weight to give it some presence in the lower frequencies. What bass there is does manage to maintain enough detail to compliment the higher and mid-range performance, without becoming too boomy or distorting. The ND4520 is also reasonably flexible in terms of placement and can be positioned around a room without generating too much bass and swamping the higher frequencies.


As mentioned previously, the LG ND4520 has two built-in stereo speakers and whilst their position in the main chassis does allow for a more expansive sound stage, they are rather lacking in the power department. Since each speaker is only rated at five watts, the ND4520 is not suited for particularly large rooms or those who like to listen to bass heavy music. However, the ND4520 does perform very well in smaller rooms like an office, bedroom or kitchen and in these environments it can deliver enough power to make for an enjoyable listening experience.

The main issue with the ND4520's lack of power, is that you can experience some distortion once the volume control is turned up too high. So if you’re the kind of person who enjoys listening to music at high volume levels, then the ND4520 might not be the best audio dock for you. If, on the other hand, you prefer listening to music at volume levels where you can still distinguish fine detailing in your favourite recordings, then the ND4520 can certainly deliver. We tried the various EQ modes on the ND4520 but it came as no surprise to discover that they offered no real benefit in terms of audio performance. As is usually the case with these various digital signal processing (DSP) modes, the audio loses detail and sounds processed and artificial. The ND4520 is a good enough performer in its own right and doesn't need any processing to deliver a pleasing sound stage.

Conclusion

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Good audio performance
  • Reasonable connections
  • Bluetooth built-in
  • Remote app
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Remote control
  • Well built

The Bad

  • Design is unbalanced
  • Lacking in power

I own this 0
I want this 0
I had this 0

LG ND4520 Audio Docking Speaker with Bluetooth Streaming Review

The ND4520 sports a striking if rather unbalanced design that has a solid, well-built feel. The stereo speakers are positioned behind a wraparound metal grille and fire upwards, whilst the split effect of the main section and a sloping gloss black mid-section allows for the secure attachment of iPods, iPhones and even iPads. At the rear there is also a 3.5mm analogue line-in, which will allow anyone without an iOS device to still connect it to the ND4520 and there is also a USB port for listening to music from a USB thumb drive.
The ND4520 also has built-in Bluetooth which offers a range of 10m and uses the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP) protocol. Pairing your device with the ND4520 is very easy and not only does it provide another method of connection but also allows you to listen to music wirelessly. The ND4520 comes with a basic remote control that includes controls for on/off, function, play/pause, skip back/forward, mute and volume up/down. However, you can also download the LG Remote app which is far more useful and essentially supersedes the need for a normal remote control at all.

This excellent app is available for both iOS and Android devices and once installed you can control every aspect of the ND4520 from your connected device. The app shows you what is currently playing on the ND4520 and allows you to select which function you want to choose (iPod, Bluetooth, USB or Line-in). It also shows you any track list, which makes selecting tracks from a USB thumb drive much easier and allows you to play, pause, skip and change volume. You can also select different sound effects using the app and there are four available - Pop, Classic, Rock and Jazz.

The audio performance of the ND4520 was actually very good and the positioning of the speakers made for an expansive sound stage. Overall the ND4520 could deliver a very pleasing sound that certainly made a good effort of sounding like a true stereo product, despite the speakers being so close together. The sound retained an excellent level of detail and the midrange and top end of the ND4520 had a pleasing richness and realism, as a result voices in particular retained a believability missing in other similar products we’ve tested. The bass response of the ND4520 was not quite as convincing but it did manage to maintain enough detail to compliment the higher and mid-range performance, without becoming too ‘boomy’ or distorting.

Since each speaker is only rated at five watts, the ND4520 isn't suited for particularly large rooms or those who like to listen to bass heavy music. However, the ND4520 does perform very well in smaller rooms like an office, bedroom or kitchen and in these environments it can deliver enough power to make for an enjoyable listening experience. The main downside to the ND4520's lack of power is that you can experience some distortion once the volume control is turned up too high, so if you enjoy listening to music at high volume levels, then the ND4520 might not be the best audio dock for you. However, if you prefer listening to music at volume levels where you can still distinguish fine detailing in your favourite recordings, then the ND4520 can certainly deliver.

The LG ND4520 is a very competent audio dock that delivers a pleasing performance, especially at sensible volume levels. Its design might be an acquired taste but it can take an iPod, an iPhone and even an iPad. It has a good selection of inputs, as well as built-in Bluetooth and LG's remote app is excellent. Given the ND4520's competitive price, it is certainly worth considering if you're looking for a flexible audio dock.

Recommended

The Rundown

Sound Quality

8

Features

7

Connectivity

7

Build Quality

8

Value For Money

8

Verdict

8

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      Reviewed by Stephen Withers, 3rd August 2012. The LG ND4520 is a very competent audio dock that delivers a pleasing performance, especially at sensible volume levels. Its design might be an acquired taste but it can take an iPod, an iPhone and even an iPad. It has a good selection of inputs, as well as built-in Bluetooth and LG's remote app is excellent. Given the ND4520's competitive price, it is certainly worth considering if you're looking for a flexible audio dock.
      Read the full review...
  • Features

    Portable Yes
    File Formats MP3
    AAC
    Streaming Audio Compatible Yes
    Remote Control Yes
    Remote App Yes
    iPhone/ iPod Connector Yes
    Display Type (If Applicable) Yes
    Connections 3.5mm Jack Input
    USB Ports
    Bluetooth
    Airplay

    Audio

    Speakers Stereo
    Amplifier Power 10W

    Product Properties

    Release Year 2012
    Colour Black/Silver
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