LG H4 Music Flow Speaker Review
Well made, portable and sounds great - what more could you want?
What is the LG H4?The H4 or to use its less snappy model number, the NP8350, is the latest speaker to join LG's growing range of Music Flow products. This portable wireless speaker includes dual band WiFi, as well as Bluetooth, and forms part of LG's growing multiroom system. It has an attractive design, great build quality, supports high resolution audio and uses the latest version of LG's Music Flow app. There are some basic controls on the speaker itself, along with a 3.5mm audio jack and a batter life of up to six hours. The H4 can be picked up for around £199 as at the time of writing (August 2015), so it won't break the bank, but does it deliver in terms of ease of use and performance.
DesignThe H4 is attractively designed with a simple rectangular cabinet and a silver/grey metallic finish. There are metal grilles at the front and rear and the build quality is excellent, giving the H4 a solid and well engineered feel. At the top there are some basic controls, whilst on the right hand edge you'll find some additional controls and connections. The H4 measures 194 x 64 x 70mm (WxHxD) and weighs in at 0.8kg.The H4 uses a stereo driver configuration at the front, with dual passive radiators at the rear to boost the bass performance. There's also 20W of built-in digital amplification to power the two drivers. The H4 includes a built-in lithium-ion battery that takes three hours to reach full charge. It consumes about 12W when in use and can last about four and a half hours when using the WiFi and up to six hours when using Bluetooth.
Despite the portable aspect of its design, the H4 remains well made and solid.
Connections & ControlThe main form of connection for the H4 is the built-in dual-band WiFi (2.4/5GHz) that uses mesh network technology to create a connection with your smart device and any other Music Flow products in the system. However the H4 also includes built-in Bluetooth, essentially as a back-up for when it's outside the range of your router - handy for a speaker that's portable. If for some reason you need to use a wired connection, there's also a 3.5mm analogue jack on the side, along with the connector for the mains adapter.
There are two buttons on the side, one for establishing a network connection and the other for adding additional speakers to an existing system. The rest of the controls are on the top in a circular configuration. Around the outer ring you have play/pause, volume up and down and a function button for switching between WiFi and Bluetooth. In the centre is the on/off button - press once to turn on and then hold down to turn. All the main controls and functions are found on the Music Flow app..
Features & SpecsAlthough the H4 represents the entry level speaker with regards to the Music Flow range that doesn't mean it's lacking in features. Obviously the big selling point is that the H4 has built-in dual-band WiFi (2.4/5GHz) and mesh network technology, so not only can you connect it directly with your smart device but also add it to an existing Music Flow system. As well as forming part of a seamless multiroom network, you can also run two H4s together as a stereo pair or use them as the rear speakers in a multi-channel setup. There's also built-in Bluetooth as a back-up, so that if you're out of range of your router you can still connect to the speaker. The portability of the H4 is another useful feature and the built-in lithium-ion battery can be fully charged in three hours and will last up to six depending on how you're using the speaker. The H4 includes support for high resolution audio (24bit/192kHz) and can play high quality lossless compressed files such as FLAC and WAV thanks to a high quality digital-to-analogue converter (DAC).
One of the big advantages of the H4 is that it's compatible with LG's excellent Music Flow app, which allows you to connect your smart device directly to the speaker. You can then setup the H4, control it and access all your content - whether its on your smart device or via a streaming service. There's Google Cast built-in so you can cast your favorite audio apps from your Android phone or tablet, iPhone, iPad, Mac or Windows laptop or Chromebook. There's also Auto Music play which syncs all your devices via Wi-Fi so you can continue listening to your music seamlessly, along with LG HomeChat, that schedule songs via text to play when you arrive home or use your speaker as an alarm. The All Search feature allows you to find any song, stored anywhere on your connected devices and LG's Mood Matrix recommends songs to match your current mood or activity and can also automatically create playlists. Finally there's support for music streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer, Napster, TuneIn and Amazon Cloud Player.
Setup is straightforward and the H4 is flexible to use with a decent set of features.
SetupIt really couldn't be easier to setup the H4, all you need to do is connect your smart device to your WiFi network and download and install the free Music Flow app for either iOS or Android. Then connect the power adapter of the H4 to an outlet and press the power button on the top of the speaker. Launch the Music Flow app on your smart device, follow the simple instructions, type in your WiFi password and you're good to go. It's that easy and once you're connected you can then use the Grouping Mode (multiroom), the L/R Stereo Mode (stereo pair) or the Home Cinema Mode (multi-channel).
When the H4 is connected to your home network, you can also check that the speaker has the latest firmware and if not you can easily install it. Whilst the primary method of connection should be over your wireless network, you also have the option of using Bluetooth if the speaker is outside the range of your router. To do this all you need to do is turn on the speaker and enable Bluetooth on your smart device. Then select 'LG Music Flow H4' from your Bluetooth list and the two devices will be paired. Finally if you need to, there is a 3.5mm input jack for an analogue stereo wired connection.
LG H4 Music Flow Video Review
PerformanceThe H4 turned out to be an extremely capable little speaker when we put it through our usual series of listening tests. It was capable of a nicely detailed performance with a sense of clarity that is exemplary for what is essentially a portable speaker. The size meant that there was little in the way of real stereo separation, with the sound tending to emanate from a single point but the built-in digital amplification could at least go quite loud without becoming harsh or brittle. The H4 won't be able to fill a large room but for smaller rooms or when on the move, it has more than enough power. What was surprising for a speaker this size was the amount of bass it could produce and the passive radiators were clearly fulfilling their purpose.
The speaker could handle lossless and high resolution audio and although you might think that's excessive for a portable wireless speaker, there's no denying that the H4 performed admirably. When listening to the delicate melancholy of Ben Watt's album Hendra the little H4 managed to retain plenty of fine detail. When Bernard Butler's guitars kicked in the speaker was able to keep pace and add some lower-end presence, resulting in an enjoyable listening experience. Although Suede's Still Life was never going to sound as epic as it should on a speaker the size of the H4, it still managed to handle the complex orchestration well. Whilst the piano and vocals on Kate Bush's This Woman's Work never sounded shrill or sibilant.
Overall this was an impressive performance from the H4 and it lives up to our expectations based upon the other speakers we've heard in the Music Flow range. The fact that you also have the option to run the LG as part of a stereo pair, within a multiroom system or as the rear speakers in a multi-channel configuration is merely the icing on the cake. The ability to search for content on any connected device is useful and whilst we weren't convinced by the Mood Matrix, the available music streaming services were welcome. Although the audio quality wasn't quite as good, the H4 worked just as well when connected via Bluetooth and whether at home or out and about, the H4 can deliver the goods.
Considering its size, the sound quality of the H4 was impressive with a surprising amount of bass.
- Great sound
- Good build quality
- Attractive design
- Multiroom features
- Useful app
- Limited sense of stereo
LG H4 Music Flow Speaker Review
Should I buy one?The LG H4 (NP8350) is great little wireless speaker and a handy addition to the Music Flow line-up. Although it's portable, the build quality is very good and the speaker has a nice solid feel. The design is attractive, with minimal controls or connections to spoil its clean lines and the built-in battery can last up to six hours. The speaker includes dual band WiFi for connecting to your smart device or multiroom system, although there's also Bluetooth for when it's outside the range of your router.
You set up the H4 using LG's excellent Music Flow app and the mesh network technology allows you to use the H4 on its own, as a stereo pair, as part of a multiroom system or even as one of the rear speakers in a multi-channel configuration. The app also controls the H4 and allows you to access the music on your smart device or any other device connected to the network, as well as Internet radio and various music streaming services including Spotify. There are a number of other useful features including Google Cast, Auto Music Play, HomeChat, All Search and Mood Matrix.
The H4 supports various formats including FLAC and WAV files up to 24bit/192kHz. The H4 proved to be an impressive performer when it came to our listening tests, delivering a detailed sound and a surprising amount of bass considering its size. There wasn't much in the way of stereo separation but the H4 could certainly deliver an enjoyable listening experience and is more than capable of handling the audio requirements of a small portable wireless speaker.
What are my alternatives?The H4 sits in the middle of the price range when it comes to portable wireless speakers and the most likely alternative is Samsung's M3 wireless speaker. It's also portable and has multiroom capabilities but, whilst the M3 is cheaper, the H4 is the better sounding speaker. Other multiroom alternatives include Sonos of course or Denon's HEOS 1 but if it's multiroom that you're interested in then your choice will obviously be dictated by what you already own. If you're less interested in multiroom options and just want a portable wireless speaker then the cheaper KitSound Ignite or Cambridge Audio Minx Go are worth considering. Alternatively if you're prepared to look at something a bit more expensive then the Pioneer XW-SMA3, the Cambridge Audio Minx 200 and the Samsung R6 are also worth considering.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £199.00
Value For Money8
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.