The WK7 ThinQ is LG’s latest smart speaker with built-in Google Assistant capabilities. LG have succeeded in designing it in conjunction with UK audio company Meridian so the WK7 sounds great and provides excellent value for money at it’s price point.
Looking at the promotional images and video it is clear that LG’s ultimate dream is that that WK7 is used in households kitted out from top to bottom with compatible LG ThinQ white goods and other electronic products.
More realistically it will be used in households like mine where we own white goods and home entertainment gadgets from all kinds of brands including LG. Just like my household if you already own a recent model LG product (in our case a one-year-old ducted air-conditioning system), if the product wasn’t advertised with ThinQ functionality it is unlikely to be possible to control it using the WK7 even if it the product has a Wi-Fi module.
What’s In The Box
Inside the box you’ll find the speaker, some paperwork and a laptop style 19 volt 2.1 amp power adapter.
The speaker design is cylindrical with touch controls on the top. On the bottom you’ll find a place to plug in the power cord and reset the speaker if you need to. Overall dimensions are 211mm high and 135mm diameter with the speaker weighing in at 1.9kg thanks to it’s aluminium construction.
The only thing that’s not obvious is the location of the mute microphone button which is at the top back of the speaker.
Setup, Software & Google/LG Connectivity
When turned on the speaker asks you to set it up using the Google Home app. If you’re familiar with setting up gadgets that are compatible with the Google home ecosystem, you’ll find setting up the WK7 a breeze.
The WK7 Supports Google assistant and Android Things. It emphasises it’s Wi-Fi Built-In (Dual Band 802.11ac) and Chromecast features above Bluetooth. Support for streaming services is quite broad: Spotify Free, Spotify Premium, Google Play Music, YouTube Music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio. I tested the Google Play Music and TuneIn integration extensively and experienced no problems.
There is no AUX in port to connect non smart devices eg a radio. However since our household has got several Google chrome cast built-in speakers we stopped using our DAB+ radio, instead getting used to saying “Hey Google Listen to Radio National” or “Hey Google listen to RRR”, which plays radio stations via TuneIn.
The paper manual says on page 11 that you can download the “LG WiFi Speaker” app to enable more speaker features and sound effect options.
Opening the app you’ll see that by default Enhanced Bass and Clear Vocal are turned on. I’m not a fan of emphasising bass so I turned that off.
Clear vocal definitely brought the lead singer’s voice to the forefront when playing Young Blood by 5 Seconds of Summer, at the expense of subduing the instrumental sound. The Clear Vocal option is handy for poeple who mostly listen to podcasts, audio books and talk radio to get voice clarity but I turned it off because it interferes with music.
The app also allows you to cast your own music collection from your phone or local network DLNA server that has music files stored on it.
If you have smart devices compatible with Google Home in your household eg: smart lights, smart powerplugs etc the WK7 can control these Google Assistant-enabled smart home devices as well as LG home appliances compatible with LG ThinQ.
The WK7’s first hidden secret power under the surface is it’s capability of upsampling/upscaling lower quality MP3 music to High Resolution Audio at 24bit/96kHz and also of reproducing high quality sound from original studio recording hi-res formats such as FLAC (up to 96kHz), ALAC, WAV and OGG (Up to 48kHz).
The second hidden power is the tuning by the British sound engineers at Meridian Audio. This means that the WK7 reproduces balanced sound where you can hear subtle notes as well as treble, mids and bass instead of the usually bass heavy sound that gets emitted by speakers made by non audiophile brand consumer electronics manufacturers.
Although the WK7 is cylindrical the 30W RMS of power output by it’s class D amp is front firing not 360 degrees.
Therefore it’s best placed either sitting in a corner of a room pointing diagonally, pointing down a hallway or on a bookshelf that’s standing along a wall . I tested it on the top shelf of a bookshelf pointing down a hallway.
Since the audio fires forwards it’s not an appropriate speaker to place freestanding in the middle of a room since you won’t be able to hear much from behind it.
It should be also noted that like most Google home speakers the WK7 is Mono and cannot be paired with another WK7 to split the audio into true stereo right and left channels. If true stereo is important to you the only two Google home compatible speakers that can do this are the Google Home Max and Panasonic GA10.
If you are an audiophile take note that EISA (European Imaging and Sound Association) named the WK7 as the best “Artificial Intelligence Loudspeaker 2018-2019” stating that the “technical collaboration with Meridian, the British pioneer of high resolution audio, enables LG XBOOM AI ThinQ’s full audio performance to be unleashed for high-fidelity sound, precise vocal definition and accurate bass“.
Should I Buy The LG WK7 Thinq?
The WK7 sounds very good and is well worth considering at RRP $299. However at the more commonly advertised retail price of $199 I don’t hesitate to recommend it.
If you have a studio apartment it would be fine to have just the WK7. For everyone else living in a larger home who groups all your Google home speakers together to play at once, the WK7 is the perfect choice for filling in all the audio dead spots after you’ve placed a more powerful 360 degree chromecast speaker such as the Google Home Max (Dan’s favourite) or Beoplay M5 (my favourite) in your main living area.