LG’s primary rival, Samsung, jumped into the multi-room wireless speaker game last October with the announcement of its Shape speakers. And while it took a little longer than normal (sometimes the two trade blows in mere hours) LG has finally come up with its response, today revealing a full-blown 4 piece speaker family it’s calling Music Flow. And along with more components, LG included something else to throw in Samsung’s face: hi-res audio.
Affectionately referred to as the house that Sonos built, the multi-room model of offering a speaker for every occasion which all link together through a central app over Wi-Fi has spawned many clones from the likes of Bose, Samsung, Denon, and others.
LG brings it’s own flavor to the table, with a lineup that’s unabashedly similar to the Sonos family, including a small speaker, the H3, the mid-sized H5, the flagship H7, and the HS6 sound bar and subwoofer, all of which are controlled by its Music Flow Player app. As expected, the app allows users to play music from any device on their network, and provides access to Internet radio apps like Spotify, Deezer, Napster, and TuneIn. Unlike Samsung, LG’s family further follows Sonos by incorporating a “bridge” device to interlink all the speakers, called the R1, which will presumably beg a separate purchase price.
Though LG certainly seems to have rolled out the Sonos blueprint for its new ecosystem, the company has also brought some new features to the table for the Music Flow family. Those include LG HomeChat, which allows users to utilize the messaging app Line to “communicate with LG Music Flow in natural English.” We presume that means select voice commands to control the system. LG also claims that through HomeChat integration, users can “remotely ask LG Music Flow … for song and playlist recommendations,” though exactly how that will work in practice is unclear.
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Another feature LG is touting is Auto Music Play, which allows users to listen over the Music Flow app when out of reach of the speakers, and automatically connect to the system when the Music Flow speakers are in range. Speakers will also touch connect to compatible mobile devices via NFC. Like Sonos, the app also allows for broad searches across your entire music collection.
But perhaps most exciting (for audiophiles anyway) is the system’s compatibility with full 24 bit/192kHz high resolution music files. Virtually every other system in the multi-room speaker universe tops out at CD quality sound resolution (16 bit/44.1 kHz), which could give LG a serious edge as hi-res music continues to expand into the mainstream. LG has not disclosed which files are compatible, such as FLAC, ALAC, WAV, etc, so we’ll have to wait and see how versatile the system is upon its release.
As for component specs, LG is holding its cards pretty close to the chest. We don’t know what kind of drivers or amplification the new speakers have, but we do know the power specs, which include a claimed 30 watts for the H3, 45 watts for the H5, 70 watts for the H7, and 320 watts for the HS6 sound bar.
Still a mystery is one other important factor: price. We assume we’ll find out more about the cost of this new system after its official unveiling at IFA 2014 this September in Berlin. As for when you can get your hands on the new Music Flow system, LG says the H3 and HS6 sound bar will be “rolled out globally soon after the big show in Berlin,” while the H7 and H5 are set to roll out in the UK this month, and in Europe soon after. For now, we’ll simply have to wait to find out when the entire system will hit the States.
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