The LG Tone Free (HBS-FN6) are the latest true wireless earbuds from the South Korean company.
These earbuds are pretty cool as they come with their own disinfection method, they’re loud, lightweight and feature a fairly standard design, especially compared to options like the Pixel Buds and the Surface Earbuds.
The $199 earbuds are overall decent, but they have a few trade-offs. If you’re looking for true wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation (ANC) or even passive noise suppression, the Tone Free earbuds aren’t for you.
However, the Tone Free offer a usable app, good sound and something I’ve yet to see on a device available in Canada; ultraviolet nanotechnology that disinfects the earbuds every time you put them in their case.
The Tone Free (HBS-FN6) variant features a ‘UVnano’ charging case. According to LG, the case uses ultraviolet light to eliminate 99.9 percent of bacteria on the buds closest to the inner ear.
It’s interesting to see LG bring this technology to a pair of earbuds. The UVC rays used by the headphones can kill bacteria and even some viruses, however, LG says that it will not break down COVD-19.
“The LG Tone Free UVnano charging case does not kill the COVID-19 virus. It can clean 99.9 percent of bacteria on the earbuds’ speaker mesh while charging for 10 minutes,” reads a direct quote from the company.
What might be concerning to some, are issues related to UVC radiation. For those worried about this, the ultraviolet case was developed by experts to ensure safety, according to LG. Of course, this also means that you need to take LG’s word regarding how safe they are.
“It is UL Verified to reduce bacteria, developed by microbiology experts at Underwriters Laboratories, one of the world’s leading safety science companies,” says LG
Unfortunately, I can’t definitively say that the case is disinfecting your earbuds, as I have no way to measure this. A small LED light on the case turns purple, letting you know that disinfection is happening inside of the case, and it will turn off when the disinfection is complete.
Standard earbud design
The LG Tone Free sport is a design reminiscent of the AirPods Pro with a small housing section and ear tips that feature medical-grade gel designed to conform to the user’s ear.
The Tone Free comes with gel ear tips in about three different sizes. Additionally, the earbuds feature tiny microphones next to the ‘R’ and the ‘L’ symbols.
The way the circular case opens reminds me of a makeup compact. On the front, the lip of the case sports a purple LED light, and the back of it features a USB-C port.
On the top, there’s the ‘Tone’ branding, and that’s just about it. Furthermore, the buds snugly fit into the case and snap into place with three magnetic ‘Pogo’ connectors on each earbud.
Additionally, the Tone Free comes in black and white colour variants.
I’d grade the Tone Free’s comfort a solid ‘B’ at best.
When just sitting down and listening to music, they feel good, but once I get on the move, I start to have the constant dread that they might fall out. They aren’t necessarily always popping out of my ears, but it definitely feels like they easily could.
I’ve used these earbuds at the gym on the elliptical and while walking from one machine to the other. The number of times the earbuds fell out of my ears while using an elliptical was significant.
I tried the different tips to see if one worked better than the others, but none of them were a good enough fit.
The jostling wasn’t the only cause of the earbuds slipping out, as the more I sweat, the more difficult it was to keep the earbuds in my ears.
Battery-wise, the LG Tone Free last about five hours. In total, with the rechargeable case, the earbuds can go about 19 hours before needing to recharge the case.
The case features wireless charging and powers with a USB-C port.
Sounds solid if you don’t like bass
When it comes to sound, the Tone Free are pretty good and handle various types of music well. I think the sound is generally pretty sharp for the most part, but there are concerns bass-wise. They feature a decent sense of bass but don’t have the “oomph” you’d expect from dance hall, reggae or trap music. Some headphones tend to exaggerate bass in songs when it’s definitely not necessary, so the lack of bass isn’t necessarily a bad thing depending on your taste.
Using the app’s bass boost helps mitigate the earbuds’ lack of bass, but they’re definitely easily outdone by the Sony WF1000XM3’s or Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live.
However, if you listen to a song without much bass, the sound is pretty good. You’ll definitely want to mess with the equalizer in the Tone Free’s app to get the best sound experience.
The earbuds also feature ambient sound functionality when you use their app. The feature allows users to hear the voices and sounds of the people around them while wearings the earbuds.
Ambient sound is particularly useful for listening to music on a walk or a bike ride since you can hear what’s going on around you. I find that the functionality works well, and even with music a bit louder, I definitely have no problem hearing what’s going on.
Sounds good and self-cleans
The LG Tone earbuds are a pretty good pair of earbuds. I like using them and think they feature decent sound. They aren’t the best earbuds I’ve ever used, but are cheaper than some other options on the market.
The Tone Free cost $199.99 CAD, whereas Google’s Pixel Buds are $239.99, the Galaxy Buds Live are $249.99, and Sony’s WF-1000XM3s are priced at $299.99.
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