LG Tone Free have recently arrived in Italy and try to make space in a market that is now becoming very competitive, especially in the price range between 100 and 150 euros. The Korean house, however, has some aces in store to play that could convince many users to choose these headsets instead of others. First of all there is a technology to sterilize and clean using UV light, but during the test we discovered that the new Google Fast Pair coupling system is also present.
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High Definition Apr 26
- CONSTRUCTION AND HOUSES
- HOW THEY CONNECT
- HOW IT SOUND AND APPLICATION
- DIFFICULT TOUCH CONTROLS TO USE
- DIFFERENCES LG TONE FREE FN4 VS FN6
Most of the innovations and uniquenesses are enclosed in the case. You have probably been drawn to the title of the article that mentions UV light as a tool to disinfect earphones. This light, according to LG, manages to eliminate up to 99% of the bacteria present on the headphones. However, this function is activated only by charging the headphones for more than 10 minutes using the cable.
I don't think LG thought to make this product until after the Covid-19 academy spread, but it is likely that it had been in the pipeline for some time since numerous studies have emerged in recent years that have shown how the bacteria present on our earphones can cause ear infections.
I therefore find it positive that the Seoul house has decided to explore this area: surely this will not be the function that will make more Tone Free headsets sell but it still remains to be appreciated how the company also pays attention to the health of its users. UV light is present only in the case of the FN6 model, but further on we will see the main ones different with the FN4 variant.
In addition to this feature, the case is one of the smallest and most comfortable that I have ever tested. The small size allows you to carry it in your pocket without it being too bulky. It is available in two colors: white and black. In my opinion, the dark is more pleasant than the light, not only for a purely aesthetic factor, but also because the white is shiny and smooth to the touch while the black is opaque and seems almost velvety. For nostalgics these finishes are identical to those found in the old Google Nexus 5 whose hardware was produced by LG.
The earphones taken individually are very light, they are of the in-ear type and, when placed in the ears, they are very comfortable. In the package there are the charging cable and rubbers of different sizes to better adapt them to our ears. There is the usual bar for placing the microphone close to the mouth and these makes them suitable for making calls (my interlocutors have always heard me without problems or interference).
The box opens like a shell and the headphones remain firmly inside thanks to the use of magnets. It can be recharged via USB Type C port or on the FN6 model wireless charging can be used. The headphones have an autonomy of about 6 hours (varies according to the playback volume used) while the box allows you to recharge them twice. So you will potentially have 18 hours of total autonomy.
In daily use the Tone Free works very well: zero connection problems or difficulties in data transmission. The thing that most pleased me is the first pairing system that allows you to connect them in a few moments without any difficulty with all Android devices, exactly like the Pixel Buds, reviewed in the Italian version a few weeks ago.
The first association with the smartphone is made by opening the box next to the phone – a notification will appear with the request to pair with the headphones. With a tap the Tone Free will be connected and immediately afterwards we will receive another notification asking if we want to download the application for managing the features.
In short, a really simple operation, within everyone's reach and with me makes me regret the old methods that needed the long press of a button and the infinite wait in the Bluetooth settings. Here in a few seconds we will have everything connected and I hope that this solution will be adopted by other brands because the difference compared to the old methods is clear.
The second crucial point is that related to synchronization because this type of connection allows you to associate the headphones to our Google email and therefore makes them immediately available on the other Android devices on which you have set up the same account. Taking in fact another smartphone previously configured with my Gmail, I found a notification that warned me of the possibility of connecting to the headphones, although these had never entered into communication with the second smartphone.
The LG Tone Free act just like we saw with the Airpods in the in-depth article on the Apple ecosystem. They simply connect and are immediately available on other devices. We hope that in the future there will be a closer collaboration between Google and Microsoft to make this protocol available on Windows laptops and thus create a nice system of products that interact with each other.
When it comes to audio devices, however, the most important thing is their operation and above all the quality of sound reproduction. To talk about this we must first know that the new Tone Free were born from the collaboration between LG and Meridian, a well-known company operating in England that has been manufacturing high quality products for audiophiles for years.
This relationship also extends to the application where we find 4 profiles created by the English brand:
- Bass Boost;
- Treble Boost.
Although I am not a great lover of headphones with incredibly "pumped" low frequencies, with the new Tone Free I found myself very well with the Bass Boost profile, it is not exaggerated and the sounds are clear on the whole spectrum. If you want more control, the app allows you to build your profile according to tastes and preferences. I liked the fact that the custom profile is not unique, two different versions can be saved. This is convenient in case you want to listen to a musical genre with a precise equalization.
Also through the application we can adjust the "Ambient Sound" effect. Being in-ear headphones, most of the external sounds are physically blocked by the grommets (there is no active noise cancellation). However, this can create a bubble effect and we may feel excessively isolated from the surrounding environment. To prevent this sensation or to remain cowards on the world around us, the Ambient Sound intervenes which captures external sounds and reproduces them in our ear. The effect is not as perfect as with Airpods Pro, but I appreciated the absence of lag between the input source and the output reproduced in my ear.
I also liked that there is no difference in volume using headphones on the smartphone or computer. We often encountered problems using Bluetooth headsets on the PC where the audio was very low and difficult to use.
The only real flaw that I found at Tone Free is in the touch controls that are very difficult to use, not because they are complex to learn, but because very often the command is not received. During the first days of testing the controls were practically unusable, after an update they improved slightly, but still need some refinement.
In order for the touch to be acquired, it is necessary to press in a precise point of the earphone, between the flat and the shiny surface. With a tap you pause a song and or continue playing; this function is always reliable and the touch point is not a problem, after a couple of days I was already used to it.
The problem comes with the double tap which in theory should allow you to increase the volume on the right headphone and decrease it on the left one. However, the command works correctly with a frequency of 6/7 times out of 10 and is really difficult to use on a daily basis. Headphone controls are often used when we are busy doing other things and we cannot take the smartphone, but the Tone Free requires excessive attention to make them actually functional.
With the triple tap you go forward or backward in the play list while with a long tap you turn off or turn on the Ambient Sound. I hope that with future updates this small but important problem will be solved because it is one of those things that in everyday use makes the experience unpleasant and negatively affects the final judgment of the product.
The Tone Free headphones in the FN4 and FN6 variants are basically identical, the only differences are in the case. The earphones are the same, have the same size, same functions and same sound performance. The box looks very similar between the two models, but the FN6 are the top of the range model and only these have wireless charging, UV light to kill bacteria and fast charging.
LG has hit the mark with the new Tone Free because it has proposed a product different from the competition and manages to bring new and useful functions into an incredibly saturated market. The touch controls are to be improved, but the UV light and the new coupling system make them a very good product.
The asking price varies according to the model chosen. As we have anticipated, the FN6 are the top of the range and the most complete, on Amazon you can find them with a price between 140 and 146 euros (depends on the offer of the day). The FN4 do not have Nano UV cleaning, wireless charging and fast-charging but the list price is set at 99 euros. The choice is up to you: do you prefer to have the top model with all the functions or do you want to save a little bit and buy the slightly cheaper model?
Pros and cons:
Good audio qualityPairing and syncing with Google AccountsUV light for cleaningCase compact and comfortable to carry Unclear touch controls