LG is one of those companies that is constantly trying its best to do good things for its customers. With every product release they try very hard to make something pleasing, and between big technological leaps, their innovations are small but appreciated.
When it came to these LG Tone Free earbuds, it didn’t reinvent the wheel. Rather, they made a product that is easy to use thanks to some subtle design choices, that sounds good enough for most people, and which lasts long enough per charge that recharging them doesn’t feel like it needs to happen every five minutes.
These Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds impressed me right out the box. The second I opened their sleek little carry case, my phone detected that a new device was trying to pair. A press of a button later, and my phone was synced with the earbuds. No mess, no fuss, no having to dive into an instruction manual – it just worked.
They came with a selection of ear sleeves to accommodate ear holes of various sizes, ensuring a snug fit for just about everyone (barring those with strangely sized ear holes, of course). This, combined with their ability to block out ambient noise, helped me seal myself into my own little bubble for hours at a time.
Keep it clean
There are two standout features which make these earbuds more than just your run of the mill audio product: a UV light built into the carry case that sanitises the earbuds every time you return them to the case, and touch controls in the earbuds themselves that let me play and pause music and YouTube videos and adjust the volume without touching my phone.
The touch controls, while a nice idea, proved to be a little iffy in practice. I’d sometimes activate touch functions with my hand when I didn’t mean to (particularly while adjusting them for comfort), and at other times they wouldn’t do what I wanted them to when tapping them. This didn’t happen often – nine times out of 10 they did what I wanted them to – but it was still a bit annoying when it did.
The UV light proved its value, particularly as we live in the age of the coronavirus when we’ve become so hyper-aware of cleanliness and germs. Even if I couldn’t find empirical evidence that the UV light did anything (I left my laboratory in my other pants), it was comforting to know that at least something was being done to kill germs every time I put them away.
The carry case itself, which has magnets in it to snap the earbuds into place when I put them away (my favourite feature tbh) also doubles as a secondary battery. The buds charge while they’re in the case, which can be plugged into any available USB port with the supplied cable.
Once the batteries are full (which takes about an hour although you also get an hour of playtime with just a five-minute charge), the case retains enough charge to fully recharge the buds two times over.
A full charge lasted me six hours or so; the carry case boosted that to 18. That’s enough to last you more than a flight to Europe, so kudos to LG there.
Balanced, but not great
And last, I come to sound quality. These earbuds deliver good enough sound, but it’s not refined enough for people looking for super high-quality audio, even with its fancy new Meridian technology.
Meridian touts itself as a high-resolution audio brand, and apparently LG has partnered with the company to beef up the audio quality of its products, but the alliance didn’t provide anything to make me go “wow” here.
Using the accompanying smartphone app, I was able to choose between four presets – Natural, Immersive, High Bass, and High Treble. Immersive sounded the most balanced to me, but Bass Boost smothered all other sounds, and Treble Boost placed a little too much emphasis on the high end of the audio spectrum.
I think the company was shooting for “balanced” with these LG Tone Free earbuds’ audio, and for the most part they succeeded. Unfortunately, it also means sound quality is neither good nor bad.
One feature I did like was the ability to choose if I wanted to hear the ambient sound around me or if I wanted to block it out.
This worked quite well – as I mentioned earlier, it allowed me to create my own little sound bubble with little coming in from outside to distract me, while also giving me the option to allow that sound in for situations where it might be useful, like if I were to be outdoors for whatever reason.
Overall, I must say these LG Tone Free earbuds impressed me. But that’s not because they are thoroughly excellent, it’s more because they offer a listening experience that I think is worth the price being asked, which at the time of writing was in the R2400+ range.
If you’re looking for super high-end audio quality, look elsewhere. But if you need earbuds that are comfortable, have some nifty high-tech features and you’re willing to accept balanced rather than incredible audio quality, definitely give these a go.