LG isn’t particularly well-known in the portable audio space. Still, it is trying to differentiate itself from others in the market by injecting something different for consumers with its new LG TONE Free true wireless earbuds (HBS-FN6).
In what is indicative of our current climate, the hot feature of the earbuds is that it can self-clean itself with UV lighting while the device charges. It is undoubtedly a novel feature that we’ve not encountered in any of your other go-to earbuds.
Taking the LG TONE Free true wireless earbuds out of the box reveals the earbuds housed within a circular charging case. Our device came in the “Stylish Black” variant, and the case features a matte-textured feel for the exterior. It is just one of two colour variants that you can choose for the earbuds, the other being “Modern White” which uses a gloss finish instead.
It’s aesthetic is very much reminiscent of a compact makeup case, even with how it opens, with its clam design opening the lid upwards to reveal the earbuds. I appreciated that it allowed me to open the case with one hand.
Something a little annoying though, is the experience of putting the earbuds back in the case. The magnets in the case aren’t particularly strong, so if you place the earbuds back in a casual manner, the earbuds sometimes don’t get set in the case correctly, eventually leading you to manually adjust the placement. Convenience-wise, it’s a point against it.
The earbuds themselves share a familiar look to most wireless earbuds on the market, utilising a stem design that protrudes out from the ear, while also being an in-ear implementation.
On the fit, the regular ear tips that came on the buds felt a little loose, but there were several different sizes of tips that came with the box which allowed me to change for a better fit.
Let’s get this out of the way. Audio performance on the LG TONE Free true wireless earbuds is…okay.
For the sound quality, the earbuds do well enough in the clarity department, producing sounds that are clear to hear and understand; there wasn’t an instance where something I was listening to was muffled. With LG partnering with Meridian Audio for this, you should certainly not expect less.
However, the whole listening experience felt very one-note, in that there was little difference heard when listening to different genres of music, The mid-range vocals can feel a tiny bit soft, sounding as though they were drowned out. It wasn’t a huge problem for me, but it might be for others.
What was disappointing for me though is the bass performance, or lack of it rather. It lacks punch in the low end, even when increasing the volume. Ultimately, listening to songs which have lots of bass felt empty.
As mentioned, one of the highlight features of the LG TONE Free true wireless earbuds (HBS-FN6) is its ability to clean itself with the use of its equipped UVnano charging cradle, which kills 99.9% of bacteria.
Now, there isn’t a way to check on whether it indeed does eliminate most bacteria when it cleans itself, but it does somewhat feel good to know that your earbuds can rid itself of any bacteria that might have accumulated when using it.
The only real issue here is that it only works when charging. It would have been infinitely more reassuring if the earbuds were able to activate the self-cleaning on-the-go whenever you placed them back into the case rather than having to wait to charge it whenever the battery capacity is drained.
On touch controls, you’d be glad to know that the earbuds have a better control set than most wireless earbuds you see on the market. The earbuds’ touch setup can control play/pause, skip/replay and change volume settings with the use of single, double and triple taps, and you can even customise a specific control for each side of the earbuds through the dedicated app from LG.
The LG TONE Free true wireless earbuds aren’t explicitly active noise cancelling (ANC), but it does offer a noise reduction feature. It isn’t quite to the level of actual ANC devices, but it does help out at keeping out outside sounds. There is also an ambient sound mode you can toggle by holding the tap on the touch controls.
Speaking of the app, other than customising touch controls, the app also has equaliser settings inside if you want to have a specific profile of sound coming out from the wireless earbuds. They come with four presets and also have a custom option for you to tweak to your liking.
Unfortunately, the four presets offer little to differentiate from each other. On trying out each of the four different settings (Immersive, Natural, Bass Boost and Treble Boost), only very subtle changes between them were noticed during my tests. I did see better results though in the custom mode since the sound profile can be more specific.
I was pleasantly surprised with the battery results of the LG TONE Free true wireless earbuds.
Listening on the earbuds from a full charge to a depleted battery yielded around 6 hours of usage, which is par for the course for any decent wireless earbuds out on the market. The charging case offers two more charges for a total of 18 hours of use.
What did surprise me was the speed of the charging when back in the case. Dropping it in for 5 minutes gets you back an hour of playtime while it gets back up 100% in 25 minutes. It adds a layer of convenience with not needing to wait long to get back into jamming with your tunes.
Alongside the regular wired charging, the case does support wireless charging as well if you frequently use wireless charging pads.
The LG TONE Free true wireless earbuds (HBS-FN6) has a couple of good things about it. It’s a decently priced wireless earbud with nice control features, admirable battery life and can even clean itself, which is reassuring considering our current situation.
However, the earbuds are for listening, and its sound performance could have been better. It by no means sounds garbage, but if you are someone who covets sound quality over anything, this may not be the earbuds for you. If you can compromise a little, the LG TONE Free true wireless earbuds do sound decent enough, and combined with its feature set, is a competitive product.