LG Tone Free: True antibacterial wireless headphones

The LG Tone Free are true wireless headphones for users who value hygiene. In the test, we checked whether they also have other advantages.

The market for true wireless headphones has been skyrocketing for years. Almost every well-known manufacturer is represented with one or more products in the trade and often in the second or third generation. LG now takes on the role of the party guest who only comes when everyone has already been supplied with drinks, engrossed in conversations and dancing.

The South Koreans have been offering the two models LG Tone Free HBS-FN4 and HBS-FN6 since the end of June. This test is about the latter, because they offer a feature that is completely unique on the market to date: A UV charging case that is supposed to kill germs and bacteria. More on that later…

 

LG Tone Free Review

The first impression I got from the LG Tone Free HBS-FN6 (in the following, we’ll leave it at LG Tone Free) is extremely positive. The charging case is pleasantly small, feels great in the hand and looks quite high quality overall. On the back there is a USB-C port for charging and on the side there is an inconspicuous button for pairing.

The shape of the earbuds is very reminiscent of Apple’s AirPods Pro, but are also available in black on request. The scope of delivery includes three pairs of interchangeable ear pads in different sizes.

Similar to the Galaxy Buds from Samsung and the AirPods from the second generation, the case can also be charged wirelessly via induction, whereby the commercially available Qi standard is supported. For me personally, this is a big plus because I don’t have to dig out a cable and plug it in every time to charge, but simply place the case on the charging cradle for a few hours, which is already available for smartphone and Co.

 

LG Tone Free Pairing and operation

When pairing and operating the LG Tone Free, there is light and shadow in my opinion. Owners of an Android smartphone with a Google account have a big advantage: The headphones are automatically recognized as soon as Bluetooth is activated and the case is opened for the first time. As a result, a notification pops up and pairing can be started with a simple tap.

The function is already known in a comparable form from the Apple AirPods and the Samsung Galaxy Buds, but there it only works with the in-house smartphones. By the way, iPhone users also have to use the pairing button with the Tone Free. This also applies to users who want to pair the headphones with laptops and the like.

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Once paired, the headphones automatically connect to the respective playback device as soon as they are removed from the case. In addition, both earphones recognize independently when they are taken out of the ear, stop playback and continue as soon as they are put back in the ear.

In addition, there is a touch control panel on both earbuds that reacts to single, double, triple and long taps with different actions. For example, you can pause music playback, end a call or switch to the next track. For my taste, however, the touch control panels are often too sensitive or even when I just want to adjust the earphones a little. Especially when doing sports, this repeatedly led to the fact that I unintentionally interrupted the music playback. I haven’t had this problem with other true wireless headphones.

 

LG Tone Free: Unfortunately only mediocre in terms of sound

After my test of the LG Tone Free, I am not enthusiastic about the sound. The sound really sobered me. For an RRP of at least 149 euros, the wireless headphones only provide an average sound that lacks a clear profile and, above all, dynamic. The bass is particularly weak compared to the competition. The result is an almost boring sound that leaves me strangely cold, even with songs that normally make me bob along right away.

In direct comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Buds, for example, deliver significantly more punch and a noticeably wider soundstage. Even the sound tuning by Meridian and the Tone-Free app with its built-in equalizer cannot change anything. The latter offers the possibility of adjusting the sound mix a little individually, but cannot iron out the overall weaknesses. The LG Tone Free can therefore only be recommended to a limited extent for music fans.

The tone free app

The Tone Free app has quite a large range of functions. In addition to an equalizer, it offers a digital manual, setting options for the touchpads of the earphones, a control function for the volume of ambient noise and the option to search for lost earphones using a smartphone.

Unfortunately, the app is also quite invasive. Once activated, it wanted to remain permanently active in the background on my smartphone – even if the Tone Free are not actively used. It could only be ended completely via the system settings.

However, the weaknesses mentioned do not matter when it comes to telephoning. The LG Tone Free do their job quite well thanks to the built-in microphones. Calls can be answered and ended directly via the headphones. I couldn’t find a big advantage or disadvantage compared to the competition in this area.

 

Enjoy music without germs and bacteria

When looking for a feature that could be a definitive reason to buy the LG Tone Free, sooner or later you end up with the UV charging case mentioned at the beginning. The small transport case not only charges the two earphones, but also irradiates them with a special ultraviolet light that is emitted by two integrated LED lamps.

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The manufacturer states that this kills 99.9 percent of the coli and staphylococcal bacteria present on the earphones while charging. According to LG, this was tested by independent institutions, with the manufacturer naming TÜV Süd, among other things. Unfortunately, we cannot check what sounds so impressive within the TURN ON editorial team.

Basically it can be said: that the disinfection of surfaces using UV light works and achieves good results has been scientifically proven. This type of disinfection is therefore used very frequently in medical facilities and laboratories. There are already some areas of application in consumer electronics in which similar processes are used, for example, to disinfect toothbrushes or in a smartphone charging case from Samsung , which we recently introduced.

The probability that the number of germs on the LG Tone Free can be significantly reduced by the UV charging case is therefore quite high. This means that the headphones have a unique selling point that competing products cannot offer at the moment, and in this respect they may be of particular interest to some customers.

 

LG Tone Free Conclusion: great for people with germ phobia

With their UV charging case, which is supposed to kill germs and bacteria, the LG Tone Free have a real unique selling point, which in my opinion is also the main reason to choose these headphones. The LG Tone Free are comfortable, functional and come in a charging case that leaves nothing to be desired.

When it comes to sound, of all things, the premium facade crumbles. This may be bearable for people who do not primarily use Bluetooth headphones for listening to music and for me it is unfortunately a deal breaker. For example, you can get the second generation Apple AirPods for about the same price. The Samsung Galaxy Buds are now even cheaper. And both offer better sound.

Therefore, it is above all the very strong competition that makes it difficult for me to recommend the Tone Free at the current price. With one exception: If you value the special hygiene feature, the Tone Free is the right choice. Because in this area LG is still without competition.

LG Tone Free Pros:

  • + Chic charging case
  • + Case eliminates germs independently
  • + Wireless charging

LG Tone Free Cons:

  • – Flat sound
  • – Hardly any bass
  • – Partly awkward operation

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