LG TONE Free FP9 review

Launched earlier this year, LG’s TONE Free FP series wireless headphones sport impressive features like active noise cancellation and a bacteria-killing case.

They offer superb call quality via the three microphones built into each bud as well as a plug-in mode that allows users to wirelessly connect to non-Bluetooth devices.

As attractive as these extras are, however, MailOnline’s experience with the earbuds was that they were let down by small issues with their more fundamental functions.

These included intermittent — and, on one occasion, prolonged — loss of sound, audio distortion at higher volumes and a noticeable lag with the touch controls.

The TONE Free FP series wireless headphones are currently retailing from LG for £79.98–£179.98, depending on the specific FP series model purchased.

Also, depending on the specific model purchased, the earbuds offer 8–10 hours of playback time, increasing to 22–24 hours when used with the charging case.

A quick charge feature, meanwhile allows for just five minutes of resting in the case for the buds to store enough power for one full hour of listening.

According to an LG spokesperson, the newest LG TONE Free models are ‘ideal for those who lead active, high-energy lifestyles.’

‘With fit and comfort top priorities for the LG TONE Free line-up, LG collaborated with a leading ergonomic design technology lab to analyse hundreds of subjects’ ears.

‘With an earbud stem 4.4 millimetres shorter than on previous models, [they] create the perfect balance and fit for an active lifestyle.

‘And because the FP series earbuds are IPX4 rated, the earbuds can be worn without worry during hard workout sessions or in the rain.’

Arguably the most noteworthy feature of the earphones is the UVnano charging case, which — ‘to reduce the chance of inner ear infections’ — subjects the buds to five minutes of UV sterilisation with the promise of killing 99.9 per cent of bacteria.

This LED-based feature only engages, however, when the case is itself closed and being charged — whether by wire, or in the case of the FP8 model, wirelessly — unlike the decorative LEDs which light up whenever the earbuds are taken out.

‘For additional hygiene, both new models also feature medical-grade, hypoallergenic ear gels to reduce the risk of skin irritations in the ear canal,’ LG have said.

While I was unsure about the true menace posed by unchecked earbud bacteria, what did unequivocally impress was the superior calling experience afforded by each bud sporting three individual microphones.

The Tone Free FP series even includes access to a so-called Whisper Mode, in which the right earbud can be held close to the user’s mouth as a dedicated microphone, allowing for subtler calls in locations like workspaces or crowded trains.

Another feature that I really liked was the ‘Plug & Wireless’ mode, which allows the wireless earbuds to be used with non-Bluetooth devices (such as, for example, a treadmill, airplane entertainment system or older media player).

This feature works using a supplied USB-C-to-AUX cable to connect the charging case to any other device with a 3.5 mm audio jack, effectively turning the former into a wireless dongle.

The buds, LG said, sport ‘Headphone Spatial Processing from Meridian Audio which envelops the listener with sound that seems to originate from all directions.’

‘Another new enhancement is 3D Sound Stage, which expands the sound stage via spatial up-mixing to bring users more lifelike audio for a more captivating listening experience,’ they added.

An accompanying smartphone app — available via both Google Play and the Apple iOS store — opens up additional functionality, including access to an equaliser, customisation options for the touch controls and a ‘Find My Earbuds’ feature.
The earbuds come in a range of colour options — including charcoal black, pearl white and haze gold — depending on the specific model purchased.

 

 

 

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