Price (RRP): $279
The unique selling proposition of the LG Tone Free HBS-FN6 BT buds is that it claims to kill 99.9% of bacteria. Oh, and UK sound firm Meridian tunes it so it should sound good.
Let’s get the LG Tone Free HBS-FN6 claim of 99.9% out of the way because it is not as straightforward and not the reason to buy.
- First, place them in the ‘UVNano” charge case.
- Next, attach the charge case via UCB-C to a power source
- Finally, after 10 minutes it kills the bacteria on the speaker grill only (not the buds, stalks etc.)
Now, this is nice, but I have yet to hear from someone dying from speaker bud bacteria (Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus – that does not include virus like COVID or the Flu). So, it is not the reason to buy. Don’t believe the self-cleaning claim!
So that leaves good old meridian sound tuning – we have great hopes.
Australian review: LG TONE Free HBS-FN6 BT earphones
- Australian website here
- Price: $279
- Warranty: 12-months ACL
- Country of manufacture: Not disclosed – probably China
- LG (Est. 1947) is a South Korean company making electronics, displays, household appliances, chemicals and telecommunications.
First impression – PASSable
Sorry but I dislike the Apple AirPod style – dorky tubes sticking out of my ears. Anyone bar Apple fanboys eschews this style.
Still, let’s not hold that against them. As Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang
You like potato, and I like potahto
You like tomato, and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
Let’s call the whole thing off!
My review buds are black that look good but are evident against the skin. Why hasn’t someone made skin colour buds?
Setup – PASS
Download the LG TONE free app (Android or iOS), Open the charge case cover, and it should autodetect (location permission required). If not, there is a pushbutton to start BT discovery. It will then auto-update to the latest firmware.
It also provides access to four Meridian pre-sets (Immersive, Bass Boost, Natural, Treble Boost), or create two of your own pre-sets.
There are three degrees of ambient passthrough intensity, adjust the volume, remap the touch controls, and lock the touchpads.
You can also choose between three degrees of ambient passthrough intensity, adjust the volume, remap the touch controls, and lock the touchpads altogether It lacks multi-point meaning that you must manually disconnect from one BT source to connect to another.
Sound isolation – PASSable
These are in-canal buds and with the right sized ear-gels (S/M/L supplied) provide the only sound isolation. It has an ambient mode with two mics to pass though outside noise. But the sound isolation is nowhere enough to more than dim conversation.
How does it sound? PASSable
First, we had to run these pretty much at full volume – well at least 90% for most tracks. The EQ set to natural is flat and unexciting. Bass Boost gives a fraction more bass, and treble boost is thin and harsh. Immersive is the best setting for most music.
I played with the custom setting boosting frequencies from 64Hz to 4kHz (the EQ stops at 8kHz). It gave me better jazz, but the bass was too muddy. So, back to immersive for best clarity.
It supports SBC (Android) and AAC for Apple. Audiophiles will want Qualcomm aptX/LL/HD or some form of scalable res codecs like Sony LDAC or Samsung Scalable.
We can’t run frequency response tests with buds. But it is pretty mid centric for clear voice with quite recessed bass and treble.
Mics – PASS
There are dual mics on each bud – one at the stalk tip for voice and the other just above the bud tip.
While hands-free is fine, there is not a lot of noise reduction going on. Windy conditions affect it.
Battery – PASS
The buds have a 55mA battery for up to six hours, and the charge case provides an additional 12 hours (390mA). Our tests show that this figure is on 50% volume. Over a week at closer to 75-90% we of use we got between and four and five hours.
Five minutes in the case gives about 40 minutes at 75% volume.
It comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable. You provide a USB-A power source of 5V/1A. You can use USB-C PD chargers, but it does not speed the case charge. We found that a case charge was between 50-70 minutes.
Our review unit included a Qi charge case – I am not sure if all markets have that. Qi charge was 2.5 hours from 0-100%.
IP rating – PASS
It is IPX4 that means it can withstand splashes of water – it is not submersible. Sweat only, please!
Touch – PASSable
Touch commands are limited to the upper portion of the buds. I found the touch overly finicky.
Voice assistant – PASS
You can summon Google Assistant and Siri.
Competition – Way too much and way too good
I am not going to compare them all except to say that where the LG buds are quite competent all-rounders, there are buds that do bass way better or have longer battery life etc.
GadgetGuy’s take – LG Tone Free HBS-FN6 are good all-rounders
Our AV expert and audiophile Thomas Bartlett normally does reviews buds – he has a better ear. I know what Thomas is looking for, and easy listening is not it!
Recently I have done a few reviews to get my ear’ back in’ and so I have a few benchmarks. Meridian sound tuning is usually excellent, but it just did not quite do it for me. So, my advice is to search for your listening genre, e.g. Best Buds for Bass, classical, or Hip Hop etc.
In my case, Jabra Elite 75t (now updated to ANC) and the new 85t ANC are the best for bass, jazz and blues. Samsung Galaxy Buds+ are best for hip-hop, and Sennheiser Momentum 2 is best for all.
The worst thing I could say is there is nothing wrong with the LG Tone Free HBS-FN6 for all-round easy listening.
You can read other GadgetGuy reviews here.