LG’s partnership with British audio giant Meridian has delivered a broad range of quality products from soundbars to smart speakers. With the TONE Free series, the team-up has also delivered true wireless earbuds, with this year’s FN6 buds being the latest entry.
Coming in a stylish round charging case, the TONE Free FN6 earbuds have a design closer to Apple’s AirPods than competitors like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds, including longer stems with microphones at the bases. They’re comfortable in the ear, definitely beating out my first-generation Galaxy Buds, and have touch controls plus Google Assistant and Siri compatibility. The IPX4 waterproofing is another improvement over Samsung’s product.
The charging case itself provides an extra 12 hours of life on top of the six hours in the buds themselves, and comes with UV technology which – according to LG – can sterilise up to 99.9% of E. coli and S. aureus bacteria from the speaker mesh after 10 minutes of charging, though of course not having a microscope handy means I kind of have to take LG at its word here. Note that the case must be plugged in to activate the UVnano sterilisation.
Sound quality is great – you can definitely tell that Meridian knows its stuff where audio is concerned. It’s crisp and clear, and the four preset sound profiles (“immersive” for an expanded sense of space, bass boost, treble boost, and all-rounder “natural” mode) do make a difference. I was particularly impressed with the immersive mode, which sounded much fuller and broader than the other three; two custom profiles are also available.
Sound profiles are switched using the accompanying TONE Free app, which also includes a Find My Earbuds feature. I do have a complaint about the app, though: it can get a bit finicky, once or twice not even detecting the earbuds when they’re connected. The noise cancellation isn’t the best, as well – it’s passive, rather than active, and pass-through sound can get a bit distracting when activated.
And here’s the sticking point, really, the thing that prevents me from really recommending the FN6 buds: the FN7 buds, which were announced just a few months later and are set to release this year, do everything they do plus active noise cancellation. If you want noise-cancelling earbuds and can wait for their release, there’s little reason not to wait and pay a bit extra for the ANC in the next iteration in the line, rather than jumping on the FN6 buds right now.
Overall, the LG TONE FN6 earbuds are comfortable, innovative, provide good-quality sound, and are not as good as the upcoming FN7 earbuds. If you don’t care about ANC and want a likely more affordable price, the FN6 buds are a good choice. Otherwise, wait for the FN7s.
- Appealing design with robust touch controls
- Comfortable to wear
- Good, clean sound with four preset and two custom profiles
- UVnano charging case for extra hygiene
- Compatible with both Siri and Google Assistant
- IPX4 waterproofing
- Temperamental companion app
- Only passive noise cancellation
- Upcoming FN7 buds are a better option for features