LG Tone Free FP9 review: true wireless headphones that also work with the mini-jack

User experience

Tone Free FP9 offers a complete and very nice user experience. They are easily controlled using responsive touch sensors that easily fall into the hand. Thus it is possible to perform all the important commands such as managing reading, volume, listening mode or navigating between fly tracks, with one simple action.

Any action is accompanied by an audible click and / or a tone to determine what action was taken (a voice notification system would have been fine).

Any action is accompanied by an audible click and / or a tone to determine what action was taken (a voice notification system would have been fine).

All of these controls can be changed via the LG Tone companion app, available on Android and iOS. The application is fully translated into French, completely robust and far from being stingy in parameters. Thus, we found within this app different settings for sound interpretation (8-band equalizer, presets, etc.), the selection of the level of active noise reduction or the activation of some customization options.

The earphones are equipped with presence detectors that allow the audio broadcast to be stopped when it is removed from the ears or switch to monophonic rendering when only one earphone is worn.

The earphones are equipped with presence detectors that allow the audio broadcast to be stopped when it is removed from the ears or switch to monophonic rendering when only one earphone is worn.

In terms of connectivity, the Tone Free FP9 has Bluetooth 5.2 and is compatible with SBC and AAC codecs. They do not offer the possibility of multipoint connectivity, but support fast pairing of Android terminals and PCs running Windows 10. On iOS, the headphones are broken down into two devices: LG-TONE-FP9 and LG -TONE-FP9_LE. Must be connected first to stream music and second to access the application. We find it simpler, especially since sometimes the headphones automatically connect to the LG-TONE-FP9_LE. We also experienced some connection jumps, even when the phone was on the table, with no barriers between the headphones and said phone.

The most interesting part of these Tone Free FP9s is on the side of their case. It is possible to convert it to a Bluetooth relay to make the headphones compatible with any medium with a mini-jack output, such as airplane seats or some treadmills. In this configuration, the commands remain accessible but the functions related to calls or application access are no longer available.

Editor's Rating: 3 out of 5

Audio

As usual with its audio products, LG has partnered with Meridian to improve the signature sound of its Tone Free FP9. They therefore have access to five pre-recorded spatialization profiles and two profiles called “custom” that allow the user to choose his or her own equalization mode. Without equalizer play, these “custom” modes take pride in the bass area and low mids that hurt the mids and high mids. The result is a rendering that is extremely muffled, almost muffled, and that lacks sharpness and enthusiasm. By moving the eight bands on the equalizer, it’s possible to get a more enjoyable translation, but that doesn’t take into account the main concern of these “custom” profiles. The volume is very low in the output (about -15 dB SPL compared to pre -recorded profiles) which makes them of little use, especially in noisy environments.

Measurement of frequency response (normalized by 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).  With active noise reduction and active Bass Boost preset (purple), with no active noise reduction and active Bass Boost preset (black), with no active noise reduction and no equalization (orange).

Measurement of frequency response (normalized by 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz). With active noise reduction and active Bass Boost preset (purple), with no active noise reduction and active Bass Boost preset (black), with no active noise reduction and no equalization (orange).

So we’ll dwell in more detail on the Bass Boost profile, the one where Tone Free FP9s are placed when they leave the box (the Treble Boost profile puts the mids forward too much to use and some profiles rely too much on spatialization). In Bass Boost mode, therefore, Tone Free FP9s may offer better sound reproduction, but they are not without flaws, with a significant emphasis on intense bass and high mids. Excessively heavy bass can make some bass drum hits or some very low synth pads deafening at times, while extremely heavy bass songs can easily get tired. This characteristic is highlighted by a drastic lack of bass accuracy, which gives some instruments that handle this register a runny aspect, slightly flowing at higher frequencies. This highlight of intense bass is especially emphasized when noise reduction is performed. The result is a slightly deafening amplification of sound, but much smaller than suggested by the frequency response curve.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 50 Hz.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 50 Hz.

Another problem encountered in these Tone Free FP9s is the pronunciation of the highlight in the high mids. This character gives a slightly pinched character to some instruments like overdriven guitars and horns or a snapping aspect to snare drum hits. The vocals also sound less nasal than necessary. There is nothing wrong though in this last case, as the sounds remain well -made and fully understood.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 500 Hz.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 500 Hz.

However, Tone Free FP9 remains faithful in their copying of the bells. The lower mids and mids were also produced with precision, as shown by measuring the reactivity of the membranes at 500 Hz. The highs are also fairly accurate, with only a few minor sibilance issues to be regretted. The extra height is a bit reserved, which feels like translating the cymbals especially and with some room effects being a bit cautious. Tone Free FP9s also have a nice dynamic range and commendable stereophonic width. The depth of the sound stage is enough, but stays even more forward to appreciate all the effects in the room as it should be.

Measurement of harmonic distortion (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).

Measurement of harmonic distortion (normalized to 94 dB SPL at 1 kHz).

Editor's Rating: 2 out of 5

Active noise reduction

Tone Free FP9s do not excel in their active noise reduction. In fact, it is ineffective in some important frequency ranges, especially mediums.

Isolation measurement: reference noise (black), passive isolation (gray), active noise reduction

Isolation measurement: reference noise (black), passive isolation (gray), active noise reduction “High” mode, ambient sound “conversation mode” (orange).

At its strongest, the active noise reduction of these Tone Free FP9s struggles to hide mediums and especially human voices. That way, you won’t miss any conversation around you, which can easily become a problem if you want to isolate yourself in a noisy open space or on a crowded metro train. In addition, Tone Free FP9s offer mediocre passive isolation with very little attenuation in the high mids – and therefore few components of the human voice – or the scream of a railroad train. However, LG earphones do a good job of reducing short sounds like the rolling of a train or the noise of engines. However, active noise reduction is less effective with severe bass, which can cause poor inflammation of the ears.

Regarding the modes of listening to ambient sounds, we advise you to use the “conversation mode” which is more natural than the classic listening mode: the latter reduces the lower mids which is more useful.

Strong points

  • Comfortable to carry.

  • Possibility to use the box as a Bluetooth relay.

  • Low latency turned on game mode.

  • Good autonomy.

Weak points

  • Lack of low frequency control.

  • The standard sound signature is less usable due to reduced dynamics and very small output volume.

  • Ineffective noise reduction of intense bass and human voice.

Conclusion

we tried what we wanted
Global brand

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5

How does grading work?

With this Tone Free FP9, LG has signed up for decent true wireless headphones with comfortable wear and a usable Bluetooth relay functionality. Meridian’s contribution is also felt in sound processing and spatialization profiles, which is convincing for some of them. However, we remain unsatisfied because the signature sound of these Tone Free FP9s deserves little attention, especially at short frequencies. As well as the effectiveness of active noise reduction which is much lower than what we expected.

Leave a Comment