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LG Tone Free and Tone Studio First Look at CES 2017

LG has some pretty interesting innovations up their sleeve with the newest additions to the Tone line, and we got a chance to go hands-on with them.

Published onJanuary 4, 2017

LG has brought a couple major updates to their popular Tone line of headphones, both of which take a different perspectives on personal audio. While plenty of users have really loved the most recent Tone Platinums, the two that we saw at CES 2017 definitely tweak the formula to bring some interesting ideas to the table.

Unfortunately, LG was fairly hush hush about the spec details of these products. The event we participated in focused more on user experience than what was under the hood, so all we can really do is describe our opportunity to play with the new Tone headphones.

First up is the Tone Free, which is probably the headphone that most users will clamor over. The around-the-neck design of the band is familiar, but there are no controls on the body because the earbuds literally detach. That’s right: these are LG’s version of the truly wireless earbud.

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The earbuds snap neatly into an accompanying peripheral to charge. This device is essentially a power bank, and it fits neatly into a pocket or purse. The neck band also includes a battery, so you can snap the earbuds in for charging on it as well. Either option serves as a convenient way to keep up with these potentially loseable little audio devices.

The fit was a little small in my ears, but we’re sure that the fit can be customized in the retail edition. Each earbud has designations for either side and are mirror opposites of one another. The bodies do hang out of the ear a little bit, but with the proper fit they shouldn’t really slide out. 

Unfortunately, we can’t vouch for the sound quality of these earbuds, because we weren’t able to pair them to anything. Tone Platinum headphones have pretty good sound output, so we hope that the same experience will be part of the Frees once they hit the market. Our perspective is worth taking with a grain of salt since these are still early production models, but it’s definitely cool to see these new approaches to wireless earbud safekeeping.

The LG Tone Studio is a similar concept with a new twist. LG refers to them as a ‘personal speaker solution.’ Although the band looks similar to previous Tone devices, closer inspection reveals that these large arms are actually speakers. You can use these to blast audio from your neck directly up to your ears.

Naturally, people around you can hear the audio, but it’s much fainter than you might anticipate. And if you’re wearing these babies, the audio is actually surprisingly immersive. We had a hard time hearing what other people were saying around us while using them.

Controls include the usual Tone buttons, though the volume is a rolling selector and there is a switch to go between the speakers or the earbuds. The retractable earbuds sound a lot like previous Tone headsets, which is good. There is also an Aux In input where a wired connection aside from the Bluetooth can channel sound.

These are the largest Tone headphones LG has made to date, and the speakers are a very interesting take on personal audio.We expect the Studio headset to be used in home situations, like when users want to hear only the audio of their video game without needing headphones. Blasting audio through the speakers on your daily commute might prove irritating to your fellow travelers, but you can always opt for the earbuds if you’re feeling considerate.

Taken together, these are both interesting additions to LG’s Bluetooth audio experience. But what do you think of the LG Tone Free and Tone Studio? Give us your take in the comments below!

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