There’s simply something to be said about the LG TONE Free FP9’s intuitive user experience (UX). Right out of the box, the pebble shaped wireless charging case with unique Bluetooth transmitter is remarkably well designed. Smooth, matte and an invitation to caress, LG has certainly mastered the user experience right from the box but of course, it’s quite easy to mimic a benchmark in UX but quite another to deliver performance.
LG has partnered with Meridian Audio for several years now and the latest LG TONE Free FP9 is a top-of-the-line true wireless earbuds available in the market. Best of all, that UX delivers what the external packaging conveys – unbeatable user-friendliness via a retinue of expected (for its price category) and unexpected smart features.
More than meets the eye: Amazingly smart features
We tested this for a week, wearing them for an average of 6 hours a day, culminating in a long haul, 11 hour flight to Hamburg where we can say with some finality that the LG TONE Free FP9 is quite likely the most comfortable in-ear buds on the market right now. Furthermore, everyone who has used earbuds for great lengths of time would probably know that these things can get pretty “funky” over the week and the UVnano charging case, unique to LG, can be found on the LG FP9 TONE Free. Bathing your earbuds in a cleansing UV light, the bacteria-killing UVnano feature will only activate when you’re plugged into a USB-C cable and it is not to be mistaken for the cool blue light emitted when you first open the clamshell case.
Additionally, pandemic era social norms have promoted the social practice of keeping voices down in crowded enclosed spaces for fear of accidentally spewing pathogens into the environment and we found the LG TONE Free FP9’s Whispering Mode quite a Godsend. You can hold the right earbud and speak into it like a microphone, perfect for noisy spaces or when you need to be particularly discreet. You never need to speak beyond a whisper and voice clarity is still guaranteed even when speaking from behind a face mask.
The in-case Bluetooth transmitter is also a nifty feature usually found on pricier luxury audio brands like Bowers & Wilkins. With the FP9, toggling a switch on the side of the charging case and connecting a 3.5mm cable to the output device’s line-out allows you to have wireless audio: perfect for recreating those Guardians of the Galaxy old-school Walkman moments when you no longer possess old 3.5mm earphones.
If you’re a fitness freak, Voice Alert is yet another unique feature you’d fall in love with: you can set the earbuds to read out incoming app notifications. Despite the routine of high intensity sets and rapid direction change sprinting, the sleek, Concha-Shaped design and soft ear tips remained firmly in the ear without feeling uncomfortable or “stuffy” – pretty remarkable given that other earbuds which typically remain snug by exerting in-canal pressure with the rubber tips, would also have at least shaken loose during strenuous activities.
Sound: The true test of Earbuds
All said and done, the true raison d’etre of audio devices is ultimately down to how they render sound. The LG TONE Free FP9 has 5 distinct audio profiles like 3D Sound Stage, Bass Boost and Treble Boost while the remaining two are special Meridian Headphone Spatial Processing (HSP). Where the FP9 excels is truly the HSP audio processing technologies that avoid turning sound outputs into some “fake” echo-y room experience. Our favourite mode happens to be “3D Sound Stage”: fans of acoustic performances will particularly enjoy this, the LG TONE Free FP9 avoids rendering the sound with a booming bass (without being unduly heavy ala Beats) and somehow avoids fake sounding reverb while replicating the concert hall/live experience with unexpected fidelity.
Easy to pair, the LG TONE Free FP9 connects to the nearest device right out the box. It’s so intuitive, you can switch Bluetooth off the first device and it would seek out the next closest device. We were able to pair the earbuds with both the iPhone 13 and the 2022 iPad Air in this manner. Rather than have a complete touch sensitive surface, a small touchpad reduces the occurrence of accidental actions like volume up or track changing just by brushing past it. You have to purposely take that course of action and hear the “feedback” through a click tone. Like most modern ear buds, the LG TONE Free FP9 also comes with wear detection but what sets it apart from other models is that this will also automatically switch audio from stereo to mono when one of the earbuds are removed from the ears. With up to 10 hours play time, the LG TONE Free FP9 has quite easily become our favourite wireless earbuds of 2022 with its combination of usability and affordability.
The LG TONE Free FP9 retails at S$298 and is available at all LG official brand stores online, and at authorised retailers and distributors.
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