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We seem to have truly wireless earbuds flying at us right and left as mobile brands compete for your business in a time when wireless earbuds are a new standard. I've tested some excellent options in the past couple of months and LG's latest is another that impressed me in every area.
In January, I tested the LG TONE Free HBS-FL7 and it was a solid headset for the office and train commute. This newest variant improves with an in-ear design, lighter earbud weight, shift of the location where UV LED rays kill bacteria, improved Meridian sound technology, and a launch price $50 less.
The LG TONE Free HBS-FN6 wireless stereo earbuds are available now for an MSRP of $149.99 in black. Press photos indicate a white model will be coming in the future too.
Microphones: Two dual MEMS mics with noise reduction/echo cancellation in each earbud
Water resistance: IPx4 rating
Battery life: Up to 6 hours of play with charging case providing another 12 hours of music playback via two 30-minute recharges. Five minutes of charging provides up to 60 minutes of battery life. Charging case also supports Qi wireless charging technology.
Wireless connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Earbud weight: 5.4 grams each
The retail package includes the two wireless earbuds, a charging case with integrated battery, a short USB-A to USB-C cable, and small/medium/large silicone gel earbud tips. The carrying case is a bit smaller than the one found on the FL7 model and also supports wireless charging. You can simply place the charging case on a Qi wireless charger or smartphone that supports reverse wireless charging.
The charging case is covered with black soft touch material that makes it easy to hold and keeps the case from sliding off a table. It is a small round puck a 2.15 inches in diameter and just over an inch thick.
There is a pairing button on the left side of the case, in case your phone doesn't automatically pick up the earbuds when you open the case. The USB-C port is on the back of the carrying case. Lift the lid to see the two earbuds resting on three gold charging pins and magnetically held very securely in place. The magnetic design is very strong, which helps to get perfect alignment for each earbud.
Like the FL7 model, the HBS-FN6 incorporates an embedded UVnano system. UV LEDs are installed in the bottom of the case. The FL7 case was designed to kill 99.9% of the bacteria on the lower edge of the earbud while the FN6 is designed to kill bacteria on the speaker mesh that is inserted into your ear. 10 minutes in the charging case, while plugged into a USB-C cable only, will reduce the bacteria on the speaker mesh.
The earbuds are identical in design with an outside touch pad, two MEMS microphones (one at the top of the earbud and another at the bottom of the stem), same charging terminals, and battery capacity. The earbuds have a stem design, similar to the AirPods, new RHA TrueConnect 2, TicPods ANC, and other wireless earbuds. The light weight and perfect fit in my ears make this one of my favorite wireless headsets.
The upper microphone is used to assist with noise reduction and echo cancellation while the lower microphone is placed to help pick up your voice during calls and when controlling your voice assistant.
The LG TONE Free have automatic ear detection so your music pauses when you take them out. Your phone also connects automatically once you insert them in your ears.
I highly recommend you download and install the LG TONE Free application to your phone. With this app you can view the battery status of each earbud, manage equalizer settings, toggle ambient sound and control the amount of allowable sound, lock the touchpad, customize the touchpad settings, toggle notification settings, find your earbuds, and perform software updates. It's a very well designed application that significantly enhances the LG TONE Free HBS-FN6 experience.
The outside touchpad on each earbud is used to control your media, phone, and Google Assistant experience. Single, double, and triple taps on each earbud can be customized to your preferences. Options include play/pause, voice command, volume up or down, previous or next track, and off. Receiving a call with a single tap, ending a call with two taps and a long press and hold for ambient sound toggle are not editable.
LG TONE Free HBS-FN6 review: in pictures
You can use each earbud independently too if you want to have one ear open as you work, exercise, or commute. Obviously, controls are more limited with a single earbud inserted.
There are four default equalizer settings; immersive, bass boost, natural, and treble boost. There are also two spots for custom equalizer settings so you can customize the listening experience to your preferences.
For safety, and other reasons, you may want to hear sounds around you and with the software you can setup and control ambient sound. Notification options also allow you to have the TONE Free app read notifications through the earbuds, which can be very useful for hands-free experiences.
If you lose one or both earbuds, you can have a very loud chirping sound play if your phone is within range of the lost earbud. You can specify to have the alert sound play on the left or right earbud.
Daily usage experiences and conclusion
With all of these wireless earbuds showing up for review, I keep finding myself jumping to the newest model as the performance continues to impress in each one. My personal tests to see if a wireless earbud will stick around for longer than the review period is to put them in and perform yard work. My mower is loud with my gas blower being even louder and if a wireless headset can stay in place and block out most of the noise then it checks that box.
The next test is to go running with the earbuds in. If they can stay put in my ears for a 30 to 60 minute run then they pass that test too. Thankfully, the LG TONE Free HBS-FN6 passed both with flying colors.
LG has partnered with Meridian in providing a customized equalizer and headphone spatial processing. Music sounds excellent with this headset, including bass levels. Phone calls also did well with this headset.
While there is no active noise-cancellation, the sound isolation, loud volume, and rocking performance make offer a solid audio experience. The $150 price is reasonable given the long six hour battery life, IPX4 water resistance, wireless charging case, excellent fit, and awesome sound.