LG Tone Free FN9A Bluetooth, Noise-cancelling earphones (review)

It does not get much better than the LG Tone Free FN9A ‘buds’. Great sound, decent noise-cancelling, good battery life and even a built-in UV Nano steriliser.

First, a brief explanation of our review procedure. We test over two days of use – battery life is an extrapolation of that. We can’t measure absolute volume and frequency response – only tell you if it sounds good with our test tracks. So, Cybershack uses a consistent comparative chart approach (same for each bud tested) that allows you to compare different buds on an ‘apples for apples’ basis.

Sound – Superb

Bass is quite punchy, treble is there for crisp high notes, volume is good, the sound stage is outside your head, and the buds have a fairly neutral sound signature, so the EQ works well.

We like the Bass Boost, but the 3D spatial became our usually listening favourite. Two custom EQ modes allow you to create your sound signature. We experimented with a 1-4kHz boost for clear voice, perfect for TV listening.

Try the Dolby Atmos test and Manhattan Transfer in our guide How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key).

ANC, Ambient noise and conversation modes

Not quite as high a level as Sony or Bose, but it allows LG to have a more expansive sound stage. In all fit for the purpose and fine for work from home or office use.

Ambient mode lets about 70% of the noise in and conversation 100%.

Battery life

All claims are at 50% volume, and we find that 70-75% is more appropriate. We got 4 hours and 47 minutes ANC on at that volume.

Comfort

The only caveat here is to get the right gel cap fit for effective ANC. This also ensures they stay in during exercise (IPX4 sweat-resistant). I like the small POD stalks (I hate dorky Apple PODS) – they are practical handles to insert the buds and have a beam-forming mic in each for hands-free.

Unique features

UV Nano disinfects your ear tip with UV light. It does not clean or remove ear wax. The AUX-in is surprisingly useful to listen to music from 3.5mm devices like a PC or aeroplane.

CyberShack view – LG Tone Free FN9A are premium buds

No, they are not the very best – let Sennheiser (Momentum), Sony (WF1000xM4) or Bose (Quite Comfort) argue over that spot, but for the money, LG FN9A offer good value and useful features above the other premium buds. They get our tick of approval.

Comparative chart for the LG Tone Free FN9A

Earphone comparison chartBrand/model
LG Tone Free FN9A
STYLE
   PODsmall stalk – conch design
   BudsIn-ear canal
   Sports (with wing)No
    IP ratingX4
   Ear tip typeSmall, Medium and Large medical-grade Gel
   ColourCharcoal Black
   ClassPremium
CONNECTION
   CabledNo, but has 3.5mm to USB-C AUX to the BT enabled case
   Bluetooth5.2
      CodecsSBC, AAC
      A2DP, AVRCP, HFPAll
   True Wireless (Qualcomm)Can use either (mono) or both buds
   Google Fast PairYes
   Windows Swift pairYes
   MultipointYes – two devices
SIZE
   Weight each (grams)5.2
   Dimensions W x H x D mm21 x 28 x 23
CONTROLS
   TypeTouch – Play/Pause, Volume, Skip Track, Ambient Listening
   AutopauseYes
NOISE
   ANCYes
  Ambient passthroughYes
   Conversation modeYes
   Game modeYes
AUDIO
   Speaker size mm8
   Frequency response?
   Impedance?
   Driver sensitivity 1kHZ/1mw (dB)?
BATTERY (unless cabled)
   mAh in each bud68
   mAh in case390
   Case charge type (USB or Qi)USB-C
        Case size/weight55 x 28mm x 37g
   Charge voltage rating5V/.5A
   Battery time excluding case ANC off10
   Battery time excluding case ANC on6 (Test 70% 4 hrs and 47 mins)
   Additional battery time in case hours14
   Charge time case5m for 60min no ANC
MICS for hands-free calls
   Number on each bud3
   OtherWhisper mode as well
VOICE ASSISTANT
   TypeGoogle, Alexa and Siri via phone
APPLG Tone Free
   Features
   EQImmersive, Natural, Bass, Treble, 3D Sound Stage)
   Find my budsYes
   OtherMeridian sound effects
   SpatialMeridian upmix
 OS supportAndroid and iOS
SPECIAL FEATURES
UV Nano case kills 99.9% of specified bacteria after 5 minutes (must have USB-C power)
The case acts as an AUX-in BT dongle – no mic function

Pro, con rating

GENERAL
   Websitehere
   Warranty12-months ACL
   PriceTBC – less than $300
   FromTBC
Accessories includedUSB-A to USB-C charge cable
3.5mm to USB-C AUX-IN
MISSING
Qi charge
PRO 1Great looks
2Superb sound
3Excellent hands-free
4Premium noise-cancelling with the right size gel TIP
5Charge time is accurate
CON 1AUX-in does not support MIC or app pre-sets
2Battery life is effectively 60-70% at normal (not 50%) volumes
3Touch controls are a little sensitive
4Critical to get a good fit for comfort and ANC
5200ms audio lag that game mode reduces slightly
RATING
Features9.50
It has almost everything
Value9.00
TBC
Performance9.00
Occasional BT dropout
Ease of use9.00
Fast pair. Must use the right-sized gel
Design9.00
Score /109.1
 An excellent score and gets our recommendation

CyberShack LG News and reviews and earphones or headphones

LG Tone Free FN9A premium buds

<$300 TBC
7.3

Features

0.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Ease of Use

9.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Pros

  • Great looks and fit
  • Superb sound and flexible EQ
  • Excellent hands-free
  • Premium noise-cancelling with the right size gel TIP

Cons

  • AUX-in does not support MIC or app pre-sets
  • Battery life is effectively 60-70% at normal (not 50%) volumes
  • Touch controls are a little sensitive
  • Critical to get a good gel fit for comfort and ANC
  • 200ms audio lag that game mode reduces slightly


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