The LG Tone Free FN6 earbuds which launched last year were a respectable pair of Totally Wireless Stereo (TWS) buds, with the addition of a UV-C LED that could kill bacteria. LG has just brought the follow-up, the Tone Free FN7, to Australia adding in Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) to the mix for $299.
LG has a solid name in audio accessories, and the Tone Free series has been around for some time, though their FN series earbuds are relatively recent. The FN6 model was fairly impressive, though the lack of ANC wasn’t missed at the time, it’s beginning to become a default on mid to high range TWS buds these days.
I’ve been using the LG Tone Free FN7 for a week now and here’s how it went.
Hardware and Design
As far as the design of the ToneFree FN7 goes, they don’t depart from the style of the FN6, so if you’re happy with that design, then the FN7 pretty much just adds Active Noise Cancellation.
The stalk type design of the TONE Free FN7 and soft touch glossy plastic combine to make a comfortable pair of buds which you can wear for long periods of time.
The buds are labelled Left or Right at the top, though you can also work it out with little effort as the buds don’t feel quite ‘right’ if you put them in the wrong ear.
As usual you get three sizes of silicon tips to ensure you get a snug fit in-ear, so do take some time to try out all three. I found I ended up moving to the smaller size after a few instances of the buds popping out – after this, I had no further issues.
The buds themselves have a touch sensitive panel – highlighted with a tiny node on the back of the bud – which can change volume, answer/end calls, start/pause playing tracks using combination of single, double or triple touches, and switch into either Ambient mode, or engage the Active Noise Cancelling using a long press.
The touch panel can be a little finicky to actually find, and I often found myself pulling my phone out to pause etc. after several missed attempts at hitting the touchpad. This is possibly a combination of a small touch target on the bud, and a hurried user as I found I could fairly accurately hit the touchpad when not in a rush.
The TONE Free FN7 uses the same 6mm drivers as the TONE Free FN6, so I found the mids and highs had a rich, clear sound with Bass a little lacking, but still performing pretty well for such a small driver. The key difference here is the inclusion of Active Noise Cancellation.
The Active Noise Cancellation on the TONE Free FN7 buds is excellent. The ANC will process out most ambient sounds, making for a pleasant bubble of quiet with just your audio coming through.
I found the ANC to be on par with, or even slightly better than the ANC found on the FreeBuds Pro earbuds which were also excellent.
They sound good too with the FN7 buds tuned by Meridian Audio, offering settings for Bass and Treble Boost modes, and Immersive and Natural sound profiles found in the TONE Free app.
I tend to prefer the immersive mode, though your tastes may vary and there is a distinct difference between them. The Meridian Audio tuning includes spatial audio, and I found the effects played best on this giving a more rich sound that feels like you were in a larger space.
I played with the customisable EQ settings in the app – you can customise two slots with your preferences – but as with the FN6 buds, the Meridian tuned settings doing the best job for me.
Using the FN6 model, I tended to prefer the Ambient Sound Mode due to the ability to be more aware of my surroundings when out walking – but the ANC is too good to pass up as a feature.
UVNANO CHARGING CASE
The TONE Free FN7 charging case is made of a matte, soft touch plastic material. It’s black, like the buds, and has a simple ‘TONE’ logo on the top lid. There’s a USB-C port on the rear for charging (or you can wirelessly charge the case), a charge indicator light at the front, and a pairing button on the left.
After using the FN6 and finding them a bit fiddly to place the buds, the FN7 case, though it appears to be identical, does seem easier to open and place the buds back in to charge.
The inclusion of ANC in the TONE Free FN7 will impact your battery life, with the buds able to give you up to 7 hours with no ANC, or 5 hours WITH ANC active. The TONE Free FN7 case offers up to 21 hours of additional charging if you aren’t using ANC, or up to 15 hours if you do.
Battery life is about on-par with the FN6, but you do get the addition of ANC. If you don’t need ANC you will see a fairly significant bump.
In terms of real world use, the battery in the buds lasts a pleasantly long time. I spent a day listening to podcasts and running errands using ANC and the buds played all day, only giving me the verbal warning to charge after around 5 hours.
There are actually several ways to check the battery level for the TONE Free FN7. You can of course check the battery in your Bluetooth settings, or you can see in the app. On the buds themselves you get an audible ‘Battery Low’ alert once each earbud battery drops to 20%, with a more urgent ‘Battery very low, please charge now’ warning sparking up when it hits 10%.
The case itself has an LED which serves a dual purpose as a battery indicator, or for whether the Bluetooth is actively trying to pair. You also get notification when the UV-C cleaning mode is active.
So. UV-C Cleaning. Like the FN6, the TONE Free FN7 includes UV-C LEDs which activate when the case is plugged into a wired charger for 10 minutes. Due to potential for UV-C to cause damage to humans the case switches off UV-C LED when you open it, so it’s safe.
LG claims the UV-C LED will kill 99.9% of E. coli and S. aureus bacteria on the earbuds. LG had their claim independently verified for E. coli and S. aureus bacteria on the FN6 model, and though it’s not listed for the FN7, it’s likely going to be similarly verifiable.
I tend to look on the UV-C cleaning as a bonus, rather than a foolproof sterilisation method for all nasties, but definitely a good thing to have these days.
TONE Free App
The app allows you to fully customise the FN7 earbuds, letting you change anything from the Meridian Audio tuning or fiddling with the Equaliser, or just customising the touch controls.
You can also engage the ‘Find my earbuds’ function, which is handy – but the volume is fairly low so you have to get right up close to hear the tone – though it’s definitely enough to hear when you’re desperately searching for them.
Should you buy them?
The LG TONE Free FN7 earbuds are a decent update on the FN6 model, with ANC very much making a difference.
The buds are comfortable to wear for extended periods, have good quality sound and come with a compact charging case that also offers a UV-C cleaning function. The inclusion of ANC is also welcome at this price range.
While $299 is the RRP, the price on the LG Tone Free FN7 has been fairly fluid. Partners are selling the buds for less, so check the Where to Buy section on the LG website and you’ll likely nab a deal.
Overall, the LG TONE Free FN7 buds are a good option for those looking into TWS earbuds with ANC, but don’t want to pay for the more premium Sony WF-1000XM4 buds. You can check them out online on the LG website.