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The LG TONE Free T90 inside the case.

LG TONE Free T90Q review

Setting the tone with the LG TONE Free T90Q, the first wireless earbuds with Dolby Head Tracking.
By
October 4, 2023
6.8
LG TONE Free T90Q
The bottom line
The LG TONE Free T90Q tries to compete with other similarly priced active noise canceling (ANC) wireless earbuds. While the T90Q stands out with its Dolby technology and UV case, the active noise canceling (ANC) and audio don't bring much new to the table.

LG TONE Free T90Q

The LG TONE Free T90Q tries to compete with other similarly priced active noise canceling (ANC) wireless earbuds. While the T90Q stands out with its Dolby technology and UV case, the active noise canceling (ANC) and audio don't bring much new to the table.
Release date

September 1, 2022

Price

$229 USD

Dimensions

Ear tip diameters: 10mm, 11mm, 12mm

Earbud: 31 x 26mm

Case: 65 x 65mm

Weight

Earbud: 5.3g

Earbuds and case: 50.2

Model Number

TONE-T90Q.AUSACWH

Waterproof

IPX4

What we like
Good noise canceling
Many EQ options in app
Multipoint connectivity
Antibacterial UV case
Dolby Atmos and head tracking
Bluetooth 5.3; SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive codecs
What we don't like
Default sound is too bassy
Added crosstalk in "Natural" and "3D Soundstage" EQ is of questionable effectiveness
Poor microphone
6.8
SoundGuys Rating
7
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Sound Quality
6.7
8.1
8.0
Bass
1.8
8.6
9.0
Midrange
9.3
7.8
8.0
Highs
9.1
6.8
7.0
Isolation / Attenuation
4.1
6.0
6.0
Active Noise Cancelling
7.0
6.8
7.0
Durability / Build Quality
8.0
6.7
7.0
Value
6.5
7.4
7.0
Design
7.0
7.3
7.0
Connectivity
5.0
7.0
7.0
Portability
8.0
8.0
8.0
Battery Life
5.7
5.1
5.0
Feature
9.0
6.7
7.0
Comfort
7.5
6.0
6.0

LG recently released the LG TONE Free T90Q, a pair of true wireless earbuds with active noise canceling (ANC), Dolby head tracking, and an antibacterial UV case. The earbuds resemble a lot of other earbuds on the market at the same price point, so how does the LG TONE Free T90Q stand out?

We spent a week with the TONE Free T90Q to learn everything you need to know.

Editor’s note: this review was updated on October 4, 2023, to add the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 to alternatives, update charts, and format.

Anyone who really, really likes bass will like the default frequency response of the TONE Free T90Q. It’s also a solid option for commuters and workers with its active noise canceling and spatial audio features.

What’s it like to use the LG TONE Free T90Q?

The LG TONE Free T90 inside the case, beside the 3.5mm to USB-C cable and the ear tips.
The LG TONE Free T90Q comes with three ear tip sizes.

The Tone Free T90Q looks similar to the AirPods Pro, with a white glossy plastic build and three differently sized silicone ear tips. While the small size fits my ears well enough, it’s a tad large and can cause some discomfort over time. The case is round and smooth, like a nice big pebble, and reminds us of the matte black LG TONE Free FP8 case. It fits easily inside jacket pockets but is small enough to get lost at the bottom of a crowded tote bag. Inside the case is a UV light that LG claims will kill 99.9% of bacteria after 10 minutes. This is a nice feature, but it won’t eradicate built-up debris or earwax. We recommend that you still manually clean your earbuds.

A unique feature of the TONE Free T90Q is that you can listen to analog audio sources with the earbuds by connecting the case to the analog device using a 3.5mm to USB-C cable. It’s fun listening to records or playing my old Nintendo DS this way, and it works pretty well.

How do you control the LG TONE Free T90Q?

The LG TONE Free T90 earbuds side by side.
The LG TONE Free T90Q looks a lot like the AirPods Pro.

The LG TONE Free T90Q has touch controls on the stem, and the touch controls work pretty well. Unlike the AirPods Pro (1st generation) and AirPods (3rd generation), these stems aren’t pressure-sensitive. Fortunately, misfires are rare and the controls are pretty intuitive.

ActionMusic controlAnalog modePhone callsANC/Ambient sound
Action
Touch once
Music control
Play/Pause
Analog mode
Mute or unmute
Phone calls
Answer call
ANC/Ambient sound

Action
Touch twice
Music control
Decrease volume (left); Increase volume (right)
Analog mode
Decrease volume (left); Increase volume (right)
Phone calls
End call
ANC/Ambient sound

Action
Touch three times
Music control
Next track
Analog mode
Next track
Phone calls

ANC/Ambient sound

Action
Touch and hold
Music control

Analog mode

Phone calls
Reject call
ANC/Ambient sound
Switch function

Should you use the LG Tone Free app for the LG TONE Free T90Q?

The LG Tone Free app (iOS/Android) is great for giving you full control over the earbuds. You can choose from a handful of EQ presets tuned by LG and Meridian Audio. You can also set your own EQ profile, and customize the touch controls to your liking.

The app also allows you to toggle noise canceling on or off, and turn on ambient sound (choose either listening mode or conversation mode) which amplifies sound around you, so you’re aware of your surroundings. Other features in the app include firmware updates, a fit test, and auto-pause/play. You can even have fun with some more experimental features like Game Mode to reduce latency or Whispering Mode, so you can talk into one earbud while listening to audio with the other.

The LG TONE Free T90 being worn.
The LG TONE Free T90Q has Bluetooth multipoint, but it’s not very seamless.

The app also allows you to use head tracking for Spatial Audio, which is meant to make a sound field all around you. It’s an interesting gimmick like Apple’s version of spatial audio which might appeal to you if you’re into surround sound music. I tend to move around a lot, even when I’m at a desk, and it can feel weird to turn my head and hear the music pan right.

How does the LG TONE Free T90Q connect?

The LG TONE Free T90 plugged into a record player.
I tried listening to a record using the analog connector, and it sounds alright!

The LG TONE Free T90Q connects over Bluetooth 5.3, using the SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive audio codecs. To connect the earbuds to an analog device, plug the USB-C side into the case and the 3.5mm side into the analog device, and push the Wireless Mode switch on the left side of the case to the right. You can also connect the case to a USB audio source for bidirectional audio, so you can effectively use the T90Q as a gaming headset too.

The LG TONE Free T90Q also supports Bluetooth multipoint, which lets you connect to two devices simultaneously. You have to toggle multipoint on in the LG TONE Free app for it to work. To pair a second device, make sure the TONE Free T90Q isn’t connected to any other device and pair it with the second device. Then, you can pair it with your initial device and switch between them. Multipoint isn’t seamless with the TONE Free T90Q, there’s a second of silence when switching between my phone and my laptop

  1. Open the case, and hold down on one earbud for 3-5 seconds until the LED on the front flashes blue.
  2. Open your Bluetooth settings and choose “TONE-T90Q.”

Bluetooth 5.3 makes minor improvements over Bluetooth 5.2 by improving reliability and energy efficiency.

How long does the battery last on the LG TONE Free T90Q?

The LG TONE Free T90 inside the case with the UV light on.
The case has a UV light that kills bacteria.

LG claims the battery lasts 9 hours with ANC off, with an additional 20 hours of charge from the case. In our test playing audio peaking at 75dB(SPL), the LG TONE Free T90Q lasted 5 hours, 10 minutes with ANC on. To get the best battery life, turn off ANC, ambient sound, and spatial audio features.

When you place the earbuds in the TONE Free T90Q case for five minutes, you get 60 minutes of playback.

How well does the LG TONE Free T90Q cancel noise?

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The noise cancelation from the LG TONE Free T90Q is respectable, but not the best available. The sound of my air conditioner is rendered a lot quieter, but not fully blocked out, and it’s the same with the bathroom fan and sounds of traffic outside my window. Isolation is also good, with incidental sounds like typing or tapping being a lot quieter. The earbuds block out enough background noise so I can listen to my music without distraction, but I can still hear when someone calls my name or the garbage truck outside my window.

How does the LG TONE Free T90Q sound?

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The default frequency response for the LG TONE Free T90Q is extremely bass heavy. The frequency response chart shows a major emphasis on the sub-bass and bass range, with a bit of added emphasis on the highs as well. The Natural EQ is much closer to our headphone preference curve, so luckily you can have a more all-around music-friendly sound profile. The 3D Soundstage EQ adds a digital crossfeed and reverberance effect to simulate listening in the real world.

Crown On The Ground by Sleigh Bells using the default EQ on the LG TONE Free T90Q is extremely bass-heavy. It’s hard to hear Alexis Krauss’s vocals with the bass so loud, and while the high-pitched synth is plenty audible, it’s significantly overshadowed by the bass and sub-bass. Halloween by Phoebe Bridgers has a similar issue, where the normally-subtle upright bass is way too loud and drowns out Bridgers’s voice. If you really like bass, the default sound of the LG TONE Free T90Q might be alright for you. As a person who likes some bass boost, I find it overwhelming.

The LG TONE Free T90Q comes with a variety of EQ presets at your disposal.

Immersive EQ

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Immersive EQ imparts a bass boost, but it’s not too extreme on any frequency range.

Bass Boost EQ

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Again, these are earbuds for fans of bass, so the Bass Boost EQ is no exception.

Natural EQ

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Unfortunately, despite the nice looking curve cross talk is a problem with this setting, and is a problem we’ve observed in other LG TONE Free earbuds, such as the LG TONE Free Fit TF7 with this EQ.

Treble Boost EQ

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This is probably the closest we get to finding a consumer-oriented EQ setting, but it may fatigue your ears early.

3D Soundstage EQ

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Here the frequency response only imparts a portion of the story. In reality, it’s a pretty unusable EQ due to the crosstalk.

Can you use the LG TONE Free T90Q for phone calls?

The microphone frequency response chart for the LG TONE Free T90.
The microphone’s frequency response is adequate but doesn’t tell the whole story.

Relative to its competitors, the microphone on the LG TONE Free T90Q is pretty bad, as the microphone often drops out or makes voices sound muffled seemingly at random. It also struggles a lot with background noise, which will also make voices sound muffled. Take a listen for yourself:

LG TONE Free T90Q microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

LG TONE Free T90Q microphone demo (Street conditions):

LG TONE Free T90Q microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

474 votes

Should you buy the LG TONE Free T90Q?

One earbud of the LG TONE Free T90 outside of the case.
The LG TONE Free T90Q is worth considering, though there are better performers for a similar price.

For the original $229 price tag, the LG TONE Free T90Q is a fine pair of noise canceling earbuds, but it struggles to pull ahead from the best. Even so, the main appeal of the TONE Free T90Q is that it’s a “jack of all trades” headset. It’s just too bad that the T90Q resembles the AirPods Pro so closely, because LG just falls short in comparison. If you want a pair of OS-agnostic earbuds, this could be a pair to consider, especially if you really like bass or want to have some fun with EQ.

LG TONE Free T90QLG TONE Free T90Q
LG TONE Free T90Q
MSRP: $229.99
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LG Tone Free Tone T90Q
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What should you get instead of the LG TONE Free T90Q?

The Apple AirPods Pro in a man's left hand against a green background.
The Apple AirPods Pro is a good alternative if you’re an iOS user.

If you are an iOS user and you like the features of the LG TONE Free T90Q, I recommend just getting the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). It has spatial audio and head tracking, much better ANC, and switches seamlessly between multiple devices, but does it all better when paired with an Apple device because of the tech inside. You can purchase it for $239 at Amazon.

If you want to get a really nice pair of OS-agnostic noise canceling earbuds, check out the Sony WF-1000XM5. It’s more expensive at $298 at Amazon, but it has 360 Reality Audio support, great ANC, comfortable foam ear tips, and supports the LDAC audio codec.

The Sony LinkBuds S true wireless earbuds lay on a wooden surface next to a google Pixel 4a running the Sony Headphones Connect app and a cup of coffee.
Sony Headphones Connect is the important for the Sony LinkBuds S (pictured) and Sony WF-1000XM4.

The Sony LinkBuds S are another solid option with better ANC than the LG TONE Free T90Q and a frequency response more in line with our preference curve. Like the Sony WF-1000XM4, these come with 360 Reality Audio, and sell for $148 at Amazon.

Another OS-agnostic option are the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3, which go for $169 at Amazon. These have good ANC and audio, and also supports the aptX and aptX Adapative Bluetooth codecs, so Android users get to have a higher quality Bluetooth audio option. Also you get a useful app for customizing your EQ, so if the “flatter” default frequency response needs a bit of tweaking, you can change it as you please.

Frequently asked questions about the LG TONE Free T90Q

Thankfully the UV case kills bacteria, but if you have visible grime to clean off the ear tips, it’s easy. Remove the ear tips, get a cotton swab and dip it in some rubbing alcohol and clean the ear tip with the cotton swab. Make sure the ear tip is dry before putting it back on or back in the case.

Dolby Atmos surround sound only works on media that is mixed for Dolby Atmos, so if you want to listen to music that way, you’ll need to have a streaming service like Apple Music, Tidal HiFi Plus, or Amazon Music HD that supports Dolby Atmos. Netflix also supports Dolby Atmos on its HD tier, which costs more money than the regular tier.