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LG TONE Free T90Q
September 1, 2022
Ear tip diameters: 10mm, 11mm, 12mm
Earbud: 31 x 26mm
Case: 65 x 65mm
Earbuds and case: 50.2
LG recently announced the LG TONE Free T90Q, a pair of true wireless earbuds with active noise cancelling (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 can the LG TONE Free T90Q stand out?
We spent a week with the TONE Free T90Q to learn everything you need to know.
What’s it like to use the LG TONE Free T90Q?
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 devices with the earbuds by connecting the case to the analog device using a 3.5mm to USB-C cable. I find it amusing listening to records or playing my old Nintendo DS this way, and it works pretty well. There’s some occasional static, but it’s not too bothersome.
How do you control the LG TONE Free T90Q?
The LG TONE Free T90Q has touch controls on the stem, and the touch controls work pretty well. Unlike the AirPods Pro and AirPods (3rd generation), these stems aren’t pressure-sensitive. Fortunately, misfires are rare and the controls are pretty intuitive.
|Action||Music control||Analog mode||Phone calls||ANC/Ambient sound|
Mute or unmute
Decrease volume (left); Increase volume (right)
Decrease volume (left); Increase volume (right)
Touch three times
|Phone calls||ANC/Ambient sound|
Touch and hold
|Music control||Analog mode||Phone calls|
Should you use the LG Tone Free app for the LG TONE Free T90Q?
The LG Tone Free app (iOS/Android) is great for having more 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 cancelling on or off, and turn on ambient sound, 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 app also allows you to use Dolby head tracking, which is meant to make a sound field all around you. It’s interesting, but ultimately a gimmick like Apple’s Spatial Audio. Most people likely won’t find much use for this feature from a pair of earbuds, unless for some reason you’re super into surround sound music. I tend to move around a lot even when I’m stationary at a desk, so 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 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.
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 T9Q0 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 very seamless with the TONE Free T90Q, there’s a few seconds of silence when switching between my phone and my laptop
- Open the case, and hold down on one earbud for 3-5 seconds until the LED on the front flashes blue.
- Open your Bluetooth settings and choose “TONE-T90Q.”
How long does the battery last on the LG TONE Free T90Q?
LG claims the battery lasts 9 hours with ANC off, with an additional 20 hours of charge from the case. In our testing playing audio peaking at 75dB(SPL), the LG TONE Free T90Q lasted 5 hours, 10 minutes with ANC on. The battery lasting longer with ANC off is expected. To get the best battery life here, turn off ANC and ambient sound.
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?
The noise cancellation from the LG TONE Free T90Q is good, but not the best. The sound of my air conditioner is 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?
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 emphasis on the highs as well. The Natural EQ is much closer to our consumer curve, so luckily you can have a more all-around music-friendly sound profile. The caveat with this EQ setting is that there is a ton of crosstalk, meaning sounds meant to come through the right earbud also come through the left earbud, and vice versa. The 3D Soundstage EQ also has a lot of crosstalk. The point of these two presets appears to be a more “real life” sound to your music, so it makes sense that sounds would be coming through each ear a bit more to simulate that sort of situation. The crosstalk is pretty noticeable right away, and there’s also a simulated delay added, which is unpleasant in many situations. If you like having a solid separation of right and left channels, stick with the other EQ presets.
Crown On The Ground by Sleigh Bells using the default EQ on the LG TONE Free T90Q is overwhelmingly bass-heavy, by far the loudest sound in the song. It’s hard to hear Alexis Krauss’s vocals with the bass this loud, and while the high-pitched synth is still 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.
Can you use the LG TONE Free T90Q for phone calls?
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?
Should you buy the LG TONE Free T90Q?
For $229 USD, the LG TONE Free T90Q is a fine pair of noise cancelling 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 seems to mimic 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.
What should you get instead of the LG TONE Free T90Q?
If you are an iOS user and you like the features of the LG TONE Free T90Q, I recommend just getting the AirPods Pro for $20 more. It has spatial audio and head tracking, ANC, and switches seamlessly between multiple devices, but does it all better when paired with an Apple device because of the tech inside.
If you want to get a really nice pair of OS-agnostic noise cancelling earbuds, check out the Sony WF-1000XM4. It’s much more expensive at $278 USD, but it has 360 Reality Audio support, great ANC, comfortable foam ear tips, and supports the LDAC audio codec. A more affordable OS-agnostic option is the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless, which is still not cheap at $178 USD but is worth it. It has good ANC and audio, but also supports the aptX Bluetooth codec, so Android users get to have a higher quality Bluetooth audio option. It also has 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. For a more in-depth explainer, check out our how to clean your headphones article.
Dolby Atmos surround sound only works on media that is made with Dolby Atmos in mind, 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.