LG’s experiment with keeping your earphones clean continues in its latest batch, adding noise cancellation and possibly Bluetooth transmission, too.
There are earphones that look the same, and then there are earphones that don’t, as companies look to change the way we think about the things we throw into our ears.
While many a company will look to make their own take of Apple’s popular wireless and cordless AirPods — and doing very little to change what these are beyond a clone under a different name — others are trying to shake things up considerably, such as making transparent earphones or building earphones with abnormally exaggerated battery life.
LG’s take in the past hasn’t been for either of those things, but instead opted for what was almost a medical approach, integrating a way to clean the earphones every time they were taken out of your ears.
For this, LG turned to ultraviolet light in the first generation of its “Tone Free” range, a pair that seemed promising, but also felt like a bit of a gimmick: while the UV light inside the charging case could have been cleaning the earphones of bacteria, you never really knew, and while they may prevent ear infections, it’s also possible that any other pair could, as well.
But that’s not going to stop LG from giving it another go, as it preps two new generations of the Tone Free that are very similar, yet separated by a feature or two.
LG is planning on offering Australians another couple of choices, coming in the Tone Free FP8A and FP9A, two very, very similar wireless and cordless earphone options separated by an option of wireless charging and Bluetooth transmission.
Both include active noise cancellation, one of the things we thought was missing in the first Tone Free, aided by three microphones on each side and using LG’s collaboration with UK audio house Meridian to refine the sound of the earphones altogether. They’ll also both include support for a hear-through ambient mode, plus a whisper mode allowing you to take an earphone out and whisper into the microphone, allowing to you talk clearly to someone on the other end of a phone call without necessarily letting everyone else hear.
There’s a good 10 hours of battery life in each with noise cancellation off, which is probably more like 5 hours with ANC on, though LG hasn’t quite said.
However LG has said what makes the two different: while the Tone FP8A includes a wireless charging case able to be charged on a Qi charging pad, the FP9A misses out, replacing the wireless case for one that can be used as a transmission system.
A little bit different, the Tone Free FP9A essentially will let you plug its case into another device sending output — like a gaming system or an in-flight entertainment system — and use the case as a way of transmitting sound to the FP9A earphones as you wear them. It’s a point of distinction for earphones for sure, with the ability to connect Bluetooth earphones to a transmitter, except having that built into the earphones themselves.
There is a catch: you won’t be able to find either model until later in the year.
While the 2021 LG Tone Free earphones were initially scheduled for October, LG has said pricing and availability in Australia won’t be known until closer to the holiday season. If you can wait, you should find them soon, but otherwise, there’s a whole world of wireless earphones out there, and it’s only going to get more interesting as the year begins to wrap up.