The LG TONE Active is billed as a durable and rugged pair of Bluetooth earphones for sports and other outdoor activities. In this article, we put it to the test to see how well it performs.
When I first received the LG TONE Active, I was struck by the dazzling brilliance of the colour. The orange is a bright one that could probably be used for traffic cones, or seen from space. It’s neon. I’m not so sure that’s a good thin; it’s more of a preference. If you love bright colours, great! If you like more muted colours, then this may not be for you.
Unlike most other bluetooth earphones, the LG TONE Active has a neckband-thing that sits on your shoulders, from which retractable earbuds can be pulled out for you to listen to. It’s pretty slick and sleek, and very neat. Besides that, since most of the weight is in the neckband, the earbuds are light which is really comfortable on the ears.
The body is pretty solid and feels great with a matte finish save for the glossy orange colour, which I feel takes away from the overall understated look. Once again, it’s a matter of preference. I’m more of a fan of muted colours and shades. The neckband is pretty heavy, but since it’s on your shoulders, it’s fine and after a while, I pretty much forgot it was there. Sadly, they’re a bit too bulky to put under the collar, but you get waterproofing, which is a plus. They are IPX3 rated for splash resistance, so they can take sweat and light rain, but cannot be submerged.
The buttons on the neckband are nice, and feel sturdy. On the left side, there are the power and phone answer/disconnect buttons. The latter is also a play/pause toggle for music. The right side features volume up and down buttons, and when held down, function as next and previous track buttons, which is standard fare for many earphones with in-line controls.
The earbuds are light, but unlike the HBS-730 that I own (this is the HBS-850), they are not very small. The HBS-730 was really good in my opinion because the earbuds were small and fit nicely in the ears, but the ones on the TONE Active are a bit too large to be comfortable. However, unlike the 730, the 850 features retractable earbuds. The wire for the earbuds is very thin which makes me feel uneasy, but I have faith that LG tested them thoroughly enough because they’ve been in the business for a while and it’s probably thin so it can be retracted (and LG has done retractable designs before). Their durability cannot be tested in a review though, and only time will tell whether they will hold up to everyday use, so you will have to take that leap of faith.
When exercising, the neckband stays on your neck, and I’m very confident that it won’t fall off. But the earbuds aren’t very secure in your ears, sadly, partly due to the poor fit. That’s a problem because this is meant for sports. However, microphonics (the rustling sound of the wires) is very minimal which is great for exercise or sports which require constant movement. That’s really nice. You’d be surprised how few sports earphones take this into account.
As for the sound quality, I would say it is above average, but it isn’t spectacular. It does an alright job at bass, but doesn’t have the “oomph” I like. Highs and mids are decent, but separation is not fantastic. I think it’s sufficient for sports, but it’s not audiophile quality, probably also because of the waterproofing that would invariably make sound quality less than stellar. You won’t want to use these for your commutes due to the average sound isolation – actually, the only one I’d recommend for that is the Jabra Sports Pulse. And you won’t want to relax in your armchair and listen on these. It functions best as a pair of sports earphones, because they are wireless and secure.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for something to help you listen to music when exercising or playing sports, but not looking for audiophile quality, then these are pretty great. At SGD $190, it’s not expensive nor cheap. Most bluetooth earphones for sports cost about $300, but you get what you pay for. For the very soft rustling though, I think it’s pretty good and could recommend it to anyone who doesn’t really care about the sound quality.