LG Tone Studio Review: a wearable speaker



LG, not content with what is currently on the market, has been doing a lot of experimenting with its audio products lately. Whether this is a good or bad thing is a debate we won’t be getting into today – instead, we’ll be taking a look at one of the company’s latest and most interesting offerings: the LG Tone Studio.

In short, this is an answer to the age-old question “what if we could wear stereo speakers around our necks at all times?” Visually, it looks like a pair of neckbuds whose neckband houses a pair of upward-facing speakers aimed directly at the user’s ears. The result is what LG calls “Real 3D Surround Sound”, and is the Tone Studio’s unique selling point. But course, it would be a waste if there wasn’t a pair of earphones included as well, so you can bet we have just that here – which is great for those moments when you’re out in public and using the loudspeaker isn’t an option.

Whichever way you choose to use it, though, one thing quickly becomes apparent: while the general idea of the Tone Studio – personal stereo speakers on the go – is pretty okay by itself, the end product is, regrettably, simply not that good.

Let’s start with the speakers first – in simple terms, they’re just plain bad. In fact, pretty much their only saving grace is the fact that they play in stereo. The closest comparison in terms of sound quality is a 2006-era feature phone: the audio consists almost entirely of mids, with next to no attempt at producing bass or treble, though, admittedly, that is pretty much par for the course for speakers of this size.

In LG’s words, the Tone Studio delivers a “realistic theater-like sound for a cinematic experience“. However, in reality the audio actually sounds weird and washed out, making it pretty much unsuitable for listening to music (though watching, say, a movie is a slightly better experience). There are actually four speakers tucked inside the device: two regular ones on the top, and two ‘vibration’ ones on the bottom. But when it comes to the latter, we’re not exactly sure what LG was thinking there – every time they kick in they just make the band sound as if it’s broken. However, play a loud sine wave at the right frequency (about 260 Hz), and you’ll get yourself a nice neck massager.


As for the earphones – well, they actually sound pretty good. While their sound profile is undoubtedly bass-heavy, this actually works out in their favor: there are no jarring peaks in the high mids, as there often are on cheaper earphones, and the sound is smooth and balanced. However, subtle details sometimes get lost, and the soundstage isn’t as wide and pronounced.

One problem, though: the wires. When not in use, they are stored inside the band so as not to awkwardly dangle outside, which is great, except the retracting mechanism doesn’t really inspire much confidence in its durability. The cables themselves extrude from the very ends of the band, which, as it happens, are the spots most likely to bounce around while you’re moving. That wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem, though, if they weren’t also a bit too short as well – as such, simple movements like looking sideways bear a somewhat significant risk of accidentally yanking out an earphone.


There are also some bonus features buried inside the Tone Studio – it has a play/pause and an end call button on the inside of the band, though they aren’t exactly comfortable to reach. There’s also a vibration motor inside, which is used to indicate incoming calls and messages, as well as when the device is successfully paired. It has a standard 3.5 mm input jack, though the question of why you would use such a product in a wired configuration is still open.

The LG Tone Studio's operating range is listed at 33 feet (10 meters), but depending on the device, you might get a tad better (or worse) range – in our tests the connection started falling apart at about 40 feet. The battery life is pretty good, with LG claiming 5-6 hours of usage in speaker mode and up to 35 in earphone mode.

In any case, the suggested price tag of $230 seems quite hefty for a device with this many flaws. While the idea of a personal, wearable stereo speakers is fine by itself, its poor execution makes the The LG Tone Studio’s speaker mode suitable for pretty much light TV usage only. And a couple of questionable design decisions make the otherwise pretty good earphones quite uncomfortable to use as well, leaving very little else to like in this product.

Pros

  • Sits comfortably around the neck
  • Earphones have a smooth, balanced sound

Cons

  • The earphones' cables should have been slightly longer
  • External speakers’ quality is pretty bad
  • Way too expensive

PhoneArena Rating:

4.0

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11 Comments

1. tyson3

Posts: 59; Member since: May 15, 2012

This was absolutely a terrible review on these headphones! I bought them the day they came out and are phenomenal! The sound is excellent, headphones cord is the right length, and they last up to 4to 5 days on one charge! When you watch a movie or video it's like being in a movie theater! They are expensive but not compared to beats! I recommend these to anyone looking for great headphones. On thing I would change is the color.

5. lJesseCusterl

Posts: 96; Member since: Apr 27, 2015

Yeah, Flossy's review on Youtube was really positive; just shy of glowing.

7. TeriusRose

Posts: 108; Member since: May 12, 2017

I'm not saying you're wrong for having your own perspective, but it's worth keeping in mind that while you may find something amazing... someone else may find it mediocre or terrible. Or vice versa. That's how the subjective nature of reviews work.

4. neonoafs

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 10, 2014

That wire looks SO fragile. Im even afraid to pull.

6. tyson3

Posts: 59; Member since: May 15, 2012

They aren't fragile at all! They were made for you pull on bc that's how they retract. They are phenomenal bro !

9. mattkl

Posts: 255; Member since: Feb 01, 2010

And so discreet!!

10. zenun12

Posts: 205; Member since: Oct 31, 2016

I think it is a good idea and still haven't seen it, but I think if LG could have lowered the price around $150, it would be pretty reasonable. Bose SoundLink Mini 2 Bluetooth Speaker at $180 is still a better buy in my opinion even without the included earbuds and different form factor.

11. slannmage

Posts: 289; Member since: Mar 26, 2013

Just get a pair of headphones...

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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