Smartphones are among the most popular ways to listen to your music, and most listening is done using wired headphones. However, if you don’t quite like wires hanging around and getting tangled up, you might enjoy wireless freedom with the help of Bluetooth headphones. Smartphone brands such as Samsung, Sony, Motorola and LG offer a range of such headphones, and today, I’m reviewing the LG Tone Active+ (HBS-A100) wearable Bluetooth headphones.
The LG Tone Active+ headphones are priced at Rs 12,000, but they can be purchased from Amazon India for about Rs 9,990. Sure, the price tag may sound a bit high for headphones, considering that you can easily buy a good smartphone such as the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 or Lenovo K6 Power for that kind of money. However, if you’re willing to spend some money on a feature-filled headset that gives you a better audio experience, options such as the LG Tone Active+ HBS-A100 might be worth considering. So, does the performance of the LG Tone Active+ justify its price tag of Rs 9,990? Read our review to find out. ALSO READ: Toreto Aqua TBS 325 Bluetooth Speaker Review: Waterproof and impressive sound
LG Tone Active+ Design and Build
The Tone Active+ is a wearable Bluetooth headset that sits around your neck, although it can occasionally feel like you’re wearing a collar. This does have a major benefit though; because it sits comfortably, you don’t have to worry about it accidentally falling off. The headset is made from thick and sturdy plastic and has nice dual-tone black and grey finish.
At the top, you have the stereo speakers – three slits of speaker grille on either side. On the left, you have the power button and LED indicator on the inner side.
On the outside, you have the microUSB port for charging, followed by the volume rocker and call receive button. Long-pressing the volume ‘+’ button activates / deactivates the vibration mode, whereas the volume ‘-’ button lets you know the battery level. ALSO READ: Sony SRS-XB40 Review: Lights and sounds kinda thing
On the right, you have the play / pause button, next and previous skip buttons, and a toggle to activate / deactivate the stereo speaker. Double pressing the play / pause button toggles between equalizer modes – bass (default), normal and treble.
At the end of each side, you have the retractable left and right ear buds. My only problem here is that the cable is very thin and fragile. During my time with the device, I always feared pulling the cables too hard would break them, because of how flimsy the cable looks, and is something that will likely bother you too.
LG Tone Active+ Features
The LG Tone Active+ features Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, along with aptX-HD audio profile for an improved listening experience. It also features IPx4 certification for water, moisture and sweat resistance. In terms of battery life, LG claims that the built-in battery can offer a talk time of 13 hours (up to 9 hours on speaker mode), and music play time of 12 hours (up to six hours on speaker mode). The battery charges to full in about two hours. On a single charge, I consistently got a battery life of close to eight hours, which was switching between the speaker and earbuds. ALSO READ: Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT Review: Quality wireless audio, but is it worth the price?
What’s more, the Tone Active+ is built keeping fitness enthusiasts in mind, featuring a built-in sensor to monitor number of steps walked, distance traveled, calories burned and more. All of the tracking is handled while wearing the headset around your neck. It can also track different activities such as running, cycling, hiking and inline skating. The feature works in tandem with a smartphone app called LG Health.
While the tracking works in theory, the details logged are a bit inaccurate.While my Pebble Time watch logged 6,500 steps at the end of the day, the LG Tone Active+ logged about 5,860 steps. It isn’t too inaccurate, and having some level of tracking is better than nothing. ALSO READ: LG G6 review: The flagship smartphone that you deserved, a year ago!
LG Tone Active+ Performance
Now, let’s talk about the core aspect – performance. I tested the Tone Active+ by listening to music on the LG G6, HTC U11 and MacBook Air, but most of the time it was connected to my Samsung Galaxy S8. I mostly use it during my commute to either watch a TV series or to listen to music. And sometimes, I even use it at home for casual music listening. The smartphones on which I tested the Tone Active+ supported Qualcomm’s aptX for high-definition audio.
The focus tracks for the review were Mountains by Hans Zimmer from the Interstellar OST, Late Goodbye by Poets of the Fall, No More Wishing by Hayley Taylor and Ping Pong from Armin Van Buuren. Starting with Mountains, the song starts with clocks ticking, followed by the bass and volume gradually increasing. The soundstaging is good and the surround effects as well. However, as the bass increases, the details go for a bit of a toss.
Next, I played Late Goodbye and No More Wishing, both songs have instruments playing in the background and vocals too. The highs are sharp, due to which even the minor vibrations from guitar strings in the background are clearly audible. The vocals are also clear and you get to enjoy the pleasure of listening to your favorite songs. Lastly, I switched to the trance genre by playing Ping Pong. It’s an energetic song with high tempo and heavy bass, as you would expect from a trance track. The LG Tone Active+ doesn’t offer heavy bass, but even with moderate bass levels, the music is quite enjoyable.
Another interesting element of the Tone Active+ is the stereo speakers. They are loud and offer crisp audio. And as the music is directly thrown upwards towards your ears, you get to hear every bit of it. Generally, your ears are focused on listening to the music, but if anyone is talking around, and you try to focus on that, you could very well hear both. I even tried it while riding my motorbike, and even with the helmet on, I was able to listen to the music as well as the ambient noise. While people around will be able to hear that the speakers are playing and will know that the device is emanating sound, it’s hard to actually tell what’s playing, as the speakers are pointed upwards and pushing sound towards your ears.
Overall, the LG Tone Active+ is a good Bluetooth headset, thanks to decent audio quality both with the earbuds and the stereo speakers. The fitness tracking also works to some extent, although it does fall short on accuracy.
Also, the splash and sweat resistance properties make it interesting if you use your headset outdoors. Sure, the Rs 9,990 price tag may sound expensive to some, but if you can spend that much, it is not a bad option at all. In case you don’t want to splurge that much, you can look at other options such as the Skullcandy S2PGHW 174 which is priced at Rs 3,599, or the Jabra Halo which is available for around Rs 3,499.