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These days, wireless headsets are aplenty. It’s great that we have choices, but that also means we need to be extra selective. Wireless headphone designs vary quite a bit, and they can work better for specific uses than others. For instance, we have a list just for the best Bluetooth headphones built for working out. You can also read our review on the MPOW 059 Bluetooth headphones.
One of the headphones on that list was the LG TONE Active. But if you care more about quality than active use, LG still has you covered, in the form of the LG TONE Platinum. It ups the TONE line with premium looks and high-def wireless audio, in conjunction with renowned audio manufacturer Harman Kardon. Let’s check out what LG’s latest headset brings in our LG TONE Platinum headphone review. And speaking of checking out, also check out the best headphones around.
Price: $169 on Amazon
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Thought-out ergonomics, comfortable fit, and high-quality Bluetooth audio.
What We Liked:
What We Didn’t:
LG takes a different approach to the Bluetooth headset. Typically, manufacturers bridge earpieces with a slender cable, but instead, the LG TONE design makes the headphone a one-piece circular band. The idea behind this approach is that the unit rests around your neck, and the earpieces extend from the open ends via very thin, retractable wires. If a neckpiece doesn’t sound comfortable, you’ll want to check out our Optoma BE Free8 review instead.
The entire band appears to be one material, but there’s a section on the back that’s rubbery and flexible. This allows the band to open up to don and change shape for different neck sizes. The “Platinum” version of the LG TONE can be thought of as a higher-end, premium version. Most of the chassis is constructed from smooth hard plastic, but there’s brushed metal accents lined on the open ends (with a nice shiny chamfer) and around the sides. This touch certainly gives the headset an elegant feel.
Related: If you like these headphones, you might be interested in our Logitech UE 4000 On-Ear Headphones review.
There is a slew of controls along the metal lining. On the right side is a play/pause button and a switch to go to the next/previous tracks. You’ll also find the charging port nearby; it’s protected by a flap and takes a microUSB connector. On the left, we have a call answer/end/reject button (the headset has a microphone to answer phone calls) and a volume switch.
The inner lining of the band is nicely textured (we appreciate the attention to detail). You’ll also find the same button on both sides. These are simply to retract the earpieces.
I’m not sure why LG didn’t use the same mechanism as on the TONE Active, where you gently pull on the earpieces when they’re fully extended and they retract automatically. I prefer that method, but pressing a button isn’t that much more work. Near the button on the right side is an on/off switch for the unit.
A benefit of LG’s wireless headphone design is that the earpieces can be compact (since they don’t have to house all the wireless-enabling electronics). Their shape is simple, but the housing also has a nice metal touch. They’re also really light.
The packaging includes a standard set of silicone ear tips – small, medium, or large pairs.
As expected, LG thought out the fit of the TONE Platinum. It contours around the neck naturally and due to its lightweight, barely feels like anything is there. Comfort is no concern whatsoever. The small, capsule design of the earpieces means that they slip into the ear canal with ease and fit snugly. Once donned, they stay in place despite movement. And because the cables are super thin, you barely notice them. They extend out by just over 9″, so there’s plenty of slack. But with that said, it’s possible that they rub on the unit or your face when you move and pick up some microphonic noise.
Pairing the headset for the first time is as easy it comes. As soon as you turn the device on, it’s in discover-able mode. You simply go into the Bluetooth settings of your mobile device and select the TONE Platinum. A comforting voice tells you the status of the headset (in this case, that it’s paired and ready to go).
Related: Also check out our Jabra Elite 75T review.
The functions have a slight learning curve. Particularly, you have to try to remember which direction of the switches means next/previous track or volume up/down. What’s nice is that there are additional actions when you hold the switches. Holding down the track button rewinds or fast forwards through the song. Holding down the volume switch moves through the volume range more quickly.
Similarly, if you hold the play/pause button, it stops the track. LG baked in an equalizer into the TONE Platinum as well. Double pressing on the play/pause button switch between bass boost, treble boost, or neutral settings. Pressing the call button (when not in a call) activates the phone’s voice command. On Android, it brings up Google Now and on iOS, it toggles Siri. If a call comes in, the headset will vibrate (LG built-in a vibration motor). With the call button, you either answer/end with a press, activate Call Waiting with a press and hold for 1 second, or reject an incoming call with a press and hold for 2 seconds.
LG also makes sure that the TONE Platinum is competent from a technological perspective. The Bluetooth range is a decent 33 feet, and the battery lasts up to 10 hours of music playback (depending on volume level). Additionally, this “premium” model also ups audio capability. It packs Qualcomm’s newest Bluetooth streaming standard – aptX HD. This codec allows for HiFi playback over Bluetooth (24-bit audio quality), which is impressive. The quality of audio through Bluetooth has trailed behind wired setups, so we were excited to test this out. Newer smartphones, like the LG G5 we reviewed, pack aptX HD capability.
By default, the sound profile of the LG TONE Platinum is set on bass boost. That raises a question mark, as I’d figure you’d want to start neutral. But I think LG is acknowledging that most people care about bass, suggesting that its headset is targeted more at the general consumer than audiophiles. Fortunately, audiophiles get thrown a bone with 24-bit Bluetooth audio streaming (thanks to aptX HD technology). But is the boosted audio quality discernible?
I think so. I was fortunate to have tried the TONE Active, which has the standard aptX (non-HD), and I think this Platinum version ups the detail. But then again, the driver technology is different between the Active and Platinum, so it’s not necessarily apples-to-apples. Whereas the Active uses LG’s quad-layered dynamic driver, the Platinum moves to Balanced Armature driver technology.
Regardless, what I hear from the TONE Platinum is clear and crisp audio. This is definitely one of the best Bluetooth headphones that I’ve heard. Particularly, the bass definition and treble detail are reproduced very well. Additionally, the sound signature is engaging, as the sounds appear to fill a 3D space around your head. I wouldn’t say that the mid-range frequencies are as defined as the bass and treble (they get slightly overshadowed), but they’re still good.
A drawback that plagues wireless headsets is hiss, and the TONE Platinum isn’t an exception. It’s noticeable. You have to get to a medium volume level to drown it out with the music. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not loud or disruptive. Most listeners should be able to tune it out.
In our opinion, the LG TONE Platinum is one of the better Bluetooth headphone offerings out there. LG does both design and sound so well. The around-the-neck band may not be for everyone, but we suggest considering it. The ergonomics of the TONE series just work. Additionally, aptX HD support makes the Platinum variant even more attractive. You’ll be getting one of the best Bluetooth audio experiences. Couple that with excellent battery life and a multitude of functions, and we have a winner.