The LG Tone Free T90Q true wireless earbuds offer good sound and ANC, but it’s the Dolby Atmos head tracking that shines, bringing you a level of immersion that has to be heard to be believed. Call quality is sometimes lacking and overall audio quality can be beaten by rivals, but these buds are packed with features, including Meridian EQ presets. Also, they’re incredibly comfortable and even come with a bacteria-busting UV charging case – which you may love or hate.
Dolby Atmos head-tracking is fantastic
UV cleaning case is useful (if a little gimmicky)
Lightweight and comfortable to wear all day
Spatial sound won’t suit everyone
Audio is good, but rivals do it better
Call quality can be lacking at times
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LG Tone Free T90Q: two-minute review
The LG Tone Free T90Q are the latest release from LG’s Tone Free range of true wireless earbuds.
We were impressed with the very similar-looking LG Tone Free FP8, launched in April 2022. However, the one major difference here is that the T90Q now include Dolby Atmos head tracking support, delivering an immersive listening experience akin to Apple’s Spatial Audio in the AirPods Pro 2.
We tried this out when the T90Q first launched, and wrote a highly complimentary feature detailing our delight at LG's head-tracked immersive solution when compared to our AirPods Pro. But of course, this is the full story: how they perform across the board.
Another change for the T90Q (over the slightly older FP8) is that you can now transmit Bluetooth audio from analog sources now via the 3.5mm port in the charging case. This is a cool feature, although not everyone will have a use for it.
These buds are clearly positioned as AirPods competitors with their stem-like design and we found them extremely comfortable to wear all-day-long. They come in a compact charging case with UV tech inside that LG claims kills bacteria on the silicone tips of the earbuds. (Does it really? We suppose yes, it must do. Did we want to think about it? Maybe no.)
Elsewhere, LG gets top marks for its app, which comes packed with features and is among the easiest we’ve used. You’ll find Meridian EQ settings, ANC controls, a fit test and more.
Listening to music with the LG Tone Free T90Q earbuds is enjoyable, but that’s mostly thanks to the Dolby Atmos features. The sound quality and noise-cancellation is good, but doesn’t reach the levels of some of the best true wireless earbuds we’ve tested.
Then again, these buds are cheaper than higher-end rivals and most people will be impressed by the immersive audio experience, the fit and all of the features within LG’s comprehensive app. Let’s take a closer look at the LG Tone Free T90Q true wireless earbuds.
LG Tone Free T90Q: price and release date
- Released September 2022
- Cost $229.99 / £199.98
The LG Tone Free T90Q true wireless earbuds were released in September 2022 in the US, UK and European markets but we don’t have confirmation concerning their availability in Australia just yet.
They cost $229.99 / £199.98, although it’s worth mentioning that these buds were already discounted at the time of writing, to $179.99 / £149.98. This makes them a little more expensive than the LG Tone Free FP8 that came before them, yet significantly cheaper than the AirPods Pro 2 – nearly $100/£100 cheaper in fact.
At that lower, discounted price they fall into a similar price bracket to the likes of the JBL Live Pro 2 earbuds and Huawei Freebuds Pro 2. To our mind, this is testament to the value of the LG Tone Free T90Q, as the immersive sound on offer here beats both of these buds – although the competitors arguably perform better in terms of overall audio. Not so easy then…
LG Tone Free T90Q: features
- Touch controls work well
- App is fantastic
- A decent 9 hours of battery from the buds
At the top of the stems there are touch sensitive controls. Finding the right spot to activate them is tricky at first, but we like that when you do use them there’s a little sound for confirmation, like a soft button press. All the basics are covered here, including play/pause, calls and ANC modes, but within the app you can change them to whatever you like.
On that note, the LG Tone Free T90Q app is among the most comprehensive we’ve ever tested. You’ll find dozens of options for customizing your buds here, all from a simple-to-use and clean interface.
There’s a fit test, which ensures you’ve got the correct size eartip and a good seal for ANC, multi-point pairing settings, a find my earbuds feature, options for toggling auto play/pause on/off, ANC controls, the Dolby Atmos head tracking mode and Equalizer Settings.
You’ll get 9 hours of battery life from the earbuds with ANC and Dolby Atmos off and 29 hours total if you count the charging case too. With ANC on, you’ll get around 5 hours – which is acceptable rather than excellent, although there’s a useful quick charging feature that’ll give you roughly an hour of play for about five minutes of charging. A handy LED indicator on the side of the case goes from green when you’re at full charge to yellow then red when it’s empty.
Another cool feature of the LG Tone Free T90Q charging case is that you can turn it into a Bluetooth transmitter. Just plug one of the accompanying cables into the case then into a digital or analogue audio source. Let’s say you’re on an aeroplane and don’t want to use the free wired headphones the airline provides. No problem! You can simply connect the case and listen with your T90Q buds instead.
There’s multipoint pairing here, so you can connect the buds up to both a phone and a laptop if you need to. This is handy for working and moving between calls and music streaming and the app makes this simple to understand by showing the different devices you’ve connected to.
- Features score: 5/5
LG Tone Free T90Q: design
- AirPods-style stems
- Super comfortable
- Charging case is compact
The LG Tone Free T90Q are small, light at 5.3g and super comfortable to wear. They have a smooth design with silicone tips that fit in your ear canal and a stem that hangs down outside your ear. If you’ve seen or worn Apple’s AirPods, you’ll be very familiar with this aesthetic and feel.
The LG Tone Free T90Q have an IPX4 water resistance rating, which means you can’t shower with them but they should handle sweating during exercise. On that note, we wore the LG Tone Free T90Q during several workouts and although they did come a little loose during a jog, we were impressed with how snugly they fit considering they’re not marketed as exercise or fitness buds.
The accompanying charging case has a small, circular, pebble-like design – a welcome change to all the pill box-shaped cases we’ve tested recently. The buds are part of LG’s UVnano range, which means the charging case has an ultraviolet light inside that LG says can “clean” 99.9% of the bacteria from the ear tips of the buds. We’re conflicted about whether this is a useful addition or a bit of a gimmick. (Although opening the case to see the glowing blue light is very cool.)
- Design score: 4/5
LG Tone Free T90Q: sound quality and ANC
- Dolby spatial audio tech is fantastic
- Sound is good, but it's a shade off audiophile quality
- ANC is acceptable rather than great
The LG Tone Free T90Q are the first wireless earbuds to use Dolby Atmos head tracking tech. What that means is these buds can track your head movements, altering the soundstage of the track, film or video game to make you feel truly immersed (Apple's top-tier AirPods can do this too, of course, but you have to be streaming from an Apple device to get the head-tracked enhancement. That's not the case here).
We listened to the Spatial Audio track Frisco by Little Dragon through Apple Music and we were really struck by how much it feels like you’re watching the band perform live when the Dolby Atmos feature is switched on. Bass was thumping around us, but when we moved our head to the left, the right bud dominated, just as if we’d turned our head away from the stage.
This feature is a rival to Apple’s Spatial Audio feature with head tracking, which you’ll find in its top tier AirPods Pro (first or second-generation), AirPods Max, AirPods (third-generation only) and Beats Fit Pro. However, if we had to choose, we prefer LG’s solution. Why? We find Apple’s proposition more subtle and, let’s face it, less fun – although it is worth mentioning not everyone will enjoy this feature as much as we did and might deem it a novelty than a necessity.
The EQ settings on offer in the app are powered by Meridian and you can choose from Immersive, Natural, Bass Boost, Treble Boost or 3D Sound Stage. There’s a huge difference between each of them, delivering a completely different listening experience each time. We found the Bass Boost powerful, and Immersive created an expansive sense of space with you at the centre. You can customize the EQ too, with no fewer than eight sliders across low, mid and high frequencies to play around with.
All in all, each option presents a fun and zealous performance though, rather than a collection of integrated hi-fi sound profiles. Nuance, extra increments of detail and refinement are not the name of the game here – the sound is good quality, but it's not for the audiophile in your life.
Active noise cancellation works well. The buds almost completely silence the sound of a fan whirring next to us as we write this, as well as a conversation on the other side of the room. Louder sounds are dampened, but they will get through. Although that’s to be expected and only a few buds, such as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, provide a significantly improved experience. An Ambient Sound mode is handy and you can choose between Listening mode, which lets any environmental noise pass through, or Conversation mode, which makes voices particularly clear.
Call quality is decent and works notably better indoors where there are fewer competing sounds. In those cases, the buds struggle a little but still preserve your voice on the other end. This isn’t a huge deal, but is worth considering if you tend to use earbuds to make a lot of calls throughout the day.
- Sound quality score: 4/5
LG Tone Free T90Q: value
- Dolby Atmos head-tracked audio is excellent
- Loads of features
- Budget options don’t come close
It’s difficult to comment on the value of the LG Tone Free T90Q earbuds, but it's our job to try. At a mid-range price they certainly check a lot of boxes (and create a few new ones other products cannot check, too), delivering solid audio, lots of customization features and a great fit in an OS agnostic package – as well as the ability to use the case as a Bluetooth transmitter and deploy that bacteria-zapping case.
Some people are going to love those more unique features, such as trying out Dolby Atmos head tracking and popping the buds back in the UV case. However, others might not consider those important, in which case the buds lose a bit of their appeal and you’d be better off opting for a cheaper rival such as the JBL Live Pro 2 or Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW instead.
- Value score: 3.5/5
Should you buy the LG Tone Free T90Q?
|Features||An impressive suite of features and excellent app, plus unique head-tracked Dolby Atmos||5/5|
|Design||Compact case, comfortable design and touch-sensitive stems||4/5|
|Sound quality||Fun sounds and wild head-tracked spatial audio, but they're not the last word in sonic detail||4/5|
|Value||It's tough to call: some excellent original features, but a tad pricey if you prioritize sonic chops||3.5/5|
Buy them if…
You want a truly immersive listening experience
The Dolby head-tracking is fantastic. If you like the idea of feeling like you’re seeing your favorite bands perform live every time you listen, you must give them a go.
You want an OS agnostic pair of earbuds
The LG Tone Free T90Q aren’t quite as good as the AirPods Pro 2, but they’re not by Apple which means they suit anyone with a non-iOS smartphone.
You like being able to select different EQ presets
We love the LG app. It’s packed full of features and the EQ settings are fun to play around with, really upgrading your listening experience.
Don't buy them if…
Your number one priority is noise-cancellation
ANC is good here, but not fantastic. There are several better options (listed below) that bring you immersive sound through excellent noise-cancelling rather than going all in with the spatial audio.
You’d prefer a more subtle design
If you don’t like the stem design, you’ll want to look elsewhere. We like the slick look of the LG Tone Free T90Qs but they’re certainly not for everyone.
You’re on a budget
These true wireless earbuds are good value for money considering they’re packed with unique features, but they’re mid-range rather than budget buds.
If our LG Tone Free T90Q review has you considering other true wireless earbuds, then take a look at some of our top recommendations below.
Apple AirPods Pro 2
The AirPods Pro 2 are clear rivals to the LG Tone Free T90Q. Both have a similar design and offer head tracking. The LG buds do it better and are cheaper, but the AirPods Pro 2 are worth considering if you have an iPhone and want excellent ANC.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
Another contender if immersive sound doesn’t mean head tracking to you, but instead you want the best noise-cancelling tech currently on the planet. These buds sound beautiful and have a slick design that’s a nice departure from the AirPods-ish look.
If you’re convinced you want true wireless earbuds but don’t mind sacrificing features to spend a little less, we recommend the latest buds from Audio-Technica. There’s no ANC or companion app, but they sound far better than they should for the price.
- First reviewed: November 2022
- How we test: explore TechRadar's review guarantee
Becca is a contributor to TechRadar, a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than ten years, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality.