The LG TONE Free DT90Q come with a considerable range of features. In terms of sound, there is little to complain about for this price range. The noise-cancelling is just as practical as the Meridian sound optimisation. The same goes for the wearing and operating comfort. Whether you need head tracking and Dolby Atmos is ultimately decided by the intended use.
Available in black or white, the TONE Free DT90Q are the current top-of-the-line model in the latest DT series, and they are priced higher than the Free DFP and FN7 ranges.
Like the aforementioned models, these True-Wireless in-ear headphones come with Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and LG’s UVnano technology, which is said to provide automatic disinfection of the earphones in the charging case.
The LG TONE Free DT90Q arrive in a pleasantly compact and round matte plastic charging case with status LED, USB-C charging port and inductive charging capability. This houses lightweight, modern styled, ergonomically shaped in-ears made of glossy plastic – that are held in place by magnets. The earpieces feature touch areas for function control and a mouth-facing “wing” that houses microphones for voice capture. Three pairs of silicone earpieces in different sizes are designed to provide good wearing comfort.
Inside the device are dynamic 11mm drivers made of graphene, a material that is both light and hard. LG wants to achieve good sound results by combining Bluetooth 5.2 (Qualcomm Snapdragon), sound tuning by the specialists from Meridian and Headphone Space Processing (HSP) and improved active background noise suppression. However, these headphones only offer SBC and AAC audio codecs and don’t have any higher-quality codecs, but there is a switchable gaming mode for lower latencies.
A special feature of the DT90Q is the additional support of Dolby Atmos with associated head tracking. The gratis “LG TONE Free” app for iOS and Android is available to help with this.
The device we tested supports the pairing of up to five devices and up to two simultaneous connections (Multipoint). Single-headphone operation (Single Mode) is also possible.
To enable high voice quality during phone calls and online conferences, the TONE Free DT90Q have three microphones and voice recognition built into each earpiece, and this detects the voice and separates it from ambient noise. The app also allows users to choose between operating modes, focus on speech or block out ambient noise. In addition, there is a whisper mode where the right earphone can be used as a microphone for private conversations.
Fit and wearing comfort are high. LG says it developed the shape of the TONE Free DT90Q based on hundreds of ear scans. Indeed, with the right fitting pieces, the TWS fit comfortably and securely in the ear for a long time. I would also describe the IPX4 moisture-protected design as suitable for sports use.
Pairing is quick and easy. With a volume-dependent runtime of eight to nine hours without noise cancelling, these headphones are suitable for everyday use. Since the charging case also provides up to 20 hours of runtime, you can be prepared for longer trips. The charging time is less than one hour or two hours for the case. Fast intermediate charging is possible.
Functions are controlled via the neatly designed app and the touch-sensitive outer areas of the headphones, but unfortunately, these were occasionally accidentally triggered when in the default configuration. Functions include single, double and triple clicks as well as longer holding. This allows you to control music playback, track jumps and volume, handle phone calls, configure noise cancelling and call up a voice assistant. The configuration is freely definable to a large extent, and if necessary, single clicks can be eliminated so you can avoid operating errors. It is also possible to switch directly between “ANC” and “transparency mode” in noise cancelling without calling up the third mode. That’s the way it should be!
In the app, in addition to configuring the touch fields, firmware updates (as of 1.06.1) can also be carried out, and the noise cancelling or transparency mode can be controlled. Other functions include a switchable touchpad lock, a fit accuracy test, a search function for misplaced headphones and an automatic function for pausing when the headphones are removed. The range of the wireless link was entirely practical and operated without interference over several rooms.
The possibility to use the LG TONE Free DT90Q on devices without Bluetooth is clever. For this purpose, the manufacturer provides an adapter cable (mini jack to USB-C) that can be connected to the headphone output of an aeroplane seat, for example. A switch on the charging case turns it into a transmitting station, and you get a convenient wireless connection.
Sound tuning and Dolby Atmos
With the app, you get access to a selection of different sound pre-sets that LG has developed in cooperation with Meridian. There is a choice of five pre-sets and two user-defined stores, each of which can be adjusted using an eight-band equaliser. The most recently selected mode is stored by the headphone electronics. However, the Meridian pre-sets conceal the various equaliser settings, such as bass or treble emphasis. Irritatingly, merely calling up the manually adjustable equaliser led to a distinctly quieter playback and thus made sound comparisons more difficult. In addition, there is the aforementioned Dolby Atmos mode, which replaces the other settings. Here, thanks to the integrated head tracking sensor, the stereo panorama moves according to the movement of the head. Music titles with Dolby Atmos can be called up from Tidal, for example. However, I don’t really understand the purpose of this function for music enjoyment. With normal music titles, you would have to sit up straight and immobile for the panorama to be centred. You could turn around and listen to the singer from behind. But do you really want to do that? Sensible dedicated mixes where you would be in the middle of the band would make more sense, but even then, I would be sceptical. In contrast, I can see the point of an immersive sound experience with head tracking for games and virtual reality simulations.
For our LG TONE Free DT90Q sound test, I turned off the neutral setting and selected the immersive mode, which uses HSP (Headphone Spatial Processing) technology and adds spatiality to the playback. Indeed, in my opinion, the audio material was noticeably enhanced. This mode was not neutral, but I wouldn’t make such demands on a portable device for daily use – here, listening fun is placed in the foreground. Bear in mind that the electronics of Bluetooth devices usually bend the frequency response anyway. Whether this is mentioned or documented by the manufacturer is a different question.
The LG TONE Free DT90Q sounded rich and wide at medium volumes. At overly powerful levels, however, they sounded a little strained. Basically, however, they sounded balanced and powerful. The bass range was slightly accentuated but defined and reached down to the lowest registers. Voices, instruments and mixes of varying density were well resolved and reproduced in the midrange – from jazz to metal. I didn’t notice any genre preference, either. In the highs, the test unit was pleasant, without harshness and with good resolution and quick response. Furthermore, the reproduction of dynamics, spatiality and stereo panorama was impressive for this price range. They give you a coherent sound package for mobile use. However, you should not make audiophile demands on this design.
Finally, the investment in voice quality has been worthwhile: with the TONE Free DT90Q, it is possible to achieve a convincing, low-noise voice quality in everyday use and there are also benefits to be gained from using the whisper mode.
The LG TONE Free DT90Q’s noise cancellation is switchable and active decoupling from annoying everyday noises can be achieved via these in-ears passive noise isolation. As always, this is especially true for static and low-frequency noises. Ambient noise and keyboard noises are not completely eliminated. However, in day-to-day life, noise cancelling improves the signal-to-noise ratio, for example, when travelling on public transport, and so intensifies the enjoyment of music or creates an enhanced quiet space without music. However, I would have welcomed a more intensive switchable level. I did not notice a deterioration of the sound as with the TONE Free DFP8, but I did notice the usual sensitivity to wind. The switchable transparency mode works in reverse and transmits ambient noise via the microphones to the in-ears. This makes it easier to understand voice announcements and also to have a conversation with these in-ears in your ears.
With larger drivers and a full set of features, including head tracking, the LG TONE Free DT90Q can be described as equipment giants that also sound good, fit well in the ear and are comfortable to use. And so the TONE Free DT90Q score as extremely practical everyday accessories that are well worth the money. But I would deduct points for the lack of higher-quality audio codecs.
- extensive configurable functionality
- sound tuning from Meridian
- noise cancelling
- Dolby Atmos with head tracking
- high voice quality for phone calls
- no high-quality audio codecs like aptX or LDAC
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Weight without cable5 g each, case 38,6 g
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of ear tips (S, M, L)
- USB C cable
- Adapter cable 3.5 mm to USB C (for aeroplane mode)
- Charging case
- Available in black and white
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC
- BT version: 5.2