One of my favourite things about my job is when a gadget makes me laugh – not in a derisory way, but with delight. And the best true wireless earbuds are pretty reliable hoot-generators: there's nothing like the joy of hearing something you love in a way you haven't heard it before. The latest earbuds to make me laugh are LG's new Tone Free T90, which are aimed at people wanting the best noise cancelling earbuds.
I've spent a few days listening to all kinds of things on the T90s and while I haven't had them long enough to do a full review I'm pretty sure I like these more than I do the AirPods Pro. That's partly because I find them more comfortable – there are several different tips included but the defaults fitted just fine – and partly because they're great fun. If you want Apple-style positional audio but don't want AirPods, I think you'll like the LG buds as much as I do.
Spatial Audio, Atmos and more
These buds offer similar head tracking to Apple's buds in the form of Dolby Head Tracking, and that means as you move your head the audio moves too. I've been listening to a lot of Atmos/Spatial Audio on Apple Music, and I think the positional effect is more pronounced on the LG buds than it is on Apple's: hearing Taylor Swift apparently zooming around my head made me laugh out loud and frighten the dog. I'm not so sure about the Dolby Atmos support, though: like all virtualised surround systems, software attempts to mimic something that's only really achievable with a bunch of real speakers rarely works for me.
The other key things I like so far are the moody purple lights inside the bacteria-killing case, which makes you feel like you're in Star Trek every time you open them (and which doubles as a Bluetooth transmitter so you can make older kit stream to your buds), and the sound. There are multiple presets here – Immersive is the most fun for dance music, I've found – and you can also tweak the EQ to make your own custom presets. I found that easy to do and very effective: most default EQs are a little light on the treble for my taste, but LG makes it easy to adjust that without it getting too much.
Because I'm using an iPhone 13 I couldn't take advantage of one of the other headline features here: 24-bit hi-res audio. That's something the iPhone only supports via wired headphones via the Lightning port.
The other key feature here is noise cancelling, and while I can attest it does a really great job of silencing an eight-year-old playing Geometry Dash next to me I haven't been able to see how it fares on a busy commute or in a loud office. First impressions is that it's good but not quite Apple or Sony good: if noise cancelling is your priority I think you'd be better off with the Sony WH-1000XM4. But if you want AirPods-style features and really customisable sound on iOS or Android, these should definitely be on your shortlist.