LG Tone Free UFP8 Review
Even now, it’s hard to believe everything that the LG Tone Free UFP8 include for the price: ANC, 3D Sound Stage, UV light cleaning, Ambient mode and an updated design that better fits your ears during a workout. The only reason you might refrain from signing up is that you’re happy to plump up the extra £20/$20 for the LG UFP9, which add wireless connectivity to devices with a 3.5mm output. Otherwise, the UFP8 are a tough act to beat at this end of the market.
- 3D Sound Stage is a treat for the ears
- Powerful ANC and useful Ambient mode
- New design is a much better fit
- No increase on price over predecessor
- The LG UFP9 are only £20/$20 more
- UKRRP: £179.99
- USARRP: $179.99
- AustraliaRRP: AU$250
- Improved ANC:Better noise cancelling for keeping ambient noise at bay
- New cocha design:Revamped design to better fit your ears
- 3D Sound Stage:Hear your favourite tracks in a simulated 3D space
LG’s noise-cancelling range of earbuds has received an update, with the LG Tone Free UFP8 the mid-range option from a lineup of three new devices.
I’ve never known a company to release wireless earbuds into the world with the same level of speed as LG. With the UFP8, this marks the third pair of wireless earbuds I’ve tested from the Korean manufacturer in under a year and a half. And you’d be excused for assuming that having reviewed so many in such a short period of time, my appreciation for these earbuds would be starting to wear thin – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
While they might look like a minor update to the uninformed passerby, the UFP8 are in fact LG’s most accomplished pair of earbuds yet, adding some welcome features while also neglecting to raise the price over their predecessor. As far as updates go, it’s hard to ask for more.
- New ‘concha’ shape for the earbuds
- Now a much better fit for running
- Not too dissimilar to the AirPods Pro
If it was felt that previous LG earbuds were paying homage to the style of the original Apple AirPods (and they were), then LG has definitely moved its sights over to the AirPods Pro for the new generation. Gone are the longer stems and more circular heads of the LG FN7, replaced with a noticeably smaller stem and an oblong-style body that better fits the contour of one’s ear.
This is one of those improvements that’s difficult to gauge unless you try the buds on for yourself – but trust me when I say that they made me realise exactly what I’d been missing. While sturdy enough, the LG FN7 would have a tendency to become loose whilst on a run, making regular adjustments a must. In fact, I’d been doing that for so long that I’d almost come to accept it as standard practice.
By comparison, the LG UFP8 fit my ears perfectly, to the point where I never had to adjust them whilst out and about, allowing me to focus on other things. As an added bonus, because they fit my ears so well, the UFP8 didn’t hit me with the same level of headphone/earbud fatigue that tends to affect my ears after prolonged used.
Plus, with the returning IPX4 water- and sweat-resistance, the UFP8 are an easy recommendation for those who stick to a regular workout routine.
- Updated driver for more powerful ANC
- Chat Mode lets you hone in on conversations
- UV cleaning makes a return
Active noise cancellation was the biggest addition to the LG FN7, and the company has decided to double down on the feature with a new a driver for the UFP8.
Taking the earbuds down to the gym, which is constantly filled with the ambient noise of chatter and various national radio stations, the UFP8 did a great job of bringing noise down to a polite hum as I caught up on a cheeky bit of Netflix whilst using a cycling machine. The radio, in particular, was barely noticeable – which is saying something when tends to be the worst offender for overriding my desired show or playlist.
The UFP8 continued to stand their ground on public transport. This time, I decided to listen to the audiobook of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, to see if I could get through an entire journey without needing to rewind. The earbuds passed the test without breaking a sweat, although I did turn up the volume slightly when faced with the unholy sounds of the London Underground.
For those moments when you want to catch what’s happening around you, Ambient mode is still available, with the feature getting noticeably better with each new pair of headphones. It’s something I make great use of when at home or at a train station, but it doesn’t beat the AfterShokz Aeropex for true awareness of your surroundings.
If you want to be as anti-social as possible then LG has even added a new Chat mode, which amplifies the sound of conversation so that you can still order that decaf oat milk frappucino without having to remove the earbuds and interrupt the flow of the playlist you’re enjoying.
As you might expect, UVnano technology makes a return, wherein the charging case can utilise ultraviolet light to cleanse the earbuds of bacteria while charging. In these seemingly never-ending times of guarding against as many germs as possible, a bit of extra cleanliness always goes a long way.
There’s also plenty of customisation to be found in the accompanying Tone Free app. You can tweak the earbud controls to perform different actions, such as tapping several times to bring up the Google Assistant, or change the volume. You can even jump between a collection of sound profiles and establish your own presets if the ones already provided aren’t to your tastes.
Unfortunately, the one thing that upsets the UFP8’s chances on the market is in fact another pair of earbuds from LG. The LG UFP9, which cost only £20/$20 more than the UFP8, come with all of the features mentioned here plus the ability to connect the charging case to any device with a 3.5mm output and cast audio wirelessly to the earbuds.
For situations such as long-haul flights or wanting to play an electronic instrument without disturbing others, that seems like quite the selling point – and for such a minimal uptick in price, it’s difficult to know why consumers should necessarily pick the UFP8 over the UFP9, unless the former is heavily discounted.
Anytime new or improved features are added to a product, there will always be a concern over their impact on battery life. LG seems to have anticipated those very worries by giving the UFP8 a noticeable bump over the FN7, with a quoted longevity of 10 hours from the earbuds themselves, and an additional 14 hours via the charging case; this nets you up to 24 hours in total.
Of course, you’re far more likely to keep ANC switched on than off, and with that in mind, LG says the UFP8 will deliver about 15 hours of total playback time. In my tests, I was able to get 6hrs 40mins from the buds themselves, with ANC on and utilising Ambient mode for a brief 20-minute walk in the middle of the day.
That amount of longevity isn’t quite enough to see you through a full working day, but with the charging case factored in, the UFP8 do come close to matching LG’s claims. Plus, you can get up to one hour’s worth of playback from a five-minute charge – so long as you don’t mind breaking up the party for a brief moment; otherwise, you’ll be better off with a pair of over-ear headphones that can go the distance.
- 3D Sound Stage takes the audio to a new level
- Layers come through clearly
- Powerful sound for the price
Thanks to LG’s partnership with Meridian, the company’s earbuds have never left me wanting in the sound department. Even with the first LG earbuds I reviewed – the LG FN6 – I was surprised by the confidence of the audio, even without any form of ANC.
The FN7 allowed that same great sound to come through more clearly thanks to the addition of ANC, but with that very feature being so much more improved for the LG UFP8, Meridian’s expertise sounds better than ever – to the point where it feels as if the soundscape has been expanded.
Diving into the atmospheric 1990s classic, Missing by Everything But the Girl, the song’s main guitar riff feels as though it’s coming from several corners of the room. There’s a tangible space between said riff and the deep bassline that allows the song to toe the line between electronic and acoustic.
Nothing gets lost in the mix, either. Hitting up the late 2000’s Britpop anthem, Shut Up and Let Me Go, particularly from the first bass-heavy verse onwards, the earbuds never lose sight of those lows, even as more layers are added in the chorus.
Early on into this review, I was very much impressed by what the LG UFP8 had to offer, but that was before I toggled the new 3D Sound Stage in the equalizer settings; at that point my listening experience leaped to a whole new level. Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning, for example, already does a good job of utilising different channels for separation, but with 3D Sound Stage it feels like I’m personally being seranaded by the band.
The feature is easily at its best with songs that are known for their drum beats. The iconic kick pedal in Seven Nation Army feels as though it’s been placed inside your skull, with the remainder of the drum kit spaced out around you accordingly. Unless there’s a podcast playing (in which case 3D Sound Stage creates an unnecessary echo), I have no intention of returning to any of the other equalizer settings again.
Should you buy it?
You want an excellent all-rounder under £200 For the price alone, it’s difficult to fault the LG UFP8 with their outstanding sound quality, in addition to well-executed features such as ANC and Ambient mode, and sturdy design, which make them an easy recommendation for anyone.
You have a sizeable budget: If you can afford it, our current advice would be to always opt for the Sony WF-1000XM4, or the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds for workouts.
LG’s winning streak in the earbuds market continues to even greater heights with the LG Tone Free UFP8. The ANC has been given a noticeable power bump to make it even more effective on your daily commute, or even in a busy household, and the addition of 3D Sound Stage adds so much energy to your favourite tracks that if you close your eyes and take it all in, each song feels like a secret gig just for you.
However, with the superior LG Tone Free UFP9 costing only £20/$20 more, it does beg the question as to why people should opt for the UFP8 unless they’re tied to a very stringent budget. Luckily, this doesn’t detract from everything that’s on offer here. For the time being, at least, the LG UFP8 are my go-to pair of earbuds.
How we test
We test every pair of earbuds we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Find out more about how we test in our ethics policy.
Tested over several weeks
Tested with real world use
You might like…
Yes, you can charge the UFP8 charging case through any Qi pad.
The LG UFP8 earbuds come with an IPX4 rating for water- and sweat-resistance.