31 May 2015

LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 Bluetooth Headset Review

LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 Bluetooth Headset review

I love me some good music (yes, 'good' is certainly subjective). Coldplay, Killers, OneRepublic, something to hum, tap, sing or dance to and I'm one of those people who like to fake drum on buses, trains, tubes, whatever. So I take my choice of headphones quite seriously. I want to hear that hi-hat zinging crisply, that bass guitar providing a strong, melodic background; I want to hear every last beat, every last note. I've gone through many a pair of headphones, searching for that perfect balance of design, comfort and sound quality but each pair has its weakness or two. Now it's LG's turn with this awkwardly long title, the LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 Bluetooth Headset.


LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 Bluetooth Headset review

Futuristic necklace. My first thought upon laying eyes on this headset. It wouldn't look out of place on the set of Star Trek. And then I realised that the earpieces were actually supposed to be pulled out from the main body which made things weirder. Futuristic necklace + earrings. You'll certainly draw curious looks from passers-by but whether for positive or negative reasons is debatable.

The streamlined, silver exterior allows it to blend in with your outfit (to varying degrees) and give off an understated air of sophistication and elegance (somewhat).  However, the design and appearance will not be for everyone due to the fact that it rests on your collarbone for all to see (and those retractable wires dangling down from your ears). You can try and hide the headset under a collared shirt or hoodie but for the most part it will be visible to all.  Whether that is a good thing is up to you. For me, after the initial peculiarity wore off, I didn't feel at all conscious wearing this out and about.

The outer, more visible section is metal whilst the inside is made of plastic to allow for flexibility. The headset is made of several pieces joined together, presumably to separate the electronic sections as well as increase its pliability. As the apex of the headset is plastic right through, this, in conjunction with the plastic inside, allows the headset to bend a fair amount around almost even the widest neck. It's a fairly sturdy piece of equipment with the metal not creaking or deforming unnaturally and going out of its original shape. The plastic housing the main components near the earpieces does creak slightly when pressed but it is sturdy and is unlikely to deform or break without a disproportionate amount of force.

The right inside is home to the on/off switch and the play/pause button. It also has a button to retract the earpiece, much like one of those old-fashioned vacuum cleaners. 

On the left side there is the button to answer and end calls, a microphone, a micro USB port for charging as well as the 'retractor' for the left earpiece and an LED light which displays battery and charging status.

On the outside right you have what LG calls a 'jog' button for skipping/rewinding. You can slide the button left or right to perform the action before it returns to its central position.

The outside left has the same 'jog' button for volume control.

All this buttonry meant I rarely had the need to reach for my phone to control anything music or call related because it was all right there on the headset. This made things very convenient and the 'jog' buttons did make it easier to carry out any actions smoothly and quickly, especially when exercising. 

Something that does concern me about the design are the wires connecting the earpieces to the main body which seem a little too fragile. I'm worried one slightly forceful tug and it'll become loose from the body and I can't imagine it being easy to repair. This concern is somewhat compounded by the opinion that the wires aren't long enough. On a couple of occasions, when straightening my neck, I could feel the wires pulling the headset up from my ears. Maybe I just have a longer than average neck? Who knows but either way, I'm sure it wouldn't have hurt LG to make them a little bit longer, even 5mm-1cm.

The headset also doesn't come with any carrying pouch, it doesn't fold in on itself and you can't exactly wrap it around into a small loop. One therefore has to think about how they will be transporting these around when out and about. I have placed them in my backpack on one occasion once I had finished with them but I worried about them breaking and snapping. You could just retract the wires and keep it around your neck, if you don't mind the odd, curious look now and then. Either way, you can't just stash them into your bag or pocket or wear them as a fashion accessory around your neck, it's going to require a bit more thought.

LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 Bluetooth Headset review
After the initial 'This looks a bit weird' feeling, I didn't mind wearing it in public.


These are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn. The headset has three different sizes of earbuds to choose from with the medium ones attached to the earpieces by default. I've not tried the smaller or larger buds because I found the medium ones to fit very snugly into my ear canal with very little movement occuring inside my ear. 

There is a benefit to this slightly odd design choice: the headset rests on your collarbone as opposed to your ears holding them up or placing it over your (styled) hair which means barely any weight or pressure is being placed on your ears or head. Your collarbone is holding all the weight and it's a very light headset, only 52g in total. This makes using the headset incredibly comfortable. When at the gym (don't use on the treadmill though) or walking around London I barely registered any weight or pressure from my ears or on my neck and as a result, a lot of the time, I forgot I even had them on. For those who are used to prolonged listening sessions, whether commuting or working out, this is perfect. 

The wireless set up also ensures that you're not going to get any wires tangled up or caught in anything and it means you don't have to feed a cable underneath your t-shirt/jumper/jacket. This also means no near impossible to unravel web of headphone cables everytime you take it out of your pocket.

LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 Bluetooth Headset review
Weird? Not weird?

Sound Quality

Of course, a wireless set up usually comes at a cost: sound quality. Prior to testing this headset, I was using the Soundmagic E10 headphones and have also owned a pair of Sennheiser CX 400-IIShure SE215 and Klipsch Image S3, which, although not the most expensive players in the headphone market, are still recognisable and worthy performers in the IEM (in-ear monitor) world. I bought all of those headphones as they received numerous positive reviews about sound quality. Unfortunately, whether due to durability, comfort or noise isolation, I have never really fallen in love with any of those. But at least I can compare the LG Tone Infinim against some fairly high performing IEMs. So how does it fare?

Favourably. Is the sound quality better than any of the four IEMs mentioned above? No. Is it close? Yes. And that's a win in my book. I was expecting much less from these considering they are wireless but overall sound is really good; clearly, LG's collaboration with harman/kardon has paid off. Trebles are clear and defined, bass is fairly punchy and you can clearly hear the different layers and elements that make up the song. The volume gets loud and yet there is no distortion. The sound does lack some 'oomph' though, especially in the lower end of the sound spectrum, despite it being on the bass heavy (default) equaliser setting (there are also 'normal' and 'treble' equaliser settings). Still, I'm thoroughly impressed with the output of this headset and would happily use these as my daily headphones.

The noise isolation is also impressive. I wore these walking down busy roads, on buses, trains and tubes and it did a very good job at blocking out ambient noise even though I was playing my music at half volume or less. It's not going to block out all outside noise (it didn't) but I would say it did it better than any of the previous headphones I've owned which have all touted noise-isolation as one of its selling points.

Finally, it was very easy to set up and connect over Bluetooth on any Bluetooth smartphone. Once Bluetooth was enabled on my phone, I turned on the headset and it connected almost instantly, every time without a hitch. Your phone will have a battery icon displayed in the notification shade allowing you to accurately keep an eye on how much of Taylor Swift you've got left (this icon can also be disabled). Bluetooth range is up to 10m which is a decent area for you to move around and engage with your phone hands-free. The controls on the headset were very responsive with actions being transmitted over Bluetooth back to the phone with no perceptible delay (except when resuming a song or pausing which exhibited a slight pause).

LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 Bluetooth Headset review
Gotta love some Taylor Swift. Thankfully, these headphones do her music justice.

Call Quality/SMS

Call quality through the headset was decent, not spectacular but voice playback was clear with no echo and I was told that my voice sounded clear on the other end. When you receive a call the headset vibrates gently (which can be turned off) and it plays a lovely melodic tune to inform you that you have a call incoming. There are a number of features linked with receiving calls which can all be performed from the headset including the ability to switch to an incoming call, transferring the audio to your phone, last number redial and muting the microphone. You can also use an app (Tone & Talk) to have your headset read out incoming SMS/MMS messages. To be honest, I'm not really fussed about any of those features but this functionality may be of interest to you.


LG claims that on a full charge music playback is 14 hours, talk time is 17 hours and standby time is 23 days. I found my usage correlated closely to those estimates (well, certainly the music playback part as I didn't test the call and standby endurance). This is certainly quite some time and means you won't be reaching for the charging cable every couple of days. When you do need to charge, the headset uses a standard micro USB port which can be connected to a laptop or USB wall charger for fairly quick charging. 

LG Tone Infinim HBS-900 Bluetooth Headset review
Charging is quick and easy through the micro USB port.


Buy these if you:
  • Don't mind how they (and you would) look
  • Want a comfortable pair of headphones
  • Need/want noise isolation
  • Are a commuter/exercise regularly
  • Want very good (but not great) sound quality
  • Would take calls on it and require strong call functionality

Don't buy these if you:
  • Do mind how they (and you would) look
  • Coordinate your pair of headphones with your outfit
  • Want great sound quality
  • Need complete noise isolation (then noise-cancellating headphones are your best, albeit expensive, bet)

The only thing left to consider is the price. Currently, Amazon has it for less than £60 and at that price I would strongly recommend this headset. As I mentioned earlier, its design means it won't be for everyone but if you can look past the appearance, then this combination of comfort, sound quality, noise isolation, functionality and wireless set up (as well as price) is a tough matchup to beat.

What do you think of the design?

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