The LG Tone Platinum HBS-1100: Is It Really an Upgrade?

So last week I got a chance to check out the LG Tone Platinum HBS -1100. Many of you are familiar with LG’s Tone line of headphones, and there seems to be contrasting opinions about the stylishness of the Tone series. Anyway, a lot has been said about the Platinum HBS-1100 and I decided to see for myself and set the record straight. In this review, I share my honest thoughts on these Bluetooth headphones.

Build and Design

LG around the neck Bluetooth headphones

As always, LG has done a great job of producing another attractive pair of headphones in the HBS-1100. These headphones are what you would call a “neckband” since you drape them around your neck. Of course, this means that the HBS-1100 is very light (about 2 ounces), which is definitely a plus. They have a solid look and feel, and the exterior surface is an aluminum alloy trim with a nice, brushed finish. The contours are also really smooth. These headphones come in a range of colors, including black, silver, and gold. I personally preferred the classy silver finish.

Another cool design feature is the retractable earbuds. You can easily pull them out a distance of about 5 inches, which is enough to reach your ears (unless you’ve got a neck like a giraffe!). I found the silicone tips to be comfortable enough to listen to music for hours. Obviously, it is important that you find the best fit for your own ears. (The box comes with extra ear tips or gels, which happen to be small and large size). If you need to reel the earbuds back into the housing, just press the buttons on the inner surface of the headphones.

For the controls, you can use both buttons and sliders to perform various functions. On the left side of the headphones, you will find a button that performs the functions of activating voice commands. The same button is also used for answering and ending phone calls. Right above this button is a tiny slider for controlling the volume and also checking battery life. Over on the right side, you will discover the slider used for controlling playback. This is what you will use in case you want to pause or play music.

I would say the build quality and design are above average. They kind of bounce around when running, but that is something you would expect with a neckband design.

Connectivity

Did I mention that these headphones use Bluetooth? Well, it uses version 4.1. Just like all other LG Tone headphones, that is the only way that the HBS-1100 can be connected to other devices. I found syncing my tablet to the headphones really easy and there were no hassles whatsoever.

After pairing the first device, you may want to sync another one. All you have to do is press down the call button on the headphones immediately after you switch it on. The strength and range of the signal were awesome, and I didn’t experience any major skipping even after walking into the next room. The operating range is about 33 feet.

There is also the option of downloading LG’s “Talk and Tone” app, which works with both Apple and Android devices. I was able to use the app to assign some shortcuts to the different buttons on the HBS-1100. Just by pressing a button, you can be able to listen to your most recent text messages. The headphones can also be set to vibrate whenever there is some sort of new alert on your smartphone.

Battery Life

The HBS-1100 has an average battery life of 10 hours. With the pair I was using, it managed to last about 4 days before needing to be charged. The standby time is about 17 days. I used my headphones during my morning runs and also for some casual listening. If you are the type of person who listens to music the whole day or uses your headphones a lot more frequently, you will have to charge them more regularly. The charging time is relatively fast, lasting between 1. 5 to 2 hours. Charging is via a micro USB cable, though AC adapter head is not part of the package.

Sound Quality

If you are an audiophile, then you know that Bluetooth generally isn’t the best way to enjoy your music compared to wired headphones. However, LG has gone out of their way to include some enhancements in the HBS-1100 to satisfy the taste of audiophiles.

These headphones are equipped with AptX HD Audio Codec to enhance wireless sound quality. I was also impressed by the balanced armature driver that is designed to generate greater detail with less distortion. This puts it ahead of a typical dynamic driver headphone, thus guaranteeing an optimal sound profile that performs well across different frequency ranges.

The HBS-1100 comes with an integrated microphone that allows you to make calls. LG has endeavored to incorporate active noise cancellation feature to prevent ambient noises from interfering with your phone conversations. However, I soon discovered that this noise-cancellation feature doesn’t work when listening to your favorite tunes. In other words, your phone conversations will be clear, but listening to music in a noisy environment will be more difficult.

On top of that, the mic seems to develop sound problems during phone conversations. There are times when people complained that they couldn’t hear me at all. This was definitely a huge letdown.

Let’s talk about the bass, mids, and treble. I found the bass to be rich and punchy, which is always a good thing for headphones. There wasn’t too much lingering of the bass within the sound field.

The mids were smooth and well balanced. Every headphone should have great mids because the vocals for your favorite songs usually lie in this frequency range.

The treble was kind of muffled, so I wouldn’t recommend these headphones if you want clarity in the higher frequencies.

The Wrap Up

Well, the LG Tone Platinum HBS-1100 definitely has its highs and lows. Is it an upgrade worth the $104 – $199 price range? The design and features are great, but the sound quality wasn’t as impressive as LG advertised. Sure, it has the Harman/Kardon Signature Sound, as well as 24-bit music support, but the sound doesn’t seem like an upgrade at all. There are still many issues that could have been resolved. You’ll just have to decide for yourself whether to stick with your current Tone headphones or go for the HBS-1100.

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