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LG's Tone Studio neck speakers are less crazy than you'd think

Still, they're not for everyone.
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When LG announced its neck-worn earbud/speakers, a collective groan went up on the Engadget Slack channel. The Tone Studio was ridiculous, or so it seemed. Well, about that: I just strapped on a pair, and they're actually a lot less ridiculous than you might expect. In fact, they do what they were designed to do surprisingly well.

LG Tone Studio: Hands-on

Let's start with the basics: There are four speakers here, two on the top of the neckband that blast out highs and mids and two on the bottom that focus on delivering the bass. Once the Tone Studio is connected to an audio source -- in my case, via Bluetooth to an LG tablet -- all you have to do is start playing something. There's no additional work on the software side to get everything working properly, which is a nice touch. Too onerous a setup process would have made this thing an utter nightmare.

Gallery: Hands-on: LG's Tone Studio | 7 Photos

Most importantly, it actually sounds quite good. Maximum volume is plenty loud for listening to tunes in a crowded press room, and it does a great job of simulating surround sound (thanks to the integrated DTS support). Two demos in particular stuck out: While watching the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I could hear TIE fighters whizzing around my head as though I were in space myself, and gameplay footage of Grand Theft Auto V was full of gunshots and corresponding vibrations whenever the player pulled the trigger.

The Tone Studio is surprisingly flexible too. If you don't want to be that jerk walking down the street blaring music from your neck, you can pull out the tethered earbuds and listen more discreetly. And if you have a home theater system or a laptop that you want to connect to, you can use a standard 3.5mm cable with the Tone Studio's aux-in jack. Using that physical connection has the added benefit of firing up the integrated 32-bit audio DAC, which is supposed to improve the quality of the sound bursting forth from those speakers. I didn't notice a huge difference, but it might depend on the content.

Obviously, these speakers aren't perfect. There's a notable lack of bass here, so EDM fans craving thumping audio might want to consider a stand-alone Bluetooth speaker. I've never been a fan of LG's Tone earbud tips either; they feel big in my ear canals but lack the kind of sturdiness you get out of higher-end in-ears. Still, LG managed to pull off an interesting little audio coup for itself. These things ultimately might be a bit silly, but that doesn't mean they're useless. We'll take them for a proper spin when they officially launch. Speaking of the sort, there's no firm price yet (I'm told in the $220 to $240 range), but LG confirmed the headphones will start shipping around March.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2017.

Chris is Engadget's senior mobile editor and moonlights as a professional moment ruiner. His early years were spent taking apart Sega consoles and writing awful fan fiction. That passion for electronics and words would eventually lead him to covering startups of all stripes at TechCrunch. The first phone he ever swooned over was the Nokia 7610, because man, those curves.

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