Bluetooth headphones are great for comfortable listening to music or talking on the phone. But the DGT prohibits using them while driving, so LG has invented something great. They are headphones that include a speaker for use in "hands-free" mode (and ears free). That way, and using them that way (without placing the headphones in your ears) it is perfectly legal to use them while driving. It's the HBS-820S and we've tested them. They cost 100 euros and are already available on the LG page and specialized stores, in white or black.
Opening the package
The LG HBS-820S come in a box that contains the headset itself and a box with accessories and instructions. The accessories are just the standard charging cable (micro USB) and a set of headphone adapters . The medium ones are assembled, there are some larger ones and some smaller ones, all in silicone. As usual, more than half of the paper will not last long in our hands: information on warranty or the dangers of throwing them into the fire, or leaving them in the hands of hungry animals or children. Yes, there is a quick guide, useful to recognize the different control buttons and know what and how to use them.
And that's the first thing that stands out about the headphones themselves. They are not controlled with smooth tactile surfaces but with physical buttons with clear functions, once learned. We prefer it to a mysterious control that you never know if it will have recognized our order… Here, the power switch makes it clear whether or not they are off. The speaker, if the headphones or external speaker are playing (yes, more on that soon). The volume slider, it is very clear if we use it to raise or lower the volume; in this case with acoustic confirmation while we listen. Then we will see in detail each control and function.
The LG HBS-820S battery announces 13 hours listening to music , a little more (14.5) talking on the phone, and up to 30 hours in standby. In usual use we would say that those times are fulfilled. If we use them a lot, with charging them every two or three days, we never get to the low battery warning. They are charged with a micro USB socket on the left body.
Headphones with ... speaker!
Although it seems symmetrical from the photos or with the device in hand, it is not. Separate control buttons, in the left area is the battery (due to the weight and the nearby charging connection). There is also the vibration motor, because it is powerful and it is very obvious that it only vibrates on that side. On the right side, on the other hand, there is the speaker that works in hands-free mode. Yes, a speaker, these LG headphones have a speaker too. And on one side, not both. That is, and this is the first thing to keep in mind, in "speaker" mode this LG works in monaural (not stereo).
When we place the LG HBS-820S on our neck, that speaker is logically pointing up and to the left. If we activate it (switch back) from that moment all the sounds or music will be emitted there. The bad news is that, possibly because of the compact size, the sound is not very good. Also, the Bluetooth link detects if we are in that mode and sends a lower quality signal. At that time the LG appears as a monaural speaker and it makes no sense to use a quality stereo signal transmission.
Approved by the DGT: speak without fines
What does sound good are the voices, that is, in "hands-free" mode. It really is what we think LG has thought it for, and in that case it must be said that they have succeeded . If we want to listen to music through the speaker, apart from the fact that we would disturb anyone within ten meters, the quality is not good. It doesn't sound better than most mobiles, for example, even below that. And being off to the side, the effect is strange.
But to carry on a conversation it is fine: it would be perfect if the maximum volume could be a little higher, just that. And it is that when there is a lot of noise (from the legal speed by car) it can be difficult to listen well. In return, our interlocutor will hear us perfectly , because the LG HBS-820S have a microphone on each side and capture our voice very well. They also seem to filter out background noises well.
The great advantage of these LG is that they are legal , well used. If we put the headphones on we are violating the regulations and we could be fined. But with them removed (the cable retracts automatically) and the LG on the neck in hands-free mode… perfectly legal! We liked the idea so much that we immediately thought that it could be the perfect solution to our favorite means of transport, the motorcycle. Unfortunately, between the fact that the loudspeaker does not turn up much in volume, that the lower part of the helmet covers it, and that the helmet itself covered our ears ... the invention did not work. But the idea is good and developing it a bit, it would be great.
The external speaker falls a bit short, but the headphones are good. And Bluetooth reception, or internal amplification, too. Of course, we must make sure that when we link our mobile or computer we select the A2DP mode (high fidelity reproduction) or better yet aptX if we have it. If we leave it linked as a speaker (HSP / HFP) the sound quality is not even close to the same.
The LG HBS-820S headphones have a cable that is gathered inside the device . Just pull gently and they will unfold until they are tailored to us. Another tug and they are collected: downright comfortable. What we do not know is the long-term result, but in the weeks of testing it did not give us any problems.
The headphones themselves are intraural, that is, they must be inserted into the ear canals. It is important to understand that they must fit well : that is why several adapter gummies come. If not, not only will they not isolate us so well from outside noise, but especially the bass will be very attenuated. In other words, if we don't get them right, they will sound somewhat lacking in bass, and that happens with all intraurals.
Sound: a success
Well placed, the truth is that we have been positively surprised by the LG HBS-802S. After the tests with the loudspeaker, we expected something of a lower level. These headphones are at a sound level equivalent to that of somewhat lower priced cabling. But with the advantage of the Bluetooth connection. And the important extra of the legal “hands-free” speakerphone, let's remember.
The sound has a good bass base, and for once these are not over the top. We're a bit tired of the trend to offer headphones with the bass turned up , really. Yes, from the outset it hits and whoever tries it for half a minute in a store takes them away. Especially if the treble is also brilliant. In other words, the “V” curve, equivalent to a classic “loudness” control. But that doesn't accurately represent how that music was recorded.
Such exaggerated bass conceals many nuances. It is attractive with modern music, but if it is well produced and has fast rhythms… it blurs. It's not just from hearing your fingers on the strings of a jazz double bass instead of a noise. It is to appreciate good productions: Madonna, even Metallic. We want to say that it is not a matter of musical taste, it is not something subjective. It is objective, and the fact is that too many current headphones offer a distorted sound , or rather greatly altered, regarding how the recordings are.
The LG sound correct, then, so to many the bass will seem somewhat scarce at first. For that we can tweak the equalization (slightly alone, we recommend). And when we want to get closer to the original recording, we know that these headphones will give us fidelity . The mids in return are clear and detailed, and above we have smooth and sufficiently transparent highs. There we have been positively surprised by the support electronics, since the result depends on that in addition to the headphones themselves.
Coverage and control
The range of the LG is normal, Bluetooth has that downside . That is, in the open air or in the same room we can move up to about ten meters without appreciating cuts. At home, it depends on the room or the walls. For us, from one room to the other they worked without interruptions. On the staircase, no longer (it was cut), and on a different floor, nothing. When they recover the signal the music returns immediately, yes. Even before the message "out of range" or "trying to connect" (English only).
The control buttons we have already mentioned that they are physical and recognizable. A "play" or pause button on one side, another to take calls or activate the Google or Siri assistant on the other. A slider button to raise or lower the volume on one side, another to go to the next track on the other. And the switches to turn on and off, or to switch from speaker bike to headphones. By combining some of them we can control more things: repeat the last call, activate or deactivate the vibration, put a call on hold ... But basically everything is easy and intuitive .
There is an application , LG Tone & Talk, that allows you to do a few more things. Set alarms, record notes, read messages ... but as you can see they are not too complex things. Actually, in addition to the usual Bluetooth controls (volume etc.), no more is needed and LG does not complicate our lives unnecessarily.
|Type||Bluetooth headset V4.1|
|Bluetooth protocols||A2DP / AVRCP, aptX compatible|
|Battery||lithium-polymer, 3.7V and 210 mAh|
|Standby duration||up to 720 hours|
|Duration talking||up to 14.5 hours (with speakerphone: 8.5 hours)|
|Duration with music||up to 11'5 hours (with speaker: 6 hours)|
|Loading time||2 hours (micro USB)|