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LG's Tone Studio Puts Surround Sound on Your Neck

LG actually announced its line of Tone wearable speakers in the build-up to CES, but last week's consumer trade show gave us a chance to try out the audio gear in person. And hearing, as they say, is believing.

LG Tone Studio

LG Tone Studio

Two audio products shared the stage at CES — LG's Tone Studio and the wireless Tone Free. Of the two, Tone Studio is the more interesting product since it delivers surround sound for your movies and video games, all from the comfort of your neck.

Pricing and Availability: LG says both the Tone Studio and Tone Free will ship in spring, most likely in the February-March time frame. Prices haven't been set yet, though a spokesman told me the Free would cost around $199. (Contrast that with the $159 price tag for Apple's wireless AirPods.) The Tone Studio is rumored to be in the $229 to $249 range.

Key Specs: You slip the Tone Studio neckband around your neck, and you're immediately bathed in four—speaker sound — two full-range speakers on the top of the device and two vibrating ones on the bottom. The result, LG says, is a personal surround-sound experience that's meant to enhance the time you spend in front of a TV.

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During my brief time with the Tone Studio, the neckband certainly did that. Though I'm a little hard of hearing, I didn't miss a single rumble from Robocop and the speakers dutifully vibrated when a plane took off during a Grand Theft Auto trailer I watched. And if I ever wanted to keep all that sound to myself, I could just pop in some earbuds that are connected to the Tone Studio with retractable cables.

LG Tone Free

LG Tone Free

There are no cables on the LG Tone Free, which use wireless earbuds to bring you sound. In this case, the neckband's there for extra battery power; it also vibrates when you have an incoming call or text. You stash the earbuds in the neckband or in a carrying case that also doubles as a portable charger.

Outlook: The Tone Studio's personal surround sound could be an appeal addition to movie and game time. The Tone Free looks like a harder sell, particularly in a world where wireless audio gear is getting sleeker.