Best Tone Generator and Probe Kit (2019 Review)

When you’re looking for the right wire in a bundle, you’ll need a high-quality tone generator and probe kit to make things simple for you.

The right product can produce a clear, audible tone that will let you know that you’re looking at the right wire, and it will work reliably. On the other hand, a badly made model can leave you guessing, and the tone may not travel far enough down the wire for your needs.

In this short guide, we’re going to look at some of the best tone generators and probe kits available, and we’ll provide you with a general overview, and their most notable pros and cons.

best overall rating
Fluke Tone Generator
  • The tone can propagate for ten miles
  • Convenient feedback feature
  • Durable housing
premium choice rating
Ideal Tone Generator
  • Tests & traces coax, twisted pair & telephone cables
  • Includes VDV & amplifier probe
  • Extremely reliable
great value rating
Greenlee Tone Generator
  • Large speaker for noisy environments
  • Comes in a rugged, woven nylon carrying case
  • Excellent price

Best Tone Generator and Probe Kit

Fluke Tone Generator – Best Overall

Fluke networks pro3000

Our favorite tone generator and probe is the Pro3000 from Fluke Networks, as it features SmartTone technology which uses five different sounds to make it easier to identify pairs. You can use this model to tone and trace non-active wiring, so it’s also more versatile than other products.

The tone can travel for up to ten miles along a cable before it starts to diminish, and this model is equipped with a louder speaker so that you can hear it in busy work environments.

Fluke networks pro3000 toner

The toner even comes included with a convenient lanyard from which you can hang it to keep your hands free.

Durability is another one of this tone probe’s main advantages, as it’s built to last for years, as long as you take proper care of it. When working with larger bundles of wire, the included noise filter makes your life so much easier that we can’t imagine working with another kit.

The feedback feature also makes it easier to verify cables by shorting pairs of them momentarily. The probe will also shut down automatically after five minutes so that it doesn’t run through the battery. If you’re looking for a downside to this product, there aren’t many besides the relatively high price.

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What We Like
  • The tone can propagate for ten miles
  • Convenient feedback feature
  • Durable housing
  • Easy to work with
What We Don’t Like
  • Pricier than other products

Ideal Tone Generator – Premium Choice

Ideal tone generator

The Ideal wire toner is a little more expensive than our best overall product, but it offers a few extra capabilities for your money. This kit comes with a wide range of connectors that will allow you to test everything from ethernet connections to COAX cables, making it as versatile as possible.

This kit is optimized to find issues in connections that range from shorts, to split pairs, all the way to reversals. To ensure that you know the problem, this kit comes with a VDV unit that is equipped with an LCD screen to display information about errors and whether or not the wiring passed or failed.

Despite its capabilities, this tone generator is far more portable than a lot of other products, coming in at only 1.65 pounds. It’s also compact enough to fit in your toolkit without taking up too much space. This tone generator is also built reliably, and it can withstand drops without a problem.

The main advantage of this model is that it comes included with all of the attachments that you’ll need for residential work, and it’s reasonably priced for a complete kit. The only problem that we had with this product was that it wouldn’t work well on shielded cables.

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What We Like
  • Tests & traces coax, twisted pair & telephone cables
  • Durable enough to withstand drops
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Includes VDV (33-856), Amplifier Probe (62-164) & Carrying Case
  • Extremely reliable
What We Don’t Like
  • Unreliable with shielded cables

Greenlee Tone Generator – Great Value

Greenlee 701K G

For a more affordable option, the Greenlee 701K-G is an excellent probe tracing kit that comes with a range of useful accessories. Features like a headset jack and an extra-large speaker make this model perfect for electricians who work in loud environments where the tone may be drowned out.

This model is designed to be easy to use, making it a great choice for beginners who are getting their first tone generator and probe kit. Other convenient features include an LED headlight so that you can see what you’re doing in the dark and a beeper to warn you about short circuits.

The tone generator works with twisted pairs, single conductors, COAX cables, and non-live AC wires. You can perform both polarity and continuity tests using it, putting it a step above a lot of other budget models with fewer capabilities.

Reliability is another huge advantage of this model, as many budget toners can fail on you within a few weeks of purchase. The tone probe amplifier even comes equipped with a replaceable tip. One of the things that we didn’t like about this tone generator is that it’s less durable than other products.

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What We Like
  • Great value for the money
  • Large speaker for noisy environments
  • Can perform polarity and continuity tests
  • Works with a range of cables
  • Comes in a rugged, woven nylon carrying case
What We Don’t Like
  • Less resistant to damage than competing models

Fox and Hound Tone Generator

Fox and hound toner

The Fox and Hound tone generator from Triplett is another affordable option that features good build quality, which is refreshing in cheaper products. This model can generate pulse and warble tones and it can perform tests on telephone lines including line polarity and ringing voltage examinations.

This tone generator can also perform a continuity test, which you can hear and see, making it versatile enough for use in louder environments. The lightweight design of the probe ensures that you can use it all day without having to worry about your arm getting tired, and it even has LED headlights built into it.

The inclusion of a bandpass filter helps ensure that other frequencies don’t interfere with your tests. Unfortunately, the lower price of this tone generator means that it’s less durable than other products, so you’ll have to store it carefully and make sure that you don’t drop it while you work.

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What We Like
  • Comes with a carry case
  • Affordable price
  • Works reliably
What We Don’t Like
  • Not durable enough
  • No dedicated battery compartment

Extech Tone Generator

Extech tone generator

The Extech tone generator is also more affordable than a a lot of our top models, and it features a heavy duty design that is perfect for busy work environments.

The housings of the tone generator and the amplifier probe are both designed to put up with plenty of abuse so that they’ll last for years.

You can opt for either a continuous or a variable tone, depending on your preferences and the task that you’re performing.

Extech 40180 tone generator and amplifier probe circuit finder kit

The probe is also insulated to ensure that conductors don’t end up getting shorted. Since you can adjust the sensitivity of this tone generator, tracing a wire is a lot simpler.

There is also a headphone jack that’s built into the speaker, which further improves this model’s usefulness in busy work environments.

One of the major downsides is that this product is far less portable than competing tone generators because of its bulk and its heavy-duty design.

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What We Like
  • Extremely durable
  • Easy to use
  • Sensitivity is easy to adjust
What We Don’t Like
  • Bulkier and heavier than other tone generator and probe kits
  • Capacitive tip

Klein Tone Generator

Klein-tone-generator

The Klein tone generator features a similar price point to the other options on this list so far, but it offers a range of features that help make it more user-friendly.

Reliability is another plus with this tone generator, as we didn’t have any problems getting it up and running.

Equipped with five tracing zones, keeping track of a wire becomes a lot easier, and there are also helpful LEDs located along the probe and the tone generator.

Klein-toner-probe

For example, there is an amplifier overload detector that will let you know if there is a misread that you should be aware of.

This model comes in a padded bag that will keep it from getting damaged in transit, though it’s already pretty durable.

Unfortunately, we ran into some trouble with this product.

Since it uses such small batteries, it won’t last for long, and it also picks up a lot more noise than other tone generators. Better to skip it and go for one of our top 3 models.

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What We Like
  • Five tracing tones
  • Padded carry bag
  • Amplifier overload LED
What We Don’t Like
  • Too much noise
  • Battery life is too short

Elegiant Tone Generator

Elegiant tone generator

If you’re looking to save money on your tone generator kit, don’t. Trying to cut corners with a tool like this results in a product like the Elegiant tone generator, which is one of the worst that we have ever tested.

Trying to test a cable with this model is an exercise in frustration, as the lights will go on and off for no apparent reason.

Good cables will test as bad with this generator and vice versa, meaning that you can waste plenty of time and resources on issues that never even existed.

Elegiant RJ11 RJ45 cable tester

Even when it is working properly, this product isn’t exactly useful when you consider that the tone function only works on RJ11 phone cables.

This product also features a very loose power switch that can be turned on when it gets jostled around in your toolkit, potentially wasting the battery’s whole charge before you arrive.

The only thing that’s positive about this tone generator is its affordable price, which ensures that it won’t be a waste of too much money. Skip it. If you’re looking for a model on the cheaper side, get yourself a Greenlee or a Fluke.

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What We Like
  • The most affordable model on our list
What We Don’t Like
  • Unreliable
  • The power switch makes it too easy to turn on accidentally
  • Tone feature only works on RJ11