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The Jaybird Freedom wireless headphones, first introduced at CES, were welcomed with a reasonable level of skepticism. Jaybird released a dedicated App to go along with the new look and charging methods. However, are they everything that we expected?
Unboxing these Headphones reveals an instruction manual; three sets of wings tips in sizes L, M, and S, and six sets of ear tips in sizes small, medium, and large are included. This is followed by two-wire clips for cable management (absolutely critical) and a little clip to attach to your shirt or another clothing item.
Design and fit of the Jaybird Freedom
Several audio components were moved from the earbuds to the remote controller to make Jaybird's Freedom Buds small. The Freedom earphones from Jaybird come in various colors, including white, black, red, and blue, and are constructed of metal with plastic embellishments.
Jaybird's new metal-designed earbuds are smaller and lighter than any other earbuds on the market, yet they still appear and feel like a high-quality product. These headphones are Bluetooth-enabled, so a cable is not needed to connect to your phone. Users can never go wrong with the minimalist design of the gold and white Freedom earphones I tried.
The right earpiece has a remote control attached to the wire that links the two earpieces. The remote, in contrast to the earphones, is not diminutive. Although it isn't heavy, it is big and has all the circuitry generally found in earphones. It's about two inches long and a little over a quarter-inch thick.
For me, the most important consideration in earphones is their comfort. My ears hurt after 30 minutes of listening to most headphones, including Apple's EarPods and UrBeats. However, after wearing them for many hours, I barely noticed the Freedom Buds in my ears.
Most users should be able to choose a tip that fits their preferences from the several included in the package. Small, medium, and large silicone ear tips and the Comply foam ear tips are included. While testing the Freedom Buds, I preferred the sound quality of the silicone tips, but the foam tips were just as pleasant.
The earphones fit snugly in my ears; however, it was difficult to keep them there. When I tried to put my headphones in, they kept falling out because of the weight of the remote on the right earbud's control button. The only way I could get the earphones to remain in place moving about was to use the soft, flexible silicone ear fins that Jaybird includes with the earbuds.
They claim to be sweat resistant, and I had no difficulties with them. To be clear, I did not subject them to extreme conditions, such as water submersion, but they held up throughout normal use.
Jaybird's earbuds come in two styles, each with advantages and disadvantages. Either under the ear like regular earphones or over the ear with the cable wrapped behind the ears is an option. To make the earphones more comfortable, you may reduce the weight of the remote by wrapping the line over your ears using the two cord management clips.
Shortening the Freedom Buds' chord meant the remote hung lower and was less of a nuisance, but it constantly tugged on the right earpiece and was a constant annoyance. I found that wearing the earphones clipped to my shirt and using the fins helped keep them from falling out of my ears during vigorous exercise.
Sound Performance and Quality of the Jaybird Freedom
After a few days of listening to a wide range of music, I was disappointed with Freedom's sound quality, despite having loved the original X2's performance.
Some of the tunes have their high frequencies rolled off, making them harsh and tiring to listen to for extended periods. Bass is a strong instrument, yet it can also be unwieldy and bloated when used in electronic music. On the other hand, a singer's voice is hidden amid other instruments that can be hidden in the mids.
With Jaybird's MySound App, you can tweak the sound profile with a simple equalizer, even if you don't have an Android or iOS device. However, I found the pre-sets from prominent athletes to be abysmal, so I made my EQ instead.
The Jaybirds ruined music by making it seem flat and lifeless without adjusting the sound balance. It gets worse: adjusting the EQ does little to improve the Freedom's limited sound stage, making everything seem like it was playing between my ears.
The Jaybird Freedom stores your EQ settings on the headphones so that your tailored sound is always with you, no matter what device you've associated it with. As a bonus feature, the app shows users how much battery life is left in real-time, so you don't have to rely on memory alone. These are standout features that I wish were standard on all Bluetooth headphones.
Despite the poor sound quality, Jaybird Freedom's Bluetooth connection impressed me. Even at reduced listening levels, the Wi-Fi connection remained stable and hassle-free.
The mediocre sound quality wouldn't have troubled me so much if there wasn't so much competition in this market. The sound quality of the NuForce BE6i was considerably superior, and I like the long battery life and lightweight aluminum design. Oh, and the Jaybird Freedom is half the price.
During testing, Bluetooth strength was never a problem with the headphones. I didn't miss a beat on any of my runs, no matter where my phone was. With a range of up to 30 feet, the connection proved reliable even in and around my home. However, the new Jaybird MySound app is a lifesaver for those who don't like the sound quality.
In addition to keeping you informed of how much battery life you have left, the EQ settings can also be fine-tuned. Pre-sets developed by athletes can be browsed, previewed, and saved. They are synchronized directly to the Freedoms and not the originating device. So, if you're like me and often move between devices, your music will always sound the same. It is impossible to adjust or deactivate Bluetooth headphone controls based on your operating system. Playback controls are the same on both Android and iOS devices.
Battery Life of the Jaybird Freedom
The Freedoms' battery life is just 3 to 4 hours, but the charging cradle allows you to get up to 8 hours of usage out of them. When I used it, though, it was a far cry from the stipulated 8-hour battery life. Instead of a charging case that has to be connected at all times, I use the cradle as a portable battery to charge the Freedoms while not in use.
To follow up the success of its X2 model, Jaybird had to take a few steps back with its new Freedom Wireless model. The Freedoms have a lot going for them in terms of style and convenience, but their sound quality and battery life aren't great, so we can't overly recommend them unless you are a true fan.