Jaybird is known for its fitness-focused wireless earbuds, designed to provide quality audio without the tangled mess of the wires that normally accompany headphones.
In January, Jaybird announced it was expanding upon this experience with a smaller, yet still fully capable product called Freedom.
Over the past week Ive been using the Freedom in place of my typical wired headphones, and have enjoyed the added freedom (excuse the pun) of roaming around my office and house while listening to podcasts or streaming T-Swifts workout playlist on Apple Music.
But wireless headphones are nothing new. Ive always enjoyed the experience they provide, but have stopped myself from clicking the “buy” button on a pair. That just might change, however, after my time with Freedom.
When I first removed Freedom from the box, I couldnt get over just how small the buds were. Look at nearly every pair of Bluetooth earbuds including Jaybirds own X2 and youll find the earpiece itself is comparatively huge, not to mention how far each one sticks out of your ear. With Freedom, the earbud tucks itself inside your ear, making it possible to comfortably wear a helmet while mountain biking, for example. You can wear the earbuds either over or under your ears.
The reduction in size was accomplished by Jaybird moving components such as battery and Bluetooth modules to a controller thats just below the right earpiece. The controller is where you power on the headphones, change volume or skip tracks, as well as connect the charging clip.
I was skeptical that the added heft of a controller would feel off balance, or cause the right earbud to become uncomfortable after prolonged listening sessions. But for the most part, I hardly knew it was there, save for an occasional bump against my neck whenever I moved around; even when I had the charging clip attached, the added weight wasnt all that noticeable.
Included in the box is the Freedom, a carrying case, charging clip, three different sizes of comply tips, silicone tips, and ear fins. Also included in the box are two clips for cable management, as well as another clip to attach the headphones short cable to your shirt collar.
Over the course of the week I alternated between the silicone and comply tips, the latter of which are similar to earplugs you normally reserve for use at concerts or monster truck rallies.
Both were comfortable; however, by the end of testing, I preferred the comply tips due to how well they fit inside my ear.
By far my biggest issue with Bluetooth headphones is that connectivity issues are commonplace. I equate using Bluetooth headphones with using my home Wi-Fi network; one where there are known dead zones. I make the network work for me primarily by avoiding those areas.
With Bluetooth headphones, you traditionally have to make them work for you. Typically, that entails leaving your phone out in the open, or if you have to put it in your pocket, you try to keep it in a front pocket on the same side as the Bluetooth antenna on the headphones.
In talking with Jaybird about the Freedom, the company made a big deal about having nearly eliminated interference and dropout issues. Naturally, I had to put the claim to the test.
After a week of using Freedom, pairing it with everything from an HTC 10 to an iPad Pro to an iMac, and doing everything I normally wouldnt do when wearing Bluetooth headphones, I can say I didnt encounter a single dropout issue. Even as I walked around the outdoor extravaganza called Google I/O, the Bluetooth connection was solid.
Thats not to say you wont ever experience an issue its only a matter of time but Jaybird has worked some impressive magic sauce into the Freedom.
Battery to spare
Jaybird puts the Freedoms battery life at four hours without the charging clip attached. Battery life is doubled when the clip is fully charged and attached to the controller. However, in testing I found battery life to surpass Jaybirds seemingly conservative estimate.
Without the charging clip, I was able to get around six hours of use. Attaching the clip added the quoted four hours. All in all, I routinely experienced 10 hours of battery life.
You can connect a Micro USB cable to the clip to charge it by itself, or place the headphones into the clip and charge both at the same time. Jaybird included fast-charging capabilities on the Freedom, with a 20 minute charge providing one hour of listening.
To help you keep tabs on remaining battery power, automated voice alerts occasionally reads out the current battery percentage (Ex., Battery is at 40 percent). Also, every time you power up the Freedom, youre greeted with the battery level.
You would think with Jaybird having reduced the size of the earbuds themselves, sound quality would take a hit, right? Wrong. In fact, the same 6 mm driver found in Jaybirds X2 is also used in the Freedom.
The end result are earbuds with outstanding sound quality.
The end result are earbuds with outstanding sound quality. To help boost the listening experience, Jaybird has released the MySound app for iOS and Android devices, allowing users can to create custom listening profiles.
In the app there are preset profiles, ranging from bass heavy to extending listening settings. Or if you prefer, you can adjust the lows, mids, and highs to your personal taste, saving the profile for further access.
Once you use the app to set a listening profile, Freedom saves that profile to its own memory instead of relying on the app to recall your preference. Meaning, you can set a profile on your iPhone, and then later use Freedom with your iMac or Apple Watch and the same sound profile will be used, even if your iPhone is no longer connected.
With Jaybirds update to its X lineup, the X3, on the horizon, is Freedom worth the $50 premium? It depends.
For me, I think it is. I would rather wear the Freedom with its small earpiece than the X3 or a similar competing product. Throw in the added benefit of the charging clip pulling double duty as an external battery, adding four hours of juice to the Freedom and the sales pitch gets even sweeter.
Im no fitness enthusiast my workout routine is limited to the occasional stroll around the block but that doesnt mean I cant take advantage of a product as well designed and thought out as the Freedom.
Jaybird Freedom wireless earbuds
Small and comfortable External battery nearly doubles battery life Custom sound profiles tailor the listening experience
$200 is steep Losing charging clip sucks
The Bottom Line
Jaybirds Freedom headphones are small, comfortable to wear, and offer battery life beyond eight hours. Customizable sound profiles, and a reliable Bluetooth connection make Freedom an impressive set of kit.
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