Jaybird Freedom Unboxing
One of the key advantages Jaybird earbuds have always offered over the competition is the attention the company pays to the user experience, something that starts the moment you open the box. Instead of a handful of silicon tips tossed in, the Jaybird Freedom earbuds include three sizes each of two different types of tips: silicon and Comply™ foam. As Graham Williams pointed out in his review of the Jaybird X2s those Comply™tips—which are a type of memory foam—can be especially comfortable. They are definitely a premium add-in. There are three sizes of the silicon ear fins that make Jaybird earbuds instantly recognizable, as well as multiple wire clips. The combination of tips, fins and clips ensure maximum customizability.
There is also a carrying pouch, a USB charge cable and new for the Jaybird Freedoms, a combination charge cradle/supplemental battery. More on that one later …
The Incredible Shrinking Earbud
I have a long and frustrating history with earbuds. As in there’s something about my ears that actively resists having an earbud stay in place. I can “use” most earbuds in the sense that I can get them in and hold my hands over my ears to keep them in place until that posture gets old (which is about two minutes), but I’ve never found a set that actually remained comfortably in place, complete with a decent seal. Even the Jaybird X2s.
But Jaybird changed the design of the Freedom earbuds significantly, switching to injection molded metal from plastic. The resulting earbuds not only have amore premium look and feel, they are are significantly smaller. In fact, Jaybird says they are the smallest wireless earbuds on the market.
Jaybird Freedom (Left) is much smaller than Jaybird X2 (right)
Comfort and Fit
Shrinking the earbuds makes them less obtrusive and the metal construction is said to eliminate distortion that plastic components can introduce. But the real payoff from my perspective is comfort and fit.
For the first time that I can recall, a set of earbuds fit. Combined with those silicon fins that rotate to lock into your ear, the Jaybird Freedom earbuds actually fit my ears, they remained in place even during exercise, and they were comfortable. It didn’t feel at all like there was a foreign object jammed in my ear.
|Jaybird Freedom Key Specs
Extended Battery Life
The second big design change Jaybird made was in the battery.
The Jaybird X2’s had a small cover on one of the earbuds itself you popped open to access a USB port for recharging. That worked well enough (I’ve been sent some Bluetooth earbuds that were miserable when it came to trying to pry open the charge port), but this design contributed to the bulk of the earbuds themselves.
Instead, with the Jaybird Freedom earbuds, the battery and charge port has been moved to the inline remote control. It’s a little thicker than the X2 remote, but that wasn’t at all noticeable while wearing it. The remote has five tiny docking ports and those in turn line up with a series of pins on the new charging clip. Line up the pins (there’s some mild magnetism to help out there), snap the remote into the clip and then plug the clip itself into USB power to recharge.
The cool part is that the charge clip itself also has a built-in battery, solving the problem of how to extend battery life in a device where size is all-important.
So if you need the juice for an all-day event, you can leave the clip attached (ditching the USB cable, of course) and the Jaybird Freedoms use it as a supplemental battery, extending their battery life to eight hours. That’s pretty tough to beat when it comes to wireless Bluetooth earbuds. Yes, leaving the clip on does add a little more weight to the right side earbud, but with proper cord management the pod isn’t going to be flapping around freely and it’s still light enough I didn’t even notice it.
If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it. You still get four hours of battery life from the Jaybird Freedom earbuds themselves—plenty of time for most people to have several workouts.
Besides the fit issues, my biggest complaint about earbuds has always been bass performance. Part of that is my difficulty in getting a decent seal, but the reality is that earbuds have always had difficulty matching the kind of low end response that on-ear and over-ear headphones can deliver.
The Jaybird Freedoms earbuds offer very high quality sound—it’s crisp, clear, free of distortion and delivers plenty of volume–but the sound leans heavily toward bright. However, the free MySound app (available for iOS and Android) provides a powerful tool for customizing your music. There are a number of presets, including sound profiles supplied by a number of pro athletes and artists. You can also fine-tune the sound to a much greater degree than most EQ apps. With a minute or two of fiddling with MySound, I was able to optimize the sound on the Jaybird Freedoms to be much warmer, with a more pronounced low end. Still not “booming” bass, but a big improvement.
The real win here isn’t just that you can tweak the sound, it’s the fact that the app saves your sound profile on the earbuds themselves. You get the benefit of optimized music playback regardless of which device you’re using or what the musical source is. I fine-tuned the Jaybird Freedom earbuds using MySound on my iPhone, streaming from Apple Music. I then ditched the iPhone and used the earbuds to listen to music stored locally on my Apple Watch and enjoyed the same, customized audio performance.
Who Should Buy These?
As primary music listening headphones, most people would be better off choosing on-ear or over-ear headphones. With much bigger drivers, they typically offer better low end sound reproduction and big, padded cushions are ideal for extended listening sessions. Plus you don’t have to worry about a battery running out.
However, that’s not what these earbuds are meant for.
The target demographic for the Jaybird Freedom Wireless Earbuds is active wearers who want high quality music while they go about their fitness routine, without getting tangled in wires or worrying about sweat causing damage. And the Jaybird Freedoms absolutely deliver to this crowd. My wife has the Jaybird X2s and they quickly became an indispensable part of her gym routine. She’s been eying the Jaybird Freedom earbuds because they offer everything hers do, but they’re even smaller and less conspicuous, and with the extra battery capacity she’d only have to charge them once a week instead of twice.
The Jaybird Free Wireless Earbuds are coming soon to Best Buy.