One thing that is really hard to come by when it comes to getting yourself in shape is a good set of headphones that are not only durable, but will not hinder your experience in the gym,or on the run. That’s where Jaybird’s new Freedom Bluetooth Headphones come in.
Earlier this year at CES, I covered the Freedoms and finally had the opportunity to get a pair in hand to review. And while there are plenty of things to love about the headphones compared to the previous Jaybird Bluebuds X Headphones that I loved so much before this update, there are some things that turned me off.
Inside of the box, you get a pretty nifty carrying pouch, which is a soft material, and goes easier in a pocket or bag than the X2’s case, which I enjoy. Also, there are the headphones themselves, wing tips that come in small, medium, and large sizes, as well as six pairs of ear tips that come in silicone or a memory foam option in the same three sizes.
If you are planning on using these in the gym, go for the memory option as they will not slide out of your ear during an intense workout, and are actually pretty good for just normal use while out and about. Also in the packaging, you’ll receive a charging cable which is about three inches, two wire clips that are made to manage the cable if you’re going to fit these snugly behind your ears, and a clip that attaches one ear that you won’t use to your shirt. Then there’s the oddly shaped charging cradle which is its own separate entity, but it is there to charge your headphones. Made of all metal, the Freedoms are certainly durable and built to withstand an occasional drop in the bag, or brushing alongside things in your pocket.
The headphones themselves have been slimmed down drastically, to the point when they are in your ear you won’t feel them, especially if you have them tapered to the back of your neck using the included clips. With the included remote on the Freedoms, you can easily do all of your iOS commands, or toggle through your audio in a breeze.
You’ll notice the inline remote there as it is a bit larger than the cable that connects each ear together but not so much that it becomes obtrusive. And just like the rest of the body of the Freedom’s, they are sweat proof, but not quite waterproof, so taking these headphones into the ocean, or even for a few laps in the pool, I would not personally advise.
Charging the Freedoms are where things become a little tricky. In the effort to make the headphones as slim as possible, Jaybird decided to take out the approach of removing the micro-USB port from inside of the headphones like in the previous X2’s. Now there’s an additional step that you have to account for, by using the included charging cable to charge the headphones. This is a huge mistake in my eyes. Jaybird claims that you can get eight hours out of your Freedoms before needing charging, but fail to mention one little detail. The headphones actually only hold a four-hour charge, while the cradle carries the remaining four. So while it’s nice to be able to clip the cradle to the inline remote to get a few extra hours, the cradle adds a significant amount of weight to the back of your ear while wearing.
Most won’t see an issue with this as you can easily throw this in your bag, so after going on a run or casually listening to some music at work you can get a few more hours by snapping the headphones into the cradle, but in the event you forget the cradle at home (guilty), you’re stuck without music on that commute home, or that trek to catch-all the Pokémon you can in Pokémon Go (again, guilty). On the other hand, it’s pretty nifty to always have that promised emergency battery life.
Outside of the cradle issues, I can safely say this: the audio quality is top-tier. The headphones when casually listening are great and are very comfortable if you’ve set the headphones in properly. I will say that when lifting weights above your head, or doing activities that might cause your head to turn and twist frequently like jumping jacks, if you do not have the clips in properly or tight enough, you will notice that even though the ear tips stay in as they should, the cable that wraps around your ear might move around a bit.
Now this could just be me having odd ears, but I frequently found myself adjusting not the in-ear bud, but the cable to make sure it sat flat behind my earlobe while working out. It’s nothing to really be discouraged about, as this happens with most headphones that look similar to Jaybirds. This was the case both with and without the charging cradle attached.
Watch the headphones in action here:
In terms of audio quality, you won’t find a better fitness headphone on the market. Jaybird is known for their ability to build a headphone that makes your feel submerged in the moment that you’re listening to, without compromising your ability to react to the environment around you. The bass isn’t overbearing, and there was minimal distortion using the foam tips. When using the silicone tips, I did notice a bit of a muffle while sweating at the gym, but again this is what they’ve included the tips for. In casual listening, I tested two tracks to get a real feel of how the audio would sound while running or just sitting at my desk. The first, “Bacon” by Nick Jonas, gave off a nice pop while running, and sounded very balanced. When casually listening, I got the same effect. The second of the two tracks, “Gods” by Maxwell gave off a mellow sound where I could hear every instrument, as well as the crisp vocals from the singer.
Overall the Jaybird Freedoms, other than the somewhat overthought cradle for charging, is an awesome pair of buds that serve as great workout headphones, and even better headphones for just the casual listening. At $200, it’s certainly not the cheapest, but you’re paying for quality here, and that’s certainly worth the asking price.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: The slim build is excellent, all without compromising the audio quality
What Needs Improvement: I would like the ability to charge my Freedoms from the headphones themselves, again without the cradle