Identical to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wi-fi 3s I lately reviewed, Beyerdynamic’s new Free Byrd earbuds are squarely aimed toward those that prioritize sound high quality over nearly every part else. When you think about that these are the corporate’s first-ever set of true wi-fi earbuds, I’ve been pleasantly stunned at how effectively in addition they stand out in different respects: the $249 Free Byrds ship marathon battery life, good energetic noise cancellation, and have a design that breaks from the usual, unmemorable formulation.
Nice sound high quality is simply the start line of a formidable first effort. And I can’t ignore the identify, which is clearly a nod to the Lynyrd Skynyrd basic — and a really cliche live performance request. However no set of earbuds is ideal, and the Free Byrds are introduced down considerably by unintuitive controls and a bodily design that may show troublesome for smaller ears.
The Free Byrds aren’t small or understated. They weigh a hair lower than Sony’s 1000XM4 earbuds however are an excellent deal heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, Apple AirPods Professional, and different earbuds that present an ethereal really feel and extended consolation. Beyerdynamic’s buds are extra chunky by comparability, and particularly, there’s a bulbous center space of the earbud design that may make the Free Byrds uncomfortable in small ears. I don’t match that description, so I by no means skilled any soreness or ear fatigue.
I ought to have anticipated as a lot from an audio model, however Beyerdynamic features a beneficiant assortment of ear ideas with the Free Byrds. There are 5 units of silicone ideas to decide on between (XS, S, M, L, XL) and three pairs of foam-style ideas. I at all times gravitate towards foam when accessible, and there’s one thing in regards to the mild grey end of the earbuds mixed with the orange foam ear ideas that appears nice. Inform me you’re an audiophile with out telling me you’re an audiophile — that’s the form of vibe these undertaking. (The Free Byrds additionally are available in black.) The wi-fi charging case is on the taller aspect however feels effectively made. I haven’t had any cases of those earbuds remaining linked whereas within the case, which is one thing I’ve encountered increasingly from the Sennheiser Momentum True Wi-fi 3s post-review.
Sound high quality is detailed and crisp however doesn’t go shy on bass. However there’s no muddiness or harshness wherever within the frequency vary. On Maggie Rogers’ new track “Horses,” her vocals come via clearly with heat and resonance, whereas the crunchiness of electrical guitars beneath is well-preserved. Muna’s “Free Garment” is a pleasant demo observe for the soundstage, with vocals and strings floating between the left and proper channels in the course of the track, and the drums and cymbal faucets are nonetheless completely distinct with their very own spot within the combine. Every part in regards to the Free Byrds feels partaking and refined. With Beyerdynamic’s cellular app, you possibly can take a listening to check to personalize the sound profile or select from presets like “heat” or “v-shaped,” however there’s at present no approach to utterly customise the EQ. General, I nonetheless choose the constancy of Sennheiser’s newest pair over these, however they’re not wildly far aside.
For codecs, these Bluetooth 5.2 earbuds help aptX Adaptive on Android — permitting for higher-bitrate wi-fi playback — and the usual AAC on Apple gadgets. Sadly, they don’t provide multipoint Bluetooth for pairing with two audio sources directly, however handoff between gadgets may be very fast and doesn’t require disconnecting from one supply earlier than you possibly can change to a different. The Free Byrds do embrace help for Quick Pair on Android, non-obligatory Alexa integration, and you need to use both bud standalone in mono. There’s additionally a low latency mode that may be activated when taking part in cellular video games, and the Free Byrds are rated IPX4 for water resistance, making them appropriate for train.
Energetic noise cancellation on the Free Byrds is above common, if not fairly on the extent of Sony, Bose, or Apple. There’s a really faint hiss that you simply would possibly decide up on in completely quiet environments. Some persons are extra delicate to this than others, and I by no means seen it when audio was really taking part in. Transparency mode is a bit more run of the mill however serves its function in the event you want a fast check-in with the skin world. Name high quality is passable however not mind-blowing; Beyerdynamic favors letting extra of your voice via with out aggressively gating it to chop down on background noise. This works effectively on calls at residence however is much less ideally suited outside.
Beyerdynamic’s contact controls may use some revising, nonetheless. I choose bodily buttons the place doable however can accept faucet gestures so long as they make sense and work constantly. The essential Free Byrd instructions are advantageous: you faucet as soon as to play or pause, twice to change between ANC and transparency mode, or 3 times to skip tracks or return. Quantity is the place issues get a bit awkward, requiring two faucets and a maintain after the second to regulate loudness. It really works okay when you get the sequence down, however it’s not what I’d name an intuitive gesture — and I’d sometimes pause the music by mistake these instances once I didn’t nail it. It’d be good in the event you may customise every of those gestures to your desire, however that’s not doable for the time being.
Battery life is an surprising energy, with the Free Byrds capable of attain round eight hours of taking part in time with ANC enabled and as much as 11 with it off. That’s greater than sufficient for many wants, and the charging case gives an added 19 hours (with ANC disabled), so you possibly can probably attain a complete of 30 hours in situations the place you don’t require the noise cancellation.
For the corporate’s first swing, Beyerdynamic’s Free Byrd earbuds ship unbelievable sound with element and depth, top-tier battery life, and good noise cancellation. I recognize the overabundance of ear ideas that come included, and a minimum of for my ears, they match effectively and stayed comfy over time. However that final level will differ for each individual, and I can foresee circumstances the place these earbuds might be a bit too stout for some. What’s here’s a sturdy debut within the wi-fi earbuds marketplace for a longtime audio model. I like to recommend the Free Byrds as they’re so long as your ears are the proper match. However with some refinements to the onboard controls and possibly a smaller kind issue subsequent time round, Beyerdynamic might be proper up there with the easiest gamers within the recreation. That’s assuming, not like within the track, this Byrd can change.
Images by Chris Welch / The Verge