How many times has this happened to you: While listening to music, something snags the chord of your earbuds, forcefully ripping them from your head. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, and I agree -- there are few things in this world that make me that mad almost instantly. Fortunately, there is an easy way to avoid such a catastrophe from ever happening again: a stereo Bluetooth headset.
Today we'll be taking a look at one such headset: the Jaybird Freedom Wireless Bluetooth (isn't that sort of redundant?) Buds. I've used this headset nearly everyday for the last few weeks, and I can honestly say that I like it -- but it's not perfect.
- The buds are pretty large, so they look slightly awkward in-ear.
- It has an undersized microUSB port for charging. Since the port isn't a standard microUSB, you're stuck with the supplied charging cable (which is quite short).
- Horrible call quality (more on that later).
- They sometimes slip during vigorous activity.
In the Box: Headset, three difference sized of earbuds, "ear cushions," ear hooks, USB cable (for charging), carrying case.
The Bottom Line: If you're looking for a good set of Bluetooth earbuds for listening to music, watching movies, etc. then this headset does the job, and it does it well. However, the call quality is awful, so if you're looking for a headset that you can use for talking in addition to playing media, I would look elsewhere.
This headset is designed with the athlete in mind. In fact, these are the official training earbuds of the USA Triathlon. As such, I expected a better fit from the buds since they're touted as "sweat-proof." Still, if you're not planning on wearing them while wrestling alligators or doing gymnastics, they'll probably work out just fine.
The overall fit and feel of this headset is pretty nice, despite the fact that the buds are pretty large. Moreover, they're much lighter than expected -- once in your ear, they don't feel much different than common wired earbuds.
Left: earbuds, Middle: Ear cushions, Right: How the cushions look in-ear (no, that's not my ear.)
In order to stay in your ear while running, working out, etc. the headset not only comes with different sized earbuds, but a hook-type attachment called an ear cushion that actually helps "lock" the buds in place. At first glance, I thought this would make then extremely uncomfortable, but it was actually very easy to get used to. They felt awkward for about the first 15 or 20 minutes, but after trying all the different sizes to find the one with the best fit, I found them to be quite comfortable.
The typical headset controls are located on the right bud: power, volume up, and volume down, along with the charging port (an undersized microUSB port). The power button also functions as an answer/hang-up, play/pause, and mute button. It is supposed to offer the ability to change playing track, as well, but, like with every single headset in the history of time, I couldn't get this to work with Android.
First things first -- I am no audiophile, which is why this review focuses more on form and function. With that said, I am very pleased with the sound quality of these buds. Everything is crisp and clear, but they're not lacking any low-end whatsoever. That's actually what impressed me the most -- the low end is very present, but it's not overbearing. They really offer a great tonal balance. It's worth noting that the app I use for music playback offers a built-in EQ, but everything still sounds pretty good with a completely flat setting.
This is where these buds really bombed. I could hear the other party just fine, but everyone I talked to said that I was very muffled. Honestly, this is not the type of experience that I expected from a $100 headset and is the biggest drawback that keeps me from giving it a solid recommendation.
Ah, one of the most important aspects of any wireless device. I can't say that I'm happy with the battery life of this headset, but I also can't say that I'm disappointed, either. I'm actually pretty indifferent. Sure, it could be better, especially if you consider the typical ump-teen day battery life of a regular Bluetooth headset.
So, how long does the battery actually last? All the documentation says it should go for about 6 hours of playing music, and that sounds about right. I actually managed to exhausted the entire battery in one day, but that was a one time deal with continuous music streaming. Still, you'll probably want to throw this on charge every day to ensure it's always ready to go when you need it.
One big complaint concerning the battery is the low battery notification. Once the battery hits a certain level (not sure what that level is), it annoyingly beeps every 20 seconds. Personally, I wish there was some way to disable this, as I would just let me music play until the battery died completely. Instead, you are forced to put it on charge since you can't really do anything else with an overbearing beep in your ear every 20 seconds.
Fortunately, the time it takes to charge is very minimal. From almost dead to full charge takes about an hour, which is quite reasonable in my opinion. The one drawback, however, is that they have to be charged over USB -- and supplied microUSB charging cable is only around 12 inches long. You can use a USB adapter to plug it into a wall outlet, but with such a short cord, this just isn't practical.
Accessories and case
So, do I recommend these buds? For the most part, yes. If you plan on wearing them while jogging or working out and want them primarily for music streaming, then this headset is a very comfortable, well-made option. However, if you talk on the phone often and want good call quality (why wouldn't you?), then you should probably look elsewhere.