Accessibility Widget: On | Off

Jaybird Freedom

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
Views:
20160524150357_JaybirdFreedomCompWeb
 Jaybird Freedom  Jaybird Freedom  Jaybird Freedom
Create New Tag

Compare to other Audio

Tested: Jaybird Freedom Wireless Earbuds

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord

Lots of people like to listen to music on the go. Whether while traveling, working out, or on the commute to work, listening to your favorite music can help make time go by a little quicker and little more joyously. Although mountain biking provides plenty of thrills on its own, a lot of riders like to listen to music out on the bike too, especially if we’re talking about training rides. We tested the Jaybird Bluebud X a couple of years ago with awesome results both on and off the bike, so when they released the all-new Freedom model, we were keen to give it spin too. Read on to rock out!

Photo

Jaybird Freedom Highlights

  • Type: In-Ear Style
  • Noise-isolation:Passive
  • Audio Format: 16-bit Stereo
  • Codec: AAC, SBC, Modified SBC
  • Response Bandwidth: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Driver Size: 6 mm
  • Bluetooth Version: 4.1, Multi-point
  • Profiles: Handsfree , Headset , A2DP , AVCRP , SPP
  • Number of Paired Devices: 8
  • Width: 0.92" (23.4 mm)
  • Height: 0.88" (22.4 mm)
  • Depth: 0.24" (6.2 mm)
  • Weight: 0.49 oz (13.8 g)
  • Cord Length: 14.17" (360 mm)
  • Play Time: 8 Hrs* (4 hrs plus an additional 4 hrs with included charging clip)
  • Standby Time: 110 Hrs*
  • Charging Time: 2.5 Hrs
  • Quick Charge: 20 min = 1 hour Play Time Plus 1 hour of playtime via the charging clip
  • Comply™ Foam Ear Tips: S/M/L
  • Silicone Ear Tips: S/M/L
  • Secure-Fit Ear Fins: XS/S/M/L
  • Cord Management Clips
  • Cord Shirt Clip
  • USB 2.0 Charging Cable
  • Carry Case
  • MSRP: $199.95 USD

Initial Impressions

The Freedom buds make their intentions known from the get-go. They show up in a high-quality box, and everything about the product says “premium”. Jaybird have done away with the hard carrying case of the Bluebuds in favor of a soft pouch, but they have added 3 extra sets of “Comply™” foam tips to give you even more options to customize the fit to your ear. You also get cord management clips, a shirt clip, and a brand new “charging clip” that effectively doubles the onboard battery life.

Photo

This is an in-ear style earbud, which means that you squeeze it directly into your ear channel. The distinctive look of the Jaybird earbuds comes from their retainer system which uses the shape and features of the outer ear to help further secure the earphones in place.

Photo

The audio driver itself is tiny, and Jaybird did its very best to keep the rest of the form factor as small as possible. Notably, Jaybird moved the battery from the actual earbuds to the control unit on the cord, and the result is a pair of earbuds that are so small you wonder how they make any sound at all.

Photo

Compared to the previous generations (Bluebud X and X2), the actual earbud unit is much much smaller. The overall weight of the system is however exactly the same (without the charging clip installed on the Freedom).

Photo

The charging clip is a neat feature. It is basically an extra battery that clips onto the control unit to provide an extra 4 hours of playback time (adding to the 4 hours of the earbuds themselves). The charging clip charges itself while charging the earbuds at the same time (there is no way to charge the earbuds without the charging clip, so don't lose it).

Photo

Once powered up, Bluetooth takes care of connectivity with your phone or music player (there is no cable to plug into the audio device). The high bandwidth A2DP protocol makes sure your music sounds good by keeping audio compression/decompression to a minimum.

In The Living Room

After a first top-up charge, we proceeded to work out the proper fit and get the earphones ready for use. It takes a little bit of trial and error to figure out the proper sizing of both the ear-channel adapter and the outer ear retainer, but the included instructions are well-illustrated and detailed enough to help get you there as quickly as possible. We tried both the standard silicone earpieces and the Comply™ memory foam versions, and we found it easier to get a good in-ear seal with the standard silicone pieces. Your mileage may well vary.

Photo

Pairing the Freedom buds with our iPhone 6 was very straightforward, and we were ready to rock within minutes. The audio quality delivered is right up there with prime audiophile equipment – crisp, clear, with rich bass and enough definition to let you discover little nuances you didn’t even know were there in your favorite song. Jaybird invests considerably in the audio quality aspect of their products, and the move to a metal construction on the Freedoms is said to further reduce distortion (it took Jaybird some time to figure out how to use metal without causing Bluetooth signal distortion, but they evidently succeeded). Testing back to back, there is not a night and day improvement compared to the old version, but that would have surprised us a lot, given how good it already was. There might be a bit more definition in the sound of the Freedoms.

One very cool piece of news introduced with the Freedoms is the Mysound app. It gives you full control over your sound, and it saves your settings to the earbuds, so they always sound the same regardless of which device they happen to be connected to. The app is super easy to use, and it features a cool “Community” section, where you can discover audio profiles uploaded by other Jaybird users including a bunch of their sponsored athletes.

Photo

We were a bit disappointed not to find a profile uploaded from our favorite Jaybird ambassador/shredder Curtis Keene, but that didn’t stop us from making good use of the app to create a sound we really liked. (side note: some people have very weird tastes in audio EQ settings!)

 

The cord that connects the 2 earphones together is also home to the battery and control unit of the Freedoms. This is where you turn the system on and off, start and stop playback, adjust volume, and skip between tracks. It is fairly easy to get the hang of how the controls work, the three buttons present offer different functions depending on how long you press them for. The unit housing the controls also features a small microphone used for phone calls. When in phone mode, the controls allow you to take or reject calls and adjust call volume (the Freedoms switch automatically between modes when you answer or make calls). Sound quality during phone conversations is also very good, on both ends of the call.

On The Trail

Time then to really put these earbuds to the test – on the trail. There are a few options for cord management, the two main ones being under the chin or over the ears to behind the neck. On the previous generation we got excellent results running the cord over the ears, but the Freedoms don’t work as well in this configuration. The reason is that the angle between the cord and the body of the earbud is different now, which makes the whole set up more sensitive to any pressure coming from the cord. Add the fact that the battery is now attached to the cord and hence much more likely to pull on the earbuds, and you’ve got a bit of an issue. We found the best way to use the Freedoms for biking is to run the cord under the chin and use the included clip to attach the cord to the helmet's chin strap to support the cord/control unit. You also need to run the cord outside the helmet straps since otherwise any pressure exerted by the helmet straps can dislodge the earbuds. The low profile does offer the advantage of being able to function under a full face helmet (an improvement over the old design), but again, because of the angle of the cord sticking out of your ear, we found that it was very hard to get the earbuds to stay put and maintain a good seal in this scenario. Close, but not perfect.

Photo

Once we found the ideal set up, it was smooth sailing. Because the Freedoms are of the in-ear kind, they offer very impressive isolation against external sound, even without turning them on. And once the music is pumping, forget about hearing anything else – including other trail users or traffic, something to be aware of. As previously mentioned, sound quality is absolutely top-notch and this does not change out on the trail. We did notice that when we got very sweaty, to the point of some of it finding its way into our ears, the silicone earpieces struggled to hold a perfect seal. When that happens, you lose some of the bass, which is when the Mysound app comes in handy. Create a profile to tune your earbuds to the exact conditions of your workout and you’re pretty much good to go. We do however think that the angle of the cord where it exits the earbud could be improved upon to get closer to the on-the-trail experience of the original Bluebuds. Paradoxically, while the Bluebuds had more weight in the actual earbud, they also work better on the trail because of the angle of the cord.

Photo

The battery life of the Freedom buds has proved excellent. Jaybird claims 4 hours and we’ve even seen slightly better in a couple of cases. The charging clip is a neat solution to provide extra play time while on the go, even if it does add a bit too much weight to the system for really active sports. Use it to recharge the earbuds while away from a USB port and you’re good for another round. As for the longevity of the electronics, the design comes with a sweat-proof warranty and we’ve certainly done our best to test that aspect as well over a long, hot summer of riding. At this point, we have no reason to doubt Jaybird’s claims in this area, which is also borne out by our experience with the original Bluebud X’s – after almost 3 years those are still going strong.

Things That Could Be Improved

As previously mentioned, we struggled a bit to find the best setup for running the Freedoms with a helmet. We did manage to get to a workable solution, but we think Jaybird should take a look at the angle between the cord and the earbud itself. As it stands, the cable sort of fights the earbuds in many configurations, which disturbs the in-ear seal. As for the move to put the battery on the cord, it certainly provides a cleaner look and a lower profile of the earbuds themselves, but because of the aforementioned cord management issue it can sometimes be hard to find a good way of supporting this extra weight on the cord itself.

Long Term Durability

After a couple of months of subjecting the Freedoms all kinds of abuse on and off the trail, we see absolutely no signs of trouble. Jaybird backs its product with a 1-year general warranty and a warranty against sweat-related damage, which certainly makes you feel better about taking $200 worth of electronics out on the trail. For the physical aspects, you do need to heed Jaybird’s advice when it comes to removing the charging clip on the Freedom – don’t yank on the cord each time you do this, or you will end up in trouble.

What’s The Bottom Line?

If it’s audiophile quality in a small package you’re after, you owe it to yourself to check out Jaybird and their Freedom earbuds. The sound experience is nothing short of amazing, and the overall design is more than up for the rigors of an active lifestyle – backed by a sweat-proof warranty no less. Setting up the Freedoms for mountain biking can be a bit finicky, but once dialed, you’ll be rocking out to your favorite tunes on the trails without a care in the world. Just don’t get too excited when your favorite song comes on right as you are about to drop in… 

More information at: www.jaybirdsport.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Specifications

Product Jaybird Freedom
Audio Type Earbuds
Features • Type: In-Ear Style
• Noise-isolation: Passive
• Audio Format: 16-bit Stereo
• Codec: AAC, SBC, Modified SBC
• Response Bandwidth: 20Hz - 20kHz
• Driver Size: 6 mm
• Bluetooth Version: 4.1, Multi-point
• Profiles: Handsfree , Headset , A2DP , AVCRP , SPP
• Number of Paired Devices: 8
• Width: 0.92" (23.4 mm)
• Height: 0.88" (22.4 mm)
• Depth: 0.24" (6.2 mm)
• Weight: 0.49 oz (13.8 g)
• Cord Length: 14.17" (360 mm)
• Play Time: 8 Hrs* (4 hrs plus an additional 4 hrs with included charging clip)
• Standby Time: 110 Hrs*
• Charging Time: 2.5 Hrs
• Quick Charge: 20 min = 1 hour Play Time Plus 1 hour of playtime via the charging clip
• Comply Foam Ear Tips: S/M/L
• Silicone Ear Tips: S/M/L
• Secure-Fit Ear Fins: XS/S/M/L
• Cord Management Clips
• Cord Shirt Clip
• USB 2.0 Charging Cable
• Carry Case
Miscellaneous
Price $199.95
More Info

​www.jaybirdsport.com

More Products