Similar to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wi-fi 3s I recently reviewed, Beyerdynamic’s new Free Byrd earbuds are squarely geared toward those that prioritize sound high quality over virtually all the pieces else. When you think about that these are the corporate’s first-ever set of true wi-fi earbuds, I’ve been pleasantly shocked at how effectively additionally they stand out in different respects: the $249 Free Byrds ship marathon battery life, good lively noise cancellation, and have a design that breaks from the usual, unmemorable method.
Nice sound high quality is simply the place to begin of a formidable first effort. And I can’t ignore the title, which is clearly a nod to the Lynyrd Skynyrd traditional — 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 which 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 a great 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 specifically, there’s a bulbous center space of the earbud design which 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 sort of vibe these challenge. (The Free Byrds additionally are available in black.) The wi-fi charging case is on the taller facet 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 an increasing number of 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 anyplace within the frequency vary. On Maggie Rogers’ new music “Horses,” her vocals come by means of clearly with heat and resonance, whereas the crunchiness of electrical guitars beneath is well-preserved. Muna’s “Free Garment” is a pleasant demo monitor for the soundstage, with vocals and strings floating between the left and proper channels in the course of the music, and the drums and cymbal faucets are nonetheless completely distinct with their very own spot within the combine. The whole lot in regards to the Free Byrds feels participating and refined. With Beyerdynamic’s cell app, you’ll be able to take a listening to check to personalize the sound profile or select from presets like “heat” or “v-shaped,” however there’s at the moment no approach to fully customise the EQ. Total, I nonetheless desire the constancy of Sennheiser’s newest pair over these, however they’re not wildly far aside.
For codecs, these Bluetooth 5.2 earbuds assist aptX Adaptive on Android — permitting for higher-bitrate wi-fi playback — and the usual AAC on Apple units. Sadly, they don’t provide multipoint Bluetooth for pairing with two audio sources directly, however handoff between units may be very fast and doesn’t require disconnecting from one supply earlier than you’ll be able to change to a different. The Free Byrds do embody assist for Quick Pair on Android, elective Alexa integration, and you should use both bud standalone in mono. There’s additionally a low latency mode that may be activated when enjoying cell 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 just would possibly decide up on in completely quiet environments. Some persons are extra delicate to this than others, and I by no means observed it when audio was truly enjoying. Transparency mode is a bit more run of the mill however serves its objective 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 by means of with out aggressively gating it to chop down on background noise. This works effectively on calls at residence however is much less excellent open air.
Beyerdynamic’s contact controls may use some revising, nonetheless. I desire bodily buttons the place attainable however can accept faucet gestures so long as they make sense and work constantly. The fundamental Free Byrd instructions are advantageous: you faucet as soon as to play or pause, twice to modify between ANC and transparency mode, or thrice to skip tracks or return. Quantity is the place issues get a bit of awkward, requiring two faucets and a maintain after the second to regulate loudness. It really works okay when you get the sequence down, but it surely’s not what I’d name an intuitive gesture — and I’d often 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 choice, however that’s not attainable in the meanwhile.
Battery life is an sudden energy, with the Free Byrds in a position to attain round eight hours of enjoying time with ANC enabled and as much as 11 with it off. That’s greater than sufficient for many wants, and the charging case supplies an added 19 hours (with ANC disabled), so you’ll be able to 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 admire the overabundance of ear ideas that come included, and not less than 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 will probably be a bit of too stout for some. What’s here’s a robust 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 perhaps a smaller type issue subsequent time round, Beyerdynamic will probably be proper up there with the easiest gamers within the recreation. That’s assuming, in contrast to within the music, this Byrd can change.
Images by Chris Welch / The Verge