Just just like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3s I just lately reviewed, Beyerdynamic’s new Free Byrd earbuds are squarely aimed toward those that prioritize sound high quality over virtually every little thing 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 nicely 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 components.
Great 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. But 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 a superb deal heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, Apple AirPods Pro, 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 suggestions with the Free Byrds. There are 5 units of silicone suggestions to decide on between (XS, S, M, L, XL) and three pairs of foam-style suggestions. I at all times gravitate towards foam when out there, and there’s one thing concerning the mild grey end of the earbuds mixed with the orange foam ear suggestions that appears nice. Tell me you’re an audiophile with out telling me you’re an audiophile — that’s the sort of vibe these mission. (The Free Byrds additionally are available black.) The wi-fi charging case is on the taller aspect however feels nicely made. I haven’t had any situations of those earbuds remaining linked whereas within the case, which is one thing I’ve encountered extra and extra from the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3s post-review.
Sound high quality is detailed and crisp however doesn’t go shy on bass. But there’s no muddiness or harshness wherever within the frequency vary. On Maggie Rogers’ new music “Horses,” her vocals come by way of clearly with heat and resonance, whereas the crunchiness of electrical guitars beneath is well-preserved. Muna’s “Loose 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 music, and the drums and cymbal faucets are nonetheless completely distinct with their very own spot within the combine. Everything concerning the Free Byrds feels partaking and refined. With Beyerdynamic’s cell app, you possibly can take a listening to check to personalize the sound profile or select from presets like “warm” or “v-shaped,” however there’s presently no approach to fully customise the EQ. Overall, 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 assist aptX Adaptive on Android — permitting for higher-bitrate wi-fi playback — and the usual AAC on Apple gadgets. Unfortunately, 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 swap to a different. The Free Byrds do embrace assist for Fast Pair on Android, elective Alexa integration, and you should utilize 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.
Active 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 may 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 goal when you want a fast check-in with the skin world. Call high quality is passable however not mind-blowing; Beyerdynamic favors letting extra of your voice by way of with out aggressively gating it to chop down on background noise. This works nicely on calls at house however is much less preferrred outside.
Beyerdynamic’s contact controls may use some revising, nonetheless. I choose bodily buttons the place doable however can accept faucet gestures as long as they make sense and work constantly. The fundamental Free Byrd instructions are tremendous: you faucet as soon as to play or pause, twice to modify between ANC and transparency mode, or 3 times to skip tracks or return. Volume is the place issues get just a little awkward, requiring two faucets and a maintain after the second to regulate loudness. It works okay when you get the sequence down, but it surely’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 when you may customise every of those gestures to your choice, however that’s not doable for the time being.
Battery life is an sudden power, 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 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 incredible sound with element and depth, top-tier battery life, and good noise cancellation. I admire the overabundance of ear suggestions that come included, and at the least for my ears, they match nicely and stayed snug over time. But that final level will differ for each particular person, and I can foresee circumstances the place these earbuds might be just a little 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 as long as your ears are the proper match. But 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 sport. That’s assuming, in contrast to within the music, this Byrd can change.
Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge