Last month, Jaybird announced the Freedom Wireless earbuds to much fanfare thanks to their Apple-friendly looks. It’s no surprise as Jaybird’s headphones have continually ranked high amongst consumers for its active lifestyle design. This new pair sits alongside the popular X2’s but have a 20% lighter design and a new battery pack system. At $200, you’re also seeing a price bump too. Head below for an in-depth look and a video that dives further into the Jaybird Freedom Wireless headphones.

Intro

This is the first pair of headphones that Jaybird has released since it was purchased by Logitech back in April. Not that it changes much, but it is a mile marker in the history of the company. Jaybird has done a nice of job of staying above the fray when it comes to active Bluetooth headphones. The bottom of the market has completely fallen out over the last year, as demonstrated by the plethora of deals in our daily smartphone accessory roundup.

For comparison, Beats popular Powerbeats2 in-ears cost about 50% less and offer an arguably bigger name. Jaybird has been able to keep its place in the upper echelon by offering a quality build and attractive designs.

Going into this review, my expectations were high. Having used the previous-generation X2’s for some time, I hold Jaybird in high-regard as a solid headphone-maker. Amazon customers largely agree when you look at the lineup as a whole. The Freedom wireless earbuds ship in four colors – Carbon, Gold, Ocean and Blaze – with matching accent colors, as well. For our review, I opted for the Gold version to match my iPhone.

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Unboxing

I am a big fan of what Jaybird does with its packaging. It has a very Apple-like quality to it with a white background and big, high resolution images. When you pop open the box, you’ll see the new Freedoms alongside the battery pack and a large image of Kerri Walsh Jennings (lead sponsor athlete). Underneath the foam holder is a Jaybird-branded leather accessory bag and an instruction guide for getting started.

Right off the bat you’ll need to attach the battery pack to your new earbuds to start charging. I’ll get into this setup a little more later but this is a big change from past Jaybird products. The charging port is located on the removable battery pack instead of the earbuds themselves. That means you’ll have to keep the add-on handy at all times when you plan on charging.

There are three sets of silicone and memory foam earbuds as well as three different sized wing-tips for holding each bud in place. In typical Jaybird fashion, these rubber fins are meant to be wedge between the headphones and your outer lobe. You can use them with or without, but this is the intended use. Pairing with your smartphone is easy, as you’d expect with any modern day Bluetooth device. You’ll need a few hours to charge up the battery pack and internal power supply the first time before you enjoy any music.

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Features

One of my favorite features of the Jaybird Freedoms is its high-quality materials and design. The metal accents are a nice change from traditional plastic materials. It feels like a more expensive product, which is good, because it is. This is a big part of the Jaybird experience. You’ll find much less technical information about the headphones on its product listing. You’re paying a higher price because of the design as much as the technology.

That said, the sound quality did not disappoint. I have different expectations for earbuds, especially those designed for active lifestyles and so should you. There isn’t going to be a dynamic open-air sound with this type of product but you are going to notice a difference in comparison to Apple’s EarPods that ship with your iPhone. Jaybird’s flat sound has some solid punch. The low-end is well represented — at times drowning out the mids. It’s difficult to recreate a full-spectrum sound with earbuds; that’s an issue across the board. But the Freedom’s do an admirable job at handling most every genre that I threw at it.

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You can expect around eight hours of battery life on a full charge when the external pack is paired with Jaybird’s internal power source. In reality, I found this number to be closer to seven hours and around three when just using the built-in battery. Overall, not bad. It’s certainly better than what you’d see on bargain third-party headphones at Amazon.

Jaybird’s MySound app for iOS and Android brings full EQ customization to the table along with a library of other presets. You can also choose from a list of “athlete presets” that recreate specific listening preferences of Jaybirds sponsorship athletes. While it might sound good on paper, I really don’t care how Nick Rimando likes his music.jaybird-freedom-wireless-9to5toys-3

Criticisms

So that battery pack… I understand what Jaybird is trying to accomplish here, and it’s commendable to think outside of the box. Here are my two issues. First, it’s small. If you lose the external battery, you won’t be able to charge your Freedoms. To combat this, I tried to always keep it attached to my headphones no matter the situation. This leads to my second complaint: the external battery is pretty bulky. It’s twice as wide as the remote and is pretty annoying when you try to run with it attached. I could leave it on my power supply at home but then I miss out on an additional four hours of playtime. Either way seems like a loss to me.

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Conclusion

Overall, the new Jaybird Freedoms are a nice upgrade from the X2’s. The design is spectacular. If you are an Apple fan, I highly suggest giving this pair a try. The metal accents are a nice touch that separate Jaybird’s newest release from the rest of the pack.

My criticisms about the battery pack aside, I would recommend these headphones to anyone looking for a top-notch active pair of earbuds. The Jaybird Freedom wireless headphones are available for purchase in four colors for $199.95.

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