Wireless headphones, or earbuds preferably, are a necessity in my daily fitness routine. I usually always have a pair in my bag for my commute, just in case I can actually make it to the gym after work, and I always keep a spare set charging at home. While running has become the go-to staple of my daily exercise program over the last few years, I use them in all of my fitness activities. I usually run outdoors, and the usual wear-and-tear that brings has me on a constant hunt for a new pair of wireless headphones that could offer a better fit and new features. This past week I put the Jaybird Freedom earbuds through the wringer, and while they are pricey, they certainly stand out in quality and design.
A great pair of earbuds are hard to come by, price and compatibility are a factor, but they also have to be comfortable, long-lasting and extremely durable if I am going keep them.
These earbuds feature a fitness-inspired design, so they are going to differ from earbuds that might be better suited for music-lovers. The noise-isolation is a great example of this. The Freedom offer a passive isolation method, meaning they won’t block-out all of the sound around you, but they wonderfully muffle the daily noise so that you can focus on the task at hand. This is perfect for exercising (especially outdoors where you have to be mindful of traffic) and great for not being totally zoned-out of your surroundings while still enjoying your music and podcasts.
I paired them with iOS devices, including an iPhone 6, an Apple Watch and an iPad Mini 2 during testing. They are compatible with almost any Android device as well, since they connect with Bluetooth, but if you want to use the companion App make sure your OS is up to date and on the list of approved devices. The app actually has a ton of terrific customizable features, which are highlighted in the video below.
Connecting to Bluetooth is never exactly painless (it’s my least favorite of the standardized connections we use) but these were a breeze to connect and disconnect from when needed. I did enjoy that you could pair the Freedom with up to 8 different devices, it made switching from my phone to my tablet to watch media a seamless experience.
The Freedom excels in design and comfort, the best I’ve tested to date. They weigh less than an ounce, (13.8 grams to be precise) and are secure yet weightless on my runs. if I didn’t have hilarious podcasts broadcasting in my ears, I wouldn’t even remember they were there. You can choose between the Comply™ Foam Ear Tips or the silicone Ear Tips if you prefer, and both come in three sizes for the perfect fit. I suggest trying both, I thought I would like the Foam before I realized the silicone actually stayed in my ear a little better. The box also contains your Secure-Fit Ear Fins to keep them firmly fixed in place, and those also come in three sizes. You will also find some cord management clips and a cord shirt clip (I love these while running) all in the box with a carrying case.
Battery life is another crucial factor in headphones, and you have to read the fine print here. The Freedom comes with a Charger clip and a USB cable. This charging clip has an internal battery, so you get a boost when you need it but in some of the marketing it’s factored into the total running time. This isn’t a deal-breaker, it’s actually a really nice feature, but make sure you’re prepared if you’re going on a long flight or an extended hike.
You can easily get 4 hours of playtime through these headsets with a single charge, but you can add another 4 hours to that total when you attach the included charging clip. That’s 8 hours total the device could accompany you on your workout, a very impress statistic in the world of wireless headphones.
Standby time is also important to check when you’re shopping around, because if you’re like me, you pause and forget to shutdown you’re bluetooth devices all the time. The Freedom offer over 100 Hrs of standby time (110 total according to the website) and can be fully recharged in 2.5 hours.
There is a “Quick Charge” option as well, which could be a lifesaver if you forgot to charge and want to hit the gym. If you charge for about 20 minutes you’ll get 1 hour of play time. Perfect for a quick spin-class or a jog, and you get another hour with the charging clip. That’s assuming both are completely dead, so your battery life could be better depending on the state at which you started the Quick Charge.
One design feature that many overlook are the buttons on headset remotes. I stay away from any set that doesn’t offer raised buttons. I don’t have time to fiddle with music when I work out, or need to pause, and this set offers raised buttons. You will find the standard options here, with Play/pause, next and back; you also have call controls like answer, end, reject call and other options. Of course you will also find the volume control and the, pair and power controls as well.
On the tech side of things they offer an impedance of 16 Ohm, output at a 5mW nominal, with a 10mW max, and feature 16-bit stereo sound. The Bluetooth connection runs on version 4.1 and runs on 2.4Ghz band. If you’re looking at codecs, they feature AAC, SBC and Modified SBC, and they run on 6 mm drivers. Since the majority of us simply run all of our content through services like Apple Music, Google Play. Spotify or Pandora, no one really worries about codecs anymore, but if you have a particular home setup that you use, it’s nice to know which are compatible.
At $200 the Freedom Earbuds could be out of the price-range of a lot of consumers, but I have to say the cost is justified when compared to other fitness headsets. It’s a little high-end, but nothing major when compared to other headsets in their class. Not only are they the most reliable Bluetooth headphones I’ve tried, the battery life and comfort of the Freedom made them my new go-to pair for all activities.
It’s never easy to find a pair of headsets that are compatible with me while I’m at my sweatiest, bounciest and most easily aggravated workout-self, but these are easily the best to-date.