Beyerdynamic Free Byrd Earbuds Review: Soaring Sound and Long Battery Life – The Verge | Hot Mobile Press

Just like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3s I recently reviewed, Beyerdynamic’s new Free Byrd earphones are aimed squarely at those who prioritize sound quality over almost everything else. Considering these are the company’s first-ever set of true wireless earbuds, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they compare in other ways too: The $249 Free Byrds offer marathon battery life, good active noise cancellation, and design , which breaks with the usual, unforgettable formula.

Great sound quality is just the starting point for an impressive first try. And I can’t ignore the name, which is clearly a nod to the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic – and a very cliched concert request. But no set of earbuds is perfect, and the Free Byrds are taken down a bit by unintuitive controls and a physical design that might prove problematic for smaller ears.

The Free Byrds are not small or understated. They weigh a hair less than Sony’s 1000XM4 earbuds, but are a lot heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, Apple AirPods Pro and other earbuds that offer an airy feel and lasting comfort. Beyerdynamic’s buds are chunkier in comparison, and in particular there’s a bulbous mid-section of the earbud design that might make the Free Byrds uncomfortable in small ears. I don’t fit that description, so I’ve never had any pain or ear fatigue.

I should have expected this from an audio brand, but Beyerdynamic includes a generous collection of earbuds with the Free Byrds. There are five sets of silicone tips to choose from (XS, S, M, L, XL) and three pairs of foam tips. I always gravitate toward foam when available, and there’s something about the light gray finish on the earbuds combined with the orange foam earbuds that looks great. Tell me you’re an audiophile without telling me you’re an audiophile – that’s the kind of vibe this project has. (The Free Byrds also come in black.) The wireless charging case is a bit larger but feels well made. I haven’t had any instances of these earbuds staying connected in the case, which is something I’ve come across with increasing frequency after reviewing the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3.

If you can’t find the right fit with these many eartip options, there may be no hope.

Sound quality is detailed and crisp, but doesn’t shy away from bass. But there is no mud or harshness anywhere in the frequency range. On Maggie Rogers’ new song “Horses,” her vocals come through clearly with warmth and resonance, while the crispness of the electric guitars underneath is well preserved. Muna’s “Loose Garment” is a nice soundstage demo track, with vocals and strings floating between the left and right channels throughout the song, and the drums and cymbal taps are still perfectly separated with their own place in the mix . Everything about the Free Byrds feels appealing and sophisticated. Beyerdynamic’s mobile app lets you take a listening test to personalize the sound profile, or choose from presets like “warm” or “v-shaped,” but there’s no way to fully customize the EQ at this time. Overall, I still prefer the fidelity of Sennheiser’s latest pair over these, but they’re not very far apart.

The Free Byrds stick out a bit from your ears.

As codecs, these Bluetooth 5.2 earphones support aptX Adaptive on Android – which enables higher bitrate wireless playback – and standard AAC on Apple devices. Unfortunately, they don’t offer multipoint Bluetooth for simultaneous pairing with two audio sources, but handover between devices is very fast and doesn’t require disconnecting from one source before you can switch to another. The Free Byrds include support for Fast Pair on Android, optional Alexa integration, and you can use both buds standalone in mono. There’s also a low-latency mode that can be activated when playing mobile games, and the Free Byrds are rated IPX4 for water resistance, making them suitable for working out.

The Free Byrds’ active noise cancellation is above average, although not quite on par with Sony, Bose, or Apple. There is a very faint hiss that you might hear in completely quiet environments. Some people are more sensitive to this than others and I never noticed when audio was actually playing. Transparency mode is a bit more ordinary, but does the job when you need a quick check-in with the outside world. Call quality is satisfactory but not overwhelming; Beyerdynamic prefers to let more of your voice through without aggressively blinding it to reduce background noise. This works well for calls at home, but is less than ideal outdoors.

However, Beyerdynamic’s touch controls could use an overhaul. I prefer physical buttons whenever possible, but can be satisfied with typing gestures as long as they make sense and work consistently. The basic Free Byrd commands are fine: tap once to play or pause, double-tap to toggle between ANC and transparency modes, or triple-tap to skip tracks or go back. Things get a little awkward with volume, as you have to double-tap and hold after the second to adjust the volume. It works well once you’ve shut down the sequence, but it’s not what I’d call an intuitive gesture – and I’ve accidentally paused the music on occasion when I haven’t managed to. It would be nice if you could customize each of these gestures to your liking, but that’s currently not possible.

The earbuds last up to eight hours with noise cancellation enabled.

Battery life is an unexpected strength, as the Free Byrds can get around eight hours of playtime with ANC on and up to 11 hours with ANC off. That’s more than enough for most needs, and the charging case offers an extra 19 hours (with ANC disabled), so you could potentially get 30 hours total in scenarios where you don’t need the noise-cancelling.

For the company’s first swing, Beyerdynamic’s Free Byrd earphones deliver fantastic sound with detail and depth, top-notch battery life and good noise-cancellation. I appreciate the plethora of ear tips that are included, and to my ears, at least, they fit well and have remained comfortable over time. But that last point will be different for each person, and I can foresee instances where these earbuds will be a bit too thick for some. What’s here is a strong debut in the wireless earbuds market for an established audio brand. I recommend the Free Byrds as they are as long as your ears are the right game. But with some refinements to the onboard controls, and maybe next time with a smaller form factor, Beyerdynamic will be right up there with the very best players in the game. Provided, unlike in the song, this Byrd is subject to change.

Photography by Chris Welch / The Verand

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