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There’s nothing like going for a leisurely walk on a nearby trail to calm your mind and help reduce stress. Whether it’s hot and humid in the summer or bundled up in the frigid winter, I make time to do this at least a few times a week. And every time I do, I pop on a pair of true wireless earbuds to listen to tunes. When I have a video or phone call back in the home office, I’ll also use them to keep my hands free.
I love trying new pairs, including both ones designed for sports as well as high-end options that focus on audio quality above all else. One new pair in the latter category is the beyerdynamic Free Byrds, the company’s first pair of true wireless earbuds. I was excited to give them a try.
What to Know About the Beyerdynamic Free Byrd True Wireless Earbuds
The beyerdynamic Free Byrd true wireless earbuds offer Bluetooth pairing, active noise cancelling (ANC), and up to 11 hours of battery life per charge.
They feature a 10mm driver and the latest aptX adaptive and AAC codecs create detailed sound. Onboard digital ANC with hybrid technology promises consistent quality and no distracting ambient noise. There’s also a Transparency Mode so you can let in limited sounds, like cars passing by a busy street or a flight attendant speaking to you on a plane, when desired.
Each pair comes with five silicone earpieces designed by beyerdynamic acoustic specialists so every individual wearer can get the best fit possible. There are also three additional memory-foam earpieces to use during sports and exercise, or for those who simply prefer them to silicone. The earbuds aren’t specifically designed for sports, though they are splash-resistant, meeting IPX4 certification, which will protect them against sweat and rain.
Beyerdynamic also touts the speech intelligibility during phone calls or meetings, which reportedly remains at the highest quality, even in a noisy environment. This is thanks to the inclusion of Qualcomm dual 2-mic cVc technology, which consists of four microphones, two each on the left and right earpieces.
Using Google Fast Pair, the earbuds connect to Android devices within seconds, while Bluetooth connection options are available on iOS, Mac OS, and PC devices. Certifications from both Amazon and Apple also add ‘Hey Alexa’ and ‘Hey Siri’ voice assistants to Free BYRD.
A special Low Latency Mode ensures perfect synchronization between image and sound during gaming sessions. The Light Guide System, meanwhile, helps facilitate different user operations such as the Bluetooth pairing mode by using different colour LEDs.
Free BYRD can also be connected to beyerdynamic’s MIY app. The “MOSAYC – Attention to Detail with Mimi Sound Personalization” elevates the sound of the Free BYRD, says the company. After a listening test of just two minutes, the sound and settings of the headphones can be personalized within the app and adapt to the individual user’s hearing profile. With Sidetone, you can hear your own voice during phone calls, and the equalizer offers customization of audio content to your preference with presets. In addition, the app can be used to keep the earbuds up to date with the latest technology via over-the-air firmware updates.
Recharge the buds in the included compact charging cradle/case, powered via USB-C or Qi wireless pads. A quick 10-minute charge provides up to 70 minutes of added listening time in a pinch.
At US$249, the Free Byrds sit in the mid-range price point for the category, competing with the likes of Samsung Galaxy Buds, Apple AirPods, and others.
My Experience With the Free Byrds
The first thing I did after taking the Free Byrds out of the box was charge them and prepare to pair via Bluetooth. The process was simple: they connected quickly to my iPhone XR. The MIY app wasn’t officially ready during the time I had my review sample, but I was able to use a beta version at first (just prior to launch, I was able to switch to the official app).
The various eartips means there’s really is one for every possibly ear size type. I opted for the extra small foam ones since I prefer the feel of foam. It’s recommended to squeeze the foam tips slightly before inserting into your ear so they will expand nicely to cover your entire ear canal for proper noise cancellation and fit. I had to consult with the instructions to confirm the right way to position them. Once I got the fit correct, I was on my way.
I wore them during various outdoor walks as well as at home. I first listened out of the box then ran a listening test once in a quiet setting to get sound personalized to me.
This requires listening to static with a faint beeping noise in the background, pressing and holding the button every time you hear the beeping, letting go when it stops or becomes inaudible to your ears. Do this for each ear and voila! Your personal listening profile is ready.
Based on the music I listen to, which is background music ranging from pop to rock to R&B and soul, I didn’t notice a huge difference between the original sound profile and my personalized one.
Where I did notice a difference, however, was between these buds and the first-gen AirPods I usually wear for walks. I took both out one day and alternated, and the sound difference was staggering. With the beyerdynamic headphones, there was a great noise cancelling seal that effectively blocked out the hum of many cars passing by and the rustling of leaves and trees on windier days. I was able to enjoy fully enveloping sound that was clear and well balanced. Songs like “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas, playing through SiriusXM satellite radio app on my iPhone XR, truly showed off the bass performance and sonic separation in these buds. Tunes playing through Apple Music were equally as pleasurable.
When turning on ANC, the lovely British female voice audibly lets you know it’s on. It worked decently but was no comparison to a pair of high-end ANC over-ears. For example, our refrigerator has been on the fritz, making a loud humming noise at times. If I pop on my Bose ANC over-ear ‘phones, it’s like there’s nothing happening in the background. Put on the beyerdynamic buds and the sound is less irritating but I can still hear the slight hum with ANC mode activated.
The app is useful for adjusting settings, including turning on low latency mode for use while gaming, switching on (or off) ANC or Transparency mode, activating your personal sound profile, and adjusting the equalizer. It also conveniently advises of the battery for both buds so you know when it’s time to recharge them in the case.
A neat section in the app is a nice reminder of how to use the touch controls on the buds themselves: press the multifunction button once to start/stop playvback. Tap twice to turn ANC on or off and once to accept an incoming call or tap and hold to reject a call. Tapping the left bud twice and holding decreases volume (let go once you get to the desired level) and tapping the right twice and holding increases it. To play the next track, tap the right earbud three times and tap the left thrice to play the previous track.
The controls can be finicky at times. For example, there were a few times I wanted to skip to the next track and ended up activating transparency mode instead because I didn’t tap quickly enough. While it takes some getting used to, once you get the hang of the functions and tap sequences, it becomes second nature. Having the guide in the app is a convenient and appreciated feature.
The beyerdynamic Free Byrds are a solid option for those who want a good-sounding pair of earbuds they can use while working out, going for walks, making video calls, commuting, and for everyday listening. At US$249, which will likely equate to about $325 in Canada, they are comparable to mid-to-high-end true wireless earbuds in price. And they stand up when it comes to audio quality, battery life, fit and style.
They’re a bit larger than I like but fit nicely into the ears. With the different eartips, you can try various ones until you find the perfect fit. The app is a nice touch to further personalize the sound.
Overall, the Free Byrds are a solid first entry into a growing category by a brand that is known for its audio prowess. They don’t disappoint.