BEYERDYNAMIC FREE BYRD SPECS
|Active Noise Cancellation||Yes|
Beyerdynamic may have been late to the party when it comes to noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds, but the company’s new Free Byrd earbuds (which retail for 249.99 dollars) are certainly not lacking in quality. They have a wonderful sound, are compatible with a broad variety of Bluetooth codecs, and come with a wealth of additional accessories. Their companion app (the most recent beta version that we tested) only includes equalizer presets rather than a fully adjustable equalizer, and this is one of the reasons why they don’t compete with the best options available at this price point. In addition, they have decent active noise cancellation (ANC). Our Editors’ Choice award goes to Sony’s WF-1000XM4 headphones because they feature superior noise cancellation, an improved app, and similarly impressive audio quality. These headphones can be purchased for a total price of $279.99.
A Slightly Ungainly Construction With an Outstanding Battery Life
The Free Byrd earbuds come in either black or gray and have a bulky design; nevertheless, they don’t have any fins or stabilizers, so they fit well in the ear. In the box, you will find six different sizes of silicone eartips (XS, S, M, L, and XL), as well as three different sizes of foam eartips (S, M, and L). Foam tips are our personal favorite, as they offer superior passive noise reduction, tend to ensure the most secure fit, and frequently result in a slightly stronger bass response.
The frequency range that is delivered internally by the 10mm dynamic speakers is from 10Hz all the way up to 20kHz. These earphones support the AAC, AptX Adaptive, and SBC codecs and are compatible with Bluetooth 5.2. Because they also include compatibility for the more audiophile-friendly LDAC codec, the aforementioned Sony earbuds and the Technics EAH-AZ60 offer a tiny advantage in this regard.
A status LED and a Beyerdynamic logo are both displayed on the exterior panel of each earpiece, which also features a capacitive touch strip in black. To play or pause audio, you just need to tap once on the outer panel of either earpiece. Simply make two taps on the screen to toggle between the ANC On and Transparency settings. If you want to go back one track, tap three times on the left earpiece, and if you want to go ahead one track, tap three times on the right earpiece. Finally, to activate the voice assistant on your device, tap and hold either earpiece for a few seconds. The capacitive buttons are sensitive enough to register touches, although we occasionally noticed a lag between a tap and the action; this could lead to misfires if you ever try to press the button again within the range of time that the delay covers.
A water-resistance grade of IPX4, while not very spectacular, is normal for the category. The rating indicates that the in-ear headphones can survive light splashes coming from any direction. This implies that sweaty workouts and light rain should not be a problem for the headphones; nevertheless, you should not rinse them under a faucet or submerge them in water. Because the rating does not apply to the charging case, you need to make sure that the earpieces are completely dry before you dock them. Consider purchasing either the Jabra Elite 7 Pro (which costs $199) or the Jabra Elite 7 Active (which costs $179), both of which have been rated as having an IP57 level of protection against water ingress.
The charging case is somewhat cumbersome, but its flip-top cover can be opened with relative ease, and the surface may be held securely. The vast majority of other cases are unable to make either of those two distinctions. On the front, right above the Beyerdynamic logo, there is a status LED. On the rear, there is a USB-C port that may be used with the USB-C-to-USB-A charging cable that is included in the packaging. The Qi standard allows for wireless charging to be used with this case.
Beyerdynamic estimates that the earphones have a battery life of around eight hours per charge when the active noise cancellation feature is turned on and 11 hours when it is turned off. The case has a capacity for an additional 19 hours of battery life (depending on how you use ANC and how loud you set the level), which is a little less than the typical amount.
The App’s Feature Set
The most recent beta version of the Beyerdynamic companion app was put through our rigorous testing (available for Android and iOS). The name of the application, MIY, is somewhat befuddling, and the logo, which is even more befuddling, is quite similar to the word “My.” In any event, we checked, and it’s true that finding the app in the App Store by searching for the phrase “Beyerdynamic” brings it up.
Using the application, you may create a sound profile that modifies the audio to better suit your ears, and then you can use a fader to combine that profile with the original signal. Sadly, this type of functionality is becoming increasingly popular in companion apps, but unfortunately, as is the case here, it generally comes at the sacrifice of complete EQ controls. The application provides you with a number of equalization presets (for example, bass boost, warm, and smooth treble), but you are unable to modify these settings or create a profile that is unique to your preferences.
In addition to the settings and the sound profile function, you have the ability to toggle between the ANC and Transparent modes (or turn off both of them), and you can also activate a low-latency mode for use while gaming. There is also the option to make Alexa your default voice assistant; however, in order to do so, you will first need to download the Alexa app. In addition to the inaccuracies in the EQ, this software does not provide the possibility to personalize the on-ear sound settings.
Effective Noise Cancellation (With a Caveat)
The noise isolation provided by the Free Byrd earbuds is far better than typical. During testing, they drastically dialed back a loud, low-frequency rumble (like the kind you hear on an airplane), and they significantly turned down the lows and mids in a recording of clattering dishes and boisterous chatter from a crowded restaurant.
Unfortunately, despite their good performance on these tests, the earphones contribute a noticeable quantity of high-frequency hiss; while the hiss is not unpleasant, it is an indicator of noise cancellation that is not of the highest quality. Even in quiet surroundings, the hiss that is added to the signal by the headphones makes even a quiet room sound louder when using ANC than when using headphones without it. In the end, if active noise cancellation (ANC) is of the utmost importance, either the Sony WF-1000XM4 or the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds ($279.95) are going to be able to deal with deeper lows and more complex soundscapes in a significantly more effective manner while also producing significantly less hiss.
The transparency mode works effectively; it enables you to readily hear your surroundings and carry on a conversation without having to remove the earpieces from your ears. However, when we tried to switch modes via the on-ear controls, we once again noted a substantial lag in the process. We would also like it if the touch controls allowed us to cycle to the All Off setting, but unfortunately, that option is only accessible through the app. A great number of other earbuds offer an on-ear control method that additionally includes an Off option.
Sound that is Detailed and Well-Balanced
The earbuds have an outstanding low-frequency response, as demonstrated by songs like “Silent Shout” by The Knife, which include a significant amount of powerful sub-bass sound. Even when listening at levels that are unwisely high, the bass does not distort, and even when listening at settings that are moderately high, the lows continue to sound powerful and complementary to the higher frequencies.
The song “Drover” by Bill Callahan, which features a lot less deep bass in the mix, provides us with a more accurate representation of the sound signature. The drums on this track have the potential to sound unduly ominous and rumbling when listened to through bass-forward in-ears; nonetheless, these earphones create a beautiful balance between amplified lows and natural tones. Baritone vocals of Callahan come across as having richness in the low-mid range and benefit from clear definition in the high-mid range. The higher-register percussion hits and acoustic strums both have a bright and clear tone to them as well.
On the song “No Church in the Wild,” performed by Jay-Z and Kanye West, the kick drum loop is given a high-mid presence that is sufficient for its attack to keep some of its punch. The background hiss and crackle of the vinyl record also go to the forefront of the mix, and there is a significant amount of higher-frequency boosting and shaping. The sub-bass synth bursts that punctuate the beat come across with impressive depth; although you won’t feel as if there is a subwoofer in your skull, you will surely get a healthy dosage of rumble from the music. Clear vocals can be heard on this track; nevertheless, you may find that you would want a little more high-mid presence on this track. This is one area in where the absence of an adjustable EQ is a real disappointment.
Orchestral tracks, such as the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, get a tiny bit more low-frequency boost than they need; nonetheless, this is never done to the point where it significantly upsets the balance. The higher-register brass, strings, and vocals continue to keep their position in the forefront, and the added bass depth primarily serves to make the music feel a little bit richer.
The MEMS mic array is performing admirably. When we listened to a test tape on our iPhone, we had no trouble understanding what was being said. Although Beyerdynamic filters and EQs the signal here, we did not observe any garbled Bluetooth audio artifacts in the transmission, and the mic array provides excellent clarity. However, we did observe that the signal was adjusted.
An Honorable Performance for the First Attempt
The Beyerdynamic Free Byrd earbuds have an exceptional sound quality and are compatible with a wide variety of Bluetooth codecs. However, the absence of an equalization setting that may be adjusted is a bit bothersome, and the on-ear controls were not always very responsive to our inputs. The performance of the ANC is above average, but there is a clear and irritating hiss throughout the recording. Both the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, which were previously highlighted, are worthy recipients of our Editors’ Choice award due to their overall superiority. Beyerdynamic is up against formidable competition from Sennheiser in the form of the Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds, which retail for the same amount of money as the Free Byrd but offer a few more alluring features than those offered by Beyerdynamic.
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