Bluetooth Wireless Headphones Review: Jaybird Freedom 2

Of all the headsets and earbuds I have reviewed over the years, one of the few companies that consistently seems to make a concerted effort to push the mobile audio envelope further with each successive release is Jaybird. Beginning with its X1 headset, revolutionary at the time for its significant bulk reduction of a stereo wireless headset through their release of incredibly lightweight Freedom headset, Jaybird continues its refinement of the lightweight headset experience with its second iteration of Freedom. Is the Freedom 2 ($149.99) a worthy investment, especially for existing first generation Freedom owners considering an upgrade? Read on to find out.

Related: Best Workout Headphones for Running, Hitting the Gym & More

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

When I reviewed the original Jaybird Freedom headset, I was amazed how such a lightweight headset could sound so good. As such, my expectations were high for seeing what improvements Jaybird had in store for its follow up version 2. Unfortunately, the minor changes made to the Freedom 2 were a step backward for me in comfort.

Like the original Freedom, the Freedom 2 sports the identical audio quality and roughly four-hour battery charge. Even the charging clip (which also provides an additional 4-hour backup battery charge when clipped to the Freedom 2) is identical to that of the original Freedom. This is a good thing, since one of the irksome qualities of Jaybird's other wireless headsets, such as the X3, is that they have their own proprietary charging clip. 

The only notable physical change from the original Freedom that I can clearly identify is a modified earfin, and the omission of non-earfin ear tips. Perhaps it is the shape of my outer ear, but earfins have never quite felt comfortable. In fact, they become downright painful after ten minutes. I will admit that the earfins do add considerable stability to the earbud, keeping the ear buds firmly in place and more immune to popping out of the ear canal when twisting your head from side to side. I wore the original Freedom with standard eartips and had the earbuds loop over the top of my ears to keep it stable. And yes, the earbud would on a few occasions pop out from my ear when I was particularly active, but a quick reinsertion would fix the problem. With the Freedom 2, I either have to put up with the painful tips of the earfins digging into my ear or purchase a separate Freedom (F5) accessory pack that resupplies the ear tips that were included with the original Freedom release.

Jaybird also states that it has improved the plastic cabling system clip that helps pick up extra wire slack between earbuds. I did notice a slight improvement in that the cable moved and cinched up more fluidly, but it is a mediocre feature that is used once or twice when sizing the headset and rarely called upon again. Beyond that, the Jaybird 2 really does not provide much of any considerable improvement beyond the original model. Consequently, if the original Freedom should go on a deep sale clear out inventory, I would recommend buying it over the Freedom 2. I am still not entirely sure what Jaybird set out to accomplish with the Freedom 2 release since there are only minor tweaks. The sound and lightweight aspects of the Freedom design are still intact, though now that the product has aged, the headset is simply not as revolutionary and unique as the original one released over a year ago.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.