Jaybird Freedom Wireless Headset Review

Jaybird Freedom Wireless Headset Review

Long-time iPhone Life Magazine readers know that I have been fortunate enough to be reviewing Jaybird's evolving product line of wireless headsets since the company's conception. From the onset, I have found its products superior in nearly every way except for the size of the earbuds. With the release of the Freedom design, Jaybird has finally addressed the complaint I've long leveled against its headsets. Does the Freedom's innovative engineering feat elevate the product to perfection? Read on to find out.

The first thing that will strike anyone committed enough to purchase the Freedom headset ($199.95) is the premium quality of the packing. This is the type of box that you don't throw away after unpacking the headset but rather put it up on your bookshelf for safe keeping, even if the headset will be in constant use. This impressive packaging is the kind of high bar quality that is infused throughout the product.

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After gingerly unpacking the headset from the injection molded container, the next thing that prompts a double take it the incredibly diminutive size of the stereo ear tubes connected by a single wire. I have to admit I was initially skeptical that these tiny earbuds could generate the volume and high quality sound I expected from expensive headphones. After outfitting them with the properly sized ear tips (the package contains sizes in small, medium and large in both silicon and foam material styles) and securing the ear fins for greater outer ear stability, the combination is still considerably smaller than most earphones on the market. The lightweight design also allows the headset to be worn over the ear without requiring the ear fins for those who prefer to do so. This makes wearing them a nearly magical experience, since the entire assembly is so lightweight it’s almost spooky. After my years of wearing a variety of wireless headsets, I found the Jaybird Freedom lives up to its namesake—leaving me feeling unchained from the weight of other headsets that have come before it.

Jaybird Freedom Wireless Headset Review

I was further pleased to discover some minor additions and improvements that made me feel like Jaybird was directly responding to my earlier criticisms of its BlueBuds X and X2 reviews. The inclusion of a cord shirt clip (along with the two cord management clips), an inexpensive but highly appreciated bonus that allowed me to confidently secure the headset on my person even if I didn’t have the earphones inserted into my ears. Another small but welcome change was the switch from the previous hard clamshell headset case to the standard and more comfortable soft carrying case.

The real moment of truth came after charging the Freedom headset, powering up for the first time, and wearing it. Instead of a bland beep or robotic voice of electrical recognition, a bass shaking percussive chord along with enthusiastically cheerful female voice greeted me with a “Power On” message. Once paired with my Bluetooth 4.1-compliant phone or tablet, an equally cheery “Headphones Connected” audio cue was played along with informing me that my headphone battery was “Fully Charged.” I then loaded up my favorite playlist ranging from '60s blues to '70s rock to 80s electronica to '90s alternative along with a bit of classical music for good measure. I spent the next few hours absorbed in the best listening experience I’ve had in years. The highs and lows and sheer clarity of the sound that the Freedom delivers is absolutely amazing.

Jaybird Freedom Wireless Headset Review

The Freedom headset can remember up to eight devices that is has been paired with. It also provides multi-point support granting the ability to pair with two different devices simultaneously (watching a movie on your iPad while accepting and participating in a call with your iPhone, for example). And for those wealthy enough to afford the privilege, two Freedom headsets can even be shared with a single device allowing both listeners to be connected and enjoy audio playback at the same time. Jaybird also offers the free and easy-to-use MySound app for further sound shaping and remaining battery charge readout.

Jaybird Freedom Wireless Headset Review

While the Jaybird Freedom is truly a stellar product, it does have a few minor issues. Battery Life is a short four hours with another four hours when attached to the charging clip (something I find easy to misplace or lose). The extra weight of the charging clip does tug a bit more on the right side, so I tend not to use it as a battery backup. But I still have to carry this critical add-on in my pocket, since I can’t charge the headset without it.  The Freedom also does not offer noise cancellation for obvious reasons due to the additional drain it would take on the already streamlined embedded battery. It’s really not that big of a deal since the Comply foam ear tips seal out most of the noise anyway. And while I like the audio hint informing me of the battery charge status when turning the headphones on, it would also be nice to have this audio cue play when the headphones were being powered off as well. At least you can query the current battery charge at any time by pressing the + or – volume buttons when the headset is connected to your audio device as long as it’s playing anything back). And finally, the nearly two-hundred-dollar cost may prohibit casual listeners from considering this remarkable headset in the first place. But even with these nitpicking criticisms, the Jaybird Freedom is the best lightweight wireless headset on the market today; all other headset manufacturers take note—the Jaybird Freedom has set the new bar for what a lightweight headset is supposed to be. Now it’s time to rock out!

Jaybird Freedom Wireless Headset Review

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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.