It’s always interesting to see what a brand of sonic pedigree brings to the table when you’re late to the party. Beyerdynamic has waited a long time to finally release a pair of wireless earbuds, but now that the Free Byrd is ready to fly, they have plenty to prove if they can fly above the other options.
This is partly because they are not cheap. Beyerdynamic wants to take AirPods Pro, as well as similar pairs from the likes of Jabra, Sennheiser, Bose, and others. So, the stakes are higher at first, but how do they actually play?
Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: price and availability
Beyerdynamic Free Byrd launched in July 2022 with somewhat limited retail access, meaning you’ll find it on Amazon and the company’s website, above all other options. They start at $250, and it’s hard to know if that’s going down anytime soon, given the German brand’s reputation for good sound. They come in black and white.
Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: What’s Good
From the jump, several things stand out. First, there are no ear tips attached to the earbuds when they are taken out of their case. why? Because Beyerdynamic includes a minimum of eight pairs to try and find out what works best for you. And you’ll need to go through this process, like I’ve often done, because the size that works for you on other earbuds may not be the same here.
You get five pairs of silicone ear tips ranging from X-Small to X-Large, as well as three foam tips (in orange) in sizes small, medium, and large. I love the foam tips, personally, and was excited to see them in the box, however none of the three sizes worked well for me. To my surprise, it was the medium and large silicone tips that gave me a better, tighter seal than the foam ones, considering the latter distortion creates a naturally tighter seal. Go and conclude.
An airtight seal is vital to any pair of earphones, but due to the thicker construction at work here, it holds even more importance. They’re not far in size from the Sony WF-1000XM4, though with a chunky body and thinner driver neck to the tip of the ear, a lot of the earbuds do stand out.
Those with smaller ears may find them difficult to handle, especially if you plan to commute with them, whether it’s on a regular flight or a solo workout. Passive isolation is critical to getting the best sound, which adds even more credibility to finding your best advice with Free Byrd.
You’ll also want to get it right because the vocal performance almost rewards you for doing so. With support for AAC and aptX Adaptive codecs, Beyerdynamic covers a number of compatibility bases as well. As is often the case with German audio brands, the focus was on offering a well-balanced audio scene to suit all genres. Clear, pure and lovable.
The catch is that you don’t necessarily get that until you use the company’s MIY Beyerdynamic app – a strange name – to unleash the full potential of Free Byrds. There are two ways you can go about it, one of which is to take a hearing test to customize the sound for you. I found a slight improvement after that, and what I liked the most is that I can use that with any of the seven available EQ settings.
There is a problem though, and it is revealed when you click the question mark icon in the Equalizer section, that you might notice some distortion if you select anything other than the original preset. I’m not sure I did, but I will say that Beyerdynamic set the original preset well, so it’s a combination that works.
The sound felt richer and more resonant to me after I went through personalization, and I appreciate it more when playing jazz and rock. You can still use the Bass Boost preset for hip-hop, R&B, house music, or whatever else works for you.
I think the distortion the app indicates may be subjective, so your ears may pick it up more or less compared to others. I definitely enjoyed everything I listened to with Free Byrd plugging my ears. Even the game mode has become a great feature.
Despite the sound quality, it does get some extra help from Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which does a very good job of blocking out background noise. It simply won’t match what Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Earbuds or Jabra Elite 7 Pro can do, not to mention buttons like the Sony WF-1000XM4 and AirPods Pro, but they’re maintainable enough. With it turned on, I noticed the audio quality went up a bit, which added to the sonic power at work here.
Transparent in a boat is similar insofar as it does a proper job of ambient sounds to hear what is happening around you. Free Byrd has wear sensors, so turn the sound off at once. Bring them back, and he will resume. Perfect when you need to hear something or talk to someone.
The larger surface on the outside of these earbuds makes it easy to get the touch controls right – and grab them without accidentally making them do something else. I’ve never had an issue where I accidentally clicked a command while it was running or removed it.
The basics are working fine. Press one to play/pause, or to accept an incoming call. Tap and hold to activate the voice assistant, or do so to decline an incoming call. Double click to switch between ANC and Transparent. Triple click on the right earpiece to skip the track, and on the left to repeat it. Double tap and hold on the right to increase the volume, and on the left to decrease it.
It was the click and hold commands that proved inconsistent, especially for volume, but it’s a learning curve that I suspect gets easier over time.
As for battery life, you get respectable numbers to work with. Beyerdynamic rates the Free Byrd at up to eight hours per charge with ANC turned on. Leave it with volume at default, and you’ll be looking to break 11 hours. One of the ways I was able to get a sense of these numbers was through the app, which tracks stats regarding usage and playback. Very uncommon for any pair of earbuds, but it helped me know that the battery claims are pretty much accurate.
Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: What’s Not Good
As I noted before, the fit is likely to be controversial for those with smaller ears. Despite all the extra ear tips included in the box, I can’t be sure how well these headphones will fit your ears. If you tend to use smaller pairs, you’ll probably want to skip these pairs.
I would also say the same for jogging or running. I found it good to wear for a quick walk or bike ride, only to be convinced that the Free Bird isn’t strong enough to withstand that kind of constant beating. If they can wiggle freely after chewing gum, a sweaty run or jog will almost certainly do the same.
I was also disappointed with the lack of multipoint connectivity. There is no way to pair these earbuds with two devices simultaneously. If your daily routine includes listening to ringtones on your computer while you have your phone nearby to take calls, you won’t be able to easily switch between them here.
As much as I really enjoyed the audio experience with Free Byrd, Beyerdynamic also left me wanting more. The custom audio profile is great, and you can also save it with Mimi, a great audio platform, except for the limited number of EQ presets that aren’t enough for the earbuds to perform well. We hope Beyerdynamic will add this feature in a future firmware update.
Phone call quality could be better as well, and I think one of the reasons it suffers is that there are two microphones on each earpiece, as opposed to the three similar earbuds. Usually one microphone picks up your voice, while the remaining microphone mutes the background noise. It’s nice to have The Free Byrd speak in quieter places, but walk into a crowded area and start to see the difference.
There’s also an odd lag in the touch controls as there’s a slight pause before the earbuds actually perform the action, something I’ve noticed with each individual control option. Not sure why this happens, however it could be something else Beyerdynamic fixes with a firmware update.
Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: Competition
The best wireless earbuds are packed with notable names and excellent performance. Certainly some people not on our list would qualify, and they come as strong contenders. The Technics EAH-AZ60 is really great, with great sound, a comfortable fit, and LDAC codec support, yet it doesn’t have aptX, wireless charging, or wear sensors for auto play/pause.
The 1More Evo costs less, offers great sound and a comfortable fit, despite the aptX missing out, although you do get a custom EQ to work with. And you can’t dismiss the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 as an alternative, given how good it is in many ways.
Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: Should You Buy It?
You should buy this if…
- You want great sound
- Love the foam ear tips
- Want adaptive aptX support
- Want good battery life
You should not buy this if…
- You have smaller ears
- Want a custom EQ
- Want great phone call quality
- Prefer to spend less
The Free Byrd is a solid start for Beyerdynamic, whose ability to deliver excellent sound quality now clearly extends to wireless earbuds. It is, even without a dedicated equalizer, one of the best sound quality pairs available at its price. Clean and vibrant, with attention to the mid and upper levels, it’s hard to find fault with how good they are in this regard.
It is a pity that not everyone can enjoy them, especially those who do not find them comfortable to wear. The focus was obviously on audio above all else, which is great if you’re okay with what’s missing from the entire package.
The Free Byrd is Beyerdynamic’s first attempt at wireless earbuds, and they sound so good, they pair well with other powerful sounds. The only caveat is that other features may use some work.