Review: Jaybird Freedom Bluetooth Headphones

I have owned a pair of Jaybird Freedom bluetooth headphones for almost a year and a half now. I think I've had them long enough to write up a review on them...

Why I Bought Them

I actually didn't buy them, they were a birthday gift in October of 2012 (but they were a suggestion to my benefactor). I also received the very generous gift of an iPad Nano (for more on why I wanted the Nano read my blog post about it) for my birthday that year (another item on my wish list that year). I wanted this combination of iPod Nano and wireless headphones so I could go to the gym and lift weights, go out running and go out on the road bike (don't worry I only have the right earbud in while out on the road) and not have to worry about exercising around a cord. I sweat...a getting something that was sweat/rain resistant was a MUST.

What Comes in the Box

  • Headphones
  • Hard magnetically closing case
  • Variety of silicon inserts
  • Variety of ear pieces
  • USB to micro charging cable

The Verdict

I've been using these headphones for almost a year and a half now I can honestly say that I love to hate these headphones! Cutting the cord and not having this dangling appendage hanging off of my head while exercising has been quite liberating, but that comes with a price. The price of this is freedom is:

  • Mediocre audio quality
  • Can get uncomfortable after long periods of time (2+ hours)
  • Silicon inserts that they come with don't fit my ears (at least my right ear)
  • Bluetooth connectivity requires the audio source to be on our right side and unobstructed (more on this later)
  • Total lack of low battery indicator (more on this later)
  • OK battery life (about 4 hours)
  • If you have earring(s) then the earbud can bump against them making and be quite noisy
  • A bit heavy in ear, enough to notice them but not enough to bother me

I can't knock these headphones on the bluetooth connectivity because that is the compromise you are agreeing to when buying into bluetooth technology. If you are using something small like a iPod Nano then it works just fine if you put the Nano in your right front pocket of your running shorts. If you are out on a road bike then I have found that you can put your iPod or iPhone in the back right pocket of your jersey but you have to experiment with the orientation of the device . For my iPhone 5s it needs to be top pointed down and the screen facing outward and I get enough connectivity. The best way to do it though is to get an armband and put it on your right arm.

I must have a deformed right ear. Every pair of headphones I have end up falling out of my right ear (maybe my head isn't on straight). I had a heck of a time getting the right combination of inserts to work for my freakish ears. However, after much trial and error I was able to find the right combination of earbud tips and ear inserts to keep them in my ears while running. Running is the toughest use case for keeping them in your ears. All other activities (indoor/outdoor on the bike, lifting weights, elliptical trainer) seem to do just fine with these headphones but running requires you do have your act together when it comes to fit. I've found the if you make sure the ear inserts are rotated properly in the grooves of your ear and if you ensure that the earbuds are rotated so they are pointing as close to vertical as possible then they pretty much stay where they are supposed to. Just don't hesitate to spend some time switching out pieces and getting the right fit. It's worth the fiddling time to get the fit right.

The lack of low battery indication is a huge issue for me. This particular set of headphone will only give you about 5-10 minutes of warning that the batteries are low and then you are dead in the water. That does you absolutely no good. Why can't they give you a "one beep" audio tone when you have less than 1 hour, "two beeps" when you are down to 30-minutes and then go with the "three beeps" when you only have 10 minutes left? That would be so much more useful. That way you actually have the opportunity to charge them before your next workout. But no, instead these headphones start in with 3 obnoxious beeps in a row about 10 minutes before battery death and continue with the 3 obnoxious beeps about every 30 seconds for the next 10 minutes until it finally dies. So not only do you not get any useful advance notice but you also lose the last 10 minutes of usage to annoying beeps. Enough ranting...

Jaybird has since come out with new versions of these headphones. Hopefully they have fixed the lack of low battery indication. The newer headphones are also lighter and have almost twice the battery of life compared to mine. I can honestly say that even with all of the negatives that I listed above and my rant about battery indication I really do love having these headphones. I workout quite a bit and bluetooth really does provide you an extra freedom while working out...the freedom to not worry about a pesky cord. While I can't personally recommend the newer version of these headphones because I haven't used them I can say that if Jaybird was able to make some minor improvements to these newer models then they are worth every penny. I've put my pair of headphones through hell and they are still working just like the day I got them and appear to have about the same battery life (no degradation in battery life). If you are an exercise junkie you will appreciate these and won't regret your purchase.

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