Bottom line: The Free BYRD earbuds are best in class and come highly recommended. Well done, beyerdynamic.
- LONG battery life
- Terrific sound
- Great selection of ear tips
- Minor ANC leaks
- Will people wait for the AirPods Pro 2?
The true wireless earbuds space has gained another member. The beyerdynamic Free BYRD TWS earbuds are a first from the iconic German brand. Designed to look like classic guitar picks, the Free BYRD, available in black or gray, offer incredible battery life, active noise cancelation (ANC), voice assistant support, and much more. Are the earbuds as good as the AirPods Pro? It's time to find out.
beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds: Price and availability
The beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds are available for $249. You can purchase them through the Beyerdynamic website or on Amazon. No doubt, other retailers will eventually get these in stock too.
beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds: What's good
When I first heard beyerdynamic was introducing TWS earbuds, I was skeptical whether the company, long known for its wired headphones, would make a great first impression in the space. However, I shouldn't have worried. After nearly a month of tests, I've decided the Free BYRD buds are among the best true wireless earbuds I've ever tested. These are better than the current AirPods Pro on most fronts and should give Apple's AirPods Pro 2 competition when they're likely released later this year.
The first thing to know about the beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds is their incredible battery life. With ANC activated, you can get up to 8.5 hours between charges; that number jumps to 11 hours when ANC is deactivated. The included wireless charging case carries an equally impressive 30 hours of charging time. A 10-minute quick charge adds 70 minutes of additional playtime.
True wireless earbuds don't always score highly when it comes to comfort. The regular AirPods, for example, remain one of my least liked products because of how they (don't) fit in my ears. The AirPods Pro, which comes with three pairs of silicone tips, provides a much better experience. The Free BYRD earbuds are even more comfortable and come with five sets of silicone ear tips and three sets of foam ones. With so many available tip choices, size shouldn't be a factor. Although I find silicon ear tips much more comfortable, the foam ear tips that come with the Free BYRD earbuds also offer an enjoyable listening experience once you find the best size.
Beyond comfort, I'm impressed with just how easy it is to control the Free BYRD earbuds. A series of taps on either the right or left earbuds allow you to control the volume and tracks, ANC/transparency, and answering calls. One long tap summons your preferred voice assistant (Siri, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa) easily, although wake words like "Hey, Siri" aren't supported.
Additionally, beyerdynamic should receive major kudos for the companion MIY music app. It's a well-designed app that allows you to set up your earbuds for the first time. You also use the app to install firmware updates, create a personalized sound experience, install EQ, and more. Some companion audio apps are terrible and confusing to use but luckily, this isn't one of them.
What about the sound?
The beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds offer extraordinary sound, whether you're listening to Apple Music, watching your favorite Apple TV+ series, playing Apple Arcade, or taking a call from your boss. The earbuds support the latest audio codecs, including aptX Adaptive and AAC, and include Qualcomm's dual 2-mic cVC for intelligent speech. Beyond this, the transition from ANC to transparency (and vice versa) is smooth, unlike some alternative earbuds that produce abrupt movements. Moreover, the change between the two options is so effortless that it might take a few times to notice.
From an audio perspective, the Free BYRD earbuds take a balanced approach at all levels. But, for something different, check out its six EQ options available through the MIY app for Android and iOS.
beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds: What's not good
One criticism about the Free BYRD earbuds has to do with ANC. First, understand the feature does a terrific job of removing loud outside sounds like cars in the street, lawnmowers, and dogs barking. However, I found that some sounds like voices tend to leak through in smaller surroundings, especially inside. What I found wasn't bad or even annoying, and I freely admit perhaps another pair of ear tips could resolve this issue over the long term. Still, it's been my experience that the AirPods Pro offer ever-so-slightly better ANC than beyerdynamic's product.
Beyond this, I still enjoy these earbuds and use them daily. Battery life and great sound are my top reasons for this.
beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds: Competition
Like all electronics, true wireless earbuds tend to improve with each new release, thanks to improving technologies. For example, the beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds are better in almost every way than the still-popular AirPods Pro, which is getting very old in terms of the technology inside. For now, I can't recommend the beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds enough, however, when it comes to competition, the AirPods Pro are the most similar. You can even find them heavily discounted at third-party retailers if you search hard enough.
Here's a comparison between the Free BYRD and AirPods Pro:
|Free BYRD||AirPods Pro|
|Battery life||11 hours (no ANC)|
8.5 hours (ANC)
8.5 hours (talk)
|5 hours (no ANC)|
4.5 hours (ANC)
3.5 hours (talk)
|Battery life (case)||up to 30 hours||up to 24 hours|
|Fast charge||10 minutes for 70 minutes||5 minutes for 60 minutes|
|Active Noise Cancelation (ANC)||Yes||Yes|
|Equalizer||Yes (6 available)||Yes (24 options)|
|Voice Support||Alexa (built-in)|
|Wake words||No||"Hey, Siri"|
|Charging case||Wireless charging case (Qi)||Wireless charging case (MagSafe, Qi)|
|Silicon Ear TIps||Yes (5 sets)||Yes (3 sets)|
|Foam Ear TIps||Yes (3 sets)||No|
|Tracking functionality||Yes (Google Fast Pair, Android only)||Yes (Find My)|
|Weight (earphones)||7 grams each||5.4 grams each|
|Weight (charging case)||60 grams||45.6 grams|
Another worthy competitor is the Bowers & Wilkins P17 in-ear headphones, which I positively reviewed earlier this year. They have amazing sound, a beautiful design, a handy companion app, and a durable smart charger. They come with three silicone ear tips to help you find the perfect fit and ANC, although it's not as strong or capable as the Free BYRD. Some may be disappointed that the app doesn't offer the ability to personalize the EQ either. Finally, they're more expensive than the Free BYRD and the AirPods Pro, although you can often find them on sale.
If you're searching for some less expensive wireless earbuds, consider some of the lower-priced options on our best true wireless earbuds list.
beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds: Should you buy them?
You should buy this if ...
- You want long battery life and excellent sound
- Don't need or necessarily want an Apple product
- Want a color choice
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You're waiting for the AirPods Pro 2
- Need better ANC
- Want something cheaper
If you can get past the price, there should be nothing keeping you back from considering these earbuds. Offering support for iOS and Android, as well as all three popular virtual assistants, these sound and look great.
Priced the same as the AirPods Pro, the beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds are beautifully designed, offer excellent battery life between charges, and are very comfortable to wear. They also provide a terrific balanced sound and come in black and gray (but not white). ANC/transparency switching works seamlessly, although ANC itself isn't perfect. The companion app can usually be faulty when it comes to some true wireless earbuds, but not this one — the MIY music app is well-designed and offers the ability to create a personalized sound experience, install EQ, and other features.
Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.
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