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Beyerdynamic Free Byrd Earbuds Review: Great sound for $ 249

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd Earbuds Review: Great sound for $ 249

Beyerdynamic may be late in the game, but it has finally introduced its first real wireless earplugs, and they come with a name that reminds someone of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature song. Now available in two colors for $ 249 (£ 199 or about AU $ 350), the Free Byrd earbuds feature active noise reduction, up to 11 hours of battery life and impressive sound quality.

As

  • Impressive sound quality
  • Very good battery life
  • Solid function set and build quality
  • Wireless charging
  • IPX4 splashproof
  • Many earplugs are included

Do not like

  • Noise reduction is not at its peak
  • Design can be a challenge for some ears

As is the case with many advanced earbuds that prioritize sound quality, the Free Byrd plugs are on the larger side and weigh 7 grams each (for comparison, Sony WF-1000XM4 buds weigh 7.3 grams each). Their wireless charging cover also has a certain weight and feels quite solid. It is not super compact, but is not bulky. It’s similar in size to the WF-1000XM4’s charging bag.

Having a tight seal is crucial for optimal sound quality and noise-reducing performance. Beyerdynamic offers a range of silicone and foam ear tips to help you get that seal. I personally prefer silicone tips. While I got a pretty tight seal with the largest silicone eartip, the buds would not stay securely in my ears, so I chose the largest foam tip, which has more grip and gave me the best and most comfortable fit. (I could run with the earplugs using the foam tips – they are IPX4 splashproof.)

beyerdynamic-free-byrd-in-ear

The earplugs protrude a little, but not too bad.

Beyerdynamic

You should be able to get a good fit with one of the included ear tips, but I can not guarantee that these buttons fit well with everyone’s ears. Their design is not as simple as, for example, Apple AirPods Pro, so I suspect that some people may feel discomfort depending on the shape of their ears. But I ended up being quite happy with the fit, even though I preferred the fit of Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds.

The earplugs have touch controls, and they worked well enough for me after a bit of trial and error and after consulting the manual in the Miy follow-up app for iOS and Android. It was initially difficult to adjust the volume (double-tap and hold second tap), and you have to double-tap to advance tracks. But it gets more intuitive with time.

beyerdynamic-free-byrd-in-etui

The buds in their case.

David Carnoy / CNET

You double-tap to toggle between noise reduction mode and a transparency mode. The noise reduction is effective, although it is a clear step below what Bose and Sony offer on the flagship’s earbuds. The transparency mode sounds natural, which is good, but I would not expect fantastic noise reduction performance from these.

Additional features include ear detection sensors, which pause the music when you take a bud out of your ears. Your music resumes when you reinsert it. You can also use a single earplug independently (left or right). There is also a game mode with low latency if you like to use the earbuds for games on a mobile device.

Beyerdynamics’ other major feature is sound customization, which it offers through the Miy app. There is also something called “Mosaic – Attention to detail with Mimi Sound Personalization. “From a marketing standpoint, everything sounds pretty convoluted, and I’m not sure who thought naming the app” Miy “was a good idea. But here’s how it works in a nutshell: You do a 2-minute hearing test in the app, then you get a customized sound profile for the ears. In my case, it seemed to improve the sound a bit. However, the standard sound profile also appealed to me. There is a slider in the app that allows you to move between the “original” audio profile and your personal audio profile, plus some preset equalizer settings to play with.

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You get many ear-tip options. The large orange ear tips in foam fit my ears best.

David Carnoy / CNET

The earbuds worked well for making voice calls – they have two microphones on each knob – with decent but not exceptional reduction of background noise. Ultimately, however, this is where the earplugs really shine when it comes to sound quality.

Audio of audiophile quality

Equipped with 10 mm drivers, the buttons support AAC and AptX Adaptive audio codecs. I tested them with an iPhone 13 Pro and one Motorola Edge Plus Android phone. My phone supports AptX adaptive Bluetooth streaming and playback of high resolution music files through services such as Qobuz and Tide.

Beyerdynamic is known for its over-ear wired studio headphones, including the new ones DT 700 Pro X ($ 259). The Free Byrd knobs show many of the model’s sonic features, including clean, accurate sound and an airy open quality (wide sound image).

Free Byrd is articulate and revealing, but also has more exciting sound than your prototypical studio headphones, which tend to limit the bass and elevate towards a neutral sound profile. Free Byrd’s bass is tight and powerful with plenty of kick. That said, you can be more impressed with how natural and clear the midtones sound (that’s where the vocals live) and how the treble brings out the fine details in well-recorded tracks. These earplugs are absolutely fun to listen to.

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: Last Thoughts

If you can get the right fit and tight seal, these earplugs with excellent sound are at the very top of the price range when it comes to sound quality. While the Sony WF-1000XM4 buttons may have more bass, they are not as articulate or accurate as these. Free Byrd is also a small step ahead of Momentum True Wireless 3 for sound that provides slightly better clarity and stereo separation.

Apart from the impressive battery life – up to 11 hours at moderate volume levels with noise reduction off and up to 8 with it on – Free Byrd is closer to the middle of the road in other areas, especially their noise reduction performance. But Beyerdyanic has said that it made sound quality its top priority, and it definitely shows.

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd key specifications

  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • Active noise reduction with transparency mode
  • 10 mm drivers
  • IPX4 splashproof
  • Two microphones on each knob for voice calls
  • Low latency mode
  • Ear detection sensors
  • USB-C and Qi wireless charging
  • Up to 11 hours battery life with ANC off), 8 hours with ANC on
  • The fast charge function gives you 70 minutes of power with 10 minutes of charging
  • Sound customization via the Miy app and Mosaic
  • Google Fast Pair
  • Amazon Alexa support
  • AAC and AptX Adaptive audio codecs
  • Price: $ 249 (£ 199 or about AU $ 350)
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