Jaybird Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Headset, Carbon
Jaybird Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Headset, Carbon
by Jaybird Price: CDN$ 159.99
Small calibre – big boom, amazing sound for the size and cost
The headphones come well packed with three gel ear piece sets, three foam sets, cable management pieces, three wings sets, charger, and a 4 inch USB cable for charging.
App required MySound is available in both Google Play and iTunes.
I primarily use three devices for testing any Bluetooth accessory (but I also added an iPhone 4 and Amazon Kindle this time):
BlackBerry PRIV running Android Marshmallow 6.0.100
Windows Lumia 650 running Windows 10 Mobile
ASUS G752 laptop running Windows 10 Pro
My first impression was “how the heck are those tiny speakers supposed to impress me?’ Well they did.
First thing as with any lithium battery operated devices the headset went into the charger. The charger has a small LED on one side, as well as the status LED on the control, that shows red for charging and green for charged. Setting up the charger is simple, connect the included USB cord to a USB port and then the charger, then clip the control unit into the charger. No need to worry about polarity, the contacts are located to one end so that even if you try to place the controller in the charger backwards nothing get damaged. I’m not sure at this point if I should believe the charger when it shows the battery as charged or the perky female voice in the headset that announces the battery is at 20%. To add to confusion here, the app shows the battery at 16%, I love to see a good battle between hardware and software. When listening to music the app places a battery icon on my top bar (Android) with a relative charge indication. The fact that the app lets you know the state of the battery is useful and welcomed. It took about 20 minutes and Ms Perky won the battle, the battery died. Charge current on these little guys runs around 7 – 8 ma. Having placed the controller back in the charger both red LED’s lit up. After about 15 minutes the charger LED went green while the controller LED stayed red till it was obviously fully charged as it then turned green about 90 minutes later. This charge allowed the headset to run for a good 5 hours.
# Tech note. Even with lithium batteries, make sure you completely cycle the batteries (fully charge and then discharge) before charging them again, do this for the first three charges. If you don’t most lithium batteries will never reach 100% of their charge potential. They will “fully” charge to say 90% but not 100% but show fully charged.
I had downloaded and installed, as far as it would let me without the headset, the app on the PRIV previous to receiving the headset. There is no app for Windows phone unfortunately. Pairing went flawlessly with all three phones, kindle, and PC except that on the PRIV, after pairing through the Android Bluetooth set up first and then opening the app, the app couldn’t see the headset. I had to “forget” the headset in Bluetooth settings and then pair through the app, this is backwards from anything I’ve experienced before but once this was sorted the app worked well. iPhone installation went as usual, pair headset and then use app to connect. The Amazon Kindle paired nicely and while there is no app it works well providing quality audio. When moving the headset from one device to another and then back again there was no need to re-pair, it remembered the other devices and immediately connected. When paring or powering on/off the afore mentioned Ms Perky gives you voice prompts.
The app is easy to navigate and set up. It has an interesting feature I’ve not seen before. For equalizer pre-sets, you chose a setting that another individual (see images) has created??? I’m not a huge sports enthusiast so the names don’t mean anything to me but there seem to be soccer players, triathletes, skiers, swimmers, and a few JayBird pre-sets to choose from or use the interesting visually laid out graph customization tool that allows you to save a seemingly infinite(?) number of pre-sets, bonus. Why athletes rate as equalizer pre-set authorities I don’t understand but then I also don’t understand why my wife has 300 yarn things for crocheting tucked away in the basement. Using the app in real life settings, walking around the house I found the distance between headset and phone was on par with other Bluetooth devices. While working outside the distance as with other BT devices reached around 40 feet max and depended on which direction I was facing indicating to me that the antenna is probably mounted in the control box which was shadowed by my neck at times. I did on a few occasions when spinning around rapidly (neighbour’s dog snuck up on me, darn cold nose) have one of the buds fly out of my ear due the weight of the control while under centrifugal forces.
I said earlier that they impressed me, the sound quality at any volume far exceeded my expectation based on what I saw when I opened the box (there’s that whole judging a book by its cover thing) and I won’t make that mistake again. Highs, lows, mid-range all sound rich and full so I decided to throw my favourite headset evaluation mix of music at these little guys. While what I heard is not on par with the more expensive options like the B&O H5, they are nonetheless very impressive and immersive. Yes, you can buy $20, $50, $80 BT headsets that sound ok but if you’re more particular about the range and quality of the audio in your ears then these are well worth the purchase price. Volume control on all devices was linear, no jumps. One of the tests I use to determine audio quality is who well you can distinguish subtle under tones at low volumes. Any of the less expensive headsets I’ve tried so far loose such a great deal of information that they become useless unless you happen to be listening to the news or a podcast. On the other end of the scale, pounding bass at high volumes can destroy the music your licensing to if the speakers are cheap, I was not able to rattle these buds before having to pull back the volume due to pending ear damage. Quite listening or rocking out, they sound great.
Fit and finish is well done as it should be for a headset at this level. Moulded pieces fit well with almost no discernible joint lines. I appreciate that JayBird provided as many choices as they did for holding the buds in your ear, they provided more options than I personally have seen others provide. Audio is rich and clean, no matter what I was listening to there was no distortion or clipping. I use a mix with jazz, pop, dance, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, opera, and rock with the most complex mixtures I can find (other than metal as that just hurts). Frequency response is excellent for such tiny speakers. An item to consider, as with other headsets, I’ve discovered that the silicone gel bud pieces provide the best bass response when compared to the soft foam version. I attribute this to the gel making better contact with your outer ear canal and transferring the vibrations ultimately to your ear drum whereas the foam absorbs these low frequencies. This is in addition to the seal keeping the sound pressure within the ear canal and foam can actually absorb sound. One point many have brought forward is the weight of the controller which houses the battery. The weight causes the controller to hang against your neck or shirt collar, no matter if you have the cable running under your chin or around the back of your neck, then any motion causes the unit to rub, this ends up being transferred to the ear buds and causes a rather loud rubbing noise in your ears. The cable is made from a material that resits tangles, bonus.
## Edit. My wife liked the headset and wanted her own so we got the white/gold version for her. I wanted to see how the fit and finish on these compared and found that they were in fact better looking. The gold accents add a touch of class whereas I thought this would make them look cheap. Again I’m impressed by the company’s attention to details. Other than the base colour and accents this version came with white sport wings vs. black. The app immediately paired with the new headset and has worked flawlessly. Happy wife happy life.
Results (star rating):
BB PRIV = 5 Excellent
iPhone 4 = 5 Excellent
Windows Lumia 650 = 5 Excellent
Windows laptop = 4 Ok
Amazon Kindle = 4 Ok
Fit and finish = 5
Accessories = 5
Phone audio quality = 4
Battery life = 5
Bluetooth range = 4 average
So is it worth spending the money this headset costs, a very clear and definite yes. My greatest fear with the headset is not how well it will continue to work, rather that I will misplace it and have to go back to the now very subpar stuff I have clogging my junk drawer. I give a 4 1/2 half star rating. If the controller wasn’t so heavy that it cause’s the buds to be pulled out of your ear when you move your head unexpectedly and the issue with the charger showing green for charged while the controller shows red for charging I could comfortably give it a 5 star rating.