Beyerdynamic Free Byrd review: Going after the AirPods Pro’s two biggest weaknesses

BeyerDynamic Free BYRD TWS headphones

MSRP $249.00

“Silky sound and large stamina make for an excellent set of Apple alternatives.”


  • Great sound quality
  • Good ANC and transparency
  • Wireless charging
  • Excellent battery life
  • Excellent controls
  • Wear sensors
  • IPX4 water resistance


  • No Bluetooth multipoint
  • Needs app for best sound quality
  • Mediocre call quality
  • Possible fit issues
  • Limited customization

Never heard of Beyerdynamic? You’re not alone. That’s since the nearly 100-year-old company has focused on the needs of audio professionals and audiophiles for many of its existence. The truth is, excluding its growing lineup of gaming headsets, it makes only a handful of products aimed squarely at day-to-day music listening.

But with the launch of its first set of true wireless earbuds, the aptly named $249 Free Byrd, Beyerdynamic has joined the ranks of Sony, Bose, Apple, Sennheiser, and Jabra with an audio product anyone can enjoy.

The Free Byrd bring with them Beyerdynamic’s impressive repute for high-quality audio, huge battery life, and sound personalization software. Is that enough for these byrds to fly above the gang? Let’s check ’em out.

What’s within the box?

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd seen with accessories.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Contained in the fully recyclable, plain cardboard box, you’ll find the Free Byrd earbuds, their charging case, a USB-C charging cable, a set of printed instructions, and a really generous set of eartips — five sizes of silicone suggestions and three sizes of memory foam suggestions.

The earbuds come from the factory with none of the following pointers installed, encouraging you to try different sizes and kinds before you compromise in your favorites. To get essentially the most out of the Free Byrd, you’ll need the free Beyerdynamic MIY (Make It Yours) app for iOS or Android.


Beyerdynamic Free Byrd inside their charging case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Available in white or black, the Free Byrd are fairly chunky. They’re smaller than the Sony WF-1000XM4, but larger than the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3. A black, brushed-metal band with a discrete, embossed Beyerdynamic “Y” logo cuts across the teardrop shape of the buds’ outer surface. The brand also acts because the touch control. Each earbud has a big LED indicator to let you know how much battery charge is left, or make it easier to determine if the buds are in pairing mode.

Though they are going to protrude out of your ears a bit, it’s still a slick, sophisticated design that manages to distinguish itself amid a sea of wireless earbuds.

The dimensions actually is useful relating to getting an excellent grip on the buds, each for removing them from their charging case (which is simple), in addition to having the ability to twist them securely into place in your ear.

Comfort became a problem, especially after an hour or so of continuous wear.

The Free Byrd are rated IPX4 for water protection, which suggests a little bit of sweat or rain isn’t any cause for concern, but as we’ll see in a moment, they may not be well-suited to workouts.

The case itself is just sufficiently small to be pocketable — though still massive in comparison to that of the AirPods Pro — and the lid and hinge are very well-built, snapping open and closed with ease. You’ll be able to charge it up with the included USB-A to USB-C charging cable, or you’ll be able to charge it wirelessly with any Qi-compatible charging mat. A clearly visible LED on the front shows you the case’s charging status and its battery level when not plugged in.

Comfort, controls, and connections

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd in front of the charging case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

It’s value paying attention to how the inside portion of the Free Byrd is formed. Though smaller than the outer shell, and really smooth and rounded, it’s got a comparatively large surface area. The sound tube (the part the eartip is attached to) is sort of stubby, and this mixture could prove problematic for each those with small ears and people whose ear canals sit somewhat deeper.

With the usual silicone suggestions installed, I simply couldn’t get the Free Byrd to grip the doorway of my ear canal. It’s not the information — they’re thoroughly made — it’s that the big interior surface I discussed prevented me from having the ability to push them in far enough.

The touch controls are excellent. Because of the raised metal band, exactly where to tap.

Thankfully, the medium foam eartips proved significantly better at giving me the seal I needed. Beyerdynamic says it included the froth suggestions “to be used during sporting activities,” but for me, they were a requirement regardless of what I used to be doing.

But even with the froth suggestions, I discovered I desired to usually give them a little bit of a double twist and push to maintain them secure. They proved advantageous for walking and low-impact cardio like stair climbing and elliptical machines, but I can’t recommend them for any type of higher-impact activities. I also found that comfort became a problem, especially after an hour or so of continuous wear. Normally, I’d say these items are subjective (because they’re) and your mileage may vary. But I find most earbuds quite comfortable, which tells me Beyerdynamic might need to revisit the form for the following version of the Free Byrd.

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd in front of the charging case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The touch controls are excellent. Because of the raised metal band, exactly where to tap, and every tap is accompanied by a brief tone to let you’ve tapped accurately. It even provides much needed feedback for multi-tap gestures, with a low-medium tone combo for double-taps and a low-medium-high combo for triple-taps.

Your biggest challenge is perhaps memorizing all of those gestures, since the Free Byrd allow you to do all of it, including play/pause, switch energetic noise cancellation (ANC) modes, skip tracks, change volume, call answer/end/reject, and access your chosen voice assistant (Siri on iOS devices and Google Assistant or Alexa on Android). Nonetheless, in case you select to make use of only a single earbud, you’re reduced to play/pause, call answer/end/reject, and voice assistant access.

The Free Byrd sound improbable, with a greater overall performance than the similarly priced AirPods Pro.

The one thing missing is the flexibility to customize these gestures inside the MIY app. The earbuds are also equipped with wear sensors, which auto-pause and resume your tunes while you remove or reinsert them. I’m an enormous fan of wear and tear sensors, but on this case, Beyerdynamic has reduced their value somewhat by not providing two key functions: The flexibility to show them off, or to come to a decision in case you want them to auto-pause and resume or simply pause.

Android users get an almost quick pairing experience via Google Fast Pair. It’s not much slower on iOS devices; pairing only requires the additional step of going into the Bluetooth devices list page. I discovered the connection was almost 100% reliable, with only two very minor, split-second dropouts over the whole weeklong period I used them. Wireless range is fairly standard for Bluetooth earbuds — about 20 to 25 feet indoors and as much as 50 feet outside.

Unfortunately, there’s no Bluetooth multipoint for connecting two devices to the Free Byrds concurrently, which is a little bit of an inconvenience when you should move between a phone and a PC (for instance) several times in the course of the day. Nonetheless, there’s no have to disconnect manually when you should switch — so long as the earbuds have been previously paired with a tool, you’ll be able to simply select them from that Bluetooth menu, and the buds will switch over painlessly.

Sound quality

Man wearing Beyerdynamic Free Byrd.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Free Byrd sound improbable, with a greater overall performance than the similarly priced AirPods Pro and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, and with comparable performance to the Technics EAH-AZ60. But, to be able to get essentially the most out of those earbuds, you’ll need to make use of the Mimi sound personalization feature that’s built into the MIY app, after which fine-tune the sound using the app’s EQ presets.

Mimi is one in every of the few sound personalization systems that I’ve found to be consistently helpful in recovering sound. It’s effectively a hearing test. Each ear is fed a series of tones played against a white noise backdrop. For every tone, the quantity level starts loud after which progressively drops off. You let the test know when you’ll be able to not hear it distinctly. After about five minutes of this, the app figures out if there are any frequencies you struggle with and adjusts the earbuds’ EQ accordingly.

Once Mimi has done its thing, you’ll be able to turn the resulting EQ modifications on or off with an easy toggle button within the app, so you’ll be able to hear the difference it makes. Or, you should use a slider to come to a decision how intense that modification should sound — from nothing to 100%. And in case your results match mine, you’ll simply leave it cranked up — it’s like night and day.

Without the Mimi mod, the Free Byrd feel constrained and flat, lacking in each energy and dynamic range. Turn it on and these Byrds fly free, producing a large, deep soundstage where the subtleties contained in each song will be heard and appreciated.

There’s loads of bass, with a robust, resonant authority, in addition to excellent detail in each the midranges and highs. In case your phone supports aptX Adaptive or aptX HD, you’ll be treated to the chances of wireless, hi-res support (assuming your music source supports it), but even on the non-hi-res iPhone, it’s a rewarding listening experience.

Beyerdynamic doesn’t offer you full rein over your EQ —  there are not any manual adjustments — but you do get a series of six EQ presets, including V-shape, which boosts bass and treble (perfect for workouts or motion movies), and speech, which improves clarity for content like podcasts.

ANC and transparency

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd inside their charging case.Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Free Byrd possess decent energetic noise cancellation. It’s not one of the best you’ll find at this price — each the AirPods Pro and the $230 Technics EAH-AZ60 offer higher coverage of frequencies for a more practical overall level of quiet — nevertheless it’s good enough to take the sting off a busy office, coffee shop, or traffic sounds.

Transparency mode also works well, but with the identical caveat: it may possibly’t beat the exceptional AirPods Pro, nevertheless it’s perfectly adequate for having conversations or simply generally being aware of your surroundings when that’s a safer/more desirable thing than blocking out sounds.

By default, a double-tap on the left earbud will switch you quickly between ANC and transparency modes, but when you should shut them each off — perhaps to save lots of on battery life — you’ll need to try this within the app.

Unfortunately, there’s no strategy to turn off the voice prompt that declares these mode changes. Your only option is to come to a decision if you should hear them in English or German.

Optional game mode

For those who prefer to game, whether on a mobile device or a pc, Bluetooth connections can often introduce an unacceptable amount of delay between when an motion takes place in the sport and while you actually hear it. This tends to be very true when using higher-quality codecs like AAC, because these codecs prioritize sound over immediacy.

Like an increasing variety of wireless earbuds, the Free Byrd offer a gaming mode that attempts to cut back this lag time as much as possible. Beyerdynamic says it may possibly shorten delays by as much as 100 milliseconds, which is considerable. But consider, there’s only a lot you’ll be able to do to cut back Bluetooth latency, and even with game mode engaged, delays of between 32 millieseconds and 60 milliseconds are still to be expected.

Call quality

The Free Byrd have two mics per earbud, which helps them pick up your voice clearly for phone calls and videoconferencing, but you’ll need to search out a quiet location. Wind noise is comparatively well managed, but when competing sounds are introduced, just like the din of a coffee shop or the abrupt volume changes related to traffic, the earbuds struggle to maintain those noises in check while keeping your voice audible.

If call quality is a top consideration, you might want to contemplate other models.

Battery life

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd charging case (front).

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd charging case (rear).

Beyerdynamic claims you’ll get about eight hours per charge on the Free Byrd when ANC is energetic and volume is maxed out at 100%, but you’ll be able to extend that so much — so long as 11 hours in case you listen at a more reasonable level and keep ANC turned off. Unfortunately, because there’s no strategy to defeat the earbuds’ wear sensors, and the buds power themselves down mechanically once they aren’t being actively used, it was unattainable to confirm these claims in full.

But based on the MIY app’s reported battery levels after a number of hours of use, they appear to be relatively accurate. That’s excellent performance for a set of wireless earbuds, and the charging case extends that life to a maximum of 30 hours, which can be excellent.

The one thing that might do with some improvement is the fast-charge feature, which delivers a claimed 70 minutes after 10 minutes of charging. That’s on the slow side, with the AirPods Pro and Jabra Elite 7 Pro each delivering 60 minutes after five minutes of charging.

Our take

Beyerdynamic doesn’t get every thing right on the Free Byrd — in any case, these are its first set of true wireless earbuds. But with great sound quality, excellent battery life, good controls, and capable ANC, they’re a robust alternative to Apple’s AirPods Pro for many who want higher sound and a set of earbuds that don’t must be returned to their charging case after every online meeting.

Is there a greater alternative?

The Free Byrd are good, but there’s strong competition at this price. The $249 AirPods Pro are more comfortable and have higher noise canceling and transparency, but they’ll’t compete on sound quality or battery life. Each have wireless charging, but neither offer Bluetooth multipoint,

Meanwhile, the $229 Technics EAH-AZ60 deliver superb sound, ANC, hi-res audio, hands-free Alexa, Bluetooth multipoint, and an unlimited variety of app-based customizations. Nonetheless, they lack wireless charging and wear sensors. And battery life at seven hours per charge and 25 hours total is sweet but nothing special.

How long will they last?

All the time hard to say, especially for a latest product with no track record, but since batteries are frequently the one component in a set of wireless buds that determine how long they’ll last, I’d say the Free Byrd should find yourself being higher than most, due to their large capability.

Beyerdynamic backs them with a two-year warranty, which is one yr longer than most manufacturers.

Do you have to buy them?

Yes. The Free Byrd are a fantastic selection for audio enthusiasts searching for earbuds that outperform other decisions at this price. Just bear in mind that, depending in your ears, the fit might be a challenge.

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