The JayBird name is a staple when it comes to Bluetooth wireless audio accessories for those who have active lifestyles. The Freedom are the latest wireless Bluetooth headphones to come out from Jaybird, which has not long ago released an updated version of the Freedom, aka JF3, with new silicone ear stabilizing cushions and nothing more. There's nothing better than the freedom of wireless headphones, except for that butchered Bluetooth sound quality that is. We know why JayBird named their latest wireless headphones the Freedom, but that isn't enough for us, we want to fully test drive these to the ground. And so we have. Catch the full review right after that jump!
The Jaybird Freedom aren't your standard sized in-ear headphones, because of the Bluetooth connectivity and built-in rechargeable battery, the Freedom have a fairly large footprint that shows when you're wearing them. That isn't necessarily a bad thing since the Freedom are in fact very lightweight and they feel that way when you wear them. You aren't really sacrificing a whole lot for that wireless freedom, pun intended. Operating these is pretty straight forward and simplified to say the least. You'll find a single long rubbery button on the right channel speaker's front housing coupled with a tiny status LED letting you know all the good stuff of Bluetooth connectivity and battery statuses.
That long button is the Freedom's primary, multi-function button that lets you power the unit on and off, control your music as well as enable pairing with just one long push. On the side is where you'll find two little dotted buttons to control the volume and skip tracks. I haven't forgot to tell you that this very button is also used to control the Freedom's headset capabilities. Yes, what kind of wireless Bluetooth headphones do you think these will be without such a wonderful and useful feature? The Freedom has got a mic located at the side of the right channel speaker to let you take and makes phone calls. I did try to pair the Freedom to a Mac for headset use, however that turned out to be a disaster. You'll only be able to pair them to a Bluetooth enabled device other than a Bluetooth-enabled phone to play music and sound.
The JayBird Freedom, or JF3 for short, have that plasticky built quality that feels cheap. The fact that they are lightweight and feel like there isn't very much filling that fairly large housing only adds to that cheap feel. The glossy black plastic finish isn't my ideal finish, and I think JayBird should have at least upped the build quality and finish to at least match the $99 price tag they bare. When compared to other similar wireless Bluetooth headphone offerings such as Motorola's S10 HD, the Freedom fall short in satisfying with their build quality. The only good news in terms of build quality is that the Freedom are sweat proof and have a fully sealed construction.
Comfort wise, the Freedom can be a very comfortable pair of wireless headphones, however that is quickly confirmed right after you wear them for the first time. The Freedom are built in a way that a tangle-free flat cable interconnect between the two right and left speakers and rests against the back of your neck. I found that this brought one of the biggest issues I have with the Freedom headphones and their comfort. The rubber cable that rests on the back of your neck will rub against you each time you turn your head and slowly start to pull on the right or left speaker resulting it discomfort and the worst of all, the Freedom headphones falling out. The cable is adjustable but sadly, that didn't help in the slightest.
Even though JayBird has intended that the Freedom headphones would be worn with the cable around the back of your neck, I found that if I simply let the cable hang below by chin and in front of my neck that is would fix all of my discomfort issues, but most importantly they never fell out because there was no friction created to cause that. Is that the ideal solution? I think not, but it's an option to take into consideration.
Next up, sound quality. The Freedom do perform very well as far as Bluetooth wireless headphones go. Where they most shine is in the bass department. Bass is nice and thumpy when asked for and does not distort. What is lacking in sound are the highs and mid range. Treble is no where to be found in the Freedom's sound signature leaving much to be desired. However, I still think it's sufficient for those who just want a pair of wireless headphones to work out with and not have to worry about ruining an perfectly good and expensive pair of much better sounding headphones. The Freedom sound overly warm but will get the job done in providing you with decent Bluetooth sound quality. I would have liked a more clearer sound from the mids though. Some may find the Freedom's sound levels to be extremely high when needed and it really outperforms a lot of other in-ear headphones in the high sound levels it can produce. A good feature to have in a noisy gym, but be careful with those sound levels.
I always recommend using Comply foam tips to get the best sound quality, comfort and noise isolation from your in-ear headphones. I was able to use the Comply T-400 foam tips with the Freedom headphones and they work great. I should note that the Bluetooth connectivity on the Freedom headphones does not perform well if obstructed which will result in frequent cutouts in the audio. JayBird's poor implementation of Bluetooth in the Freedom might not be for everyone. You must have your audio source close to you at all times.
The JayBird Freedom come with various sized silicone tips ranging from standard to dual-flange tips. The updated version of the Freedom should now come supplied with the stabilizing ear cushions that should add another level of shakeproof stability. Unfortunately, the review unit we got did not come with the stabilizing ear cushions. JayBird will send you those for free if your pair of Freedoms did not include them out of the box. From what I understand, they should help keep the Freedom inside your ears better. Sadly, I cannot confirm that. Also included is a hard, magnetic carrying case that feels like a cheap plastic case you would expect to get from plastic playset. For $99, I would have liked more effort put into a protective carrying case.
To charge up the Freedom headphones, supplied is a USB cable that will let you charge over a USB port. There is no wall adapter included which is disappointing. The rechargeable battery should give you about 6 hours of playtime on a single charge.
Overall, I think JayBird's Freedom wireless Bluetooth headphones aren't bad for the $99 price tag, but at the same time I also think they need to be improved greatly. If you're looking for that sweat-proof wireless Bluetooth headset/headphones for the gym, the Freedom will be a pretty good pair of "throwaway" headphones. Ultimately, it's a toss up between in-ear wireless headphones that are the Freedom and on-ear wireless headphones, and depending on the current offerings I would have to say that these aren't half bad. As of today, there aren't many options for wireless in-ear headphones, and I would only suggest going with the Freedom as a last resort considering all that was said in the review.