beyerdynamic Free Byrd Test: Strong True Wireless Debut
The manufacturer beyerdynamic should be a household name for anyone who is seriously involved in audio. Headphones like the DT 770 have long been cult. Even the affordable gaming headsets like the MMX 100 (our review) and MMX 150 (our review) have delivered in terms of sound. Now they’re making a debut in the true-wireless in-ear headphone space that’s a wash. Why? That’s what our beyerdynamic Free Byrd review explains.
|Bluetooth codecs||SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptive|
|Maximum operating range||14m (without obstacle)|
|Battery life||Up to 10.5hrs, 30hrs total with charging case; (varies depending on volume level and audio content)|
|Charge Time||1.5 hrs (for headphones via USB-C); 4 hrs (for charging case + headphones via USB-C)|
|Size charging case (W x H x D)||56 mm x 43 mm x 30 mm|
|Weight||6.9 g per earbud; 73 g charging case & earbuds|
|Most important features||ANC; transparency mode; wear detection|
|Price||€ 199.00 *|
beyerdynamic Free Byrd review: the scope of delivery
In the highly competitive segment of true-wireless headphones, manufacturer beyerdynamic brings out the heavy artillery in its debut product. This is already evident in the Byrd’s scope of delivery, which turns out to be quite lush.
The beyerdynamic Free Byrd comes in an inconspicuous brown cardboard box, in which the company does without any plastic. Very commendable. Inside, we find the Earbuds themselves in the charging case. However, it gets exciting underneath. Okay, not yet with the manuals, warranty cards and safety instructions. The USB-A to USB-C charging cable with an angled USB-C port is also not very exciting.
But below that comes the surprise, because the Free Byrd comes with a whole host of eartips to ensure the best possible, completely individual fit. A full five pairs of silicone ear tips in sizes XS to XL, as well as three pairs of memory foam ear tips in sizes S, M and L are included with the in-ear headphones.
Pre-installed here are no eartips, which ensures that you first get to grips with the ideal fit instead of using the otherwise usually attached M-size models.
Design and finish
- Flat, round surfaces
- Three microphones per earbud
- No pairing button
Moving on, the design of the beyerdynamic Free Byrd is unlike anything I’ve seen in the true-wireless headphone space. The in-ears are offered in the manufacturer-typical colors of gray and black and remind a little of the recently introduced Yamaha TW-E7B in terms of shape.
In concrete terms, we are dealing with a flat upper side, which is kept in matte black in our case. This is interrupted by a wide, grooved strip, on which the manufacturer’s logo is emblazoned along with an elongated status LED.
This goes over the manufacturer’s name down into the driver unit, while the Free Byrd lettering on the bottom once again indicates the model used. There we also find the labeling for the respective side including a white (left) or red (right) dot, as well as the magnetic contacts for charging in the case. There are a total of three microphones for phone calls on the outer sides of each earbud.
The charging case, on the other hand, has a matching matte color scheme and a flattened base, so it can be placed comfortably on surfaces. The USB-C port is on the back, and a status LED with information about the charging status is on the front underneath the lid.
Inside, the two Earbuds find a secure fit and are held in place by the magnetic contacts. However, the manufacturer does without a dedicated Bluetooth pairing button.
Processing of the beyerdynamic Free Byrd
- Robust, high-quality workmanship
- IPX4 certification
The build quality of the beyerdynamic Free Byrd is, as you would expect, on a very high level. The sturdy and comparatively heavy charging case with just under 60 grams feels high-quality and convinces with a smooth-running yet sturdy hinge for opening. However, with a size of 43 x 68 x 30 mm (width x height x depth), it is only conditionally suitable for a pocket.
The Earbuds themselves feel just as robust, which is also helped by their comparatively rather higher weight of just under 7 grams per pair of in-ear headphones. Praiseworthy: Thanks to IPX4 certification, the headphones are also protected against sweat and splashing water.
Wearing comfort of the Free Byrd
- 8 pairs of ear inserts included
- Takes some getting used to due to the design
Not least thanks to the large number of included ear tips, the beyerdynamic Free Byrd promise excellent wearing comfort and the best possible fit. Accordingly, the initial setup first involves finding the right inserts.
Once you have found them, you have to place the TWS earbuds in the ear and slightly twist them into the ear cup. Then the headphones also offer a really high wearing comfort, which, however, does not quite reach the best models of the competition, for example the Sony Linkbuds S (our review).
This is mainly due to the unusual design, which means that the beyerdynamic model always protrudes a bit from the ear. At the same time, it needs one or the other handle and a minimal change of position more than it is the case with the Sony model, for example.
However, once you have found your personal comfort position, the wearing comfort is convincing. However, lying comfortably on them, which is possible in the case of the Linkbuds S, is not recommended. But the passive seal is already convincing, especially in conjunction with the memory foam ear inserts.
Personally, though, I always feel like the Earbuds are about to fall out of my ears. They just never sit as tight and comfortable as some competitors. This is absolutely not the case in practice, but I still find myself readjusting them again and again, especially when moving quickly.
Features and battery life
- Bluetooth 5.2 with surprisingly long range
- Fast Bluetooth pairing on Android
- No multipoint
When it comes to features, beyerdynamic also goes all out. Wirelessly, the Earbuds radio in the latest Bluetooth 5.2 standard, achieving an impressive range of over 13 meters with massive walls in between – more than most TWS in-ear headphones.
The “free birds” feel particularly at home in the Android or Google cosmos and can be connected directly to the smartphone via pop-up thanks to Fast Pair. Simply tap on the picture of the headphones and the in-ears are ready for use. Strongly reminiscent of the Apple AirPods models under iOS.
In addition, the beyerdynamic Free Byrd also support single use in mono mode and wearer recognition. If you take one of the earbuds out of your ear, playback pauses with a little delay and resumes unilaterally when you place one of the earbuds in the charging case.
Playback is automatically resumed when removing or reinserting the earbuds. Both work flawlessly in practice, but are accompanied by a slightly higher delay compared to the competition. Multipoint, i.e. the connection with two audio sources at the same time, is unfortunately not available.
In return, the Free Byrd supports the standard Bluetooth codecs SBC and AAC as well as the high-resolution variants Qualcomm aptX and aptX Adaptive.
Impressive battery life
- Very good battery life (10.5 hrs for the Earbuds)
- Wireless charging of the case possible
The slightly larger dimensions and the higher weight allow the manufacturer to install a larger battery with 83 mAh capacity in the headphones themselves. And that in turn results in an impressive runtime.
With noise cancellation enabled, I got an excellent 10 hours and 32 minutes at a volume of 80 percent in the practical test. Quite close to the manufacturer’s specification of 11 hours. 4.5 hours more than the Sony Linkbuds S, but also 4.5 hours less than the endurance talent Creative Outlier Pro (our review).
In combination with the 500 mAh battery in the charging case, a total of 30 hours is possible. Also praiseworthy: Thanks to Fast Charge, 10 minutes of charging in the case is enough for 70 minutes of playback. The case can be charged via USB Type-C or wirelessly using the Qi charging standard. Via cable, a charging process from 0 to 100 percent takes around three hours and 45 minutes.
Operating the beyerdynamic Free Byrd
- Widely precise touch operation
- Comparatively high delay during inputs
The beyerdynamic Free Byrd are operated via the touch-sensitive outer sides. In practice, this is relatively precise for the most part. Single tap starts or pauses playback, double tap switches between ANC and transparency mode.
Three taps jump to the previous or next track, and holding it down calls up the voice assistant. Only the volume adjustment does not always work reliably in practice.
You have to double-tap one of the two Earbuds and then keep the touch surface pressed. The Free Byrd does not always recognize this precisely. Otherwise, the operating concept is pleasing and implements my inputs relatively accurately. Especially since these are always confirmed by a sound that is easily perceptible even at loud playback.
It’s a shame, though, that you have no way to customize the controls. Within the companion app, you can only review all commands. However, you are unfortunately not allowed to customize them.
Audio quality, ANC and microphones
- Excellent, rich sound already in default settings
- aptX and aptX adaptive codecs up to 24 bit/ 48 kHz
First things first: the beyerdynamic Free Byrd simply sound outstandingly good and that already out-of-the-box. With deactivated ANC, the precise and clear bass is somewhat in the background, but it clearly gains in substance when you switch on the noise cancellation.
Technically, the True Wireless in-ear headphones reach down to a frequency of 10 Hz, which means that they can also provide fans of bass-heavy, for example electronic, music with a lot of punch.
At the same time, the frequency band reaches up to 22,000 Hz yet and thus also reproduces highs clearly and comparatively openly. The result is a surprisingly clear, dynamic and detailed sound image across the board, which puts the competition in a similar price range in their place.
In a direct comparison between the Free Byrd, the Linkbuds S and the AirPods Pro, I like the sound of the beyerdynamic model the best and it offers the clearest mids and highs without putting the bass too much in the background. And the two rivals truly sound anything but bad, quite the opposite.
At the same time, the beyerdynamic model also gets louder than the other two in-ears and reproduces highs and mids beautifully clear and without peaks or sharpness even at maximum volume. Outstanding.
Mimi sound personalization and equalizer
You can also customize the sound in the app in various ways. You can choose from various equalizer presets (of which I actually like the original sound the best). Unfortunately, you cannot adjust the EQ itself.
In addition, there is an innovative sound test based on the MOSAYC test from Mimi Sound, which is already known from other models from beyerdynamic. In combination with an account, the creation of which is voluntary, you can thus adopt one and the same personalized sound image from the Amiron Wireless headphones, for example.
To do this, you have to pick out a beep from the chirping of crickets over the course of several frequencies and confirm on your smartphone when and for how long you hear the beep. The result is a sound that is specifically tuned to your ears.
You don’t have to take this for granted, however, but can freely determine the intensity of the individualization using a slider. And if you wish, this can be done in a softer or more intense mix.
Personally, however, the recommended result at full 100 percent was a bit too sharp in the highs when using music. The softer setting with an intensity of around 50 percent, on the other hand, proved to be optimal. I find it amazing how deep you can go into detail here though.
ANC and Transparency Mode
- Good ANC, very good transparency mode
- Voices are only minimally attenuated (ANC) though
The adaptive active noise cancellation of the beyerdynamic Free Byrd does a good job. Especially low and in parts also medium frequencies in the ambient noise are well suppressed, while especially the treble, but also voices are still let through muffled.
Unfortunately, the beyerdynamic ANC is not quite as effective as Sony’s Linkbuds S, but the performance is more than sufficient in practice. In a noisy office environment or the home office, when my son is watching his favorite series on the TV on the side, Sony but also Apple fade out significantly more background noise.
Not the best ANC, then, but definitely a good one. I really like the transparency mode on the other hand, which noticeably amplifies ambient noise, but especially voices. Here you are only minimally behind the top dog, namely the Apple AirPods Pro, and scores with a clear intelligibility and a natural sound.
With a total of six built-in microphones including Qualcomm cVc noise cancellation, the beyerdynamic Free Byrd also want to convince during phone calls or video conferences.
And indeed, I like the quality of what is offered very much. During phone calls or video conferences via PC, I was always to be understood by my counterpart clearly and with high dynamic range.
App connection: beyerdynamic MIY
- Clearly structured and clearly laid out
- Only a few real setting options
The companion app for the beyerdynamic Free Byrd is the manufacturer’s MIY app, which is offered free of charge for iOS and Android. It is nice and clear, but does not offer too much scope.
Besides the aforementioned sound test, the only option here is to completely turn off ANC or transparency mode. Furthermore, the home page informs about the battery state, while you can replace the respective voice assistant of the operating system, as Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant with Amazon’s Alexa, if desired.
You can also activate the low-latency mode here, which should of course be especially interesting for mobile gaming. However, the normal mode is also more than sufficient in terms of latency for music and videos.
Otherwise, there is not much to see here. You can take another look at the controls, but you can’t customize them. You can select different equalizers, but not customize them. And by and large, that’s about it.
beyerdynamic Free Byrd review: conclusion
With the beyerdynamic Free Byrd, the manufacturer makes an amazingly strong debut in the true-wireless headphone segment. The workmanship is excellent, but especially in terms of sound and battery life, they clearly distance the collected competition in the same price segment here.
Especially in combination with the individualized sound image and the high-resolution aptX codecs, the sound simply blew me away across the board at all frequencies. The operation, with the exception of the volume adjustment, also always works flawlessly and precisely.
ANC and transparency mode are undoubtedly good as well, but cannot keep up with Apple and Sony. We also have to deduct points for the wearing comfort, which is mainly due to the design. It is also good, but the Free Byrd do not sit quite as comfortably and firmly as the aforementioned models. In addition, I simply miss the options to freely adjust the operation and the equalizer in this price range. It is also a pity that Multipoint is missing.
There is definitely still room for improvement. Nevertheless, the sound of the beyerdynamic Free Byrd is convincing all along the line, which is why I can give them a clear buy recommendation. With a little fine-tuning, a potential successor could even take the top spot.
beyerdynamic Free Byrd
Value for money
Strong TWS debut from beyerdynamic: The Free Byrd score with excellent workmanship, an excellent sound and good ANC. However, the wearing comfort could be improved, and the app should offer more options.
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