Beyerdynamic is the name synonymous with studio grade audio mastering. Think big, fluffy headphones with gold tipped connectors and precisely tuned drivers. The last thing you think of is wireless earbuds. Yes, Beyerdynamic are now making consumer earbuds now and they’re called the Free BYRD True Wireless Earbuds. The new buds aim to offer Beyerdynamic signature quality sound in a wire-free and compact solution that you can take anywhere. Add on Active Noise Cancellation and the longest battery life on any earbuds.
They retail for $350 here in Australia which is already more expensive than my favourite pair of full sized headphones — the DT 900 Pro X from the same company. And no, the BYRD’s don’t sound nearly as good as those obviously but for such a small package, they sound wonderfully lush. Plus, they can fit in your pocket unlike the ginormous 900 Pro X.
Unfortunately, sounding wonderful isn’t quite enough to make these buds an immediate winner. The BYRD’s offer lackluster noise-cancellation and the design of the buds can make fitting a really fiddly affair. At $350, everything needs to be world class and in this case, it’s not.
Beyerdynamic Free BYRD Review
The first thing you’ll notice about the Free BYRD is the chunky design. The main driver and battery housing has a large, egg shaped plastic housing with a stripe across the middle that houses the touch sensor, LED light and a Beyer logo. A tiny stem for the ear tip protrudes out of this mass. You get to choose from a total of 8 different ear tips — 5 silicon and 3 foam which Beyer says is better suited to work outs or high movement.
Oddly enough, even with all this choice, I never found a set that really fit me properly. Add in the chunky size that makes much of the BYRD’s stick out of my ear and I was I constantly reseating them every 30 mins or so to stop them from dropping out. I wouldn’t even try working out with them but since our ears are all different, your experience could be the total opposite. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to work out with these because they are water and sweat resistant thanks to an IPX4 rating.
I assume one reason for the size is the massive battery. Beyer says that the BYRD will last 11 hours on a charge and my experience backed up that claim. I spent entire work days listening to music and running Zoom meetings and end the day without so much as a battery warning. For context, 11 hours is enough to fly from Australia to China so yeah. Most earbuds I’ve tested haven’t exceeded the 7 hour mark so I’m really impressed by what Beyer has achieved here.
Then there’s an additional 22 hours in the case which is surprisingly small compared to the buds themselves. It’s a standard affair, rounded off rectangle with a USB Type-C port at the back for charging and a battery status LED on the front. Its slim enough to fit in a breast pocket without an unsightly bulge and won’t take any noticeable space in a bag.
Once you open the case, the buds power up(yes, I did it) and if you have an Android phone with Google Fast Pair, it will immediately recognise the buds. For other devices, you’ll need to manually put them into pairing mode by tapping and holding on any bud for a few seconds while they’re still in the case. Once connected, it’s advisable to use the MIY app on Android and iOS to setup the buds.
This setup also initiates a sound profile tool that analyses your particular range of hearing to create a unique EQ for you. It’s much like Corsairs SoundID which means the your BYRD’s will sound different from mine. I didn’t quite like how my profile came out so I turned it off and just used the built in EQ’s. Annoyingly, you don’t get to create your own custom EQ but the ones available are decent enough for most things.
You can also control the Free BYRD with the on-bud touch controls which are pretty straightforward tap, double tap or tap and hold affair. I like that you can tap and hold to adjust volume. But as noted, because of the size of the buds, tapping often leads to dislodging the buds which can be irritating. Taking the buds out immediately stops playback which is also nice but reinserting them doesn’t automatically resume playback which isn’t so nice.
I never had any issues with the Bluetooth 5.2 connection either — it was rock solid with good range. The Free BYRD’s support aptX Adaptive and AAC as well as a low-latency gaming mode which actually does reduce the latency in game audio. I found the difference most noticeable when playing platformer Grimlord and less so in Diablo Immortal so I guess it depends on the title.
Overall, the sound coming out of the Free BYRD is best described as pleasing. It’s wonderfully full bodied and rich in tone. It exhibits the same expert tuning from other Beyerdynamic’s with very tight and restrained bass that perfectly harmonises with the mids and high tones.
My range of video game and movie soundtracks all sounded wonderful if not just a tad lacking in thump from bass. Voices in videos and podcasts were warm and clear. Voice calls and video chat was also decent thanks to a 2-mic cVc which enables the BYRD’s to pick up my voice clearly with sufficient volume. I never had any complains from my listeners.
But for all that goodness, the Free BYRD falls flat when it comes to Active Noise cancellation in much the same way as the excellent Pamu Slide 2 that i last reviewed. It’s so subtle that it might as well not be on. It takes a very keen ear to hear what it’s doing which is essentially, completely not the point. Going back and forth, I notice the change in ear pressure and subtle reduction of low frequency sounds such as the dishwasher. But most sound frequencies like voices, cars on the street, even my keyboard still come through loud and clear. So much so that the ANC might as well not be on.
This also made Transparency mode somewhat pointless because it did very little to improve my hearing of surroundings that I could already hear anyway. This is really disappointing for such a pricey set of ear buds especially considering the competition from Apple. Sony and Bose at this price range. Those offer significantly better ANC for the same price and there’s quite a few significantly cheaper buds that also offer better ANC than what’s in the Free BYRD.
The Beyerdynamic Free BYRD are a great first entry in the company’s line of wireless audio gear. They really sound wonderful and I enjoy listening to all sorts of media with them — enough to make them my go to buds. The incredible battery life really makes the cake here and you can enjoy hours on end of wonderful music.
However, there’s no denying that the ANC isn’t the main reason to buy these buds, and you should look to the competition if that’s your goal. While Beyerdynamic has nailed the sound in these buds, it still needs to do a lot of work on the ANC which we’ll hopefully see in the Free BYRD 2 next year. For now though, the $350 Free BYRD remain a pricey set of great sounding true wireless earbuds only for the die hard Beyerdynamic sound lovers.