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The folks from EarFun, which includes some former employees from budget audio favorite Tribit, have been trying to get me to review the startup's new Free true wireless earbuds for a while. Unfortunately, when I received my first review sample, I could only pair one of the earbuds to my phone -- the buds wouldn't join up into a stereo pair. But I've had much better luck with a second review sample, and after using it for a few weeks, have determined that it's a notch up from the gaggle of no-name generic true wireless buds on Amazon and a bargain at less than $50 (and sometimes less than $40).
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What's most impressive about the EarFun Free is the features: Bluetooth 5.0, both USB-C and wireless charging, and fully waterproof (IPX7), according to their specs. Do they sound fantastic? No, but they sound surprisingly good for their low price. They don't have quite the clarity of higher-end true wireless earbuds that cost $150 or more, but they do have plump bass and enough detail to avoid sounding dull. Wearing them for an hour straight, I didn't experience any listening fatigue, which is a big win when you're listening to budget-priced buds. They also play plenty loud (for me anyway).
Getting a tight seal is vital to maximizing the sound quality, particularly the bass. But when I used the largest of the included tips I didn't have a problem getting a comfortable, secure fit with a tight seal. I was able to run with them in my ears (they're pretty lightweight and not too bulky). This type of fit, however -- where the ear tip dips into your ear canal -- isn't for everyone. It's a noise-isolating design so you get some passive noise cancelation, which helps when you're walking around a noisy city like New York.
Battery life is rated at 6 hours at moderate volume levels and the case provides four charges on the go. A 10-minute charge gives you two hours of playback time, EarFun says. You control playback with physical buttons (no touch controls) -- clicking the left bud twice advances tracks forward; three quick clicks skips them back. The button on the right bud is used to pause your music and for answering and ending calls (one click) and two clicks calls up the voice assistant on your phone. Alas, there are no volume controls on the buds, you to make adjustments on your device.
That minor issue aside, my wireless connection was stable overall, with only the occasional glitch in the streets of New York, which can be hard on true wireless earphones (in terms of interference problems). After pairing them once, the earbuds automatically paired with my iPhone 11 Pro again when I took them out of the charging case. I was also able to use them with an Android phone -- the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus -- without incident.
Besides listening to music, I watched some YouTube and Netflix videos and didn't notice any audio/video synching issues. There didn't seem to be any lag, but I didn't try the earphones with every video app. I also made a few calls and the earbuds seemed to work fine as a headset. Don't expect business-class performance, particularly outdoors in noisy or windy environments, but they worked a little better than I expected outside. Callers said they could hear me OK without too much background noise drowning out the conversation.
I don't know if these will hold up several months or whether you might encounter the same problem I had with only one bud pairing. But for only $40 on Amazon, which has a good return policy, they're worth trying if you're looking for a cheap pair of true wireless earphones.