When it released its X2 wireless sports headphone in 2015, Jaybird drew some criticism from some users because -- despite some improvements -- it didn't seem like much of an upgrade over its predecessor. Well, now the company finally has a headphone with a totally new design: The Jaybird Freedom.
Originally showcased at the CES show back in January, the Freedom finally shipped a month after Logitech acquired Jaybird for $50 million. It carries list price of $200 in the US, with international pricing yet to be announced (it converts to around £155 or AU$265).
Some of Jaybird's earlier models were also named Freedom, but this new 2016 model doesn't look anything like them and has a couple of distinguishing design features. For starters, the buds have a proprietary "tapered stepdown" design, which is a fancy way of saying they've been trimmed down and now fit better in your ears. You can also wear a helmet over them without a problem.
Jaybird has built all the electronics into the inline remote, and the company says that the buds and inline remote are made of metal, not plastic, which is mostly true (there is some plastic that's part of the design). The headphones are sweatproof, though not waterproof, and Jaybird expects people to use these not only as a sports headphone but an everyday headphone.
Battery life is rated at 8 hours, which is good for this type of headphone -- but it's a bit misleading because you get 4 hours from the buds and an additional 4 hours with an included charging clip that has a second rechargeable battery inside it. You can continue wearing the headphones with the clip attached, but the package does look a little funny dangling down near your cheek.
You charge the headphones' internal battery and the external battery clip at the same time via a Micro-USB port in the clip. It's a cool concept to have the extra juice at your disposal when you need it, but the battery clip does seem a little easy to lose and is kind of a nuisance. The big problem is if you misplace it, you can't charge the headphone.
Luckily, the headphones -- which are available in five color options -- come with a nice little carrying pouch, where you can store the battery clip and any extra tips and ear fins that come with the headphones. A set of cord shorteners is also include, but they aren't the most elegant solution. Jaybird needs to find a way to integrate a cord adjustment design element into the product, not have you attach something to it.
I found the headphones fit better than 2015's X2 and I was able to get a tight seal and secure fit using the included ear fins. With a tight seal this is one of the best sounding wireless in-ear sports headphones you can buy, with clean, well-balanced sound that's close to what you'd expect from a good in-ear wired headphone. By that I mean it sounds pretty natural, at least in its default mode. The new Jaybird MySound app allows Apple iOS and Android users to tweak the sound profile to their liking.