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Beyerdynamic Free Byrd Earbuds Review: Great Sound for $249

Beyerdynamic says sound quality was the focus of its first true-wireless earbuds, the Free Byrd -- and these certainly deliver.

Beyerdynamic may be late to the game, but it's finally introduced its first true-wireless earbuds, and they come with a name that might remind a few folks of Lynyrd Skynyrd's signature song. Available now in two colors for $249 (£199 or roughly AU$350), the Free Byrd earbuds have active noise canceling, up to 11 hours of battery life and impressive sound quality. 

8.1

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd

Like

  • Impressive sound quality
  • Very good battery life
  • Solid feature set and build quality
  • Wireless charging
  • IPX4 splash-proof
  • Lots of ear tips included

Don't Like

  • Noise canceling isn't top-notch
  • Design may be a challenge for some ears

As is the case with a lot of higher-end earbuds that prioritize sound quality, the Free Byrd buds are on the larger side, weighing in at 7 grams each (by comparison, Sony's WF-1000XM4 buds weigh 7.3 grams each). Their wireless charging case also has some heft to it and feels quite solid. It's not super compact but isn't bulky. It's similar in size to the WF-1000XM4's charging case.

Getting a tight seal is crucial for optimal sound quality and noise-canceling performance. Beyerdynamic offers an assortment of silicone and foam ear tips to help you get that seal. I personally prefer silicone tips. While I got a pretty tight seal with the largest silicone ear tip, the buds wouldn't stay in my ears securely, so I opted for the largest foam tip, which has more grip to it and gave me the best and most comfortable fit. (I could run with the earbuds using the foam tips -- they're IPX4 splash-proof.)

beyerdynamic-free-byrd-in-ear

The earbuds do stick out a bit, but not too badly.

Beyerdynamic

You should be able to get a good fit with one of the included ear tips, but I can't guarantee that these buds will be a good match for everybody's ears. Their design isn't as straightforward as, say, Apple's AirPods Pro, so I suspect some people might feel some discomfort depending on the shape of their ears. But I ended up being pretty pleased with the fit, though I preferred the fit of Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds. 

The earbuds have touch controls and they worked well enough for me after some trial and error and after consulting the manual in the Miy companion app for iOS and Android. It was initially tricky to adjust the volume (double-tap and hold on the second tap) and you have to triple-tap to advance tracks. But it becomes more intuitive with time.

beyerdynamic-free-byrd-in-case

The buds in their case.

David Carnoy/CNET

You double-tap to toggle between noise-canceling mode and a transparency mode. The noise cancellation is effective, though it's a clear step below what Bose and Sony offer on their flagship earbuds. The transparency mode sounds natural, which is good, but I wouldn't expect stellar noise-canceling performance from these.

Additional features include ear-detection sensors, which pause your music when you take a bud out of your ears. Your music resumes when you put it back in. You can also use a single earbud independently (left or right). There's also a low-latency gaming mode if you like to use your earbuds for gaming on a mobile device. One thing currently missing is multipoint Bluetooth pairing, which allows you to pair the buds with two devices simultaneously.

Beyerdynamic's other big feature is sound personalization, which it offers through the Miy app. There's also something called "Mosayc -- Attention to Detail with Mimi Sound Personalization." From a marketing standpoint, that all sounds pretty convoluted and I'm not sure who thought naming the app "Miy" was a good idea. But here's how it works in a nutshell: You do a 2-minute hearing test in the app and you get a custom sound profile for your ears. In my case, it did seem to slightly improve the sound. However, the default sound profile also appealed to me. There's a slider in the app that allows you to move between the "original" sound profile and your personalized sound profile. Additionally, you get some preset equalizer settings to play around with.

beyerdynamic-free-byrd-tips

You get lots of ear-tip options. The large orange foam ear tips fit my ears best.

David Carnoy/CNET

The earbuds worked reasonably well for making voice calls -- they have two microphones on each bud -- with decent though not exceptional reduction of background noise. Ultimately, however, where the earbuds really shine is when it comes to sound quality. 

Audiophile-grade sound

Equipped with 10mm drivers, the buds support the AAC and AptX Adaptive audio codecs. I tested them with an iPhone 13 Pro and a Motorola Edge Plus Android phone. The Motorola supports AptX adaptive Bluetooth streaming and playback of high-resolution music files through services such as Qobuz and Tidal.  

Beyerdynamic is known for its over-ear wired studio headphones, including the newish DT 700 Pro X ($259). The Free Byrd buds exhibit many of that model's sonic traits, including clean, accurate sound and an airy open quality (wide soundstage).

The Free Byrd are articulate and revealing, but also have more exciting sound than your prototypical studio headphone, which tend to restrain the bass and hew toward a neutral sound profile. The Free Byrd's bass is tight and punchy with ample kick. That said, you may be more impressed with how natural and clear the mids sound (that's where vocals live) and how the treble brings out the fine details in well-recorded tracks. These earbuds are certainly fun to listen to.

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: Final thoughts

If you can get the proper fit and a tight seal, these are excellent-sounding earbuds that are right at the top of their price class in terms of sound quality. While the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds may have more bass, they're not as articulate or accurate as these. The Free Byrd are also a small step ahead of the Momentum True Wireless 3 for sound offering slightly better clarity and stereo separation. 

Except for the impressive battery life -- up to 11 hours at moderate volume levels with noise canceling off and up to 8 with it on -- the Free Byrd are closer to the middle of the road in other areas, particularly their noise-canceling performance. But Beyerdyanic has said it made sound quality its highest priority and that definitely shows.  

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd key specs

  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • Active noise-canceling with transparency mode
  • 10mm drivers
  • IPX4 splash-proof
  • Two microphones on each bud for voice calls
  • Low-latency mode
  • Ear-detection sensors
  • USB-C and wireless Qi charging
  • Up to 11 hours of battery life with ANC off), 8 hours with ANC on 
  • Quick-charge feature gives you 70 minutes of power with a 10-minute charge
  • Sound personalization via the Miy app and Mosayc
  • Google Fast Pair
  • Amazon Alexa support
  • AAC and AptX Adaptive audio codecs
  • Price: $249 (£199 or roughly AU$350)