Tech Review: Jaybird Freedom 2 Wireless Headphones feature good sound and the same problems

My experience with the Jaybird Freedom 2 was decidedly up and down, often in the same ways my experience with the original Freedom model was. I would use them for a while, and be happy to do so even though I knew I had another pairs lying around that were quantifiably better. Its not even as though the Jaybird Freedom 2 is an improvement on the original model, because it really isn’t, but for one particular improvement.

The Jaybird Freedom 2 are the ideal pair of wireless buds for people who have a short, daily commute and aren’t worried about having to charge them fairly regularly. For those planning to use them as gym headphones, you may want to think twice — though they have  sweatproof coating, it was incredibly hard to keep them in my ears once I started sweating.

What the Freedom line has always traded on are their looks. The Freedom 2’s aren’t any different. They do have a nice, sleek look, with a number of slimmer design aspects to allow a better fit in the ear. They’re more comfortable than the original model overall and those who bike to work will find they slip under your helmet quite easily.

The buds come with extra pairs of buds and wingtips for securing them to your ears, a little carry case, a charging clip and a cable clip and micro USB charger. I’ve said in numerous previous earbud reviews that my ears are purpose built for ejecting earbuds the moment I put them in, but I met with mixed success here. After changing out the default nubs for something larger, I was able to walk around without them sliding out but any movements more strenuous than that were off the table.

The look is … fine. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t much care for the aesthetic of a pair of headphones, finding that aspect entirely secondary to sound quality and comfort. My review unit was the white model with gold accents which, alright, if you’re into that kind of thing. The build quality, however, is of a fairly high quality and the materials seem sound. The controls seem to have been ported over directly from the original Freedom model unchanged and are the hard plastic I remember, and just as weighty and large. It can, thankfully, be kept under control with the included clips which keeps it from yanking the buds out of your ears while jogging. The plus side of the buttons being so damn large is that you know exactly what you’re pressing, even if you can’t see them.

Bluetooth is fine, though I couldn’t find any concrete evidence of what version of BT the headset has onboard. I made it about 10 metres from my phone before I started noticing breakup so draw your own conclusions. I think its safe to say it isn’t using Bluetooth 5 or above. That said, as long as you’re within that 10m zone, and you probably will be considering your phone will be in your pocket or bag a lot of the time, you’re fine.

Battery life is still as much a concern in the Freedom 2 as it was in the original model. Without using the charging clip, you’re able to squeeze a bit under 3 hours 30 minutes of use out of them at full volume. This will be fine if your intention is to use them as part of your gym kit, but if you’re relying on them for something longer haul, you’ll be disappointed.  Drop the volume to 50% and you’ll get an extra hour out of it.

But that’s all ancillary information. If I have so many bugbears, why do I, as I said in the intro, keep using them? Guys, as lightweight buds meant for use in the gym go, I don’t think I’ve heard many better than these. They aren’t going to be a patch on the nice pair of Sony over-ears you have at home, but under these very specific conditions they will impress the hell out of you.

The bass has a punch but doesn’t blow everything out, meaning the low end sound is suitably detailed. It’s present but polite, as it should be. It’s only the high end sound that gets a bit distorted, but only at higher volumes. Dropping it only 10% brings everything back into line. You can also go the extra step of downloading the Jaybird MySound app if you want to really get into the EQ nitty gritty and, if you’re like me, I’m sure you will.

So fair build quality but decent sound. How much would you expect to pay for a pair of buds like these? Jaybird is hoping you’ll pony up $119 AUD, which in my opinion is a bit high. It’s in a price range that suggests a level of quality the Freedom 2’s simply don’t possess, in build or in battery, but they do sound good enough that I’ve been taking them as a go-to commute headset. The question you have to ask yourself if you’re considering these buds is: Is the greatly improved sound quality worth dealing with the Freedom 2’s numerous other shortcomings? I leave that up to you.

Score: 7.0 out of 10
Highlights: Greatly improved sound; Wider array of tips and nubs
Lowlights: Same weak battery; Slippery when sweaty
Manufacturer: Jaybird
Price: $119 AUD
Available: Now
Website: Jaybird.com

Review conducted using a retail unit provided by the manufacturer.

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David Smith

David Smith is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. He has previously worked as a freelance games journalist and critic, appearing on PC World Australia. He tweets at @RhunWords and plays the odd game at twitch.tv/RhunWords when the internet works.

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