I have been reviewing true wireless headphones since they debuted. The first brands that pushed them out were eager and hoping to be ahead of the curve. But the technology was rough for the first year or two, and TWS technology was plagued with connectivity issues. beyerdynamic is one company that held back and waited, and I’m glad they did. The beyerdynamic Free BYRD TWS headphones are the company’s first effort in this category.
While the rest of the audio world played hit and miss with TWS headphones, beyerdynamic has been working to make theirs the best they can make them. As I mentioned, I have tested dozens of TWS headphones, many of which are great while others are meh.
All of the TWS headphones that have come across my desk end up in someone else’s ears as I tend to give my review units away. The only pair of TWS headphones that have remained on my desk are the Apple AirPods Pro, and that’s about to change. While I like other TWS headphones, I could never find a pair that worked well enough for me as the AirPods Pro. The new beyerdynamic Free BYRD TWS headphones have changed that; they will sit alongside my AirPods Pro within reach for my personal use. Read on for the full review.
Table of contents
The beyerdynamic Free BYRD has the following features and specifications:
- Transducer type: Dynamic
- Operating principle: Closed
- Frequency response: 10 – 22,000 Hz
- Sound coupling to the ear: In-ear
- T.H.D: < 0.1% at 1 kHz
- Compliant with EN 50332: Yes
- Weight (per earphone): 7 g
- Charging case
- Dimensions W x H x D: 43 x 68 x 30 mm
- Weight: 60 g
- Battery type: Lithium-ion
- Battery capacity
- Earphone: 83 mAh
- Charging case: 500 mAh
- Runtime music: typical 11 hrs. (1:10 hrs. after charging for 10 min.)
- Talk time: typical 8:30 hrs.
- Charging time: 3:45 hrs.
- Max. charging voltage
- Earphone: 4.2 V
- Charging case: 4.2 V
- Max. charging current
- Earphone: 70 mA
- Charging current: 280 mA
- Charging socket: USB-C
- USB cable: USB-A (straight) to USB-C (angled), 0.5 m
- beyerdynamic sound with ANC and Transparency Mode
- Outstanding microphones (3 each side) with Qualcomm® dual 2-mic cVcTM for impressive speech intelligibility
- Extra-long battery life of typical 11 hours on one single charge
- Charging case with Qi® charging function
- Perfect fit and exceptional comfort (8 pairs of eartips in different sizes and materials included)
- Bluetooth® 5.2, Alexa Built-in, Google Fast Pair, and latest audio codecs Qualcomm® aptX™ Adaptive & AAC
- High-quality materials and replaceable parts
- Resistant against splashing water and sweat according to IPX4 certification
What’s In The Box
- beyerdynamic Free BYRD
- USB-C Charging Cable
- 5 Pairs of Silicone Eartips in Sizes XS-XL
- 3 Pairs of Foam Eartips in Sizes S-L
- Charging Case
- Manuals and Documentation
Let’s start with the case design in this section. It’s big. Yes, this case is significantly bigger when compared to other cases, such as the AirPods Pro case. If case size is an issue for you, then the beyerdynamic Free BYRD case might not be for you. But, while I found the case bulgy in my pocket, I did not mind that much because the rest of the design is fantastic.
The bottom of the case houses the wireless charging coils, and I like that it is flat, making it easy to set on a surface and remain stable. The top of the case has the beyerdynamic logo, and on the front of it, the beyerdynamic branding—an LED on the front shows charging status when plugged in or placed on a wireless charging pad. The hinge looks metal, like Apple’s case, adding strength for long life.
Opening the case reveals the beyerdynamic Free BYRD headphones, and the right and left indicators are embossed into the case, though slightly hard to see at certain angles. Except for the hinge, the rest of the case is made of a robust plastic material. I think the case will hold up well, but I can see that it could easily pick up wear marks and drop marks. Not that I care about scuffs and whatnot, as the case is made to protect, but some users may be concerned with it.
The beyerdynamic Free BYRD headphones are nestled in the case and not difficult to remove. As mentioned, they are bulkier and more prominent than other TWS headphones, which some users may not like. Our review unit came in the grey colorway, but you can also get them in black. I prefer the grey colorway myself as it is more aesthetically pleasing to my eye. The grey is not deep but more subtle and might be considered by some to be more white than grey.
The headphones have an attractive oval-like shape; for lack of a better descriptor, they look like a flat lima bean. Oval and then slightly tapering toward one end. The outer portion has a black stripe with the beyerdynamic logo and an LED light for charging and Bluetooth indication.
Pulling them out reveals the rest of the housing, which looks relatively the same as most other headphones. I appreciate that beyerdynamic added a red dot to the right headphone, as this has long been an indicator for the right channel in audio, making it easier to know which headphone is which.
beyerdynamic includes a bevy of eartips, making it easy for users to find the right fit. I found the correct size for my ears, and the fit was spot on. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they were and that I suffered from little to no ear fatigue. The only TWS headphones I’ve used that are more comfortable are the AirPod Pro.
Overall, I thought the design of the beyerdynamic Free BYRD headphones was modern and unique, with the robust build quality and comfortable fit.
Ease of Use
I always recommend plugging any battery-operated device in to charge it before first use fully, so do that first. Once charged, you can pair the beyerdynamic Free BYRD via your Bluetooth settings on your device. If you haven’t downloaded the beyerdynamic MIY app from the Play Store or AppStore, do that and create a profile within the app. Once you have that all squared away, the app will find your Free BYRD headphones and ask you to connect. We’ll cover the app a bit more in the App/Software section; you do not need the app to use the headphones. But you will not be able to use some features without it.
Once you have your beyerdynamic Free BYRD headphones connected via Bluetooth and the MIY app, you can start enjoying your music. Operation is done via touch on the sides of the headphones. One of the things I didn’t mention in the design section is that I like that you can grab these headphones without fear of accidentally touching the controls. Many touch-control headphones can get fussy with their controls, but since these are girthy, they have plenty of space to manipulate and move them without accidental touches.
Here I’ll give a rundown of the touch-enabled playback features on the headphones.
- To start/pause playback: Tap once to start or stop sound reproduction.
- To switch between noise canceling (ANC) and transparency mode: Tap twice to switch between active noise cancellation (ANC) and transparency mode
- Playing the previous/next track:
- Tap left three times to play the previous track.
- Tap right three times to play the next track.
- To switch on voice assistant:
- Tap and hold once to activate the voice assistant.
- To use the Alexa voice assistant, you must select it once in the MIY App.
- To increase/decrease the volume:
- To increase the volume, tap twice right and hold the second time.
- To reduce the volume, tap twice left and hold the second time.
- Making a call:
- Accept incoming call: Tap once
- Reject incoming call: Tap and hold once
- End active call: Tap and hold once
- Accept an incoming call and hold an active call: Tap once
- Reject second incoming call: Tap and hold once
- Switch between two calls: Tap once
- End active call and switch to held call: Tap and hold once
Overall, the beyerdynamic Free BYRD TWS headphones are straightforward to use, and if you’ve used any other wireless headphones with touch controls in the past, these will be no problem.
The beyerdynamic Free BYRD TWS headphones use hearing software developed by Mimi; I’ll talk more about this in the next section. For now, I tested these headphones using the personalized Mimi option within the beyerdynamic MIY app. However, I did briefly use them before going through the personalization option.
The Free BYRD headphones have a balanced soundstage out of the box, and the bass frequencies felt slightly bumped but not a lot. It was enough to fill out the space gently.
Curiously, I generally like the soundstage these have out of the box. I want a balanced soundstage with just a hint more bass to fill out the bubble. So when I went through the Mimi personalization, I was surprised that the software bumped the bass up again. Not so much that I disliked it, but it was noticeable that the bass frequencies, along with some of the mids, were raised.
The sound is full and wide, giving that immersive sound experience. Frequency separation was excellent; even with the boosted bass, the highs were clear and discernable. The beyerdynamic Free BYRD headphones also did an outstanding job keeping channels separated. By this, I mean I could hear Angus Young’s guitar (Thunderstruck) on the left channel clearly when it was supposed to be only there. The clarity is fantastic.
The ANC on these is phenomenal and are right on par with my Apple AirPods Pro. The ANC is very effective, and I frequently faded away, unaware of what was happening around me. This is precisely what I want from my ANC headphones because it allows me to concentrate on my writing. I am using the beyerdynamic Free BYRD TWS headphones as I write this.
These headphones also feature Transparency Mode, something new for the past two or so years. I don’t use this mode; I do not need it. But many people love it, and I get why you want it for those who need to hear their surroundings. Transparency Mode works okay here; it doesn’t compare to the Apple AirPods Pro, which does a much better job of bringing in your surroundings. But it does work, and it should be sufficient for most users.
The Free BYRDS also feature a gaming mode that is supposed to deliver low latency sound while gaming. I don’t mobile game much, and when I do, I don’t use headphones. So this is one feature I did not test. One last feature that I absolutely love is auto-pause. The music will pause when you pull one of the Free BYRDs out. Place it back in your ear, and the music starts back in.
Overall, the soundcheck is outstanding!
The beyerdynamic MIY app is straightforward to use. Here you can switch between ANC, Transparency, and OFF. You can turn on Low Latency mode for mobile gaming. You can use the built-in EQ and personalize your sound with the Mimi software. You can also choose your voice assistant, voice prompts, and factory reset the headphones. Firmware updates and headphone control explanations are also here. The app is well laid out and easy to use.
Reception is industry standard here. We stayed connected easily, 40-50 feet away. That dropped to around 30 feet away when behind several walls or doors. Call quality is excellent, though I do not use headphones for calls unless I test them for reviews.
Battery life is excellent! I consistently used ANC and easily got eight hours; add the charging case to the mix you can get 24 hours of battery life. This will easily go up higher if you don’t use ANC. Overall, battery life is phenomenal!
The US$249 price point is competitive compared to similar brands. Apple’s offering is US$50 more expensive but admittedly can be found on sale. beyerdynamic has packed a ton of value into their first TWS headphones, and they’re worth every penny.
Overall, the beyerdynamic Free BYRD TWS headphones are easily in the top three best TWS headphones list for us. If I had to rank them on the top three, they would be second to Apple’s, but only by a skinny margin. Those who don’t want anything to do with Apple and want an excellent pair of TWS headphones. These are they.