I don’t listen to music on the trails often because it’s too much work. Between the ear buds falling out or hurting, the dangling cables, and constantly adjusting the volume, I’ve had it. Instead of enhancing my flow, toting my jams has turned into a chore.
The Jaybird Freedom Bluetooth headphones were designed specifically for active individuals. They ship with a variety of earpieces to ensure a comfortable fit, the manufacturer claims they’re sweat proof, and there aren’t really any cables to snag.
So are my riding needs and beats back in tune?
The most frustrating part of working out with the current crop of headphones is the dangling cables. Have you ever had an ear bud ripped out of your ear while riding? I recently broke a set of expensive headphones when the cable caught on my desk and irreversibly bent the audio plug. Routing the cable through my jacket or out my backpack is less than ideal because it makes removing either difficult. When I’m out riding I don’t want to stop for stupid details.
The Jaybirds are great as a workout headphone because they fit comfortably and stay in place. They are heavier than a traditional set of headphones, but after much experimenting, I found a combination of earpieces that worked for me. The trick Jaybird “ear cushions” do a great job of keeping the unit’s solidly in place, but take some time getting used to too insert quickly, and they started to cause me some discomfort after an hour. Combining the more traditional over the ear loop with the custom ear cushions relieved that pressure and allowed me to wear them comfortably all day.
The Freedoms easily lasted for more than the claimed 6 hours. The excellent battery life is a real boon because I frequently forget to charge/bring the charger. The Jaybirds use a semi-proprietary USB instead of the more common micro USB standard found on most modern cell phones. The charging cord shipped with the headphones is rather short, which is sometimes inconvenient. The package also does not include a USB to wall adapter, but the headphones charged without issue using a spare apple adapter.
The headphones pair and repair with my iPhone, my old Palm Pre, and my windows laptop without any difficulties. It’s almost easy enough a baby boomer could do it without asking their kids for help. The headphones also double as a headset for your phone. The audio isn’t perfect, as it doesn’t have any fancy integrated noise canceling, but it performs adequately in a pinch. Callers did not complain unless I was in a loud crowded setting like a coffee shop.
I didn’t have any issues with the headphones losing their signal, but Jaybird recommends using an armband when outside. Your body is largely comprised of water and the Bluetooth signal can be blocked if placed in your pocket. My signal never failed when paired with the iPhone I keep stowed in my backpack. It’s pretty neat to walk clear across the office without having to drag your cell phone or laptop along.
The right earpiece has 3 different buttons which serve multiple purposes. The volume adjust buttons can be held down to skip back to the beginning of a song or advance to the next one, but I kept dislodging the earpiece trying to use this feature when I was I was riding technical trails. This feature works best when you’re running at a jogging pace or trucking up some smooth fire road because it requires a rather long button press to advance tracks. The large side button triples as the on/off, pause/play, and pairing button.
The bottom line is these headphones work great for their intended purpose. The highs are a little muddled, the bass isn’t bumping, and the audio quality won’t blow any audiophiles away, but this is the best audio experience I’ve ever had with a wireless setup. They don’t interfere with my half lid straps, they’ve stayed in place during some really nasty descents, and they have a lifetime warranty against sweat (Jaybird is a USA Triathlon Team sponsor.) If you’re in the market for a pair of no compromise workout headphones that won’t get in your way, the Jaybird Freedom headphones should be on your short list.