Dark or Light
logo
Logo

Beyerdynamic's, Free Byrd, and the Company's First TWS Earbuds and They're Great for Gaming Too (Review)

Free as a bird now

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

Beyerdynamic is one of the biggest names in the audio business and has been an industry leader for decades. Its over-ear headphones have become staples in studios, store shelves, and even live streams in recent years. In fact, one of the first pairs of top-tier streaming headphones we reviewed here were the Beyerdynamic DT-990 PROs, popularized in our space by none other than Ninja.

With that, it might come as a surprise that the Free Byrds, just released this month, are the company’s first-ever pair of true wireless earbuds. Its competitors, like Jabra, Apple, and Sony are multiple generations in, but Beyerdynamic has spent these years quietly working on its own solution: a set designed to challenge wired headphones in sound quality and go toe-to-toe with the competition on features. 

Specifications

  • Earphone
      • 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
      • Weight (per earphone): 7g
  • Charging Case
      • Dimensions W x H x D: 43 x 68 x 30 mm
      • Weight: 60g 
  • Battery/Charging
      • Battery type: Lithium-ion
      • Battery capacity: Earphone: 83 mAh, charging case:  500 mAh
      • Runtime music: 11 hours (1:10 hours. after charging for 10 minutes)
      • Talk time: 8.5 hours
      • Charging time: 3:45 hours
      • Charging socket: USB-C
      • USB cable: USB-A (straight) to USB-C (angled), 0.5m
  • ANC/Transparency Mode
      • ANC topology: Hybrid (Feed-Back and Feed-Forward)
      • ANC type: Digital
      • Ambient noise attenuation with ANC ON: 20 dB (low frequencies), 18 dB (mid frequencies), 15 dB (high frequencies)
      • Number of steps for ANC: 1
      • Transparency mode available: Yes
      • Number of steps for transparency mode: 1
  • Microphone
      • Signal-to-noise ratio:  64 dB
      • Microphone type: MEMS, omnidirectional
  • Bluetooth
      • Bluetooth version: 5.2
      • Number of paired devices: 6
      • Range: 10 m
      • Supported profiles: HSP 1.2, HFP 1.7.1, A2DP 1.3.1, AVRCP 1.6, AVCTP 1.4, AVDTP 1.3, SPP 1.2, Device ID 1.3, RFCOMM 1.2, GAVDP 1.3
      • Supported codecs: aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC, SBC
      • Speech enhancement: Qualcomm® cVc™ (8. Gen.), 2 mics
      • Volume steps:  Music = 16, phone calls = 16
      • Google Fast Pair: Yes
      • Amazon Alexa built-in: Yes
      • Firmware update possible: Yes (via App)
      • Low Latency Mode: Yes
  • Supplied Accessories
    • 5 pairs of silicone ear tips, sizes XS, S, M, L, XL
    • 3 pairs of foam ear tips, sizes S, M, L
    • USB cable for charging
    • Quick start guide in nine languages and booklet

The Free Byrds are definitely out to impress. From a company like Beyerdynamic that’s known for its audiophile sound, it’s no surprise that it leads with sound quality. The earbuds use large 10mm dynamic drivers that the company promises will move you, even if you enable specialized sound modes like Active Noise Cancellation or Transparency Mode. The buds also support high-res listening codecs, like aptX Adaptive. 

You get a sense of the driver size quickly after unboxing them. The buds are larger than I expected and have more depth than many of the competition, so you can count on them sticking out of your ears a touch. Despite that size, they still look pretty stylish with their teardrop design and brushed metal capacitive touch surface (in appearance, anyway). 

Whatever they lack in size, they make up for in battery life. With ANC on, you can expect 8.5 hours of listening. With noise cancellation disabled, that jumps to 11 hours. That puts them at the top of the market, right alongside Sony’s WF-1000XM4. You’ll be able to use them for an entire workday, but if you do manage to run them dry, they also support quick charging. Ten minutes in the case will return just over an hour of listening — which isn’t industry-leading, but doesn’t really need to be with base battery life so high. The case can provide another two recharges (30 hours total) and supports wireless Qi charging, so you can throw it on a charging pad overnight instead of managing another wire. 

Setting up and using these earbuds is also very easy. They support Google Fast Pairing, and my phone immediately recognized them and walked me through setup the first time I took them out of the case. Once they are, you can use them with the Beyerdynamic MIY (Make It Yours) app, which provides quick access to sound personalization, EQ presets, and toggles for ANC, Transparency, and Low Latency Modes.

Changing settings on the fly is also easy. If you’ve used other touch earbuds, you should have no trouble getting used to the touch controls here. Play and Pause are handled with single taps of either earbud. Skipping or repeating tracks is done with triple taps on the left or right. Summoning your virtual assistant is done by holding the right earbud. It’s volume that breaks the mold by having you double tap and hold to make adjustments, but it’s not difficult and easy to remember after using the buds for a bit. All of these controls are responsive and reliable. Due to their center touch area, it’s also easy to adjust them in your ear without accidentally pausing your music or ending a call. 

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd - Fit and Comfort 

Fit and comfort are where the Free Byrd struggles somewhat. The buds are on the larger side and stick out of your ears more than many other buds at this price. You might say it’s the price you pay for the large, 10mm drivers and the tech inside of them, but when most other buds are focusing on small size and easy comfort, the Free Byrds feel bulky and harder to find a comfortable fit with.

The company includes a wide array of tips, including five sizes of silicone tips and three sizes of orange foam. It should be possible to find a comfortable fit, but I found that I really struggled to find a match for my right ear. I eventually settled and haven’t had any issues with it slipping out or reduced sound quality, but perhaps due to its larger size, don’t feel like it’s as snug as I would like.

That’s where the foam ear tips come in. Like earplugs, you roll these in your fingers to compress the material, insert them and hold them in place until they expand again. This solves the issue, but you’ll need to factor in replacements over the life of the product. They’re cheap, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd - Listening and Daily Use Impressions

I was able to spend about two weeks using the Free Byrds as my daily driver, and I have to admit to being impressed. Beyerdynamic wasn’t lying when they said they put sound quality first — the Free Byrds sound great.

The stock sound signature is warm with plenty of bass. For pop music and rock, their sound is driving and perfect for exercise. There is definite impact to kick drums, and it hits just as hard (if not harder) in movies and games. Vocals sound good too, very natural. And while the treble is laid back, you can still pick out the notes and details that live in the higher registers. 

What really impressed me though is how well layered these earbuds are. You can really hear how songs, music, and games come together. In Coheed and Cambria’s Window of the Waking Mind, you can clearly hear the two guitars lay on top of each other and the expert way the mix engineer pans them back and forth, up and down, in the mix. It makes for a really dynamic and fun listening experience, whether you’re into prog rock, hip-hop, or anything in between. 

This is audiophile-grade sound. Beyerdynamic has nailed their quintessentially dynamic sound and translated it into the true wireless form factor. And while its headphones lean into the treble, the Free Byrds show that they know their market well and cater to it.

If this sound isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, the MIY app offers six other EQ presets to choose from. You have Bass Boost, Warm, Smooth Treble, V-shape, Speech, and Brilliance. I enjoyed the stock sound signature and found that the first three rolled off some of the treble details I enjoy, but V-shape was a lot of fun and added more slam and more detail while relaxing vocals slightly. Brilliance is all about the details, so if you want less bass and more mids and treble, it is a great choice that leans heavily into audiophile tastes. 

The app also includes an excellent sound personalization mode. This test has you pick out beeping sounds amid white noise to gauge how well you hear different frequencies. The frequencies you hear worse (usually higher tones as we lose those naturally as we age) are then boosted based on what the app determines. These tests can be very hit or miss, but I found the sound personalization here to be exceptionally good. The difference between having it off or on was night and day and improved the sound quality much more than I expected based on previous apps. 

The active noise cancellation is good and competes well with other earbuds in the price bracket. It doesn’t deliver the same level of noise canceling as Sony or Apple but is closer to the Jabra Elite 7 Pro. Add a little music, and you can easily slip away and block out the outside world. Beyerdynamic has room to grow here, though, so don’t expect ANC that’s on par with its sound quality. The transparency mode was great, however, and sounded natural while also heightening the volume of the outside world slightly, making me feel like I had superhuman hearing (or a touch of it!).

The Free Byrd's exceptional battery life made them a great choice for all-day wear. I tend to leave one earbud in throughout the day. My previous daily driver, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, would run out midway through the day if I forgot to take it out, but that never happened. The buds were always ready to go, whether there was a call coming in, or I just wanted to squeeze in another chapter of an audiobook while my kids were playing outside.

In short, with the exception of finding an initial fit, the Free Byrds were great. They offer great sound quality, plentiful features, tremendous battery life, and are easy to use and live with. The Free Byrds are a winner.

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd - Gaming 

The Free Byrds are surprisingly capable for gaming compared to most other true wireless earbuds. This is because of its high-resolution sound, good positionality, and, most of all, its built-in low latency mode. 

Beginning with the sound, the natural clarity of the earbuds makes it easy to pick out the direction of sound sources. Playing PUBG, I was able to hear the direction of gunshots and distant motors to keep myself hidden as I made my approach. In MMORPGs, this kind of directionality is less important but still adds to the overall immersion the earbuds are able to provide. 

Even more important is that low latency mode. By flipping a switch within the app, the latency is dramatically reduced compared to every other true wireless earbud I’ve heard without a similar mode. While it’s not quite as low as a wired gaming headset, this mode makes games that were previously unplayable with Bluetooth earbuds playable again. 

In Battlefield 2042 (and other first-person shooters), gaming with Bluetooth earbuds is usually unbearable. There is a noticeable lag between firing your gun and hearing those shots in your ear. It’s jarring enough to leave you reaching for a wired headset or even quitting the game until you can play it properly. With Low Latency mode enabled, you can still perceive a very slight delay, but it’s small enough that before long, I stopped even noticing it.

As is usually the case, I do recommend enabling Dolby Atmos or Windows Sonic to increase the soundstage. But, compared to most of the competition at this price, the Beyerdynamic Free Byrds were great for gaming as well as music and movies. 

Final Thoughts

At $249, the Beyerdynamic Free Byrds don’t come cheap, but offer some of the best sound quality you’ll find in the form factor, excellent gaming performance, and outstanding battery life. They’re larger than I would like but are easy to live with, whether you’re just interested in music or want a great pair of headphones for all of your listening needs.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Some articles may contain affiliate links and purchases made through this will result in a small commission for the site. Commissions are not directed to the author or related to compensation in any way.

8.5Great
Pros
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Reliable touch controls
  • Low Latency mode for gaming
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Useful app with options to further improve sound quality
Cons
  • Comfort and fit may be an issue for smaller years
  • Noise cancelling falls short of the competition


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight