Wireless Sports Audio Part 5 - Jaybird Freedom Wireless

September 13, 2016

Back in January at CES 2016, Jaybird announced the impending launch of two sports in-ears - the Freedom Wireless and X3 Wireless. This week, the former will finally be available on sale at SGD 259 in Singapore. 

As Part 5 of the Wireless Sports Audio series of articles, we bring you the full review of Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5. I took these buds on my most recent trip to the relaxing Dusit Thani Krabi Beach Resort in Thailand earlier this month to better test these out.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon over-ears
Credit - Jaybird

Pros (+): Clear treble delivery; Convenient over-the-ears placement; App support; Good voice prompts.
Cons (-): Loose ear fin fit; Need for Charging Clip; Low battery life.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon

There are 4 color variants at launch - Gold, Blaze, Ocean and Carbon. I was provided the darkest of the hues for the review.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon Gold Blaze Ocean
Credit - Jaybird
Just pop the top lid open like a book to reveal an endorsement pic of Ironman Triathlete, James "The Iron Cowboy" Lawrence, on the left and on the other, the earbuds under a transparent plastic blister. 
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - box

I was provided the X2 Wireless in 2015 by Jaybird and seems like they did quite a few (positive) changes to the packaging process. For one thing, they reduced the amount of sticky tape to the extent that only one is needed to seal the transparent plastic down. Peel it up and you can already pull out the earbuds from the white inner foam layer. 
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - unboxing

Deeper beneath lie the carrying pouch, containing the necessary accessories, and an intuitive visual user guide. 
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - unboxing

Spilling everything out, the packaging contents contain a helluva lot of items:
  • Freedom Wireless Buds
  • 3 x Silicon tips (S / M / L)
  • 3 x Comply Foam Sport tips (S / M / L)
  • 4 x Ear Fins (S / M / L / XL)
  • Charging Cable
  • 2 x Cord Management Clips
  • Cord Clip
  • Charging Clip
  • Carry Pouch
  • Quick Start Guide

Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon packaging contents

The stylish looking Jaybird Freedom Wireless (nicknamed F5 for fifth gen Freedom) weigh 13.8g, similar with the X2 Wireless and less than the Bose SoundSport Wireless (22g). One key difference is its sand blasted metal accented frame that is much sturdier but provides a smaller area for your fingers to manoeuver with. The cable which was previously a flat-type is now rounded. There are two modes to wear these - the usual under-the-ears method where you'd need to slip on the ear fins. 
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon ear fins

The other is the over-the-ears mode where ear fins are not needed. The good part over the X2 is that you no longer need to swap the left and right audio channels when toggling between modes. 
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon

While the X2's carrying pouch was undoubtedly solid, it was very bulky to carry around. By contrast, the Freedom's pouch is lightweight and hence more portable. It comes with a squeezable clasp at the neck to seal its contents in. Just make sure to insert all items within properly.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - carrying pouch

Now let's take a break from the specs. Here's a video on Jesse, Lauren and their son Jude. If you can't figure the connection, well click on.

The Freedom Wireless F5 is supposedly sweat resistant, which I found to be accurate thus far from 2 barefoot jogs on the Nong Thale beach. 

The in-line remote lies on the right side and is way bulkier than the X2's for a reason. Previously, the LED indicator and charging point was fitted on the earbud. Now, they lie on the remote and you'd need to attach the Charging Clip to the gold circular points on the underside to initiate charging. 
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Charging clip

One point to note is you have to bring the Clip with you at all times 'cos the micro-USB point lies here. The remote comes with the standard controls for playback / taking calls, volume adjustment and skipping tracks.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon

To initiate Bluetooth (v4.1 for the record) pairing on the F5, just hold the center button for 4 seconds. The LED will flash red / green with an accompanying voice prompt. Just activate Bluetooth on your mobile device and you're good to go. The Jaybird can now conveniently pair to 2 devices at the same time. In addition, it appears to have a share mode where you can link 2 Freedoms to a single device, though I was not able to test this.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon

The audio and voice prompts come in handy during pairing and informing the battery percentage. The power on / off also comes with an accompanying tune that you'll either love or hate.

For microphonics reduction, it is preferable to tie up the cable with the 2 cord management clips. As for the cord clip, it provides an added option to secure the cord in place.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Cord management clips
Using the cord management clips

With the new MySound application, Jaybird enters the app arena. It is compatible with iOS 9+ / Android 4.4+. 
Key features include the customization of equalizer and sound setting selections used by Jaybird endorsed athletes. What was useful to me was the ability to see the Freedom's battery on Android (see the notification on the top left of the screenshots) that only iOS users had access previously. You can even switch left and right audio channels if you prefer the in-line remote on your left. Is the app a must have? I'd say it's not crucial but needed if you want a change from Jaybird's signature sound preset.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - MySound
 Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - MySoundJaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - MySound

We test these sports earbuds in three areas when jogging:
1. Fit - Did it fit into the ears snugly? Did the weight of the cord tug on ears causing it to fall out?

2. Noise Isolation - We checked out the degree to which external noise is blocked. This is what you'd deem as 'passive noise cancelation'. 

3. Microphonics - This is basically the sound of the cable rustle when there's any kind of friction, be it wind friction or the cord swishing when running. 

Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon

On to the jog, a peaceful run along the crashing waves of Nong Thale beach. Out of the multitude of customization options, I settled on the M-size silicon and Comply Foam tips and used the default sound setting. When on the under-the-ears mode, I used the M-size ear fins. 
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon

1. Under-ears:
While the experience with the X2's was very acceptable in this mode, I cannot say the same for these buds. I could hear ambient sound very clearly whether using silicon or Comply tips. The ear fins were difficult to fit in. The curved design of the buds makes you instinctively want to press the buds toward your jaw and this dislodges the ear fins. I found that the way to insert is to press the buds in and tug them away from your ear. 
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon under-ears

2. Over-ears:
This is obviously the mode of choice to wear the Freedom Wireless F5. Unlike its predecessor, you don't need to insert ear fins in this mode. It is way easier. Just remove the fins, hook them around your ears and boom, you're good to go. I jumped up and down many times they rarely dislodged. Cable rustle is thankfully almost insignificant. The noise isolation is much improved compared to under-the-ears though waves can still be heard. As I like my sound with more bass, I used Comply Foam tips. Those who prefer clarity may use silicon tips instead.   
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon over-ears

Sound Quality:
The 6mm drivers provide a good balance of bass and treble though the emphasis veers towards clarity. Sarah Cracknell's vocals are sparkling clear on Saint Etienne's Tonight but that is not to say the bass is weak. It delivers enough oomph to compliment well enough. If somehow the bass isn't at your level, don't forget to use the MySound app. 

Battery Life:
The buds last 4h on the go, much lower than the Jaybird X2 or the UA Headphones Wireless, both rated at 8h. And this is where the provided Charging Clip comes in useful. When attached, you get a total of 8h. Technically, you can actually wear this Clip on your jog but I wouldn't recommend it due to the cable tug from the added weight.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - charging clip

Jaybird states 2.5h is the charge time to power both the Freedom Wireless buds (60mAh) and Charging Clip (125mAh). The red LED on both units indicates charging is ongoing and green shows full power.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - charging clip

The Jaybird Freedom Wireless looks great and sounds great. Sure some work could have been done on the battery life and the fit, but there are a million and one customization options through both the accessories and the new MySound app. The recommendation is to use them over-the-ears with cord management clips for an optimal jogging experience.
Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 - Carbon

If you already have the Jaybird X2, is this a must have? I would say no. The X2 is a brilliant product and it would be interesting to see what happens when / if Jaybird releases the X3. 

Where To Buy
If you like what you have read, do support me by purchasing the Jaybird Freedom Wireless from Amazon via this affiliate link for Gold Carbon / Ocean / Blaze colors.

Prices start from USD 199.

Audio Sources
Tonight - Saint Etienne (Spotify 320kbps MP3 on Samsung Galaxy S4)
Silenced By The Night (Alesso Remix) - Keane (Spotify 320kbps on Sony Xperia XA)

Credit to Jaybird and Logitech for a review unit.

Wireless Sports Audio Series
Part 1 - Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless
Part 2 - Sony NW-WS413
Part 3 - UA Headphones Wireless - By JBL
Part 4 - Bose SoundSport Wireless
Part 5 - Jaybird Freedom Wireless F5 
Part 6 - The Verdict (TBA)

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