Product Review: Jaybird Freedom Sprint wireless sport earbuds
Last week I did something I’ve never had to do before: I removed an item from my Favorite Things list. The item I removed was the MEElectronics Sport-Fi M6 Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphones with Memory Wire due to multiple speaker failures when exposed to sweat. If you’re going to market your product specifically towards athletes, it better be able to handle sweat. For the full story, check out this blog.
A few weeks ago a Facebook friend recommended a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that he was really enjoying, but the design of those earbuds was not a good match for me when cycling. Still, that suggestion got me thinking along the lines of wireless/Bluetooth, and I began to research other products in that family.
My requirements were as follows: solid wireless connectivity, excellent sound quality, sweat-proof/water-proof, comfortable fit, rechargeable battery that would last 4-5 hours, secure fit, light weight and a wire between the buds so that I could remove the speakers from my ears while riding and dangle them over my helmet strap.
I found several products that claimed to meet all of those requirements, but the one that seemed to offer the most bang for the buck was the Jaybird Freedom Sprint Bluetooth Headphones.
Retail price is $99.00, but Amazon currently has them for 65 bucks.
Let’s look at the manufacturer’s specifications:
- JF4MBL Premium Bluetooth Earbuds for Wireless Music/Phone Calls featuring patented Secure Fit Sport ear cushions.
- Comfortable, secure fitting, small and fashionable bluetooth earbuds for active sports are 40% smaller than our Jaybird JF3 Freedom Bluetooth earbuds.
- Official Training earbud of USA Triathlon with Lifetime Guarantee against damage from sweat.
- On-ear music/call controls help avoid removing earbuds from ear or dealing with tangles wires while enjoying your favorite sports activity.
- 4.5 Hour battery life from rechargeable Lithium Ion battery
What really stood out to me was that these earbuds are the Official Training earbud of USA Triathlon, and that they come with lifetime guarantee against damage from sweat.
It’s a nice little package for 65 bucks. A good looking box contains the earbuds, 3 pair of soft foam tips (S, M and L), 3 pair of ear wings (S, M and L) a pair of ear hooks (for those who prefer them to ear wings), a Micro USB charging cable and a solid clamshell carrying case:
In the above photo I’ve got the earbuds charging up with my Ingress Power Cube (far right, not included), which is my favorite portable power brick. People are always asking me about it when they see it in action, its softly glowing LED light display is absolutely beautiful!
Pairing the earbuds is simple: just press and hold the power button for 8 seconds to put it in pairing mode, and then complete the pairing on whatever Bluetooth device (or devices) you like. I paired mine to my LG G4 cell phone. Of course once you pair the earbuds to your cell phone, they sky is the limit when it comes to music selection: Google Play music, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, Amazon Prime music, Soundcloud, and much more.
On the first ride I did with the earbuds I was disappointed because I had constant issues with the sound dropping out–especially when I was on the aerobars. I was really bummed, because apart from the dropouts I was really happy with the earbuds.
Like most red-blooded American males, I toss all product manuals to the side, and rarely give them a second glance. Because I was experiencing issues with dropouts, I decided to give the literature a gander. Sure enough, the answer was there…
The manual discussed how water blocks Bluetooth signals (humans are mostly water), and that for the best results the Bluetooth device should be A) above the waist and B) on the right side of the body. I always carry my cell phone in my center jersey pocket, and I thought, “There’s no way moving the phone a few inches to the right (over to my right jersey pocket) is going to make a difference.” Boy was I wrong. Once I put my phone in my right jersey pocket I never had another dropout! I was pleasantly surprised. Anyway, keep this in mind, as it’s clearly important.
A very nice feature of the earbuds is that you can make and answer calls. If you want to make a call you just hold down the power button for a couple of seconds. If you get a call, you can press the power button to answer the call, or do a long press to reject it.
I performed some test calls, and the call quality was excellent when stopped. While riding I could clearly hear my wife, but–as one would expect–she had trouble hearing me over the wind noise.
In addition to the multi-function power button, there are volume up/down buttons that double as track forward and back buttons (long press, ~2 seconds).
I found all of the controls, which are located on the right earbud, very intuitive and easy to use. I do wish the track skip function activated with a slightly shorter press, say 1 second instead of 2, but that’s a minor quibble.
The sound quality of these earbuds is, to my ears, excellent. I thought my old earbuds sounded very good, and these sound even better thanks to the tight seal they are able to maintain.
On that note, let’s talk about fit.
My old earbuds had the over-the-ear “memory wire” hook design (again, the Jaybirds come with a pair of these if that’s your thing), but the wings are infinitely better! I started off with the medium wings, but I found them to be a little uncomfortable on my first ride. I swapped them out for the small wings, and that was perfect!
After I got the position of the wings adjusted to my liking, I was amazed by how comfortable the earbuds felt, and how securely they remained in my ears.
My old ear buds would lose their tight seal once I began to sweat, or if was approaching a turn and needed to turn my head to check for traffic behind me. It was annoying because the sound quality is directly tied to a good seal, and I was constantly pushing the earbuds back in while I rode.
The Jaybird Freedom Sprint earbuds STAY PUT. Once you get the wing size and position dialed in and the right foam tips selected (it will take some trial and error, but once it’s done you’ll never need to mess with that again), the earbuds will not move or lose their seal. I’ve put about 25 hours the earbuds so far, and no matter how much I sweat or how far I turn my head they never lose their seal. Trust me, the wings are the way to go!
Battery life is quite good. The manufacture claims 4.5 hours of battery life, and I got 4 hours and 20 minutes from a single charge before they died. Apart from the battery life test I did, I charge the earbuds after every ride (Micro USB charging cable is included), so I’m good with that battery life.
As I mentioned above, I’ve put about 25 hours on the earbuds so far. I’ve ridden in high heat, the rain, extreme humidity and subjected them to pretty much constant sweat. The earbuds have performed flawlessly in all of these conditions.
I am extremely happy with the Jaybird Freedom Sprint Bluetooth Headphones so far. That said, I am NOT adding them to my Favorite Things list just yet. I want to put another couple hundred hours on the earbuds to make sure they continue to hold up to sweat, and also maintain their ability to hold a charge.
Based on my first 25 hours of use, I’m giving the Freedom Sprints an enthusiastic recommendation. NOTE: I am no longer recommending these earbuds. Please see my follow-up review, published October 16, 2015.
If you can stretch your wireless headphone budget a little further, the brand new Jaybird X2 earbuds will reportedly get you even better sound quality, improved range and 8 hours of listening time off a single charge.