If Jaybird was to bring us a new edition, it was a tough act to follow at the very least, and if it was going to best its good work, they had to go back to the drawing board and reimagine its line from the ground up.
And this is just what happened with the Jaybird Freedom Wireless.
The Jaybird F5 builds upon the F2 and the Bluebud X, except for a smaller and modest profile.
I remember when their marketing executive first showed me the Jaybird F5, the first words from my mouth summed up the pitch. “They’re so small.”
The company is looking to take the Freedom line in a new bold direction and has achieved quite the knockout hit it was looking at with this piece that has gained so much popularity since launching in 2016.
Jaybird Freedom First Impression
Contrary to what you would expect with products from the same line, this 2016 model does not look like anything like its cousins, and in any case, it’s filled with a couple of distinguishing design features.
For starters, it sports a modest profile, thanks to the proprietary "tapered stepdown" design, a fancy way of trimming the earbuds allowing for an easy fit. With the Freedom, you can now wear a helmet over them without an issue.
The second distinguishing feature is that they have built all the electronics into the inline remote, and this goes ahead to underline Jaybird’s quest for a modest design.
It’s a shame, however, that the F5 is tailored as a sports headphone, and yet, it’s not waterproof. Fortunately, it’s sweatproof, and as it stands, Jay expects us to use the F5 more than your everyday headphone.
Jaybird Freedom Special Edition Features
Typically, sports headphones are constructed from plastics, alongside hardened rubber. A perfect combination of these materials ensures durability, protection from sweat, comfortability, and a secure fit during vigorous movements.
Another reason why plastic is popular than metal is because metal is known to block Bluetooth signals.
Jaybird, however, goes against conventional wisdom and has designed its headphones using all metal.
According to them, the all-metal clad Freedom performs just as well as the bulkier, plastic earbuds, while at the same time, maintaining key features such as sweat resistance and respectable battery life.
Most importantly, the metal construction will guarantee durability, allowing the Freedom to handle anything you throw at it.
Like all the Freedoms, Jaybird F5 offers one thing that most of the headphones do not offer, and that is sex appeal. Make no mistake, F5 banks on the sleekness of the Freedom profile, just as the engineering within, to offer you an outstanding experience.
When you open the box, you'll certainly get shocked at the size of these headphones. Unlike a majority of the pretty bulky headphones, each earbud on the F5 is impressively tiny and light, yet with robust construction.
Sporting a conventional neckband-style sports design, the F5 is just a fraction of its predecessor the Jaybird X2 and is highly portable.
The size and weight of the F5 are helped by the fact that the battery has been removed to the in-line microphone and remote control unit.
However, the battery transfer comes at a cost as the battery life has been cut considerably from 8 hours of its step-down to a mere 4 hours.
Again, the controls are quite unresponsive compared to those of the X3, and the charging clip is quite large and heavy.
Let’s now get to the nitty-gritty of the F5 Features:
The F5 sports a sleeker and more appealing form factor that other models.
The earbuds are smaller and thinner than those of the X3 or X2.
The reason behind the sleeker profile is because a majority of the F5 electronics, including the battery, has been redistributed to the inline remote.
In return, however, it makes the in-line remote a tad bulkier than other models.
Overall, the F5 has an understated look that will work for most people.
The F5 is available in our color schemes that will suit your individual needs and preferences.
These color schemes include carbon black, Gold, Blaze red and Ocean Blue.
Comfort describes how physically pleasant a headphone is on your ears, and it has a considerable effect on your listening experience.
An uncomfortable pair of headphones will not only prevent you from fully getting immersed in your audio but may even cause pain, soreness, and stress.
Though comfort is usually vital when listening for long sessions, it would not harm to have a comfortable pair of headphones.
Comfort is quite subjective, the ergonomic design, softness of the cushions, adjustability, stiffness, and weight play the most crucial factors.
Now, let’s look at some of these components in the F5.
Weighing at 0.03 lbs with a clamping force of 0.00 lbs, the F5 is an extremely lightweight in-ear headphone.
I found out that the F5 was so light that it didn't feel like you were wearing any. This is good, especially to athletes who don't like to get anything on their way.
The fit is crucial, especially with sports headphones. Nothing is worse than having headphones constantly slipping out or cable bouncing around or getting caught during your workout. While the fit is essential, so is the comfort.
In this regard, Jaybird has done an excellent job of covering many comfort and fit bases.
For starters, J5 exudes versatility, offering multiple ways of wearing them. For instance, you can choose to insert them straight into your ear canal, loop them over the back of your ear and insert them upside down. If you are like me, I choose to wear the F5 with the cable draped across the back on my neck or dangling down in front.
For a greater comfort experience, J5 comes with three pairs of different-sized silicone tips alongside three pairs of compressible comfy foam tips. The benefit of having silicone and compressible foam tips is to provide a more secure and isolating fit.
Better yet, in the box, you get four different-sized wingtips, and this will be quite instrumental in locking the headphone to your ear.
However, you will soon realize that finding the right fit can take quite some time, and can get quite tiring wearing them for some time. Again, if you are the type that detests the fit of in-ears, don't expect anything more with these.
If you are looking for a comfortable fit, looping the F5 over the back of your method is a great way – especially when you pair the headphone with the cable-management options.
The two cord-management clips will help in taking the extra slack, so the cable doesn’t bounce around behind your head while performing your workouts.
Now, if you feel the looping method is not an ideal option, you may want to check on Jaybird’s instructional videos on the dizzying options available.
F5 Sound and Call Quality
Fresh out of the box, I was not impressed by the quality of the sound. Despite loving the original X2’s performance, I was a bit underwhelmed with the Freedoms’ sound quality.
The standard out-of-the-box EQ is called "Signature" and is reasonably good for most scenarios. The bass is a little fast and loose for my taste, as it veers into rather a boomy territory, which is unheard for sports headphones. As it is, the vocals sound a little bit recessed, and the mids are rather thin.
One thing, however, that I noticed that made a difference is a sound volume. The F5 can get loud, which is great for fitness, but not so much for sound quality.
Thankfully, to overcome the sound quality hindrance, they have included a nifty MySound App for both Android and iOS. With MySound app, you can now customize your sound signature with a basic equalizer.
About MySound App
Jaybird's MySound companion app allows you to adjust Freedoms’ sound.
With the app in place, you can either choose from a range of pre-adjusted EQs, some of which are supposedly by Jaybirds' athlete's partners or adjust one yourself using the simple EQ adjustment sliders.
If you're like me; you find customizing the sound offers a better solution to achieving your desired sound. While at it, I recommend that you start your customization from the Flat EQ and adjust from there. If you're not satisfied with a sound setting, the handy "History" slider will allow you to undo the incremental changes.
One cool thing I found with the sound adjustment is that once you’ve settled on a sound profile, the Jaybird F5 will save all your EQ settings to the headphone itself. In return, it means that the “sounds” will come with you no matter what device you have paired.
Better yet, once you have saved your sound profile, you can do away with the app if you do not want to keep it installed in your phone.
It's quite a shame that despite the level of customization offered by the app, F5 will not allow storing multiple listening profiles and allow toggling them using a remote. We consider this as the greatest drawback on the F5 since you cannot adjust the sound profile according to your environment.
If it were possible for instance, I could switch to a tranquil classical profile while on my morning run, switch to spoken dialogue when listening to my favorite podcast, and then a bass-heavy profile when doing weights.
The performance of the microphone is surprisingly good. The exceptional performance of the microphone was on top even we used the cord management to put the remote and microphone flush against the back of your head.
While some of the reviewers say the microphone captured some rustling of their hair, it still was able to pick up the sound of their voice without any issues and callers did not experience any hearing problems either.
Generally speaking, the Freedom is not exactly the most thunderous pair of headphones we have tested. The good news, however, the headphones have plenty of energy and presence to their delivery. For instance, we were pleased with the performance of the headphone on our bass test track The Knife’s “Silent Shout” as the F5 delivered without a hint of distortion.
And with a bit of tuning, you can easily find a sound profile that you’ll enjoy if you’re nonplussed by Jaybird’s out-of-the-box Sonics.
While we were not impressed by the sound quality, one of the aspects of the headphone that was never an issue during testing was Jaybird Freedoms' Bluetooth connection.
Regardless of where my phone was during my morning runs or at my apartment, I experience no skipping, and the connection remained strong throughout testing.
Unlike other headphones which usually exhibit hissing at lower listening volume, the Freedom’s connection is reliably strong.
According to Jaybird, the Freedom’s connectivity can reach up to 35 feet, but upon testing, they reached 30 feet, which is not a huge disparity for concern.
As we had mentioned earlier, Jaybird sports a slim profile and to achieve that, they had to cut on the battery size, consequently reducing the battery life up to four hours
However, to alleviate the battery woes, they included a clever charger dock that doubles up as an extra battery. The dock clips onto the back of the remote control and will allow you to squeeze four more hours to your battery life.
For my purposes, however, commuting, yard work and commuting, I don't need the charging dock as I don't need to use my battery longer than a couple of hours, so I'm always leaving the dock out.
Should I Buy The Jaybird Freedom?
If you've struggled to find a sports headphone that will feel secure, lightweight and fitting, the Jaybird Freedom is an ideal choice. They do, however, will require to set up if you're to find the right fit.
While they are a tad expensive, they are a piece of accessory that won't budge, have great built quality with an awesome sound.
Conclusion - Is It Worth It?
The Jaybird is a testimony that Bluetooth headphones don't necessarily have to be terrible. For a long period, I have encountered plenty of terrible wireless headphones, and despite the fitting frustration, the Freedom is an awesome model I have tested.