One minute look back
The FreeBuds studio over-ear headphones from Huawei are characterized by a simple, clear design that, thanks to the super-soft padding and well-balanced headband pressure, goes best with a first-class and comfortable fit and finish.
FreeBuds Studio delivers clean, crisp and impressive sound. Bass isn’t on your face, occasionally to the detriment of the listening experience, but vocals and instruments come through clearly with no distortion when tested in a variety of musical genres. Bluetooth 5.2 lets you watch TV wirelessly without your movies looking like a cheap 1970s dub job.
Active noise cancellation (ANC) works well. It’s not class leading, but it can muffle the noise of a busy commute, especially if your music volume is above the low value.
Scrolling through the ANC modes using the easily accessible ANC button takes you into Awareness Mode, which opens the outside world by pumping in ambient noise. It seems to prioritize the vocals, which is very useful on the go.
The battery is more than adequate for everyday use, with a claimed 24 hours of playback on a single charge with the ANC off and likely 15 hours of playback with the ANC on. While this is less than some competitors like Sony’s WH-1000XM4 after 30 hours on a full charge, you can use the FreeBuds Studio for days in a row without thinking about charging or flying long flights. Speaking of charging, thanks to the fast charging it is very quick.
The controls are intuitive and combine buttons and touches. The studios can also be paired with two devices at the same time.
The ointment of the Huawei experience in general is app compatibility as the AI Life app is not supported for iPhone users and the version available through Google Play is out of date. To get the full FreeBuds Studio experience, you must download the companion app from Huawei’s AppGallery. If you don’t have a Huawei phone, it means a different app ecosystem on your Android device.
This really isn’t a big deal if you’re a bit geeky or don’t think you’ll appreciate the extra customization the app offers, but it’s just one bugbear we see in Huawei’s audio line.
As for value for money, you can’t do better than FreeBuds Studios. While they start at £ 299 / AU $ 499 (around USD 400), they are regularly reduced to around £ 220 / AU $ 350, which sets them apart from the competition in wireless headphones and eliminates any app deficiencies. Balance support and bass.
Price and availability of Huawei FreeBuds Studio
- Available in the UK and Australia
- Not available in the US
- £ 299 / AU $ 499 at launch
Price is where the FreeBuds Studio shines. At the time of writing, you can box them up for around £ 220 / AU $ 350, though they’ll start at £ 299 / AU $ 499 (around $ 400). This puts them at the lower end of the price range compared to their competitors Sony and Bose. as well as cheaper than the Apple AirPods Max.
Available in Australia and the UK, no US release has been confirmed, although there is no reason not to send a pair overseas and use them anywhere in the world.
- Comfortable to wear
- Carrying bag included
- Available in black or gold
The FreeBuds Studio looks just right, is comforting to hold and lightweight at the same time. The headband and hinge feel top notch and don’t look like anything is breaking in two – comforting, albeit expected at the price.
The FreeBuds Studio is available in black and gold and has a metallic sheen on the hinge and on the ear cups for a subtle flair.
The ear cups themselves are minimal and clean, with simple lines and ergonomically positioned buttons and touch controls. The padding on the headband and the cups feels like a pillow and offers a lot of flexibility when needed.
The headbands are on the loose side and that actually helps make FreeBuds Studio an extremely comfortable experience – with these headphones there is no risk of print headaches here. That said, no head banging either, so keep your Death Metal moves in check or expect a bigger slip up. The padded area inside the ear cups is large, which means that most ears will fit comfortably in the cans without touching the sides or the padding.
In terms of packaging, we love a carry case, and Huawei has built a neat magnetic window into the FreeBuds Studio case for the included charging cable. Though a bit large, it does provide practical protection for a package that ultimately offers a sweet balance of style, function, and a touch of added flair.
- Bass could be more prominent
- Clean and clear singing
- Refined stereo experience
To be fair to Huawei, the FreeBuds Studio are pretty standout all-rounders. If you focus on the details, you drop the ball, especially with heavy bass on D&B and dubstep tracks – without the stomach we’d hoped for at high volumes. Meanwhile, the medium ‘Dush-Dush-Dush’ that bounced around behind tracks like Call Me Maybe echoed in our throats rather than up to our chests. In addition, we did not notice any distortion even at maximum volume.
The vocals were consistently clean and crisp, especially the female vocals – Popstrel lovers are happy. This obviously goes well beyond pop, from vocal house to Royksopp, high notes never interfere, and we’ve generally stayed away from the volume button.
Clean instrumental sounds are exceptional. Jazz and classical tracks are probably where the FreeBuds Studio does its best job, giving the listener a sophisticated, immersive stereo experience with solid sound separation. The same goes for opera, in which large, bold baritone notes are carried beautifully and soprano highs dance movingly against orchestral waves.
Watching a movie with the FreeBuds Studio was a joy, and with Bluetooth 5.2 the latency wasn’t noticeable. The surround sound experience and the dialogue were clear, balanced and unobtrusive. You could do a lot worse than Huawei’s formidable debut during these blackout periods when all you want to do is escape your immediate surroundings.
Noise canceling and detection mode
- Good noise cancellation
- Decent passive noise cancellation
- Consciousness mode works well
Huawei’s active noise cancellation is very powerful, but not class leading. The slightly more expensive Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are better, but only if you compare the two side by side.
It all starts with passive noise cancellation (no ANC active), and FreeBuds Studio keeps quiet noises at bay. Activating ANC will mute the hum of PC fans, trains and traffic. As with all noise canceling headphones, surprise noises such as clapping or knocking are not eliminated, and exceptionally loud purrs cannot be masked (coffee makers, vacuum cleaners, etc.)
Scrolling through modes with the comfortably positioned ANC button on the left cup is easy enough, as evidenced by an enthusiastic (and slightly scratchy) voice announcing each setting.
The switch to consciousness mode was a bit of a surprise at first. With the music at medium volume, the outside world was clear enough to be heard. Conversations, keyboard hints, and clicking fingers were amplified and matched the listening volume pretty well. With this feature, you can easily have full calls or order a coffee without removing your headphones. At higher volumes this becomes less effective, but that is to be expected.
Battery, connectivity and control
- 24 hour battery life
- Fast charging function
- Huawei AI Life app difficult to find
Charging the FreeBuds Studio is quick and easy. After 10 minutes of quick charge, five hours of playback (ANC enabled) and after 10 minutes of quick charge eight hours of playback (ANC disabled) are displayed. According to Huawei, the headphones are suitable for 24 hours of non-ANC playback. This is not as much as the closest Sony competitors, but enough for everyday use. We used them with ANC for three days of relatively intense testing before the battery gauge changed from green to yellow.
Connecting to a smartphone is easy enough with Bluetooth 5.2 on both Android and iPhone. However, if you want the full list of features, you need to install Huawei’s AI Life app on your Android phone – not the outdated AI Life app on the Google Play Store that FreeBuds Studio doesn’t recognize as a supported device. You need to download and install the .apk file from the Huawei website or through the AppGallery. Huawei doesn’t help its image as an uncomfortable option with the uncomfortable software that repeatedly lets its excellent hardware down. If you do this once, do this once and you will be golden so an ounce of patience pays off.
If you have an iPhone, you’re out of luck. The app is not supported in the App Store. The app is pretty limited, and the default settings for FreeBuds Studio are already impressive, so given the range of on-body controls on offer, you won’t feel like you are missing out on too much.
The controls in the reaction area of the right cup are intuitive: swipe up, down, forward and backward what you want from the music playing, and tap to answer and hang up calls. We had a couple of accidental track jumps when adjusting the headphones, but these were rare and therefore not much of a hassle or deal breaker.
The wear detection when we used it was great compared to other devices we tested, although this worked significantly better on Huawei phones, which we found interesting.
Should I buy the Huawei FreeBuds Studio?
Buy them when …
You want value for money
Get great bang for your buck with Huawei FreeBuds Studio, with features you would expect from more expensive headphones.
You want comfortable headphones
Are you planning long listening sessions? These headphones are comfortable enough to last.
You already have a Huawei phone
You need a Huawei phone with EMUI 11 to use popup pairing and L2HC codec for less quality loss.
Don’t buy them if …
You are an audiophile
If you want the best audio experience money can buy, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio is not for you.
You need really strong bass
With decreased low frequency expansion, bass heads will not be impressed by these headphones.
You have an iPhone
You can still use Huawei FreeBuds Studio if you have an iPhone. However, if you want to take advantage of the app support you will be disappointed.
Source link : https://www.techradar.com/reviews/huawei-freebuds-studio/