Beyerdynamic comes for AirPods Pro with new audiophile true wireless earbuds

According to Beyerdynamic, when it comes to making the best true wireless earbuds it's better to be late and great

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd true wireless earbuds
(Image credit: Beyerdynamic)

In tech, sometimes it's best to show up late and learn from other firms' mistakes. Apple's iPhone is a great example of that strategy. And now Beyerdynamic is following the same playbook: it's deliberately late to the best true wireless earbuds party, because it wanted to get the product right. The result is the Beyerdynamic Free BYRD, the firm's very first pair of true wireless earbuds.

In a statement, CEO Edgar van Velzen said that "We’re proud to have prioritized sound quality over market pressures." By taking their time, he says, the firm has "successfully achieved a new level of development in sound performance, offering audio enthusiasts the perfect pair of in-ear [true wireless] earbuds that look and feel as great as they sound.”

These are premium buds aimed at the same customers who might otherwise buy Apple AirPods Pro or Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, and costing much the same: a set of Free BYRD true wireless earbuds is $249 / €229; the UK price hasn't been confirmed yet.

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd true wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Beyerdynamic)

Beyerdynamic Free BYRD earbuds: what's good?

The brand name is a big part of the draw here: Beyerdynamic are famous for the sound quality of their products. But the spec here is impressive: you're getting 10mm drivers, aptX Adaptive, active noise cancellation and audio passthrough so you don't walk in front of a bus. Twin mics in each earbud should deliver decent voice command recognition even in busy urban areas, and with 11 hours of battery (with ANC off) on a single charge they last much longer than AirPods Pro do. The BYRDs are IPX4 for splash resistance. There's Fast Pair with Android devices and support for both Alexa and Siri.

Early reviews suggest that the sound quality is very good, but that the active noise cancellation isn't up there with the very best noise cancelling headphones; the bass is apparently wonderfully punchy but I've seen multiple reviewers suggest that the clarity and detail isn't quite up there with the very best true wireless earbuds. I'd love to hear how they compare with something like Astell & Kern's sublime UW100 or my beloved Cambridge Audio Melomanias – not least because the Cambridge Audio buds come in considerably cheaper. 

This is a good time to be a music fan: the technology in headphones has got so good that we're hearing some seriously impressive sound from even the best budget earbuds while the more premium products deliver the kind of audio joy that you used to need massive amounts of money to experience. It's great to see another high-end audio firm joining the party.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).