I got the opportunity to test out a pair of Jaybird Freedom Bluetooth headphones (JF3) and was impressed from the start.
My search for headphones started after my headphones would not accommodate my sunglasses on my runs and bike rides. The design of a lot of sport headphones run over the ear which is where my sunglasses run. I could not go for a simple in the ear model because those always fell out during my runs. Another big issue was the sweat. They needed to be very very sweat proof. ( Trust me a 2+ hour bike ride in Sunny San Diego is brutal.) I personally enjoy not having a wire running from my Motoactv to my ears as it gets in the way and certain times it wraps around arms and bike cables, that is why I opted to look for something with Bluetooth technology. Another feature that I was looking for on the headphones was a non rigid back that connects both earpieces together. Last, a headset that has a microphone so I can receive calls.
As I searched online for Bluetooth headsets I found out that there was not an overwhelming amount of choices considering my standards. After much thought and reading I decided to pick up a pair of Jaybirds freedom headphones.
Jaybird freedom headphones have several attractive features. One of them being Jaybird’s secure fit are hexagon shaped ear cushions that rest against the back bowl of the ear that hold the ear tip securely and comfortably (This was important). Sweat proof technology that is truly sweat-proof even features a warranty if damaged (Most important). Premium sound quality ( I didn’t believe this but it really was!) Accessible, side buttons let you control volume, receive calls, mute calls, and skip tracks all withing reach. Elegant design.
The Jaybirds come with:
- JF3 Freedom Bluetooth Headphones
- USB cable ( odd size)
- 3 pairs of ear-tips
- 3 pairs of secure fit ear cushions ( The hexagon shaped silicone rubbers)
- 1 pair plastic pieces that go of over the ear if you need the extra security
- Premium Carrying case
- User Manual
- A really nice Box! ( I added this one)
The JF3’s are obviously compatible with the Motoactv, and also many other devices.
I was very impressed with the sound quality of the JF3 headphones right from the start, I compare the sound quality to the standard Motorola SF200 and also the Motorola S10-HD Bluetooth headset. As soon as I put them on the bass was amazing as well as the quality of the sound. As with all wireless headsets if you are too far away from the unit that the headphones are paired with quality will suffer. Volume is can go quite high if you want to block out the music that is played at the gym over the loudspeakers or just wind noise as you decent on your bike rides ( Note: it is illegal to ride your bike with both headphones on your head) One thing, the decrease in volume just through the headset wont completely mute the music, it leaves it at a very low volume, but does not completely mute it. Call quality is normal, not muffled like other units.
Pairing this device is quite easy. Press and hold the Power button until the pinhole sized LED starts flashing red and blue signaling you that it is ready to pair. The power button does require quite a bit of force which i thought should be unnecessary for a power/multifunction button.
The device also allows for 2 devices to be paired simultaneously. For example: Motoactv for music and Phone for calls
Another thing to note is the pin size LED that the headphones offer. It is very low key and wont give you that huge Bluetooth flash that a lot of units are known for. I really enjoyed this.
Comfort during activities
This was huge for me. The comfort of the headphones where pretty good, except for a couple of things that I will explain later. The headphones come with 3 different sizes of ear-tips, Small, Medium, Large. I used the small ear-tips and they fit perfect.
The headphones also come with the secure fit system by Jaybird which is exceptionally comfortable and secure. The system consists of silicone ear cushions that come in 3 different sizes and also a pair of over the ear clips for those really extreme activities. The ear cushions are teardrop shaped and also with a honeycomb pattern inside to allow flexibility and comfort. I tested the headphones with the medium sized cushions and never needed the over the ear clips since the cushions themselves where secure enough.
One more thing I do want to add is that these headphones can be worn with sunglasses because of the design of the headphones. The security comes from inside the ear and not over the ear. This was very important to me.
Here is a diagram of how the system works:
One thing that did bother me was the flat cable that connects the left and right unit together. Like I mentioned before I was looking for something flexible and not rigid. What bothered me about the cable was that it dragged behind my neck and would get stuck with the sweat and caused the headphone to get pulled when turning your head. As i read other reviews online I did come across someone saying that this happens initially and eventually it goes away as the cable wears. I guess I didn’t wear it enough to wear the cable smooth and i wore them for about 15 days. The life saver to this problem was my headband and my bike helmet. I would tuck in the cable though the back of my headband and also my bike helmet. When I didn’t use the headband I would run the cable through the front, which I was not a big fan of but it worked.
The JF3’s are advertised as having a battery life of 6 hours under continuous use. I ran the same test twice with the MOTOACTV and this is what I got.
1st test: 4 hours and 5 min.
2nd test: 4 hours 30 min.
Given I had the headphones playing at full volume, looping a daft punk song which is very bass rich. Maybe that had something to do with it. The recharge time of a completely drained headphone was at about 2 hours.
Reception on the JF3 was great when there was nothing in between the Motoactv and the headset. The headphones have a 33ft range of reception but the signal gets disrupted when anything get in between, for example a human. I didn’t experience any problems with reception when I had my Motoactv on my bike mount,arm, and hip clip. I did experience a little bit of disruption however when i wore the Motoactv on my wrist. The disruption came when i would occasionally swing my arm behind my back while running, the reason for this was because my arm and my back would get in the way of the signal. The disruption was nothing major but again a little disruption.
Here is a diagram of where the unit should be:
One of the major things in my search for headphones was sweat protection of the device. There is nothing worse than experiencing “device freak out” because sweat got into your headphones and its creating a short circuit that sends all sorts of commands to your Motoactv. I put the headphones through pretty heavy use in really hot temperatures and sweat, (1 hour rides of 9 miles of climbing in the San Diego backcountry, this is enough to make a dog sweat, and they don’t sweat) Thankfully I never experienced “Device Freak out” with these headphones.
Jaybird offers a lifetime warranty for the headphones against any sweat damage that you may experience.
Besides sporting a nice clean style the JF3’s offer 3 buttons for controls. The main power button, and 2 Volume buttons. I enjoyed the location of the Volume buttons since they where positioned perfectly for ease of use.All buttons offer many functions by double clicking or holding which is nice.The button that I was not fond of was the main power button, it required a bit of force for it to click. You would think that they would put a softer button to answer your calls and what not. To answer a call you had to press this button and push it which required you to push the device against the side of your head which would be a bit painful. I could deal with this for an occasional call but not as my main Bluetooth headset that i would use for calls on a daily basis.
The jaybird freedom headphones where a joy to test out from the start. Their rich premium sound brought a smile to face. The comfort was so nice that I would forget i had them on after I tucked in that rear cable into my headband. I didn’t have the jaybirds long enough (Lost them) to wear the cable down like a lot of users claim. The nice fit is also sun glass compatible and that is a good enough reason why these guys are the official headphones of the USA Triathlon organization.
I would not advice these be your main headphones for everyday phone calls because of the force that the center button requires, but would advice these to be your go to Headphones for music and an occasional phone call.
In the end of the day I really enjoyed the headphones and are a great addition to your Motoactv, I believe they well worth the $99 dollar price tag.