The JBL Free are decent mixed-usage truly wireless in-ears, with an above-average sound quality. They have a fairly unique design which makes them a bit more compact than other truly wireless headphones but also a bit less stable. They're great for sports, and they're easy to use, but they lack volume controls. Unfortunately, they also have an unstable wireless connection and way too much latency for watching videos.
The JBL Free Truly Wireless earbuds have a good, unique-looking design that's durable and compact enough to fit into most pockets. They come with a good case that doesn't add too much bulk, although it is a little larger than the Samsung Gear IconX's case. They have a stable fit for sports and working out, and they're easy to use. Unfortunately, their button layout lacks volume controls, which is a bit disappointing and their unique design may not be as comfortable for all listeners and makes them a bit less stable than some of the other truly wireless designs we've tested.
The JBL Free have a unique look and decently compact earbuds but do not feel as premium as some of the other truly wireless headphones we've tested like the Beoplay E8. The earbuds are relatively narrow when compared to other similar models but also thicker. They feel decently dense and durable, and they're a bit smaller than the Samsung Gear IconX. They also come with a circular charging case that has a see-through cover so that you can tell the charging status of the earbuds without opening the case, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, like the Jaybird Run, their build quality lacks a bit of polish which makes them feel more rugged than high-end, unlike the Apple AirPods.
The JBL Free are decently comfortable headphones but their unique shape may not fit as comfortably for all listeners. On the upside, they are super lightweight and come with a couple of additional tips and rubber sleeves to better adjust the fit for your ears. They're more comfortable than the Jabra Elite Sport but they won't be as comfortable as some of the other truly wireless headphones we've tested like the Gear IconX or the SoundSport Free but should be comfortable enough for most as long as you do not mind the fit of in-ears in general.
These headphones have a very simple control scheme with physical buttons, but no volume controls. The right earbud's button plays pauses, answers calls, and triggers voice assistance (if you press the button twice). The left earbud, on the other hand, is dedicated to switching tracks. Pushing the button once fast-forwards to the next song and twice rewinds. It's an efficient and straightforward control scheme that's very easy to use, with decent feedback but no volume controls. You will have to pull out your phone whenever you want to lower or increase the volume of your audio, which is slightly disappointing.
Like most truly wireless in-ear designs, the JBL Free are super breathable headphones which makes them a good option for working-out. They barely cause any temperature change even after an hour of intense exercise since they do not cover your ears. They do trap a little heat in the ear canal due to their in-ear design and especially if you add the rubber sleeves to the earbuds but the difference is still fairly negligible and won't make you sweat more than usual.
Like most truly wireless headphones, these are small in-ear buds that will fit in almost any pocket. They're a bit smaller than most of the other truly wireless headphones thanks to their unique design. This makes them one of the more portable headphones we've tested, and unlike the SoundSport Free, their case is decently portable but not as compact as the Beoplay E8 or the Samsung Gear IconX.
The JBL Free come with a hard plastic charging case that will protect the headphones from drops and mild impacts. The case is a bit bulky but should still fit a bit better in your pocket than some of the other truly wireless charging cases like the Bose SoundSport Free.
The JBL Free, like the Jaybird Run, have a good build quality that feels durable enough to survive multiple accidental drops from shoulder height. The earbuds are decently dense, and the case is sturdy and durable. Unfortunately, despite their rugged and decently sturdy design they do not feel or look as premium as some of the other truly wireless headsets we've reviewed, like Beoplay E8 or the Apple AirPods.
These earbuds are good for sports, thanks to their stable in-ear design and multiple tips + rubber sleeve to help you achieve a good, secure fit. Once in your ears, they don't move around much but the unique shape of the earbuds may not fit as well for all listeners. The rubber sleeves do help and they will rarely fall out of your ears but compared to some of the other truly wireless designs, they are not as stable under more intense training conditions. They're still good enough for running and working out but you may find yourself adjusting the fit of these earbuds a bit more than the Gear IconX or the Jaybird Run.
The JBL Free are an above-average sounding pair of closed-back in-ear headphones. They have a deep, punchy, and well-balanced bass, a warm and clear mid-range and a very good treble. This makes them quite versatile and suitable for a variety of genres, from bass-heavy EDM and Hip-hop to rock and indie, and even podcasts and audiobooks. However, vocals and lead instruments could sound a tad pushed back and lacking in detail, due to the recesses in their mid and treble ranges. Additionally, they have excellent imaging, but like most other headphones, they don't have a large and speaker-like soundstage. See our recommendations for the best sounding wireless earbuds.
The bass of the JBL Free is excellent. LFE (low-frequency response) is at 10Hz, indicating a deep and extended bass. Also, the response throughout the range is very well-balanced and virtually flat, but it is consistently over our neutral target by about 1.5dB. This means the bass of the Free is well suited for all music genres, even though it is ever-so-slightly hyped.
The mid-range performance is great. The response in low-mid and high-mid is well-balanced and virtually flat, however, mid-mid is underemphasized by about 2dB. Overall, their mid-range is quite well-balanced, producing a clear and warm mix. But the recess around 700Hz, nudges the vocals and lead instruments towards the back of the mix, by giving more emphasis to the bass frequencies.
The JBL Free have a very good treble range performance. The response is relatively even throughout the range, and quite well-balanced. The wide and shallow dip around 5KHz, will have a subtle but negative effect on the detail and presence of vocals and lead instruments. The dips/peaks between 6KHz and 10KHz, make the sibilances (S and T sounds) a bit uneven.
The JBL Free has excellent frequency response consistency. Assuming the user is able to achieve a proper fit and an air-tight seal using the assortment of tips that come with the headphones, they should be able to get consistent bass and treble delivery every time they use the headphones. However, if the user fails to achieved a proper and air-tight seal, they could experience a drop in bass.
The imaging is excellent. The weighted group delay is at 0.14, which is very good. The GD graph also shows that the group delay response never crosses the audibility threshold, suggesting a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video games effects) in the stereo image.
The soundstage of the JBL Free is poor. Creating a large and speaker-like soundstage is partially dependent on having a speaker-like pinna activation, and in-ear headphones bypass the pinna (the outer ear) and don't interact with it. Therefore, their soundstage will be perceived to be small and located inside the listener's head. Their closed-back design also means that their soundstage won't feel as open as open-back earbuds like the AirPods and the SoundSport Free.
The harmonic distortion is about average. The overall amount of THD is elevated, especially in the mid and treble ranges. This could make the sound of those frequencies a bit of harsh and brittle which will mostly affect vocals and cymbals.
The JBL Free block a lot of noise passively. They create a good seal once in your ears, that prevents a lot of high-frequency noise from seeping into your audio. They also do fairly well with rumbling low-frequencies, like that of an engine despite not being noise-canceling headphones. You may still hear some of the ambient chatter in your surroundings, especially in very noisy conditions. However, since they barely leak, you can easily mask some of this noise by turning your music up without distracting the people around you.
The isolation performance of the JBL Free is above-average. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sit, they achieved about 10dB of isolation, which is about average. However, this is quite impressive for a headphone that isolates passively. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by more than 20dB, which is very good. They also perform great in the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, by achieving about 43dB of reduction.
The leakage performance is excellent. The significant portion of their leakage is spread over a very narrow range in the treble range, around 2KHz. This makes their leakage very thin and sharp sounding. The overall level of their leakage is also very low. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage averages around 26dB SPL, and peaks at around 30db SPL, which is way below the noise floor of the average office.
The JBL Free has a mediocre microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound a little thin, but noticeably muffled and lacking in detail. However, it will still be decently easy to understand. In noisy situations, it will struggle to separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud environments, like a busy street.
The integrated microphone of the JBL Free has an average recording quality. The bass range is quite lacking, except for the area around 90Hz. This results in a recorded/transmitted speech that sound a little thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) is at 3.4KHz, indicating a speech that lacks bit of detail and sounds noticeably muffled. However, it will still be relatively easy to comprehend, since speech intelligibility is mostly dependent on the 500Hz-4KHz range.
The JBL Free's microphone is mediocre at noise handling. In our SpNR test, this mic achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 12dB, indicating it is best suited for quiet environments, and they will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in moderate or loud situations.
The JBL Free have a sub-par continuous playtime but a decent battery life overall. They only lasted 3.1 hours when playing continuously and took a surprisingly long time to charge for a truly wireless headset. However, they have up to 5 charges stored in the case which totals to about 18.6 hours. This should be more than enough for a full day's worth, as long as you take breaks, which may not be ideal for more heavy-users. Unfortunately, they also do not support the JBL My Headphones app so they won't be as customizable as some of the other truly wireless headsets like the Jaybird Run, Samsung Gear IconX or the Beoplay E8.
They have a decent battery life of 3.1 hours and their case provides 5 additional charges which results in 18.6 hours of total battery life. It's decent for most use cases and should be enough to last you a day if you do not have long continuous listening sessions, but they won't be ideal for more heavy users.
These headphones do not support the JBL my Headphones app like the JBL Everest Elite 700.
The JBL Free Wireless only connect via Bluetooth. They cannot pair simultaneously with multiple devices and do not support NFC but do keep the last synced device in memory for auto-pairing once you take them out of the case. They have a decent wireless range of 31ft indoors when the source is likely to be obstructed and up to 74ft in direct line of sight. Unfortunately, they have way too much latency to be a suitable option for watching video content, and the left earbud would often disconnect regardless of range, which may be a deal breaker for some.
They only connect to other devices via Bluetooth. They do not support NFC or simultaneous multi devices pairing but do remember the last sync device for auto-pairing when you open the charging case.
They have a charging case that delivers up to 18 hours of extra battery life. However, it has no inputs.
These headphones have a decent wireless of 30ft when the Bluetooth source was obstructed by walls and up to 74ft in direct line of sight. It's a slightly lower range than more typical wireless in-ears like the Fitbit Flyer or Jaybird X3 but should be enough for everyday use cases, especially if you keep your paired device on you. However, the left earbud would often lose connection even when the Bluetooth source was in range which is frustrating and may be a deal breaker for some.
These earbuds have a lot more latency than typical Bluetooth headsets. At 375ms of latency, they are not suitable for watching movies and gaming.
The JBL Free are decent mixed usage headphones with an above-average sound quality. They are compact truly wireless in-ears that you can have on you at all times and they're stable enough for sports and casual use. However, their unique shape will not be as comfortable for all users and they have a couple of reliability issues with their wireless Bluetooth connection compared to some of the other truly wireless in-ears below. See also our recommendations for the best truly wireless earbuds and the best wireless earbuds for running.
The JBL Free are a slightly better truly wireless headphone than the AirPods when they have a stable connection. The JBL Free have a more isolating in-ear fit that will be better for noisy environments and a bit more stable for running and working out. They also leak a little less than the AirPods and have a better sound quality thanks to their stronger bass range that caters to more tracks. On the other hand, the AirPods have a much stable wireless connection, better range, longer battery life and lower latency, especially on iOS devices.
The JBL Free are slightly better truly wireless headphones than the Jaybird bird Run but have a lot more flaws with their wireless connection which may be a deal breaker for some. They Jaybird have a customizable sound so you can adjust them to match what you're listening to. They also have a bit more tip option and sizes which make them slightly more comfortable than the JBL Free. On the other hand, the Free have a better-balanced default sound quality. They also come with a better case that's slightly more portable overall and provides a longer battery life than the Run.
The JBL Free would be a better truly wireless headphone overall than the Jabra Elite Sport if they didn't have a spotty wireless connection that will be a deal breaker for most. The Jabra Elite Sport have a much more durable design. They also come with a customizable companion app that lets you EQ their sound quality and has better health tracking features. The JBL Free, on the other hand, are a bit more comfortable than the Jabra. They also have a better-balanced default sound and easier to use controls although they do not have any buttons for volume which is a bit disappointing.
The Samsung Gear IconX are a better headset overall when compared to the JBL Free. The IconX have a lot more features including 4gigs of onboard storage and a somewhat customizable sound profile. They're also easier to carry around, are a bit more comfortable and stable for the gym and come with a much better-charging case. On the upside, the JBL Free have a slightly better default sound. They also have a longer battery life and are a bit easier to use but do not provide any volume controls compared to the IconX.
The Sony WF-1000X are great looking and well-built truly wireless headphones. They're one of the only truly wireless designs with active noise cancellation but unfortunately, they do not block as much noise as the passive isolation of the JBL Free. They also sound a bit worse with a slightly sharp sound quality that won't be ideal for more critical listeners. They also have a terrible latency performance, which makes them one of the worst headphones for watching videos, although the JBL are not much better. The Sonys have a more premium design than the JBLs but overall, the Free are a bit better priced for their performance and would be the superior choice for most users.