Price £60 (£48 with discounts at the end of this article)
When a company claims they have a consumer audio product that outshines Sennheiser, Apple and Sony for a fraction of the price, it raises eyebrows in the MusicTech office. EarFun says that its Free Pro earbuds beat the three brand’s flagship wireless earbuds in 11 metrics, from low-latency figures to noise-cancelling to battery life. We tried a pair of the £60 wireless earbuds to challenge these claims.
The most important aspect for us is audio quality. The Free Pro uses AAC and SBC codecs, just like Apple’s wireless headphones, but means they cannot receive lossless audio. Still, we expect convincing audio reproduction with the bit rate available to us – 320kbps in this instance.
The Free Pro’s 6.1mm dual composite dynamic drivers ably provide powerful and deep low-end that doesn’t overpower the rest of a mix. The mids are pronounced and clear, but there is a slight roll-off on high-frequency content. It’s not drastic, but if you’re coming from a more accomplished set of headphones, you’ll undoubtedly notice the difference.
EarFun claims that the Free Pros are the world’s smallest Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) earbuds. They’re small, that’s for sure. But the ANC isn’t extraordinary. EarFun claims that their ANC cuts environmental noise by up to 28dB, and they do dramatically reduce persistent low-frequency background noise. However, they couldn’t match the noise cancellation performance of the SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Pro. That said, even getting a feature like this in a £60 pair of earbuds is impressive.
Active Noise Cancelling, Ambient and Normal modes can be toggled with a triple-tap on the left earbud. Ambient mode gives you a glimpse of the sounds from the outside world, though it’s not as clear as the AirPods Pro Transparent mode.
The trouble with controls such as the triple-tap, though, is that there’s no way of reassigning them. And there are quite a few touch controls. Play/pause, next track, volume up, volume down, voice assistant, ANC/Ambient/Normal, and Low Latency mode are all controllable with different gestures on the earbud themselves. This is far too many, especially when considering how similar each gesture is. We struggled to master all the gestures in two weeks.
Low Latency mode is an unexpected bonus. You’ll notice the difference when using mobile music-making apps and mobile synth apps. It’s still not latency-free, though – Bluetooth isn’t there yet. Compared to the SoundCore Liberty 2 Pros and AirPods, the Free Pro’s Low Latency mode feels far more responsive, which almost has us playing a drum part in time on Reason Compact.
You’ll get up to seven hours of playback time in a single charge with the Free Pro. A charging case will extend the battery life to 32 hours, which is eight hours more than the AirPods Pro, four more than the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, and matches the SoundCore Liberty 2 Pros. Fast charging will give you two hour of playback in ten minutes, with 40 minutes for a full charge.
Bluetooth connectivity is fine when set up, but it took a few attempts to pair the Free Pros with an iPhone 12. A more annoying issue is connecting to multiple devices. We find we need to forget the earbuds from our phone to connect them to a computer, which is disappointing. When paired, they swiftly connect when opening the case and putting them on.
EarFun has created a pair of affordable wireless earbuds that sound surprisingly neutral – if a little dark. They provide rich low-end reproduction and none of the fatiguing mid-range bite you often get with cheap earbuds. For consumer playback and mix referencing, these work a treat, and we enjoy listening to music and podcasts on them. We also love their minimal styling. However, Bluetooth connectivity and touch controls need refining. The ANC is adequate, especially for the price, but EarFun’s claims of outperforming much more expensive earbuds are not borne out in practice.
If you’re on a budget and can’t wait for a new pair of wireless earbuds, these are certainly worth considering. Otherwise, maybe save up for a little longer and get a more competent pair.
- Active Noise Cancelling up to 28dB
- 32-hour battery life (7 on a single charge)
- Bluetooth 5.2
- Low-latency mode
- Touch control with Volume Control
- 67mm x 25mm x 31mm
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