When it comes to headphones these days, everything is going wireless. And while that can be said about every type of tech, wireless listening is really a booming market.
On-demand TV and movies are all anyone’s talking about lately. Streaming music providers are getting cheaper and more available by the day. All you need is a phone, and you’ve got the world of entertainment at your fingertips. Literally.
But you need the best wireless headphones to bring it all to life. So, let’s go through our in-depth Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth wireless review and find out if these are the perfect headphones for you…
If you’re like us, Sennheiser might not be in the first ten companies you think of when it comes to headphones. However, this German company has been around since 1945 and has found its niche in professional recording products like mics and headphones.
They don’t just make regular consumer products, however. Sennheiser engineers created the MKH 416, which might sound like a weapon but is a microphone. Or the shotgun microphone used throughout Hollywood and most other serious movie studios. And what about the stunning, top-of-the-line Orpheus headset/tube amplifier unit, which costs a whopping $55,000?
Clearly, we’re looking at a quality company here. So, it makes sense to give their affordable consumer electronics a decent, long look.
Sennheiser HD1 Free Overview
The HD1 is another model from Sennheiser that’s slightly different. It’s a good starting point to compare it with the HD1 Free headphones. While the HD1 has a solid, clunkier neckband to hold controls and batteries, the HD1 Free has freed things up.
It consists of two earbuds wired down to two casings. One of these houses the battery, while the other is home to the controls and built-in microphone. These casings are connected together to form a loop that keeps the headphones together.
A bit lighter…
They’re comfortable and convenient lightweight neckband earbuds. Connection-wise, they’re completely wireless. They connect through Bluetooth to both Android and iOs operating devices with ease.
There is another wire involved, though, in charging. The HD1 model had a bigger battery in its strap and offered 10 hours of use. While these headphones can give up to six hours of continuous playback, they need to be charged using a wire that plugs them in from USB-A to USB-C.
What’s in the Box?
When you pick up the Sennheiser HD1 Free, you’re getting a fairly normal-looking box. But what’s packed inside looks a whole lot tastier. Just pop it open, and you’ll see…
- Wireless headset.
- USB charging cable.
- Four sets of rubber ear tips (in XS, S, M, and L sizes).
- Zippered carrying case.
Now, everything here is useful, but we have one small thing to pick a bone with. Or not so small, actually. That’s the issue – this carrying case is massive. We assume that Sennheiser intended the round, zippered, leather case to look large and lush, adding value to their product.
However, we feel it’s really poorly thought out. It certainly wouldn’t fit in the pocket of your jeans and probably not even in a coat pocket. Despite their intentions, the case will likely be left at home more often than not.
HD1 Free Top Features
Let’s start with comfort…
This neckband-style set of earbuds weighs just 0.59 ounces (17g). As a result, it’s one of the best lightweight Bluetooth earbuds available. Unlike its chunkier neckband cousin, the weight isn’t mostly in the neckband. Instead, it’s in the earbuds and the two casings below them.
The thing about splitting up these two casings by function, is that the right control casing is a fair bit lighter than the left casing that holds the battery. The left one can actually feel somewhat heavy, or at least it can pull at your ear or even slip out more easily.
Counteracting this are the four pairs of ear tips that come with this headset. These come in XS, S, M, and L sizes, which should fit most anyone. As with most other earbuds, finding the right size for your ears will make these earbuds much more comfortable and allow you to wear them for long periods without getting sore in the old ear canals.
A better shape…
One other point we can make about comfort is the shape of the buds themselves. Rather than having the ear tips come straight out of the buds into your ears, here they are on an angle.
That allows them to avoid pressing too hard on the wrong parts of your ears and makes a big difference to how long you can wear these headphones. This helps make them some of the most comfortable Bluetooth earbuds around.
These have Bluetooth 4.2 on board, which features the advanced audio codec (AAC) for excellent audio transmission. They also support Qualcomm’s AptX codec, which gives low latency support to your connections.
In other words, the audio comes over smoothly and without interruption or delay, especially when you’re watching videos. As a result, these are some of the best low latency Bluetooth earbuds on the market.
A good connection range…
Although Seinheiser claims this unit has a range of 10m, which is nearly 33 feet, we found that this is definitely a hard maximum. Even approaching 30 feet, we noticed some cutting out and patchiness.
Expect even more if you’re in a space with a lot of interference from other devices, like in a busy office or even at the gym. That said, 33 feet is really far. With your phone in your pocket, you’re not going to experience any interruptions.
What’s super cool about these?
They can pair with two devices simultaneously using the HFP and A2DP codecs. This is very useful if you’re using one device for your audio input but could have calls come through on another.
Aside from this, the headset can keep up to eight devices in its pairing list so that it’s easy to match it quickly with any one of them. And trust us, eight is a lot!
Controls and Microphone
The controls are in the casing that hangs below the right earbud. You’ve got a three-button remote that can start, stop, and skip tracks, as well as take calls on the go. It also features a one-touch pairing button for connecting to Bluetooth devices quickly. Voice prompts let you know when you have an incoming call, when you’ve made a connection, and also the state of your battery.
The microphone is also built into this right-side unit. We found that if you held the mic and positioned it near to your mouth, the other end would have excellent audio. This isn’t terribly convenient, though.
Hands-free, however, the wire didn’t always face the wearer’s mouth, and the mic would instead pick up a lot of background noise. We found the other end had a hard time hearing us in a noisy environment.
There’s no way we could get through this review without talking about the sound of these earbuds. After all, who cares how comfortable or convenient they are if they don’t sound good? Luckily, they do.
Each earbud is driven by a MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) speaker, which has both advantages and disadvantages in an earbud.
The main advantage…
These drivers are small and can fit close to the user’s ear. They also require a lot less battery power to drive them, in turn allowing for either longer battery life or reduced battery size and overall weight.
The mid-range of a MEMS can sound a bit flat. While the frequency range of these earphones covers an impressive 15-22,000Hz, the mid-range lacked a bit of sparkle.
At the same time, the high-end sounds great, with a bright liveliness that never becomes harsh. The bottom-end gives some solid, deep tone, but it won’t be the pounding, quaking bass that a real bass-head will require.
Overall, we’re looking at a clear and natural soundstage with good highs and lows and an acceptable mid-range. And since this is a Sennheiser product, we can say these are also some of the best sounding Bluetooth earbuds on the market.
Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Review – Pros and Cons
- Well balanced sound.
- Excellent connectivity.
- Comfortable for long-term wear.
- Reasonable price for these features.
- Lack of sweat and waterproofing.
- Carrying case is impractical.
- Mic needs hand-holding for optimum sound.
Looking for Something Else?
We have a whole lot of audio equipment. So, check out our in-depth JLab JBuds Air Icon Review, our AKG K240 Studio Review, our Sony WH-CH700N Review, our SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review, and our Monolith M1060 Headphone Review for amazing headphones you can buy in 2021.
You might also like our comprehensive Best Computer Speakers Under $100 Review, our Skullcandy Indy True Wireless Review, our Sennheiser PXC 550-II Review, our Sony MDR-7506 Review, and our Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Review for more awesome products currently on the market.
Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Review – Final Thoughts
At the end of our review, we need to offer up a verdict. And here it is.
The initial retail price of these headphones was over $200, but recently this price has come way down. That makes the HD1 Free very appealing, considering the quality of sound, build, and connectivity you’re going to get.
Sure, there are some weak points to this unit. But in general, you’re going to get some great-sounding, comfortable earphones for an excellent price. But don’t just take our word for it. Try them out yourself and see if they’re just the right fit for you.
Until next time, happy listening.