Belkin SoundForm Freedom Wireless Earbuds REVIEW
There are buds-a-plenty in the mid-price bracket and our earphone expert PAT PILCHER has a few quibbles with Belkin’s latest proposition.
When it comes to truly wireless earbuds we’re spoilt for choice. There are tonnes of brands out there, all of which cater for a range of different budgets and requirements. Belkin is making a play for a slice of this crowded space with their SoundForm buds. While the SoundForm Move Plus caters to the affordable, budget-conscious end of the market, the SoundForm Freedom buds are aimed at buyers wanting to pay a little more for better quality. So, do the Freedoms have what it takes to foot it in the ultra-competitive, premium part of the wireless earbuds market?
Would you like to support our mission to bring intelligence, insight and great writing to entertainment journalism? Help to pay for the coffee that keeps our brains working and fingers typing just for you. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Your one-off (or monthly) $5 or $10 donation will support Witchdoctor.co.nz. and help us keep producing quality content. It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.
From a design perspective, their shiny black charging case is well-executed. While it is squarish, it has soft rounded edges, which helps to make it very pocketable. For charging, it uses Qi wireless technology, which is hard to beat for sheer convenience. If faster charging is your jam, Belkin has that covered too, thanks to a built-in USB-C socket.
The buds themselves feature the now ubiquitous stem and driver design, much like Apple’s EarPods. That said, they’re a tad longer at 35mm. In terms of comfort and wearability, they fit inside my ears nicely. Their curvy organic design also meant they stayed put when inserted and were not uncomfortable with extended use.
I found their battery life impressive. I got just shy of eight hours from the buds, plus an extra 28 hours from their charging case. All told, this amounted to a whopping 34 hours of use. If that’s the good news, the not-so-good is that there is no app available for them, so seeing how much juice is left meant I had to squint at LEDs on the bottom of the buds, which is not ideal.
Apple users gain a bonus in the form of support for Apple’s Find My feature. This means that anyone who loses their buds can (in theory) locate them. When I say anyone, they must have an iOS device to use this feature. Android users don’t get this functionality. Sigh.
Joggers and gym bunnies can rejoice. The Freedoms are IPX5 rated. This means that running in the rain or getting sweaty and gross at the gym won’t harm the Freedoms. They’ll keep on feeding sonic sweetness into your noggin without batting an eyelid.
Sound-wise, they offered up considerably more detailed and nuanced audio over their more affordable Move Plus counterparts. While their sound was generally pleasant, the upper end got a tad harsh when cranked up. There was acres of bass, which worked well with dub outfits Salmonella Dub and Fat Freddy’s Drop.
The lack of a Belkin app also means that you rely on your music player for equalisation options. The other feature lacking is Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). While there is some noise reduction available, it only works with calls, not music. Given that ANC and an app with EQ options are standard at this price point, I find their absence a little odd.
Taking the Freedom buds for a stroll through Wellington’s CBD allowed me to test the reliability of their Bluetooth connection and sound isolation capabilities, plus call quality. Calling home, I was told that call clarity was good. Street noise levels (which were quite loud during the test call) were barely noticeable. While a good fit meant that their passive noise isolation worked well, their lack of ANC meant that loud noises, like traffic and construction, sometimes intruded into the music. The Freedom’s proved bomb-proof with Bluetooth. Their connection didn’t drop once while I strolled through the CBD.
The Freedom buds cost $229.95. While this puts them in the middle of the pack price-wise, their lack of ANC or an app where similarly priced buds offer both hinder them in this part of the market. Because of this, I find myself scoring them lower than the more affordable Soundform Move Plus. The Move Plus also lack ANC and an app, but their absence is justifiable given the lower price point. These issues aside, the sound is good, and the battery life is excellent. For use in the gym or out on the run, the Freedoms are a capable choice.