Huawei FreeBuds Studio Review
Huawei has made a name for itself in the audio world over the past few years with a growing range of true wireless headphones. The world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer has now added the first closed headphones to its FreeBuds series. The FreeBuds Studio promises to stand out with its sophisticated Bluetooth technology and sound modes. But, can they also convince in terms of sound?
- great design;
- good battery life;
- excellent audio quality;
- top notch noise cancelling;
- touch gestures;
- multi-device connection;
- wear detection.
- no IP rating whatsoever (beware of rain);
- some features are exclusive to HUAWEI phones;
- only two color options;
- cushions non-user-removable/replaceable.
Sound test: Huawei FreeBuds Studio
In recordings whose only goal is to make the bass audible at the other end of the bus, Huawei uses a different, but perhaps just as extreme, approach with the FreeBuds Studio: low tones are greatly reduced. The sound is geared towards particularly clean music reproduction with a weakness for instruments. The headphones represent guitars very vividly in the room. The stereo effect divides the action into left and right but keeps the stage rather tightly enclosed. The headphones clearly reproduce highs, but sometimes they mean it too well and occasionally drift into the meticulous.
Good resolution without bass
However, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio convincingly uses this meticulousness to tease instruments and stereo images out of the music. They place particular emphasis on stringed instruments such as guitars and strings but leave the bass range underrepresented. So you can hear the two singers from alt-J in their piece Nara, well separated from each other, on the left and right edge of the stage. Unfortunately, the arpeggio of the guitars, which introduces the piece and flows smoothly into the deep bass, loses its usual emphasis.
Practice: Good operation with advantages for EMUI users
The operation of the Huawei FreeBuds Studio is intuitive after a very short time: a double-tap to pause, continue, accept or end calls, swipe forwards or backward to jump forward or back a song, and keep pressed to start the voice assistant or to make a call to refuse. Only the touch-field on both ear cups is sometimes too eager to interpret touches as commands. A quick adjustment of the listener’s position is quickly understood as a wish to skip the song.
Otherwise, smartphones, laptops, and the like get along extremely well with the listeners. In particular, the pause function when weaning works perfectly. However, if you want the music to continue playing automatically when you put it on, the interruption should not last longer than three minutes. Then you have to start the music again manually.
Sophisticated sound modes
An old-fashioned button on the left auricle is responsible for the listening mode. Here you have the choice to choose attention mode, dynamic ANC, or neither. With the ANC, the microphones should analyze the background noise up to 200 times per second and determine the most suitable intensity of the ANC. The Huawei AI Life app offers you even more choices. You can use it to adjust the ANC in three stages: From the easiest comfort mode for focusing in the library to the ultra mode, with which you should be able to enjoy an “almost undisturbed listening experience” even on the train or plane.
If you choose the attention mode, you can also activate automatic speech recognition in the app. This is intended to dampen ambient noise and emphasize voices. For example, the announcement at the train station should be filtered out of the cacophony in the same way as the voice of the person you are speaking to. With the ANC or attention mode switched on, you can operate the headphones for up to 20 hours before you have to charge them again.
If you do without both modes and leave the noise suppression to the tightly fitting ear pads, they even last up to 24 hours. One hour on the supplied USB-C charging cable should be enough for a full charge, 10 minutes for another 8 hours of music enjoyment.
Unfortunately, there are some interesting features that Huawei withheld from users of competing operating systems such as iOS or Android. For example, you need a Huawei phone with EMUI 11 or higher to use the lowest-loss Bluetooth codec. The same applies to the low-latency gaming mode and the pop-up coupling when switching on for the first time. For both, you need a smartphone with the EMUI 10.1 operating system or higher.
ANC – sound modes with air up
In practice, the three manual ANC modes differ mainly in the volume of the background noise, which becomes louder with increasing intensity. What doesn’t necessarily have to be noticed in the train or with noisy air conditioning was detrimental to the enjoyment of music at the quiet desk.
Incidentally, the same applied to the “attention mode.” Amplifying environmental noise has its pitfalls. Every day, things quickly sound unnaturally bright or exaggerated. Unfortunately, the FreeBuds Studio is no exception. This effect is even stronger in the automatic speech mode. As practical as it is, the voices sound tinny through it and even have a slight echo.
Strong Bluetooth thanks to the double antenna
Huawei has two built-in Bluetooth antennas to make the connection between your smartphone and the FreeBuds Studio even more stable. So your cell phone should not lose the connection even if you have it in your backpack or another room. In practice, it works great. Even Siri’s voice control works this way from other rooms.
The Bluetooth version 5.2 also ensures the latest standard in quality and connectivity. On Bluetooth, codecs are AAC, SBC, and Huawei’s format alternative to aptX L2HC supported. The latter should support data rates of up to 960 kbps. Unfortunately, you can only benefit from this high transfer rate if you have a Huawei phone with EMUI version 11 or higher. Among other things, the P40 series and the Mate 40 are equipped with this operating system version.
Design – stylish and valuable
When it comes to haptics and optics, Huawei has done a lot. See the Huawei FreeBuds studio with her slim strap and relatively flat earcups also quite petite out. However, they are but with a pleasant weight in his hands. The slightly angled shells also provide an elegant touch. Even if the artificial leather of the upholstery appears to be quite thin, it closes very softly and tightly around the ears.
With the price, which is not too low anyway, real leather would probably only have made it even higher. The bracket can be continuously adjusted to your head but could have been a little wider or softer padded. So the FreeBuds Studio starts to squeeze slightly after lengthy listening sessions.
Test conclusion: Huawei FreeBuds Studio
The Huawei FreeBuds Studio scored particularly well in the test with its long battery life and good reproduction of instruments and voices. Unfortunately, neither the bass reproduction nor the ANC nor attention mode was completely convincing. In both modes, the background noise was too dominant. In the latter, the conversations were too loud. Although the app offers some practical features, such as manual ANC adjustment, you can only use a Huawei smartphone’s full range of functions.
So if you are the owner of a Huawei phone and are looking for the right headphones that offer you, in addition to many individual adjustments, high transmission quality, and detailed playback, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio is worth considering.