REVIEW: Huawei FreeBuds Studio - ANC That Delivers
At the recent launch of their new Mate 40 Series of handsets, which unfortuntately aren’t coming to Ireland, Huawei also revealed their newest consumer audio product, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio. These are the company’s first over-ear headphones with some impressive technology packed inside which positions them in direct competition with the likes of Sony and Bose in the premium ANC headphone market. Before we get into our review, below are some key features of the new Huawei FreeBuds Studio:
- Weight: 260 grams
- Dimensions: 165 x 150 x 81 mm
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
- Battery Life:
- Up to 24 hours of music without ANC/20 hours with ANC enabled
- Fast charging via USB-C cable
- Others Features:
- Touch controls
- Compatible with iOS and Android
- Active noise cancellation
- Multi-point connection support
As you can see from the above, it’s clear Huawei want to make a really strong first impression with these headphones and, from a design point alone, they definitely succeed. The new FreeBuds Studio are available in two colours, a classic black options and also a ‘Blush Gold’ option which is the pair we received to review. The headband across the top has a soft touch with high-end protein leather and soft foam inside. This is the same finish that’s on each of the rather large earcups as well and definitely adds to the overall premium feel of these headphones.
The headphones can be adjusted by sliding each earcup in and out of the upper headband using the sturdy stainless steel arms. The headband itself can be extended to over 150 degrees so should definitely fit even the biggest of heads! The earcup design is oval in shape which definitely helps towards creating a greater seal for better sound isolation and to give the on-board ANC the best chance of cancelling out the outside world.
On the right earcup, you’ll find the power and pairing buttons along with three microphones. On the left earcup, you’ll find the noise cancellation button along with three more microphones, bringing the total to six on the device. Inside each earcup is a silkscreen with the letters L or R printed to help you tell which side is which.
They also come with a pretty nice and robust carry case that is slightly on the large side but is well finished and is sure to keep your headphones well protected when not in use.
Usability & Gestures
The Huawei FreeBuds Studio can be controlled via touch gestures on the right earcup. Here’s a quick run-through of the main ones you’ll be using when wearing the headphones:
- Double touch: pause and resume music.
- Swipe up and down: increase and decrease the volume.
- Swipe back and forth: go to the next or previous song.
There’s also an ‘auto pause’ sensor which pauses the music when you remove the headphones, which we found very handy. The touch controls themselves work pretty well but we do wish the left earcup had the same touch control functionality as well.
One usability feature that we absolutely love though is the multi-point or multi device connection which means you can have the FreeBuds Studio connected to both your laptop and phone at the same time and switch between the two seamlessly.
Sound & Active Noise Cancellation Quality
As with their recent FreeBuds Pro, Huawei has implemented some pretty impressive audio capabilities into these new FreeBuds Studio headphones. These headphones feature a customised diaphragm driver which consists of a four-layer 40mm polymer diaphragm. They’ve also incorporated their own L2HC wireless audio codec technologies to help achieve an audio transmission rate of up to 960 kbps.
What all this means is the sound quality on the new FreeBuds Studio is pretty fantastic. Highs are well handled whilst still delivering clarity, mids are well rounded and punchy whilst the bass is strong but not overpowering. Tracks like Labrinth’s new ‘No Ordinary’ really showcase the headphone’s capabilities.
When it comes to ANC, Huawei claims their intelligent dynamic ANC can achieve noise cancellation effect of up to 40dB. Now, we didn’t have a decibel meter to hand when reviewing these headphones but they definitely deliver extremely impressive ANC which, for us anyway, is on a par with what Sony and Bose are offering. Obviously, given current lockdown restrictions, we weren’t able to test the ANC out more rigorously in different scenarios like on a plane but we really like what we’ve experienced so far.
Again, like the FreeBuds Pro, The FreeBuds Studio support three different modes of noise cancellation: ‘Cozy’, ‘General’ and ‘Ultra’. Each one can be selected manually in Huawei’s ‘AI Life’ app or, thanks to the ‘intelligent’ listening feature of these headphones, they can also change the ANC level dynamically. Basically, what this means is that the AI can detect where it is and which setting is needed, and switches to that.
Call quality is also very strong with the 6 microphones working together to deliver as clear an experience as possible. We didn’t have any issues using the headphones for our daily work calls and they also performed well when out and about.
Huawei promises a battery life between 22 and 24 hours depending on whether we activate noise cancellation. From our daily usage, with the ANC enabled, we were able to get around 2-3 days of use before charging which, with the fast charging support, is fairly painless and allowed us to use the headphones for nearly 8 hours from a 10 minute charge, which is a great bonus.
As a first attempt at over-ear headphones, Huawei really has gotten off to a great start. The FreeBuds Studio headphones have great build quality, impressive audio capabilities and active noise cancelation results that are up there with the best of them. Coming in at €299, the FreeBuds Studio are also competitively priced against the likes of Sony and Bose so should definitely be on your list if you’re in the market for some new premium ANC over-ear headphones.
Pricing & Availability
The Huawei FreeBuds Studio are available in select Vodafone stores around Ireland for €299 and will also be available to buy on the official Huawei Ireland store soon.