Huawei is not a name that comes to mind when we talk about audio products. When it comes to headphones, we quickly look at brands such as Sony, Bose and JBL. Nevertheless, there are now relatively good headphones from the Chinese manufacturer in the shops, which bear the confusing name of Huawei FreeBuds Studio. FreeBuds is the name of the company’s earbud line, so the manufacturer is likely using that name for all wireless earbuds and headphones now. Fortunately, it’s about much more than the name, of course.
For headphones it is important that they look good and fit comfortably. The Huawei FreeBuds Studio has a comfortable and flexible headband. It easily fits on a slightly larger head. It also offers enough counter gas to sit tight on a slightly narrower head. You can’t fold the headphones, but you can turn the ear cups over so that they can be stored flat. Huawei also immediately supplies a carrying case, so that it does not take up too much space when you want to put it in a bag.
The ear pads are nice and soft and close nicely around the ears. This part is often very personal. The size of the ear cups is at least 65 mm by 42 mm. All in all, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio is very comfortable. It is available in the colors gold and black. Whichever color you choose: the design is sleek and elegant. You don’t look like a monkey when you walk down the street with this. The curves and different earcups accentuate the industrial finish very well. Clearly, Huawei has paid a lot of attention to this.
Not inferior to competition
So the packaging is nice, but what about the specifications? The Huawei FreeBuds Studio has a frequency range of 4 Hz to 48 kHz. This makes the Studio no less than its direct competition. There is also active noise canceling on board. It relies on four microphones on board, which check your surroundings about a hundred times per second. You can choose from three modes here: ultra, general, and cozy, for an airplane, busier areas and background noise respectively. The latter option offers just a little too little suppression.
With a free application it is possible to manually change the mode of the active noise canceling. But the Huawei FreeBuds Studio is set to automatically adjust by default. So when it is very noisy, another mode will be activated. If you do not like that, then it is best to enter the Huawei app. Fortunately, the noise cancellation of the other two modes is good. We have not tested it on a plane because of the pandemic, but we can imagine that you don’t hear much.
Via the app you can also set what the touchpad on the side of the ear cups does. You can do different things with a tap and swipe. Make sure you do this with some care, since you are just doing something that you don’t take into account. The touch-sensitive environment is quite sensitive. Furthermore, the app does not offer extensive options.
Bluetooth and codecs
Another great feature is the fact that the Huawei FreeBuds Studio has two bluetooth antennas on board. If, for whatever reason, the connection is lost at one antenna, the system will switch to the other antenna. The sound may stop briefly within one of the two shells, but that moment is so short that you may not notice it. It is also possible to connect two devices at the same time, so you do not have to constantly complete the (otherwise very fast) pairing process for those two devices.
Naturally, the headphones support Huawei’s own L2HC audio codec. If you own a Huawei smartphone with EMUI 11 or higher, you will benefit from a higher transfer speed. In addition, bluetooth 5.2 is present. There’s also support for aac and snc, but aptX shines in its absence here. No problem for people with a modern Huawei smartphone – because L2HC has a higher transfer speed – but unfortunately for everyone without it. You may not notice it, but it is annoying in the end. This can be especially detrimental to the battery life and the speed at which the music is transferred.
Long battery life
If you would use the Huawei FreeBuds Studio without active noise canceling, the headphones can last up to 24 hours on a full battery. That is a great achievement, so you can often take it with you without thinking. If you do use anc, the battery life will decrease to twenty hours. That is still a great number, but you have to take into account that the battery will drain a bit faster.
The headset also offers support for Huawei Quick Charge. In this case, that means that with a ten minute charge, you can enjoy up to eight hours of music. This only applies to people who do not use ANC. Nevertheless, it is a nice feature for people who travel a lot and therefore sometimes have to do without a socket.
What we are also very positive about is the audio quality of the Huawei FreeBuds Studio. We threw in different genres. Power chords of metal bands, the fast drumming of a band like Dragonforce, the sometimes hoarse voice of Miley Cyrus, the soft beats of a lo-fi playlist or the cheerful tunes of Janelle Monaé; the FreeBuds Studio doesn’t care what you throw at it. Depending on the music, the display may be different.
We notice that the bass sounds on metal and rock songs are sometimes pushed to the background, so that the higher tones get much more space. But when you play R&B – modern and old-fashioned – it just rumbles through your ears. Sometimes just a bit too convincing, but by throwing the volume down you quickly solve that problem. Since Huawei’s app doesn’t offer an equalizer, you’re at the mercy of what your audio source or music streaming service has to offer. As a result, the sound is basically as it is, which can sometimes be a shame.
But fair is fair, in general the Huawei FreeBuds Studio offers a wide, often warm and clear sound. It may be that with specific songs you notice that certain tones disappear or are very noticeable, but that is not commonplace. Those are the outliers in this case. It is also striking that the sound with anc activated can sometimes sound somewhat distorted than the moments without, but sometimes you simply do not notice it.
Huawei FreeBuds Studio – conclusion
We did not expect it in advance, but Huawei actually delivered a nice audio product with the Huawei FreeBuds Studio. The headphones are quickly paired, quickly charged and pauses the music for you when you take them off. The audio reproduction is generally very good and detailed. Add to that the chic design and you have a handsome pair of headphones. Yes, there are some annoying things, like the overzealous touchpad and lack of aptX, but in most cases you can just get around that.
Pros of Huawei FreeBuds Studio
- Audio playback
Negatives of Huawei FreeBuds Studio
- Not aptX
- Bass sometimes too overbearing