The Huawei FreeBuds Studio is Huawei’s first attempt at an active noise cancelling wireless headphone, and it’s a really good attempt with some caveats. Priced at RM1,199, some of you may have doubts when it’s priced so close to other competitors such as the Bose QuietComfort 35 or the more popular Sony WH-1000XM4. But what if I were to tell you, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio were almost, or just as good? Here’s our review.
Huawei FreeBuds Studio – Specifications
|SPEAKER UNITS||Dual 40 mm-diameter dynamic driver units|
|BATTERY||Capacity: Two 410 mAh batteries || Battery type: Lithium-ion polymer battery|
|DIMENSION||194 mm (H) x 152 mm (W) x 81.5 mm (D)|
|WEIGHT||Total weight ≤ 265 g|
|CHARGING PORT||USB-C port|
|PLAYBACK TIME||Music Playback: > 20 hrs. (with Bluetooth and ANC enabled, with AAC format and 50% volume)|
What’s In the Box?
- Huawei FreeBuds Studio
- Hard Protective Bag
- USB Type-C Cable
- Quick Start Guides
The Huawei FreeBuds Studio is a classy, elegant looking pair of over-ear headphones. It’s covered in premium materials like leatherette for the headband and earcup cushions, durable metal for the sliders, and a matte finish aluminium for the earcups. The headband is also reinforced with a piece of metal arching on the top.
On the left earcup, you’ll find the ANC button, while the right earcup has the touch controls, power on/off button, the Bluetooth pairing button, as well as the USB Type-C port. There are also two mics on each side of the earcup that assist with noise cancellation.
The Huawei FreeBuds Studio are arguably one of the most comfortable over-ear headphones I’ve ever tried on. I might even say it’s more comfortable than the Sony WH-1000XM4. I could wear it all day and not feel any pain or fatigue at all. However, the earcups are made of leatherette, so it might get a little sweaty after wearing it for longer period of time.
The Huawei FreeBuds Studio is made for casual music listening and business purposes, and because of how it’s built, it isn’t optimized for exercising – especially for activities that involve rigorous movements like dancing. Although, weightlifting or casual running should be just fine.
Headbanging is also alright, but you can feel the headband start to slide off a little at the top. If you shake your head from left to right viciously, the earcups will also come off loose.
The earcups are foldable to make the headphones flat, and the sliders are quite durable so it doesn’t seem like it will crack anytime soon. But, because the protective casing is of a hard material, the size is fixed. So if you’re someone like me who has a bigger head, you’ll need to adjust the slider every time take the headphones out and put it back in to the case. The slider is also freely adjustable without any stop control. The problem with that is when I put the headphones on, I’d have to readjust it on my head, instead of having an indicator of where I last slid it to.
Apart from that, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio works great and is really to use. All buttons and controls are well positioned and very easy to find. Because the headphones can be folded flat, it also makes charging via the USB Type-C port very easy.
The touch controls are what truly impressed me. All controls are implemented only in the right earcup. The earcup has a large working surface area, and the entire earcup surface is touch sensitive, so it’s very hard to not get your touch gesture registered.
- Double Tap – Play/Pause Music | Answer/Reject Calls
- Press and Hold – Initiate Voice Assistant
- Swipe Up/Down – Raise/Lower Volume
- Swipe Left/Right – Previous/Next Track
Paired with Bluetooth 5.2, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio has one of the best coverage distance in a wireless headphone. With other TWS earbuds or headphones, usually when I walk into my master bedroom toilet, which is covered with four walls in between the device and where I am, the audio would start stuttering or disconnect. Not with the FreeBuds Studio, audio was still playing crystal clear with no stuttering at all.
The audio quality of the Huawei FreeBuds Studio is the main highlight of this pair of wireless headphones, featuring two 40mm-diameter dynamic driver units. We’ve paired it with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the Huawei MatePad Pro, and our Windows 10 PC.
On iOS, the headphones volume is limited and can be a bit too soft for one’s liking. The pairing process is also manual, so you’ll have to connect it manually in the Bluetooth settings. On a Huawei device, once you’ve pressed the pairing button, the MatePad Pro immediately picked up the device and would prompt you to connect, which is much easier and faster. The volume is also more open and can be adjusted much louder as compared to the iPhone. On PC, the pairing process has to be done manually as well in the Windows settings by adding a Bluetooth device. The volume on the PC is also louder as compared to the iPhone.
The Huawei FreeBuds Studio has great soundstage, but it does distort a tiny bit when the volume is too loud, especially when you’re listening to rock songs. It has fairly adequate treble, crisp mids for great dialogue and speech, and very heavy bass if you’re into thumping bass drops. I, for one, enjoy the sheer amount of bass the Huawei FreeBuds Studio can produce. Isolation is also really good, as each frequency doesn’t drown each other out.
The Intelligent Dynamic Active Noise Cancellation on the Huawei FreeBuds Studio works superbly well, and is one of my favourite features of the headphones. There are three modes – General, Cozy, and Ultra – that can be cycled upon with the ANC button on the left earcup. General is for casual music listening where ANC is off, and Cozy is where Awareness Mode kicks in. Awareness Mode lets you listen to music while picking up sounds from your surrounding, allowing you to be aware of the environment you’re in. Awareness mode works really well, and the sound pickup is really accurate. As for Ultra, this is where the full ANC kicks in, cancelling out all exterior noise and embedding the space vacuum effect in your ears.
I tested the Huawei FreeBuds Studio with a raging thunderstorm happening outside of my house, and the ANC performed excellently. With ANC turned on, I couldn’t hear anything else apart from my music. Putting my head right beside a running fan, snapping my fingers right beside the earcups, standing in front of a running hairdryer – nothing. That’s really how good it is.
When it comes to call quality, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio does a great job too, especially when it comes to video/voice calls. I could hear everyone else clearly, and the microphone could pick up my voice clearly. The receiving end could hear me clearly as well, describing my voice as crystal clear with just the right amount of volume. I didn’t need to adjust the headphones in any way, and the microphone just works.
The battery life on the Huawei FreeBuds Studio is surprisingly good. On a single charge, I could use it for the entire day, and it took quite a while before the “low battery” notification prompt came up. Charging it back up to full from zero took about an hour, and that’s really impressive.
Priced at RM1,199, the Huawei FreeBuds Studio is a really great first attempt for Huawei’s foray into the ANC wireless over-ear headphones segment. It offers great audio, long battery life, impressive ANC, and a seamless touch navigation. Personally, I’d go with the Huawei FreeBuds Studio over the Sony WH-1000XM4, but to each their own.
There are definitely certain areas that the FreeBuds Studio can improve on, so we’re looking forward to what Huawei can whip up with the FreeBuds Studio 2/Pro.