Huawei FreeBuds Studio, analysis and opinion

Huawei wants to enter the Champions League of headphone manufacturers and has just launched its first circumaural helmets. After a few days of intense use both to talk and to play and play a lot of music, we tell you our opinion of the Huawei FreeBuds Studio in this analysis.

Every well-known company has its wireless headphones. Some have numerous models, some of them difficult to distinguish, but others want to segment their families a little more.

Huawei is one of the latter and has about two true wireless - the FreeBuds Pro and the FreeBuds 3-, a sports Bluetooth headset -FreeLace Pro - and now a circumaural or headband headphones, from which they cover the ear and not just rely on it.

These are the FreeBuds Studio, a headset that has several arguments to convince as an active noise cancellation of up to 40 dB and a Hi-Fi sound and whose intention is to compete against some of the most reputable headband headphones, the high-end models of Sony and Bose.

Extremely light and comfortable with a minimalist design

We started the analysis of the Huawei FreeBuds Studio talking about the design. This is a very important thing in high-end helmets because it is as important to offer a sound at the height as it seems that you can offer that sound.

As we say, they're circumaural helmets. This means that the pad does not rest on the ear, but covers it. This already generates a discreet passive noise cancellation thanks to pads that have a viscoelastic material coated with synthetic leather.

They are very comfortable pads, but we would have liked them to be removed to wash them. To a 'premium' comfort contributes a fairly flexible headband with a light padding that allows us to wear the helmets for hours without feeling the weight.

They weigh 260 grams and are not the lightest on the market, but the headband does not tighten, my ears do not hurt after a few hours of use and the adjustment system, although it seems indelible because it does not have a 'click', the truth is that it endures day by day.

It's been a week and a half wearing the helmets for several hours a day both to work and to train or enjoy the free time and there are times when you forget you're wearing them.

They are not the easiest headphones to carry as, although the drivers can be folded, they still take up considerable space. To travel, Huawei includes in the box a rigid carrying bag with an elegant design and space for the charging cable.

If we move away from the aesthetic and functional, we find three microphones on each headset for calls and noise cancellation, as well as the USB Type-C charging on the right earphone and three buttons. Two of them are on the right side (turn off and sync via Bluetooth) and the other is on the left (enable noise cancellation and 'alert' mode). All other controls are tactile.

What I would have liked is to have a 3.5mm jack connection for when we don't want, or can't, use the Bluetooth connection, or at least allow use with the USB Type-C to USB Type-C port to transfer audio, but it's not.

Gestures that work very well and sensors of the most precise

One fundamental thing about such headphones is control. In my opinion, it is worth having a very good audio system if we have to be aware of the mobile to pause a song, go from the theme or control the volume.

They are helmets that we wear in the gym, on the street or that we carry at home without having the mobile in tow at all times. That's why they need to be as independent as possible. Some companies have solved this very well and the truth is that Huawei has also hit the key.

We have a gesture system that you don't have to set up in an app and that works natively on iOS, Android, Windows or macOS as soon as we pair the headset via Bluetooth. It is a system that, through touches and slides on the right earbud allows us to control playback.

It works really accurately and we haven't had any false beats or anything weird. To turn the volume up and down, simply move your finger on the right earbud up or down. To go from song to previous, we do the same thing but on the horizontal axis (once to go to the next song and two to go to the previous one).

To pause the song or content just double tap and, so far, we have the typical and necessary controls. As I say, they work very well and are intuitive. Now, the best thing is that we can activate the assistant of our computer (Siri on Mac and iOS, Cortana on Windows and Google Assistant) with a long press.

Again, you don't have to set up anything on your device or in an app and it's mind-blowing the compatibility of your helmets. Huawei has its own assistant and was not expected to support others, but the truth is that it does and the result is very good. However, if you have a Huawei you can set that long press for some Huawei Music functions, but it won't be the case for most.

Bluetooth 5.2 with very low latency, although we miss NFC

About the connection, there's also good news. FreeBuds Studio features Bluetooth 5.2. It is the latest version of this system and the advantage over previous versions is the one that is precisely the most interested in this type of device.

Bluetooth 5.2 adds different improvements over the previous generation, but to use them we need a sending device that has the same standard. There aren't too many on the market, but what we do have are helmets with a Bluetooth standard that consumes little power (vital to save battery on devices like this) and, above all, minimal latency.

The latter is important in wireless headphones not by playing music, since here latency matters less, but because when playing or watching videos we will not have a significant delay between image and sound. In Call of Duty Online, the shot sounds when we see the flash and in a YouTube video, the lips and sound are perfectly synchronized.

We miss NFC, which would allow for an easier connection between devices, but we must say that pairing with Huawei devices with EMUI 10.1 or higher is very simple with the AI Life app.

What I did like a lot is that we can synchronize the headphones with two devices at once to play music on the Mac and, if we are going to make a coffee or anything with the mobile in tow, continue from that device the playback without having to pair the helmets again.

Excellent AI noise cancellation and balanced sound

Let's move on to what's vital in helmets of this type, range and price: audio. Those who invest money in helmets like these FreeBuds Studio expect the audio quality to match. They are devices that we will carry for many hours and it is ok that they are comfortable, but they must also offer a sound that corresponds to what we will pay for them.

Huawei more than complies in this section with a high-quality sound that has in balance its great virtue. There are many helmets and headphones, especially from somewhat lower ranges, that abuse bass and unmeasured power in this spectrum to sound blunter. It's a 'bad' of many gaming headsets and Beats before Apple took over the brand.

The good headphones, which are really appreciated by the purists, are those that offer a wide frequency range and that enhance all spectra equally. FreeBuds Studio has basses that, first of all, are not as blunt as other devices, with very generous mids and tremendously defined treble.

They are very versatile because they fit perfectly to each musical genre and, besides, with the equalizer of the applications (Spotify's is very good, for example) or with which they incorporate some mobiles, we have more wide sleeves to be able to touch the frequencies and leave the sound as we want. That is, better to start from a somewhat 'flat' base than to be able to mould than from one in which the bass and media are very marked and leave us little margin.

If you have a Huawei other than Lite and have EMUI 11, such as the Mate 40 or P40, you can listen to music in L2HC codec. It is a high definition codec that allows us to listen to music at 960 Kbps, a frequency three times the frequency that we usually listen to on Spotify when we have it set to maximum quality and that, really, is noticeable by the richness of the treble. It's a very round sound that, I repeat, you can only enjoy with one of the latest Huawei. We've done it through Huawei Music on the Mate 40 Pro and yes, you can tell.

There are two cancellation systems in this device, the passive that is achieved thanks to what isolate per se the pads and the active one, which is the one that uses the microphones to capture the external sound and certain algorithms to counteract the sound wave and make the void within the space that remains between our ear and the driver.

Huawei promises a suppression of up to 40 dB with noise cancellation activated and the truth is that it is a system that works very well. In a very noisy environment, a rush-hour gym, I hear nothing but the bluntness of the aerobics class woofers, but I can listen to my music perfectly.

This noise cancellation can be controlled, choosing from several profiles if we have an Android mobile with the AI Life app, but if not, the system is called 'Dynamic Active Noise Cancellation' because it automatically and in real-time adjusts the level of active noise cancellation depending on the external noise.

When I'm in the office and the neighbours aren't squealing, the truth is that the suppression is minimal and all the system does is suppress a little noise from the mechanical keyboard, but without creating an exaggerated empty effect.

Well in autonomy, although it stands out for the fast load mark of the house

Although in true wireless models autonomy is not something that worries me too much because the box gives us for two or three loads, usually, in helmets like these it is important what they 'hold' away from the charger.

The FreeBuds Studio has a 410 mAh battery that, according to official figures, gives us for 24 hours of music without noise cancellation activated and for 20 with that cancellation activated. In my tests, the truth is that it behaves very well and, always using automatic noise cancellation, I have been able to work a little more than two days without having to go through the charger.

It is a more than acceptable figure because it assures me music with noise cancellation on a long flight, although if we are guided by official figures, it is somewhat far from the 30 hours of the equivalent Sony.

Now, charging is another interesting point because it is done via USB Type-C and is brand of the house: in 10 minutes we have for 8 hours of music without noise cancellation or 5 with cancellation activated.

What I've done during the days I wasn't testing autonomy has been to wake up and put on the helmets while I watch the daily news or organize the daily schedule. Those 10-15 minutes have been every day and I haven't heard the 'beep' that alerts you to the low battery at any time.

In the end, this is peace of mind... and need, because we can't use FreeBuds as wired helmets and we can't charge them with a power bank while listening to music, but if you take a charging routine, you won't run out of battery.

Huawei arrives to face classics like BOSE and Sony

As we have seen in the analysis of the FreeBuds Studio, we are looking at a first product of the Chinese giant in this segment that not only does not go wrong but has features to fall in love with the user.

The sound quality is excellent and I like that thanks to a range in which no frequencies are exaggerated, the user can customize the experience with an equalizer to their liking. Comfort is extreme at all times and the design is elegant. I miss a white colour beyond this gold and black, but they are already personal tastes.

What gives the 'chest do' is the active cancellation system. Alongside the liability, we have a total suppression of up to 40 dB, a considerable figure that has that dynamic system that automatically adjusts the cancellation level depending on the external noise.

The battery complies, the gesture system is accurate and reliable, but, although I miss details like NFC, the jack to connect the wired headphones and, above all, that the app is available for iOS, it is something that fails to tarnish a very good Huawei input in the field of the circumaural headphones.

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