In such a crowded marketplace, Sennheiser may not be the first name that pops into your head when on the hunt for wireless headphones. Sony, Bose, and Beats are the names that are more likely to spring to mind. However, the Sennheiser HD1 Free really does give the competition a solid run for their money.
Whilst far from perfect, they excel in some areas and lag a little in others. And this Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless review will reveal all, good and bad.
In The Box
- HDI Free wireless earphones.
- Four sets of silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L)
- USB charging cable.
- Faux leather carrying case.
Design & Build
The Sennheiser Hd1 Free are not true wireless headphones as they have a cable connecting the two earbuds. Along the cable, you will find two inline housings, one containing the battery and the other home to the control panel and mic. The previous version of the HD1 wireless earphones had a solid neckband which housed the controls and battery, hence the name HD1 Free.
The cable has an adjustable clip to take up any unwanted slack and is nice and thick, so it doesn’t tangle easily.
All housings on both the cable and the earpieces are made from a shiny plastic material and to be honest, look a little on the tacky side. These are not the cheapest earphones in the world, and the overall style would have benefited from a more premium material, a matte rubber finish, perhaps?
One unique design feature is the plastic loop on the outer edge of each earbud. This successfully angles the cable outwards and gives it an extra level of protection if ripped out of your ear. Basically, the cable is less likely to separate from the earbud as a result. It’s a smart idea that no one else seems to have thought of up until now.
Sennheiser have not advertised any sweat/water resistance capabilities for the HD1 Free. We used them whilst working out several times with no obvious detrimental effects. However, how they would stand up to months of use is anyone’s guess?
A faux leather carrying case is included, although we’re not sure why Sennheiser have made it as bulky as they have. It’s too big to fit into any trouser pocket apart from cargo pants. It will have to go in a coat or bag for most people, making them a little less portable than they could be.
Surprisingly, it’s not easy to find wireless earbuds that are both comfortable and a secure fit. The Sennheiser HD1 Free tick both those boxes effortlessly, meaning you can wear these earphones for hours without any discomfort.
Four sets of silicone ear tips mean nearly everyone should be able to find the right fit. A minor complaint, it would have been nice if a range of foam tips were also included to cover the preferences of a wider range of listeners. This is pretty standard for most manufacturers now, and it’s, therefore, a little strange that Sennheiser hasn’t followed suit.
The angle of entry (the driver housings turn inwards) also helps to keep the buds securely in your ear. For buds like these, this is the simplest yet most effective way of achieving a good secure fit.
Over the course of a week’s use, the buds didn’t come close to falling out once, even whilst exercising. Obviously, this may not be the same for everyone depending on the shape of your ear, but it was effective for the few people that used them in our office.
The fact that the HD1 Free are very light also helps keep them from falling out and places less stress on your ear. It’s surprising just how light they are considering the bulky housings on the cable.
Sennheiser advertises six hours of continuous use on a full charge, and we found this to be on the money. Too many Wireless headphones don’t live up to the manufacturer’s claims, so it’s always welcome when a product performs as promised.
On the downside, they are quite slow to charge, and they do not have the quick charge feature that comes as standard on much of the competition. If you forget to charge these overnight, a quick 10 minute charge will not be enough to get you to work.
The pairing process on both iOS and Android devices was a breeze with everything taking no longer than a few seconds. The inline control panel is instinctive to use with buttons that are easy to locate. Play/pause and track selection are available along with call answering ability.
All in all, a very user-friendly experience
In this day and age, you’d be surprised just how many manufacturers still struggle with a reliable Bluetooth connection. Fortunately, the Sennheiser HD1 Free excel in this area. Throughout a week’s use, including a daily commute and several workouts, they suffered only two very brief dropouts, which by industry standards, is exceptionally good.
A 10m Bluetooth range is advertised, and we also found this to be a fair reflection.
Codec support includes aptX, which means you won’t get any synchronization problems when watching videos. AAC support is also included for improved sound quality on compatible platforms such as iTunes.
Call quality was also very good with very little interference, even when surrounded by other Bluetooth devices. The inline mic picked up my voice well according to call recipients, and they also came through loud and clear.
So the Sennheiser HD1 Free are comfortable and secure with good connectivity, but how do they perform in the Audio department?
Sennheiser are primarily known for making professional-grade audio equipment, so it should come as no surprise that these earphones sound great. The HD1 Free are part of Sennheiser’s Momentum range, which have a solid reputation to maintain. Fortunately, they do not let the side down even though they are Bluetooth headphones meaning they have to compress the audio somewhat.
Thanks to the secure fit, a very good level of isolation can be achieved, helping immensely when listening on loud transit systems or busy streets. The angled ear tips aim straight at your eardrums, giving a level of directionality you don’t always get with other products.
The sound spectrum itself has the kind of neutral response favored by the Audiophiles of this world. In other words, they reproduce music as it was intended to be heard with no extra emphasis on any one aspect of the frequency range.
The bass is confident and robust without ever swamping or bleeding into the mids. As a result, the mids have plenty of room to do their thing. Vocals and lead instruments are clearly prominent when listening to any genre of music. The treble frequencies are equally complementary to the overall sound, with no excess harshness or distortion experienced.
If it’s oodles of bass you’re after, then maybe a set of Beats headphones might be more your thing. If it’s refinement and honest reproduction of what was actually recorded you require, then you’ll be hard pushed to find a better sounding set of earbuds than the Sennheiser HD1 Free at this price.
Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Pros & Cons
- Superior sound quality.
- Ergonomically well designed.
- Comfortable, even after hours of use.
- Excellent connectivity.
- Cheap plastic housings.
- Unsophisticated look.
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Also, our reviews of the Best Bluetooth Headphone Adaptors may be of interest if you have some older technology that needs to be updated.
If you want a set of wireless earbuds that portrays sophistication, with their rather cheap plastic look, the Sennheiser HD1 Free probably wouldn’t be your first choice. But if you are willing to forgo a few style points, then these earbuds really do have a lot going for them.
A very well balanced sound profile, strong connectivity, high levels of comfort, and a very secure fit, more than makes up for the cheaper look. If appearance is near the bottom of your requirements list, this will be an easy sacrifice to make, and you’ll be very glad you went with substance over style.
They can also be picked up way below the original retail price now, which makes for an even more attractive package.