Velodyne vFree On-Ear Headphone Review
It’s time to cut the cord… your headphone cord. It’s 2013 and you can be rocking out with an awesome pair of wireless headphones. The brand new Velodyne vFree Bluetooth headphones are on-ear collapseable headphones that are lightweight, personalizable, and packed with amazing sound quality.
What’s in the box
- Velodyne Bluetooth Headphones
- 4 foot, 3.5 mm (3/8″) audio bypass cable
- Micro USB charging cable
- Carrying pouch
The Velodyne vFrees are sleek and almost futuristic looking on-ear headphone. They have a very sleek look and their size and design is perfectly gender-neutral. They have oval earcups covered with ultra-soft cushions. They’re big enough that my large ears don’t stick out and they’re quite comfortable. They rock the tri-folding design where each side of the headphones fold in towards the center. This makes them easy to pop in the carrying pouch or even a jacket pocket. The vFrees are very light too. This makes them especially comfortable, but it’s also a factor of their plasticky build. It’s unfortunate, but they don’t feel like they have the best build quality.
Our vFrees are glossy black, but they’re also available in a glossy white or silver. Luckily the styles don’t end there, there are available skins that let you personalize the vFrees and take the appearance to the next level. The skins are available in a number of artistic designs and these plastic coverings just pop right on to the vFrees. They’re flexible and protective.
Although there’s a cable included, the controls and microphone are built directly into the headphone design. On the right earcup, discreetly integrated, are dedicated buttons for next track, previous track, play/pause, and power/voice activation/pairing. Along the side of the same earcup are volume buttons that are independent from device audio. There’s an LED notification light which has a number of alerts based on color and flashes. Nicely, the LED isn’t especially bright or obnoxious.
Over Bluetooth, the vFrees have a rechargeable battery that will last 10 hours of listening and talking with a 100 hour standby. They use a standard micro-USB and only take an hour and a half for a full charge. If the battery dies you can always pop the standard audio/headphone cable in and keep rocking. The Bluetooth 2.1 spec is supposed to support a 30 foot range. Aside from talking on the phone through the vFrees, you can also talk to Siri (on iPhone). Android also has voice capabilities you can access.
Bluetooth is really an amazing thing. It feels great to cut the cord (metaphorically). It’s equally as nice to have the option of using a cord with the vFrees. The cord is great if you forgot to charge the battery or just want to pop them on and start rocking out without turning the headphones on and wating the few seconds for automatic bluetooth pairing. The only downside of using the cord is that you lose the microphone and audio controls.
Considering the microphone is near your ear, phone calls work just as good as cords that have the inline microphone. My callers sounded crystal clear and they reported good feedback on my end. Luckily there’s no delay like there is when listening to music.
The audio quality is great, very crisp and very true to the music. The bluetooth audio quality is basically as good as wired. The audio is very balanced: clean midrange audio, precise and detailed highs, and nice low bass. The bass isn’t out of control, it’s present and not overwhelming. The unfortunate part of the vFrees is that noise isolation is poor, so to fully appreciate the audio quality you need to be in a quiet environment.
Although we were big fans of the Velodyne vFree Bluetooth headphones, a retail price of $249 seems way overpriced. At the $100-$150 range, we’d highly recommend them for a lot of reasons: the audio quality is great, the battery lasts a very long time, they’re comfortable and portable, they have a built-in microphone and audio controls, plus they have neat skins for easy accessorizing. Unfortunately, they feel too brittle and plasticky to sell at their price point. So while you probably wouldn’t be disappointed with the Velodyne vFrees, especially because of their great audio quality, we feel strongly that they’re overpriced. They’re currently available from Velodyne.com or Amazon.com.
The Good: Sound great, Bluetooth, Built-in microphone and audio controls, Customizeable with skins, Very comfortable and light, Battery is longlasting, Can use with audio cable, Portable/Collapseable, Call quality is good
The Bad: Overpriced, Plasticky construction, Poor Noise isolation, Can’t use microphone or audio controls with cable, Independent volume controls from source
Update 2/7/13: Velodyne has reached out to us to let us know that they have since improved the headphones with new, better quality materials. They have also changed the pads on the headphones to be larger pads, to help improve noise isolation. The headphones will also now be available in a choice of black or gunmetal.