Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 initial review: Second time's the charm - MrLiambi's blog


My tweets


Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 initial review: Second time's the charm

Huawei isn't new to the headphones and audio game, but it has certainly doubled down on this product category since its near expulsion from the western smartphone market. Its focus has been on highly capable earphones and headphones with advanced features, which don't cost a lot of money. 

Those efforts have culminated in the Huawei Freebuds Pro 2, which build on the platform of the Freebuds Pro, offering advanced noise cancelling in a sleek, attractive package. This year however Huawei's upped the ante, and added support for LDAC Hi-Res audio, and has a unique dual-driver system. But has it worked? 


  • Silver Blue, Silver Frost and Ceramic White colours
  • 5.9 grams per earbud
  • S/M/L silicone tips included

With the first generation Huawei Freebuds Pro, the manufacturer took a familiar TWS bud shape, and put its own spin on things by giving the stem a cubic form. Part of the idea was to create a shape that was different from the round-stemmed AirPods and AirPods clones. So it's no surprise that we see a slightly refined version of that squared-off shape in the second generation too. 

There is a bit of a difference though: these new buds are slightly smaller and lighter, as is the pill-shaped carrying case. That makes them that little bit more portable and easy to wear. 

In our testing, we found them to be well-designed in terms of fit and security too. Everyone's ears are different of course, but with the combination of the rounded earbud casing and the soft silicone tip, we found it sat nicely in the ear without feeling pressured and we didn't need to press it in invasively in order to create a good seal. 

For those unsure if they have a good fit, there's an ear fit test that you can perform which plays music, then uses the microphone array on the buds to detect any excessive noise leaking. 

As a bonus. they didn't seem to wiggle about, or work their way loose like some silicon-tipped buds have done in our testing. Both buds seemed to hold well, and very rarely needed readjusting. They're well balanced in that way. 

Our only complaint with the silicone tips is that they're far too easy to detach from the earphones. If you see yourself changing them a lot, that's maybe not an issue, but we'd often find that when we went to clean them after a listen, they'd easily come away from earbuds. Or if we accidentally knocked the tips against anything at all, or they brushed against our fingers or hands when holding them, the tips would just fall off. 

They come in white - of course - as well as a 'Silver Frost', but our unit is the new colour for 2022: 'Silver Blue'. It's an apt description for the light blue chromed earbuds and the matching soft blue sheen finish on the carrying case. 

We like the design of the case too. The extreme rounding and small size make it very pleasant to hold and its compact form mean it'll go into any pocket without a struggle. 

What's more, the buds fit in the logical way within the cradles: right bud on the right, left on the left, and both facing inward. There's no need to rotate or fiddle with their orientation before placing them in your ears, or removing them to stow away. There's also a satisfying snap when the magnets take hold and pull them into position for charging. 

Features and performance

  • Auto ear-detection
  • Gesture control
  • 4 hours playback (with ANC on)

As is typical for Huawei, the buds are packed with a lot of smart technologies designed to make them really convenient to use; making you do as little work as possible.

Part of that is enabling the feature that auto-pauses music as soon as you take an earbud from your ear. It works with either bud too, and then automatically resumes the music when you place them back in again. 

In testing, it's worked reliably and hasn't failed once, and - just as impressive - hasn't triggered accidentally. That's the sort of reliability that ensures the experience of using the buds is a good one. 

The buds also feature a touch-sensitive area on either side of the stem, so you can 'squeeze' the stems to control things like playing and pausing music, or skipping tracks. You can squeeze and hold for cycling through the noise cancelling/ambient modes, and swipe up and down to adjust the volume. If you want, you can go into the app and change what these presses and squeezes do. 

This part of the experience could definitely do with some improvements. If only because the buds' stem is quite short and thin, making the margin for error quite fine. 

It can be fiddly to get the right spot when pressing or swiping, and is easy to miss. What's more, the buds are so light that any touch is enough to change the fit in the ear, ensuring you have to adjust it again after activating whichever feature you're trying to use. 

Similarly, it would be great to see some improvement in the performance of the Bluetooth connectivity and battery life. With the former, we found the range wasn't especially long, often cutting out once we got over 10m away from the source, with walls in the way. 

Even on paper, the Freebuds Pro 2 battery life of 4 hours with ANC switched on didn't exactly fill us with confidence. In real every day usage, with the ANC switched to 'General' mode, we got through about 2.5 hours of listening before the earbuds gave us their 10 per cent, low battery level warning. This was with the SmartHD feature enabled, which upscales your content using a Hi-Res codec. In this mode, of course, battery drain is higher than normal. 

Performance was much more acceptable with this feature disabled. And we'd highly recommend doing this if you want to get through a week of commutes to and from your workplace. Without it switched on, the battery life was much closer to what is promised. In fact, 4 hours should be perfectly achievable. You'll get even more if you don't have noise cancelling enabled.  

Sound and noise cancelling

  • LDAC and HWA Hi-Res audio support
  • Dual driver system - 11mm dynamic + planar 
  • 4-mic noise cancelling (each bud)
  • Default EQ tuned by Devialet

Sound quality is one area we have very few complaints about. Huawei's intriguing combination of a large, powerful 11mm dynamic driver and the planar membrane means the frequency response range is wide. In fact, it can deliver bass as low as 14Hz, which is considerably lower than the human ear can typically hear. 

Combined with the super responsive planar membrane, it means you get those quality, powerful low bass notes, but still get a lot of crispness and detail in the higher frequencies. It generally works to great effect. 

Listen to Shivers by Ed Sheeran, which has a surprisingly expansive and layered instrumentation. There's the deep, impactful bass which you feel, and hear (without it degrading), then as it builds into the chorus, you start to hear hand-clapping, subtle acoustic strumming, swelling brass notes and synth. 

The quality of sound from the Freebuds Pro 2 makes it to pick out all of these elements, and elevates them. Strings and high notes are crisp, bass is pounding and loud, but doesn't boom and blow out. 

If you're an Imagine Dragons fan, you'll really appreciate the balance of sound, and how each element is delivered. Songs like Enemy that has lots of loud, big bass, and low synth sounds, but also intersperses some subtle hi-hat and string notes. Those cut through the rest, without reducing the impact of the low, deep pounding. 

In fact, it's similar across the rest of the Mercury Act 1 album. Lots of low bass notes, clear impact from snare drum work, acoustic/electric guitar cutting through. Even the slightly more stripped back Monday almost sounds as though it was sound engineered just to take advantage of the Freebuds' qualities. Even to the point of testing the sound stage, pushing elements like guitar solo riffs to the extreme left and right. 

For those inclined to enjoy orchestral works, pick something you like with lots of timpani work, like A Night on the Bare Mountain by Stravinsky. The new Freebuds Pro 2 almost let you feel the timpani rumble more than hear it, like a deep, low thunder rolling. Similarly, low cello and bass strings are clear and present. The qualities of the buds add a feeling and a presence you'd maybe struggle to get with a lot of other similarly-priced buds. It's pretty amazing really. 

Our only complaint is that sometimes that clarity and detail in the high frequency elements can leave the sound sometimes pushing towards sibilance. When some singers sing the hit the letter 's' or 't' it can sometimes break a little, lose its timbre, and sounds like someone whistling between their teeth.  It's not with every song, so it wasn't horrendous, but it's sometimes the price you pay for elevated treble and clarity. 

What's more, if you have a source device with support for Hi-Res audio (either HWA or LDAC codecs), you can have music up to  24-bit, 96kHz and 990kb/s. So if you have compatible Hi-Res music and a device that can play LDAC, you can access that feature. Sadly, for Android users, there's no Qualcomm-powered aptX of any description. 

Noise cancelling is quite effective too, doing a good job of cutting out a lot of the external noise around us during testing. Amplified single voices, and high impact, high frequency noises like seagulls and children shouting will still cut through, but for the most part the buds effectively reduce ambient noise.

The smart thing is, however, you can change your noise cancelling level or - better yet - choose the 'Dynamic' option within the app, and let it adjust the level of cancelling based on the level of noise around you, in real time. It uses a combination of four different mics on each earbud to measure, and can then adjust as appropriate without you having to do anything. 

And for those times you want to hear what's happening around you there is an ambient mode, but we never found this clear enough that you could actually hold a conversation with music playing. It was much better to remove a bud, let the auto-pause feature work, and then put it back in when done.

Source :

No comments:

Post a Comment