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Beyerdynamic's Blue Byrd earbuds are bringing neckbands back in style

Beyerdynamic revamped its Blue Byrd earbuds by adding better sound quality and active noise canceling. But is the neckband design too outdated to make these a hit?
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Beyerdynamic Blue Byrd earbuds on a wooden table
Jada Jones/ZDNET

It's been a big part of my job these days to try out headphones, specifically headphones that best serve the everyday listener. For me, over-ear headphones will always be my first choice over earbuds and on-ear headphones.

My philosophy is that you need a good pair of over-ear headphones for traveling and intense jam sessions and a pair of earbuds for taking phone calls working out (I don't like working out in over-ear headphones, but that's a conversation for a different day).

Regarding earbuds, I will always stand by my AirPods Pro (2nd generation). But I'm an open-minded person, which is why I tried out Beyerdynamic's Blue Byrd (2nd generation) earbuds with active noise cancellation (ANC).

Also: The best earbuds right now

The latest Blue Byrd earbuds are an upgrade from the model Beyerdynamic released in 2021. The newer model supports ANC and transparency mode, which are key features for any earbuds to compete with other popular brands.

View at Beyerdynamic

Now, the Blue Byrd earbuds are neckbuds, or earbuds connected to a neckband via wires. They still connect to your devices via Bluetooth, but considering them truly "wireless" is a matter of semantics. Tomato, to-mah-to.

Most modern earbuds ditch the neckband design, but they're still popular with plenty of people. If you're worried about losing a bud when it falls out, neckbuds might be for you.

The 2nd gen Blue Byrd earbuds sound comparable to most earbuds in the $100 to $150 range. They offer deep bass that doesn't get crunchy, high-quality mids, and highs that won't pierce your eardrums.

The Blue Byrd earbuds have mids so good that listening to "Feel No Ways" by Drake delivers clear and natural, making you feel like Drake is singing only to you. However, EQ settings are limited with these earbuds, allowing only small tweaks in the companion app.

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The ANC capabilities in the Blue Byrd earbuds are impressive, as they do a good job of blocking both droning and sharp noises like a clicking mouse or struck keyboard keys. Still, the ANC in Sony's WF-1000XM5 or Apple's AirPods Pro earbuds are superior, but for $100 less than both those earbuds, the Blue Byrd earbuds are great in this category.

The Blue Byrd earbuds take calls decently. Not bad, but not great either. 

On the Blue Byrd earbuds' neckband you'll find control buttons that dictate calls, play/pause, track skips, and sound settings with one press. The IPX4 rating and neckband design make the Blue Byrd earbuds optimal for exercise.

When I took the Blue Byrd earbuds to the gym, I spent 40 minutes on the elliptical with them in my ears. They beat the sweat and loud gym noises and required minimal adjustments to keep them in my ears.

Also: The best headphones for working out

Beyerdynamic says the Blue Byrd earbuds can hang for about 14 hours with ANC off and eight and a half hours with ANC on. I found these estimates to be accurate, but I didn't reach for the Blue Byrd earbuds most days because I'm not a fan of the neckband design. 

ZDNET's buying advice

Beyerdynamic's Blue Byrd (2nd generation) earbuds retail for $150, placing them in a similar price range to other ANC earbuds like the Beats Studio Buds Plus, Samsung Galaxy Buds 2, and the Google Pixel Buds Pro

I would recommend the Blue Byrd earbuds for anyone who is seeking a good quality pair of earbuds with the neckband style. You can find better ANC and call quality in other earbuds within the same price range, but if charging cases and single earbuds aren't your thing, the Beyerdynamic Blue Byrd earbuds may be a great fit for you.

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