Beautifully Designed For High-Quality Listening
Tribit may not be the first name to spring to mind when navigating the proverbial haystack that is the headphones market. However, among their latest entries, the company’s XFree Tune over-the-ear Hi-Fi headphones may be some of the best on the market in their price range. Ordinarily priced at $99.99, these cans sell for just $49.99 on Amazon and are built to punch well above their weight. In fact, the weight may be the only thing holding them back since style, build quality, and audio output is exceptional.
With regard to specs, for the price, these headphones approach just about as close to audiophile quality as is possible. Tribit’s XFree Tune over-ear headphones feature a dual 40mm driver, with a sensitivity of 96dB to 3dB and frequency response rated at 20Hz to 20KHz. The speakers are rated at 10 mW. That’s coupled with an impedance of 32 ohm, which is right on the borderline of what’s practical for headphones intended to be used with a mobile device. Meanwhile, a 420mAh Li-Polymer battery allows for a claimed 24 hours of listening time, depending on volume and the audio itself. That’s charged via micro USB and represents a relatively good battery life, but that doesn’t necessarily limit listening time. These headphones are both Bluetooth 4.1 compatible, with a range of up to 33-feet, and come with a 4-foot 3.5mm stereo cable. Meanwhile, the XFree Tune’s dimensions are listed at 190mm x 80mm x 180mm, with a weight of 288g.
In the Box
Opening the box reveals the headphones themselves, a charging cable, 4-foot 3.5mm stereo cable, and a user manual. That’s not unusually standard for a pair of headphones, though it might have been nice to receive a carrying case of some sort in the package since these are set a retail price of around $99. There’s also no wall adapter, so consumers will need to find their own or use a laptop port to charge these up. Charging input is rated at 5V for the most effective charging at around 3 hours to charge from dead. The user manual is actually very helpful since there are few physical buttons on these headphones and they serve multiple functions that a wearer would otherwise need to discover on their own.
Hardware & Build Quality
In terms of hardware quality, these headphones feature a genuinely spectacular design. Despite that they fold down and extend, there are no sharp edges and the focal point is very obviously on comfort. Smooth matte black soft-touch plastics are used wherever possible in the design, with metal being used for ion mechanisms and folding. So these are not going to get easily soiled by fingerprint oil or other substances. The ear pads are made of supple “premium protein PU” and the underside of the upper portion of the headband is padded with the same material. It feels like a very cushiony leather and the texture makes the pads seem to add no pressure at all to the ears. All things considered, that equates to a very comfortable fit overall.
While folding and unfolding these headphones, we noticed a satisfying click as the internal folding mechanisms slipped into place for a firm hold. The same snappiness carries over the on-device buttons and the headband extension. There’s really no way to tell if that will mean much in the long run but it gives off the sense that these headphones are exceptionally well built and will last quite some time. Meanwhile, the buttons perform various functions, without adding additional keys to press. Both sets are on the right-hand speaker assembly, with the power button facing the face-side and the volume keys facing backward. The power button acts as a way to answer, end, or reject calls, as well as a way to redial the most recent call. Obviously, it also acts as a way to turn the headphones on and off. Pressing the button once when listening to audio will pause or play the media, while the same button presses answer or end calls when one is incoming. Calls can be rejected by long-pressing that key and a redial can be performed via a double tap. The volume keys act as a way to transfer phone calls between phone and headphones - via a double tap of volume up - while a long keypress of volume up or down will skip tracks forward or backward. Tapping on those simply adjusts volume levels.
This headset also includes a 3.5mm jack for an aux cable, as mentioned above. The port is tucked cleanly away, as is the micro USB charging port which also features a rubber cover to prevent liquid or foreign particulates from getting inside. An LED is included to indicate battery level while charging, as well as the state of Bluetooth connectivity. With all of that said, all is not perfect with these headphones. The weight is going to be a factor for anybody accustomed to smaller sets or earbuds. 288 grams does not sound like a lot of weight, at first glance, but it began to become an issue within just an hour and even managed to cause a headache after around two hours of wear.
The sound quality of these headphones cannot be overstated. Of course, having already gone over the specifications, many will point out that these are not quite at an audiophile level. They do, however, perform as advertised. None of the sounds in any of the music or video we tested these with were muddied or muted. Bass, mid-range tones, and highs were all audible and none felt drowned out. Moreover, depending on the style of music a user chooses, they seem to provide an experience that’s indescribably close to how the music is intended to be heard. In songs with earth-shaking bass tones, those will be loud and clear without destroying the integrity of the song. The same can be said of every other genre these were tested in and regardless of whether the music was flowing over Bluetooth 4.1 or wired. We also tested these with various instruments, ranging from guitars, bass guitars, and an electric drum kit. To use the word “impressive” may be an understatement, thanks to the built-in CVC6.0 noise cancellation and other features. There was never a moment of unwanted distortion and every sound was as clear as intended. Finally, these are loud, without losing sound integrity. We only ever had to turn our volume up to about halfway to get a satisfying and immersive audio experience.
Battery Life & Connectivity
As mentioned above, these headphones connect via either a 3.5mm audio cable or Bluetooth 4.1. That means audio quality is almost entirely lossless and will depend mostly on the source being used. Up to 33-feet of distance can separate source from headphones when using in Bluetooth mode. There doesn’t seem to be any degradation of sound quality until approaching the very edge of that range or if the odd interference happens to be caused by a large metal object. However, as also mentioned above, the range will have a serious impact on battery life and effective range will shorten when the headphones are running low on juice. That shouldn’t be too surprising or too much of an issue since its a common problem that applies to every Bluetooth device on the market.
In terms of battery life, these have a claimed 24 hours of listening time, depending on use. That’s at both the official Amazon page for these and in the user manual. Based on our own usage, it's probably safe to say that number is close to what the average user can expect but there are always variables such as distance and volume. That isn’t necessarily awful, especially since the company’s XFree Tune over-ear headphones only take around 3 hours of charge. Having said that, the charging cable included is very short - measuring just a few inches in length - so there’s not really any way to listen to these while they are charging. It should, however, be easy enough to see when they are fully charged thanks to the bright, built-in LED. That shows red when they are still charging and changes to green when fully charged. Finally, these are also exceptionally easy to pair. Pairing starts automatically and will finish on its own if they have been saved with a source device previously. Otherwise, it’s as simple as locating the XFree indicator in Bluetooth settings. If the headphones fail to connect, they can be factory reset simply by holding both volume up and volume down keys simultaneously for around 5 seconds.
Setting aside the more obvious issue of weight becoming an issue over extended periods, these headphones may just be the ones to beat in their particular market segment. That only becomes more obvious when considering that Tribit’s XFree Tune headphones sell at Amazon for just $49.99 - although they are periodically on sale for the same price at the official site. The retail suggested price is actually nearly $100. So they may also represent the best value available. Tones in every register are clear and unmuddied, they’re exceptionally comfortable, and the charge is a bit better than might be expected with consideration for the impedance rating. On the aesthetics side of the equation, although they’re only available in a single color, these headphones are sleek and modern looking. There’s really not a lot to complain about, as it feels like Tribit really hit a home run with its XFree Tune over-the-ear set.