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SoundPEATS RunFree Review

Last updated: 1 month ago
12 min read
Editor
rating
3.9
SoundPEATS RunFree headphones

SoundPEATS RunFree are a premium alternative to the RunFree Lite, with improved sound performance and more in-depth EQ settings. However, at $50, they’re facing strong competition.

UPDATE 5/3/2024: We added more tables and comparisons between different headphones we’ve tested.

We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

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  • List price (MSRP): $49.99
  • Manufacturer: SoundPEATS

Category ratings:

Editor
rating
3.9
By HeadphonesAddict
User
ratings
1.9
User Ratings: 8
Our rating
  • Star Rating
    4.0
  • Star Rating
    4.5
  • Star Rating
    3.0
  • Star Rating
    3.5
  • Star Rating
    4.0
  • Star Rating
    3.5
  • Star Rating
    5.0
  • Star Rating
    4.0
User rating
  • 1.0
  • 1.5
  • 1.5
  • 1.5
  • 1.5
  • 1.5
  • 3.0
  • 3.5
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Related: Best open-ear headphonesBest workout headphonesBest headphones for calls

Our Conclusion

Feature-wise, RunFree open-ear headphones are almost the same as the Lite version. Primarily, they have more adjustable custom EQ (10 bands instead of 8).

RunFree’s most noticeable upgrade is the design, materials used for construction, and audio performance. However, the price also “upgraded” from $30 to $50.

That puts them on par with TOZO OpenReal, their main competitor, which offers a far superior audio quality. That said, RunFree still have some tricks up their sleeve. Read the full review to find out.

Pros & Cons:

  • Great sound quality for this type of headphones
  • Stable & comfortable fit thanks to "liquid" silicone finish
  • Solid Bluetooth connection with 60 feet of indoor range
  • Good microphone quality in quieter places
  • But poor mic quality in louder places
  • Rubber flap protecting the USB-C port looks fragile
  • IPX4 rating is relatively low for sports headphones

Compare similar headphones

1.
Sonic9Score 3.9
Premium-feeling headphones with a full, smooth sound & feature-packed app
Sound rating 4.0
Comfort & fit rating 4.5
Durability rating 3.0
Battery rating 3.5
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Noise isolation rating 3.5
Bluetooth rating 5.0
Value rating 4.0
Battery life Claimed:14h Test:12.5h
2.
Sonic9Score 4.1
Featured-packed & comfy headphones with a quieter, less detailed sound
Sound rating 3.5
Comfort & fit rating 5.0
Durability rating 3.0
Battery rating 4.5
Features rating 4.5
Noise isolation rating 3.5
Bluetooth rating 4.5
Value rating 4.5
Battery life Claimed:17h Test:20h
3.
Sonic9Score 4.2
Headphones with a high-quality audio & durability
Sound rating 4.5
Comfort & fit rating 4.5
Durability rating 4.5
Battery rating 4.0
Features rating 4.0
Noise isolation rating 3.5
Bluetooth rating 4.5
Value rating 4.5
Battery life Claimed:13h Test:12h
4.
Sonic9Score 3.7
Earbuds with amazing ergonomics but lack of features
Sound rating 3.0
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Bluetooth rating 4.5
Value rating 3.0
Battery life Claimed:12h Test:7.5h
CONTENTS (show more)

    Our Analysis and Test Results

    SoundPEATS RunFree are the most premium-feeling open-ear headphones we’ve tested, providing full sound after adjusting it in the app. They don’t suffer from wind noise and stay on your head comfortably.

    Most importantly, they last for 12.5 hours per charge and use USB-C instead of annoying proprietary solutions. You should also expect a stable connection with up to 60 feet of indoor range.

    Sound

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    SoundPEATS RunFree are a big improvement over the Lite version. They provide a fuller and cleaner sound but not enough airiness or treble texture to beat the best open-ear headphones.

    Key points:

    • Quite a full and balanced sound out of the box.
    • Sound gets MUCH better after playing with EQ tuning.
    • Small soundstage is paired with an accurate imaging.

    The newer SoundPEATS RunFree have massively improved their sound quality over the RunFree Lite model while keeping the same 16.2mm dynamic driver.

    Now, the sound is much cleaner and less distorted, with a more neutral midrange and treble response (after applying our custom EQ settings).

    Our custom EQ settings

    Frequency bandAdjustment
    125 Hz+3dB
    250 Hz+3dB
    500 Hz+1dB
    1 kHz0dB
    2 kHz-3dB
    4 kHz-4dB
    8 kHz-2dB
    16 kHz+5dB

    However, the headphones can’t quite match their main competitors regarding refinement and sound openness. Let’s go into more detail.

    Bass: Decently full but could be more controlled

    You can sense that the 16.2mm dynamic driver is already pushing bass near its maximum limits. Going further would only cause distortion.

    Nonetheless, you get a decent quantity that makes the overall sound pleasantly full. Compared to TOZO OpenReal, their main competitor, they could be fuller, but due to poorer sub-bass extension, you’re stuck with what you get.

    You still get pleasant bass guitar nuances, like during the “Freefall” by Camel, but a fairly sloppy punch.

    Fortunately, bass in pop and electronic music is rich and full. However, listening to metal or faster rock makes the double-pedal kicks hard to distinct (showing a lack of bass control).

    SoundPEATS RunFree hanging from hands
    The sound is pushed out from tiny openings on the back of transducer modules.

    Midrange: Almost neutral after EQ

    The default sound signature is energetic, making electric guitars and vocals a bit aggressive.

    Guitars appear slightly “angrier” than they should, which is primarily noticeable in rock or metal songs. In contrast, vocals can sound somewhat loud and thin, which is audible in all music genres.

    Lowering midrange frequencies in the app’s custom EQ helps drastically. It brings down the excessive energy, making the midrange sound more natural. Almost neutral, even.

    Treble: Good quantity but lacking in texture and air

    Higher frequencies are tuned nicely, but we recommend giving them more energy by boosting the 16 kHz region. That adds slightly more clarity, which helps when listening to tracks with busier or louder instrumentation.

    The treble is the most significant difference between SoundPEATS RunFree and TOZO OpenReal. The latter are much airier and textured, sounding more effortless in comparison.

    That said, you can still enjoy pleasant cymbal hits when listening to more relaxed tunes, like smooth jazz. But anything busier than that quickly mushes everything together.

    SoundPEATS RunFree speaker
    The speaker opening is protected with a fine mesh.

    Airiness also affects the openness of the sound, resulting in a rather small soundstage for air-conduction headphones. It has much better depth than width.

    On the other hand, the imaging is pretty accurate. At the beginning of the “Atlas Stone” by Haken, when sounds circle around your head, you can easily track their location, with just a few blurry spots near the front center.

    Sound Comparison

    My conclusion

    In conclusion, the SoundPEATS RunFree are a massive upgrade over the RunFree Lite regarding sound quality. However, they aren’t the best in their price range.

    For $50, you can also get TOZO OpenReal, which produce a more refined, punchier, and fuller sound.

    Also check other:

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    4.5 Almost Perfect

    SoundPEATS RunFree have an extremely lightweight build (1.09 ounces) with a soft silicone finish and gentle clamping force to minimize the pressure on your ears. However, you might still need to take a break after an hour.

    Despite their strange form factor, air-conduction headphones gently wrap around your ears without squeezing your earlobes. The inner part is coated with soft (liquid) silicone, which gently brushes against your skin.

    SoundPEATS RunFree wearing
    This is how SoundPEATS RunFree (left), RunFree Lite (middle), and TOZO OpenReal (right) sit on your ears.

    Speaking about gentle feel, the clamping force is also fairly minimal, barely causing pressure against your head. So, you shouldn’t expect any headaches like with TOZO OpenReal.

    Furthermore, thanks to a more ergonomic design, the speaker modules don’t rest directly on the tragus, so you should avoid getting an ache over longer listening sessions.

    That said, to ensure such excellent comfort, you have to put them on your head just right. During one session, I could easily wear them for an hour, but the modules started to ache during the second hour.

    Stability is fantastic, like with any other air-conduction neckband headphones. Since the SoundPEATS RunFree have a gentler clamping force, the rear modules slightly push against your earlobe, which helps stabilize the ear hook.

    SoundPEATS RunFree physical controls
    Physical buttons are mushy and hard to press, and the liquid silicone coating is a dirt magnet.

    You can run, jump, and do pushups with these headphones; they don’t budge. That makes them a perfect pick for a serious sportsperson, cyclists included.

    One thing worth mentioning is the physical controls on the back of the rear module. Buttons feel mushy and are hard to press, so they’re somewhat uncomfortable to use.

    Compared to other similar models

    SoundPEATS RunFree are similarly comfortable as TOZO OpenReal but a tad less than RunFree Lite model. Compared to bone-conduction headphones, they’re comfier than all of them.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    SoundPEATS RunFree are fully sweatproof but can’t survive under the shower, let alone underwater. There’s also no carrying pouch, and a flimsy flap protects the charging port.

    Headphones are very light but also highly flexible thanks to a nickel-titanium neckband, which can twist in all directions while keeping its shape.

    Compared to the RunFree Lite, F1, and OpenReal models, the rear modules face up (vertically) instead of horizontally.

    SoundPEATS RunFree grease on headphones
    The back module touches the inner side of your earlobe, so it quickly collects your body grease.

    That means the neckband connects with the modules at a 90° angle, which could be a potential breaking point. I hope I’m wrong.

    The exterior part of the headphones is mostly covered in shiny plastic. It gives them a flashy look but is also a fingerprint magnet and easily scratchable. Since there’s no carrying pouch, the latter happens quickly.

    Due to the design, SoundPEATS RunFree are perfect for all kinds of sports activities. That means they’ll get drenched in sweat and dust (during outdoor sports).

    Well, headphones have an IPX4 rating, meaning they should survive sweat and light rain conditions. Anything harsher than that could be a problem, dust included.

    That said, an IPX4 rating is pretty standard, even in sports-oriented earbuds. What I’m most concerned about is how this water resistance is achieved. That leads me to the most significant problem: the flap.

    SoundPEATS RunFree charging port flap
    A fragile rubber flap is the only thing preventing sweat from causing internal damage.

    The USB-C charging port isn’t nano-coated to deflect water droplets. Instead, it is covered with a rubber flap. The issue is that the flap is connected to the headphones with a rubber string, which can easily tear.

    If you accidentally tear it, you can forget about sweat resistance. Its placement right behind your right ear means that sweat easily finds its way into the USB-C port.

    Due to all of these potential durability issues, we give them a slightly lower rating despite their otherwise excellent build quality.

    Are they suitable for…

    • Wearing in the rain: Suitable, but avoid exposing them to heavier rain.
    • Running & exercising outside: Suitable, as long as you stay away from heavily dusty places (not dust resistance).
    • Sweating: Suitable, IPX4 should be enough.
    • Dipping underwater: Not suitable, as you need at least an IPX7 rating for that.
    Wearing in light rain
    Suitable
    Wearing in heavy rainNot suitable
    ExercisingSuitable
    SweatingSuitable
    Dipping underwaterNot suitable

    Durability comparison

    SoundPEATS RunFree have among the lowest IP ratings among open-ear headphones, similar to other SoundPEATS headphones but much less than TOZO headphones we’ve tested.

    Battery

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    SoundPEATS RunFree have a battery life of 12 hours and 34 minutes, which is great on its own. But headphones are quiet, so you’ll definitely push them above 50% volume, shortening the battery life.

    Tested battery life12 hours 34 minutes
    Official battery life14 hours
    Difference1h 26min (-11.4%)
    Quick chargingn/a
    Qi wireless chargingNo

    SoundPEATS RunFree battery comparison:

    SoundPEATS RunFree battery comparison

    SoundPEATS RunFree have a pretty standard battery life duration compared to similarly designed headphones (air and bone conduction headphones).

    In our battery life test, where we leave the music playing at 50% volume, we got precisely:

    • 12 hours and 34 minutes of playtime.

    That is more than enough for a few listening sessions or at least for a longer bike ride. Headphones charge via USB-C, which takes 1.6 hours to go from 0-100% battery.

    Strangely, there’s no mention of fast-charging support. Also, the official battery life expectancy is 14 hours per charge, 1.5 hours less than our test showed.

    Also, the headphones’ volume is pretty low. To reach “normal” volume, you must go above 70%, meaning you should expect a lower battery duration than 12.5 hours.

    Here’s how RunFree’s battery rating compares to ratings of similarly priced competitors:

    Note: The battery rating considers battery life compared to alternatives, wireless charging support, and the speed of recharging.

    Features

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    SoundPEATS RunFree have identical features to the Lite version but with a more in-depth custom audio equalizer. Sadly, the Adaptive EQ feature appears buggy, while the call quality only works fine in ideal conditions.

    SoundPEATS is known to give similar features to both budget and slightly more expensive models, with the biggest difference being the custom EQ’s flexibility. More on that later.

    SoundPEATS RunFree app settings
    The first pages when entering the SoundPEATS app.

    Let’s take a look at all the features you get with the RunFree:

    Adaptive EQ

    While in other headphones, the adaptive EQ works by actively adjusting the audio tuning based on the fit and seal, the Adaptive EQ in SoundPEATS is essentially a personalized EQ setting.

    You set it by listening to beeps at different frequencies and intensities until you can still hear the beep. The app then generates your personal sound curve.

    SoundPEATS RunFree Adaptive EQ

    However, the feature appears seriously buggy since no sound comes through until it reaches 80dB.

    Here’s my experience:

    The app (normally) starts to beep at 60dB and slowly raises the loudness if you don’t hear anything. However, all I heard was silence until it reached 80dB, when all of a sudden, I heard a loud beep.

    That leads me to believe I should’ve heard previous beeps too, but the app didn’t play them to me. Consequently, the app can’t make an accurate measurement.

    Just to see how the feature affects the sound, I finished the Adaptive EQ tuning by clicking the “I hear voices” button. The app kept telling me my hearing was fine and there was no need to change the sound.

    However, when getting the final results and enabling the feature, I got a wildly different sound from the default one. So, in conclusion, Adaptive EQ is currently unusable and needs to be fixed.

    Custom EQ

    EQ flexibility is typically the main difference between various SoundPEATS headphones. It’s the same story with the RunFree and RunFree Lite, with the latter having an 8-band EQ instead of 10-band EQ.

    SoundPEATS RunFree EQ custom presets

    Once again, the audio equalizer saves the day (as explained in the Sound section) by adjusting the most unnatural-sounding parts. However, I wish it could be more aggressive because only big adjustments make audible changes.

    The companion app also offers 9 EQ presets, but unless you pick our custom EQ settings, we advise you to stay with the SOUNDPEATS classic EQ mode.

    Controls

    Headphones use entirely physical controls. Using different gestures, you can activate a wide variety of commands.

    Middle (power) button

    • Single press: play/answer or end call
    • Double press: voice assistant/switch calls
    • Triple press: Game mode
    • Hold for 1.5s: reject call

    Plus (+) button

    • Single press: volume up
    • Hold for 1.5s: track forward

    Minus (-) button

    • Single press: volume down
    • Hold for 1.5s: repeat/previous track

    Despite having big shiny plates on transducer modules, headphones don’t offer any touch-sensitive surfaces.

    SoundPEATS RunFree shiny exterior
    The shiny exterior is for cosmetic purposes only; there are no touch controls.

    Microphone quality

    SoundPEATS RunFree have a clear but quiet call quality in quieter places, whereas loud ambient noise makes your voice muffled.

    SoundPEATS RunFree microphone test: (no noise test from 0:00-0:26, with background noise test from O:26-0:53)

    Speaking in a quiet room, the RunFree dual microphones captures your voice clearly but also quietly, making them one of the most silent headphones for making phone calls.

    The latter is fine when having a conference call or for homeschooling. But, if the person you’re calling is outdoors, they might have trouble hearing you.

    Introducing loud traffic noise kicks in the mic’s noise reduction, effectively eliminating all traffic. On the flip side, it also seriously muffles your voice and makes it difficult to understand.

    In conclusion, we only recommend using SoundPEATS RunFree in quieter places.

    Features rating comparison

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    SoundPEATS RunFree do a good job of keeping your music private and ensuring relatively low levels of extra wind noise. Due to design, you experience full situational awareness.

    Due to the open-ear design, there’s zero passive noise isolation. You can perfectly hear nearby sounds and dangers, which is actually the SoundPEATS RunFree’s safety feature. So, let’s focus on other noises.

    Wind noise from air drag around the headphone’s modules is minimal but still audible. Taking headphones off or on during a run or cycling shows a clear difference in additional wind noise.

    SoundPEATS RunFree with a helmet
    Headphones produce wind noise, but it’s minimal and shouldn’t distract you from music.

    However, the noise quantity is still passable. There’s no high-pitched whining, so you shouldn’t get too distracted when listening to music.

    What about sound leakage?

    The amount of sound leakage is on par with other air-conduction headphones. As long as you stay away from quieter places, others shouldn’t hear or be bothered by your music.

    From my experience, if you want to maintain alertness while listening to music and cycling/running, you won’t push the volume above 50%.

    Even during casual use, where you might raise it to 70-80%, the others will only hear you in quieter rooms. Public transport, except for the passengers right next to you, shouldn’t be an issue, either.

    SoundPEATS RunFree vs. RunFree Lite
    RunFree leak sound slightly more than the RunFree Lite, primarily due to the better treble rendition.

    Noise isolation rating comparison with other models

    Bluetooth

    Star Rating
    5.0 Perfect

    SoundPEATS RunFree have a robust Bluetooth 5.3 connection with an indoor range of 60 feet, Game mode, and multipoint support.

    Bluetooth version5.3
    Bluetooth range
    (no obstructions)
    200ft+
    Bluetooth range
    through a wall
    60ft (18.3m)
    MultipointConnect to
    up to 2 devices
    Audio latency
    (audio delay)
    170ms (Game Mode Off)
    90ms (Game Mode On)

    RunFree model continues the trend of stable Bluetooth connections in air-conduction headphones. Featuring Bluetooth 5.3, they don’t experience any audio hiccups, even with many Bluetooth devices around.

    Headphones are also robust indoors. In our indoor range test, the music kept playing until it reached:

    • 60 feet (or 18.3 meters), or at least a few steps further after passing the second brick wall.

    That puts them among the best headphones in the indoor Bluetooth range, but they could be better. For example, the TOZO OpenReal connection lasts for 65 feet (or 19.8 meters).

    How to pair SoundPEATS RunFree?

    1. Headphones go into pairing mode when you turn them on, and they don’t immediately find a device to pair to.
    2. If you want to force them into pairing mode, simply turn them on while holding the Power button. You should hear a woman’s voice saying “Pairing.”
    SoundPEATS RunFree on a laptop
    You can connect SoundPEATS RunFree with a laptop and smartphone simultaneously.

    Bluetooth multipoint

    Furthermore, SoundPEATS RunFree support the basic Bluetooth multipoint. It only works once you activate the feature in the app.

    To connect the headphones to two devices simultaneously, you must first pair them to two devices independently.

    • Simply follow the steps above and then enable Bluetooth on both devices you want your headphones to connect to.

    What Bluetooth codecs do they use?

    SoundPEATS RunFree support a standard set of Bluetooth codecs: SBC and AAC. Both Android and iOS will use AAC by default. Using a higher-quality audio codec would be unnecessary.

    Is there an audio lag?

    Like with other Bluetooth headphones, there’s no lag when watching videos on Android, iOS, and Windows 11. On the other hand, there’s a slight delay when playing mobile games.

    Fortunately, enabling Game mode reduces the latency to respectable levels. You can still see a tiny delay, as the latency is around 90 ms, but that will only matter to diehard gamers.

    SoundPEATS RunFree gaming
    Gaming mode reduces the latency down to 88 ms, which is visible yet good enough for most mobile gamers.

    Bluetooth rating comparison

    Should You Get SoundPEATS RunFree?

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    It appears that SoundPEATS is slowly discontinuing the Lite version in favor of the slightly more premium RunFree model. The latter is better in sound and build quality, while the Lite excels in much longer battery life.

    Nonetheless, SoundPEATS RunFree are a notable addition to the air conduction market. While not providing the best sound quality, they offer multipoint and Game mode, which competitors don’t.

    Pros & Cons

    • Great sound quality for this type of headphones
    • Stable & comfortable fit thanks to "liquid" silicone finish
    • Solid Bluetooth connection with 60 feet of indoor range
    • Good microphone quality in quieter places
    • But poor mic quality in louder places
    • Rubber flap protecting the USB-C port looks fragile
    • IPX4 rating is relatively low for sports headphones

    Who are these best for:

    • Sportspeople who also need to be constantly ready to receive a phone call.
    • Gamers, so they can know what’s happening around them while looking at the screen (not that we support that; learn more about kids and teens screen time).

    Who should avoid them:

    • Sportspeople who plan to run in heavy rain or enjoy listening to music in higher resolution and dynamics.

    How do SoundPEATS RunFree compare to the competition?

    • Headphones have a better sound quality than most competitors, albeit not the best.
    • RunFree have Bluetooth multipoint and Game mode features, which other competitors lack.
    • They have an equally stable fit but slightly better comfort than most competitors.
    • Their battery life of 12.5 hours on a single charge is a slightly above-average result among air-conduction headphones.
    • Furthermore, the indoor Bluetooth range of 60 feet is also pretty average for this type of headphones (although among the highest results in Bluetooth headphones).
    • An IPX4 rating is pretty low, considering that some competitors also have dust resistance or are fully waterproof.
    • Competition has overall better call quality or at least more consistent, regardless of the ambient noise.

    Here’s their value rating compared to similar alternatives:

    Are they worth the price?

    Costing around $40, SoundPEATS RunFree look and feel classier than some alternatives, and provide more features. If you don’t might that they don’t have the best sound available, they’re well worth buying.

    SoundPEATS RunFree alternatives

    TOZO OpenReal

    TOZO OpenReal for workout

    OpenReal have a fuller sound and a much greater resolution in treble, providing an experience even an audiophile could enjoy.

    Moreover, they have a similar battery life of 12 hours, a better indoor Bluetooth range of 65 feet, and a high IP rating (IPX8). But they aren’t as comfy and use a unique charging connector.

    TOZO OpenReal review

    SoundPEATS RunFree Lite

    SoundPEATS RunFree Lite on a wall

    While having a slightly fuller bass, they lack the detail present in the non-Lite version. They’re still good enough for outdoor activities.

    Their body is more plasticky but equally as stable and comfortable. Also, they have a 20-hour battery life, which is 7.5 hours more than in the RunFree model. Most importantly, the Lite version sells for less than $40 ($20 used).

    SoundPEATS RunFree Lite review

    What’s in the Box?

    SoundPEATS RunFree accessories
    • SoundPEATS RunFree air conduction headphones
    • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
    • Use manual

    Specifications

    Type: Air conduction
    Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 16.2mm dynamic
    Frequency range: n/a
    Impedance: n/a
    Weight: 1.09 ounces (31 grams)
    Mic & Controls: Yes
    Water resistance: IPX4
    Battery life: 12.5
    Charging time: 1.6h – USB-C
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
    Wireless range: 60 feet (18.3 meters)
    Microphone: Dual microphones

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