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TrueFree F1 Review

Last updated: 1 month ago
9 min read
Editor
rating
3.6
TrueFree F1 on a moss

TrueFree F1 are great for complete awareness and for those who dislike classic earbuds or bone-conduction headphones. They’re rock stable, sweatproof, and offer a long battery life. But don’t expect to be blown away by the sound.

If you’re in the market for sporty headphones that don’t block your ears but don’t want classic earbuds as they constantly fall out of your ears, the TrueFree F1 might be your best bet.

They offer excellent stability thanks to the lightweight ear hook design and they’re open to let you hear everything around you.

While these aren’t the only Bluetooth headphones of their kind, they’re one of the rarest that cost less than $100 and sound pretty balanced. More on that later.

Furthermore, you get lengthy 8-hour battery life and support for Bluetooth 5.3 with an outstanding connection range.

But there are things to dislike. Surprisingly, comfort is one of those things. Nonetheless, let’s go into more detail down below.

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  • Balanced sound, especially the mids
  • Rock-steady fit for intense workouts
  • Outstanding Bluetooth connection range
  • Very little bass quantity and lacking detail
  • Slightly uncomfortable to wear after a while
  • Good battery life of more than 8 hours per charge
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CONTENTS (show more)

    Sound

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    TrueFree F1 are wonderfully balanced throughout the midrange and treble, but they desperately lack bass, making the overall sound quite dull.

    TrueFree F1 are sporty “air-conduction” headphones, essentially placing a 16.2mm driver in front of your ear and blasting sound into it.

    However, while the tuning is almost spot on, they lack bass, which isn’t usually what you want for sports.

    Let’s review the individual category to see if their sound suits your taste.

    Bass: Almost non-existent

    Sports headphones are usually quite bassy, which serves 2 purposes:

    1. It gives you rhythm and energy while exercising, with some statistics suggesting listening to punchy tunes helps you beat personal records.
    2. You hear less bass when you move due to ambient noise and your body shaking the headphones.

    Therefore, it’s strange that TrueFree F1 have minimal bass. Even Skullcandy Push Ultra, true wireless earbuds with a similar open-air approach, had more bass than these.

    In general, what remains of lower frequencies plays fairly controlled. You can easily listen to all genres, but you might feel underwhelmed if you mainly listen to rap or trap music.

    Moreover, don’t expect too many details. Instruments like bass guitars are hard to pick up, let alone listen to individual strings plucking.

    TrueFree F1 speakers
    Sound from the 16.2mm driver is projected through 2 grill-covered holes.

    Midrange: Balanced but a bit dull

    On its own, the midrange feels natural and balanced, providing accurate reproduction of instruments and vocals. There isn’t a hint of sibilance. The mids are easily the best part of TrueFree F1.

    However, due to weak bass performance, the sound lacks that pleasant warmth and fullness.

    Instead, everything sounds dull and lifeless. Electric guitars, while good in tonality, lack that bite that would make you want to shake your head.

    Again, there aren’t many details in the mids, either. However, you usually don’t pay attention to details while working out.

    Treble: Very polite and texture-less

    High frequencies are again quite balanced and inoffensive, playing music in a very smooth manner.

    Cymbal crashes never get too loud, even when the drummer hits them hard, like in “Ordinary Story” by In Flames.

    But, as you already know, the performance isn’t very detailed, and those cymbals lack texture and crispness.

    What I’ve noticed during my testing is that TrueFree F1 have problems with the center channel.

    Sounds that should play in front of you (like vocals and snare drum in most cases) sound quieter than the sounds from the left and right channels.

    This channel issue hurts the imaging the most. It’s inaccurate when placing the sounds in front of you. Playing the intro in “Atlas Stone” by Haken with cymbals floating around your head, they completely disappear in the center.

    TrueFree F1 near water
    TrueFree F1 are perfect for sportspeople (although they lack full water resistance, making them unsuitable for kayaking).

    Furthermore, the soundstage is only average in width. Probably due to that center channel problem as well.

    But the TrueFree F1 only cost $30, so I’m dissecting the sound of these sports headphones a bit too much. Also, their primary purpose isn’t rediscovering your music.

    You also have to consider that this is the best you can get if you want an open but stable design for even the most intense workouts.

    That being said, I think TrueFree could’ve tuned these to produce more oomph, especially with those big 16.2mm drivers inside. But maybe next time.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    TrueFree F1 offer exceptional stability during exercises but can become uncomfortable after a while.

    While other open-air headphones use the shape of regular sunglasses (like Bose Frames), the F1 use a more “traditional” bone-conduction style.

    They use the same rigid neckband design that gently applies enough clamping force to keep headphones steady on your head.

    TrueFree F1 on a person's head
    TrueFree F1 slide in their place on their own, requiring no meticulous adjustments.

    Small silicone bumps on the driver unit’s inner side are there to gently touch your skin and prevent you from touching a hard plastic shell.

    When placing them on top of your head, their ear hook design twists and hugs your ears and gently slides them into their place. So, it’s easy to wear them correctly.

    All of that ensures excellent stability, suitable for even more intense workouts. You can run, jump, or punch a bag; the F1 will not move.

    Of course, you can’t take them to the pool as they’re only rated for IP44 (sweatproof but not waterproof).

    Unfortunately, I encountered some issues with their comfort. Unlike the Orange O Bones headphones that I’ve tested recently, the TrueFree F1 start hurting after around 30 minutes.

    The reason is that the driver housing rests on the outer ear’s part, the tragus. Since it’s made of cartilage, it can start aching when being squeezed for too long.

    In other words, after 30 minutes, you might want to take a break. And people usually workout for longer than that.

    Another thing regarding comfort is the physical controls, which are positioned on the module behind your right ear. However, when you press them, you push the module into your head and awkwardly move entire headphones.

    That forces you to grab the module with two fingers while using the third to press the button.

    TrueFree F1 controls
    Three physical buttons that cover all of the commands.

    Putting the button on top of the module would be much better. That way, a user would naturally put one finger on the bottom, preventing the headphones from moving while avoiding pushing the module into his head.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    TrueFree F1 should survive a little bit of abuse and dripping sweat thanks to IP44-rated water resistance. The included pouch will protect them from scratches and accidental drops.

    TrueFree F1 use a mixture of plastic and rubber/silicone for their construction. Rubber is used for the neckband part, making it highly flexible.

    On the other hand, most of the main unit is made of hard plastic that sounds hollow when knocked on.

    While that doesn’t sound very confident, you shouldn’t worry too much with proper care. If you plan to keep them in the pouch when not in use and avoid throwing them around, they should last a long time.

    The pouch is slightly thicker and has a foam-like material, which will dampen the hit if your headphones fall on the floor.

    TrueFree F1 with pouch
    A carrying pouch is slightly thicker, doing a better job at protecting TrueFree F1 against drops.

    Headphones are rated for IP44 (or IPX4, not sure which one is correct). Nonetheless, that means at least full sweat protection, a must for headphones geared toward sportspeople.

    That said, most sports headphones (or earbuds) go for higher IP ratings. Not sure why TrueFree couldn’t manage to protect the F1 a bit more.

    Maybe because of the tiny rubber flap that covers the USB-C port.

    That could be a potential weak spot since flaps tend to tear after extended use. The port is facing down, so sweat can’t go directly into it, but that’s wishful thinking.

    Battery

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    TrueFree F1 sport a battery life of 8 hours and 17 minutes per charge and support USB-C charging. No official statements on fast charging, though.

    TrueFree F1 Battery Comparison

    TrueFree F1 battery comparison

    Bigger headphones have more space for larger batteries. However, they also typically come with bigger drivers, which use more energy to produce audio.

    In my battery life test, I got:

    • 8 hours and 17 minutes at 50% volume.

    Also, that’s almost 3 hours less than the advertised 11-hour battery.

    While that sound’s more than enough playtime for the entire day, it’s still about average in the “neckband earbuds” category.

    This leads me to believe those 16.2mm drivers have something to do with that. Most in-ear headphones have smaller drivers, which don’t require as much juice.

    Moreover, there’s no mention of fast charging.

    • However, based on specifications, you need around 1.5 hours to charge them from 0-100%.

    Nonetheless, TrueFree F1 will last you throughout the workout session, but you’ll have to recharge them before the next one.

    TrueFree F1 USB-C port
    The USB-C charging port is covered by a tiny rubber flap.

    Features

    Star Rating
    2.5 Average

    TrueFree F1 only offer physical controls with a wide range of commands. But that’s pretty much it, apart from somewhat average mic performance.

    The F1 open-air earphones don’t offer too much in terms of extra features. Since they’re wireless, they provide onboard commands, so you don’t have to touch your phone.

    Thankfully, the array of commands is wide, from volume to playback controls and voice assistants.

    TrueFree F1 controls:

    • Play/pause – one press on the power button
    • Volume up – one press on the volume + button
    • Volume down – one press on the volume – button
    • Repeat/previous track – long press on the volume – button
    • Next track – long press on the volume + button
    • Answer/end a call – one press on the power button
    • Reject a call – long press on the power button
    • Switch between calls – double press on the power button
    • Voice assistant – double press on the power button
    • Disconnect – press and hold volume + and volume – buttons

    One thing that I’ve noticed is that the driver modules stick together thanks to magnets. But I think that is just two big 16.2mm drivers sticking together, not an intentional feature.

    Microphone Quality

    TrueFree F1 mic performance is a bit of a mixed bag, but it should be fine for making quick calls.

    TrueFree F1 Microphone Test

    The call quality is best in a quiet environment with minimal distractions. Mics can pick up your voice with decent clarity, albeit it’s a bit quiet and muffled.

    Moving into a louder area, the noise cancellation for calls kicks in. While it’s pretty effective at reducing noise, it struggles to keep your voice clean.

    The result isn’t terrible, yet noticeably more muffled than before, with some words being hard to understand.

    Nonetheless, you can easily use them for quick phone calls someplace quiet.

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    3.5 Almost Great

    TrueFree F1 produce a comfortable amount of wind noise but can be bothersome to people around you due to sound leakage.

    When using the TrueFree F1, you have 2 big modules placed in front of your ears. Consequently, when you move, the air swirls around those modules, producing wind noise.

    TrueFree F1 up front
    The design isn’t particularly aerodynamic, so you might experience some wind noise when running.

    Thankfully, it isn’t that severe and in line with other bone-conduction headphones. Of course, the intensity of the noise depends on the wind’s speed and how fast you’re moving/running.

    What about sound leakage?

    Due to the open-air design, you can forget about the private listening experience. People around you will hear your music, especially if you plan to use them on public transport or in the gym.

    Also, the outside noise will also bother you. Gyms usually blast loud music, which will affect your listening experience.

    Bluetooth

    Star Rating
    5.0 Perfect

    TrueFree F1 amaze with their excellent connection range, the latest Bluetooth version 5.3, and no audio lag when watching videos.

    Despite costing only around $30, the F1 pack some serious Bluetooth specs.

    Firstly, they’re currently one of the few to offer Bluetooth 5.3, a fresh-out-of-the-oven version. It’s a minor update over the 5.2, yet it should provide a more stable connection.

    I’m saying “it should” because I don’t know of any consumer audio playback device that supports Bluetooth 5.3, so its strength remains to be seen.

    TrueFree F1 listening music
    TrueFree F1 have a superb connection range, so you can leave your phone on a desk when walking around the house.

    Nevertheless, TrueFree F1 use some strong antennas since the connection range is the best I’ve seen. The one pair of headphones that got a similar result are Apple AirPods Max.

    • In my indoor connection test, I can easily walk from one side of the house to the other, passing 2 brick walls and reaching a distance of 65 feet (or around 20 meters).

    And the best thing is that the F1 only stuttered once but continued playing the music till the end. That’s impressive.

    Unfortunately, headphones don’t support multipoint.

    How to pair TrueFree F1?

    • When pairing the TrueFree F1 for the first time, you only turn them on, and they’ll start the pairing process.
    • To pair them to another device, you turn them on while holding the power button until you see a flashing LED.

    They’ll also go into pairing mode if turned on but not connected.

    What Bluetooth Codecs Do They Use?

    TrueFree F1 come with SBC and AAC, a standard set of Bluetooth codecs. At this price, you can’t expect anything more than that.

    Furthermore, due to the design, having a higher-quality audio codec wouldn’t make sense.

    Is There an Audio Lag?

    There’s no visible audio delay when watching videos on social media or YouTube. That applies to both Android and iOS.

    TrueFree F1 on a laptop and tablet
    There is some audio lag when watching videos using TrueFree F1, but it isn’t too distracting.

    On the other hand, the lag is more noticeable when playing mobile games. However, it will only bother users who play lots of competitive shooters.

    Should You Get TrueFree F1?

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    TrueFree F1 open-air earphones will mostly suit sportspeople who like awareness of classic earbuds but want something more stable for workouts. While that makes them a niche product, they definitely deliver on design.

    For the price of under $30, these are worth checking out, especially if you find yourself in that target group.

    Just know that the sound is very light on bass and a bit low in volume, so don’t expect to jam heavy tunes to boost your energy. Also, they can get a bit uncomfortable after some time.

    TrueFree F1 Alternatives

    Orange O Bones

    Orange O Bones on a wooden log

    O Bones are bone-conduction headphones that cost 3-times as much and offer worse sound quality. But you must remember they transmit audio by vibrating your bones.

    Design-wise, they’re both similar, with a stiff neckband and ear hooks to keep them in place. However, the O Bones are comfier for longer listening sessions.

    They also have a comparable battery life of around 11 hours per charge.

    Orange O Bones review

    What’s in the Box?

    TrueFree F1 accessories
    • TrueFree F1 open-air earphones
    • Carrying pouch
    • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
    • User manual

    Specifications

    Type: Open-air
    Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 16.2mm dynamic
    Frequency range: n/a
    Impedance: n/a
    Weight: 0.8 oz (23 grams)
    Mic & Controls: Yes
    Water resistance: IP44
    Battery life: 8h+
    Charging time: 1.5h + USB-C
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
    Wireless range: 65 feet (20 meters)
    Microphone: 1 mic with ENC

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