We were recently sent the Dottir Freedom On-Grid buds and the Sennheiser Sport True Wireless earphones. Priced at $149 and $129 respectively, both the buds lie in more or less the same price range. A pair of buds that lie in this range is ideal for anyone who wishes to upgrade a little without breaking their bank. Let us look at both of them in detail.
Dottir Freedom On-Grid Earbuds
The Dottir buds have an interesting background. Designed by professional cross-fitters Katrin Davidsdottir and Annie Thorisdottir, the buds are designed for athletes who wish to stay motivated with the help of powerful, bass-heavy music. The buds attempt to achieve this by featuring active noise cancellation and a secure-fit ear hook to retain the bass in your ears. Dottir’s latest buds also sport a water resistance rating of IPX7 so they can handle the sweatiest of workouts. Moreover, on paper, they grant a playtime of up to 72 hours making sure they don’t give up on you in the middle of an intense session.
Dottir didn’t skimp on its packaging at all. The company went all out in terms of accessories providing 12 extra ear tip sizes, a cleaning cloth, a storage pouch and a Type-C cable apart from the carry case housing the buds. The 12 extra eartip sizes are great news for people with unusually small noggins like mine who have a hard time trying to fit earbuds.
The Dottir buds feature a large ear hook design that goes around your ear before going inside. This has both its pros and cons. Fit-wise, I was extremely satisfied. The buds stayed glued to my ears during my hour-long workout session. However, since the buds feature an ear-hook design, they don’t go inside your ear canal as much as regular buds would. This may be a problem for users who have noisy daily commutes as the buds don’t lock the sound in very well.
The Dottir buds feature both touch and physical controls. You will find a single multi-function button responsible for controlling the volume and skipping between tracks. The touch controls allow you to play or pause music, accept or decline calls and activate voice assistance. The physical control is designed well; it is well-sized and allows easy navigation. However, the touch controls can get a little tricky to deal with. There were plenty of missteps during my usage of the buds.
Dottir’s Freedom headphones paired to my phone within a few seconds and offered a stable connection throughout. The buds offer a pretty impressive ambient mode which, unlike a number of other earphones, was significantly different from the noise-canceling mode. I could clearly tell the difference between both the modes and that’s pretty impressive. The ambient mode allowed me to stay aware of my surroundings really well while the noise-canceling mode attempted to block out all sound. However, because of the reason stated earlier, the noise reduction wasn’t massive. Overall, the buds were heavily inclined towards the low-end. They emphasized bass pretty well and I found them perfect for my bass-heavy music session at the gym. However, listening to my favorite podcast on the way to the gym wasn’t as enjoyable. Hence, I’d only recommend these if you’re a fan of low-pitched music.
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless
The Sennheiser buds come with the promise of a secure customized fit and an IP54 rating which is good enough for resisting dust, splashes of water and sweat. The Sport True Wireless also offers, in theory, a play time of up to 27 hours. Unlike the Dottir buds, these buds do not offer noise canceling. However, they do offer users to tweak the sound experience to some extent. With the adaptable acoustic feature that these buds host, you can choose between an open or closed ear adapter. The former allows you to stay aware of your surroundings while minimizing the sound of your breathing, just as ambient mode works. The latter completely blocks out all external sound similar to how ANC works.
The Sport True Wireless buds look like little rounded squares of plastic which gives them a thick and bulky feel. Bulky doesn’t always mean unappealing though, which is true in this case. Even though Sennheiser doesn’t make use of glass for its latest pair of buds, the Sport True Wireless manages to look sophisticated in plastic too. Featuring just the Sennheiser logo emblazoned on the front, they’ve been designed pretty minimally.
The charging case also features a couple of changes. The carry case hosts a loop on the left for the lanyard, that comes as a part of the package, to go through it. Moreover, the Type-C charging port at the back of the case, which is typical of wireless buds, features a built-in flap for closure. Both of these features, though small, ensure increased safety of the carry case.
The Sport True Wireless features fins sticking out from the side and a number of extra fins and tips of varying sizes as a part of the package. All thanks to my unusually small noggin, I often struggle with getting earbuds to stick tight to my ears, especially during an intense workout session or during my daily morning run. The generous supply of fins and tips made sure to provide me with at least two comfortable combos that hugged my ears tight and didn’t even slightly budge. Overall, the buds are light, comfortable and snug.
I found the controls on the Spot True Wireless pretty straightforward and intuitive. Double-tapping the left piece will take you to the previous track and performing the same action on the right bud will skip the current track for you taking you to the next one. Pressing and holding the former will lower the volume and the latter will raise the volume. To play or pause your music, and accept or decline a call, simply tap once on any of the buds. I found myself getting used to the controls on these fairly fast. The touch panels are sufficiently sensitive and respond pretty quickly.
Just like the Dottir Freedom buds, the Sport True Wireless is heavily inclined towards the low-end. The bass is punchy and powerful and could be felt in my throat. I listened to my favorite bass-heavy song, Low Life, on these and that was quite an experience. Being a huge deep-house fan, I had a great time testing these. Do It Again, by Steely Dan, being a high-treble song didn’t sound as nice, though. I was initially a bit skeptical about the acoustic features that these buds host and thought of them as mere marketing gimmicks. However, they pleasantly surprised me. The closed-ear adapter setting blocked out pretty much all the noise that my washing machine and dishwasher were together producing, and that’s huge. The open-ear setting allowed me to stay aware of external sounds which are always incredibly helpful to ensure safety when I’m heading out.
Is It Hardcore?
The Dottir Freedom On-Grid buds and the Sennheiser Sport True Wireless are both pretty decent buds. The former offer excellent water resistance, great bass and impressive noise cancellation. Their controls could use a little more work though. The latter provides comfort, quite dominating bass and intuitive controls. The treble could be further tuned to make them perfect. So, think hard about what your priorities are and use that knowledge to make an informed decision.