‘Surprise!’ say the Liquid Ears Wire Frees, ‘cheap headphones are good now!’

I know. I don’t get it, either. I picked up the Liquid Ears Wireless Over-Ear Wire Frees at my local Big W fully expecting some kind of disadvantage.

They cost $35 — I’ve had headphones that cost me about $150 which utterly disappointed me. Surely the price cut would mean sadness, right? That lacklustre sound quality you pray won’t come when you put new headphones on for the first time? You might’ve had this feeling when buying headphones with dubious packaging, maybe when you needed a spare set for a trip of some kind?

My teal pair of Wire Frees came out of their minimalist box with big ambition. Sure, the build quality is to be desired — but as I’ve said before, you have to expect cheap plastic when you buy cheap. Beneath the cups I’m worried will split apart is the blood, sweat and tears of drivers so very almost perfect that I completely forget how little these things cost.

Top-tier sound in a cheap, brittle package

I passed them around at the dinner table one night. “How much do you think these cost?” I asked my brother as he finished listening to Better Man by Alice Ivy.

He looked at them and pondered. “$200?”

I gaped. “What makes you think that?”

“They look and sound like it.”

The Wire Frees had managed to sneak the brittle shell past my brother’s notice by their sound quality and comfortable fit. I don’t want this to sound like an advert — I’m not being paid by Liquid Ears. However, I’m genuinely surprised at how sparkly these things sound.

So where did these things come from? Liquid Ears’ Marketing and Content Coordinator Ash Martin told me they released 12 months ago, “and have been a great seller at BigW ever since.”

Can they play A Voice Someone Calls?

Yes. And I haven’t heard the song this ambient since I listened to it on my Bose Quiet Comfort 35s. The heartbeat pounds outwards, and the whirling frequency sits comfortably just behind my ears.

While I don’t believe these headphones are capable of 360 surround — not by a long shot — the typical V is (as expected!) significantly broader than any earbuds I’ve used, and possibly even more than my Audio-Technica ANC500BTs.

The cons

They sound amazing. They look amazing. They’re comfortable to wear. But I’m constantly worried they’re going to break if I’m not super careful with them. They’re not delicate per-se, but they’re definitely not the kind of headphones you can comfortably toss onto your bed without fearing gravity’ll take a toll and crack the shell. The buttons also feel dangerously cheap — clicky, in a bad way.

The box says they’re foldable, and they are. But I don’t want to fold them for fear of snapping an ear cup clean off.

Fast charging on these bad boys is not a thing. They take about two hours to go from 0 – 100% charge if you’re lucky. They can be run without power via an aux cable. However, they do lose significant power when they’re not on.

Specs

  • 20Hz – 20kHz
  • 40mm drivers
  • 99dB ± 3dB at 1kHz sensitivity
  • 400mAh battery, with 25 hours of play time (65 hours of standby)
  • Wireless range of 10 metres

Also included is a USB to micro-USB cable, and a standard aux cable in case you need the wired capability.

Wire Frees are best used for…

Music. They truly do shine here. Every time I put them on, I kick myself for going to JB HiFi to buy my pair of Audio-Technicas.

The only thing I’ve noticed the Wire Frees struggle with is crash symbols — the drums in Casey Edwards’ Bury the Light, unfortunately, get lost in what the Wire Frees believe is static (when it’s primarily crash and high-hats). If you’re not much of a metal or hard-rock kind of listener, these are absolutely perfect, especially for the money you’re spending on them.

Here are some stand-out music tracks with the Wire Frees:

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