SoundPEATS RunFree Lite does not get stuck in the ear canal like in-ear earbuds, but uses a special technology to keep the ear free. This ensures safety while running or cycling, even if the RunFree Lite isn’t the best value sports headphones on the market. But considering less than $30 price and 17 hours of battery life, it’s actually pretty amazing.
SoundPEATS RunFree Lite specs:
- Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC/AAC codec
- IPX4 waterproof rating
- 17 hours playback of per charge
- Support multipoint connectivity
- 16.2mm driver unit
- $29 – Check latest price on AliExpress, Amazon US, Amazon Germany or other Amazon countries
Design and Comfort
As far as appearance goes, the headphone is unremarkable: the speaker housing is matte black and the headband is gray. The small LED on the right provides information about the operating status. Unfortunately, the Runfree Lite doesn’t feel particularly good in the hand – the headband isn’t very soft. The headphones use an air-conduction design that lets users hear their surroundings without activating ambient mode, so they’re primarily aimed at runners and cyclists.
Made from plastic and ‘skin-friendly’ silicone, the Runfree Lite is very light at 27g, making the headphone extremely comfortable to wear. Even for a glasses wearer like me, it doesn’t matter if the temples of the glasses and the RunFree Lite have to share the earlobe. On the other hand, open-ear also means that it will not exert any pressure on the concha cavity or the ear canal, and it will not make the ears feel hot when worn for a long time. Whether you are exercising or not, you can maintain a light and comfortable wearing experience.
Three physical buttons are arranged on the right side, and there is a USB-C charging port at the bottom. The operation buttons are in the recesses behind the ears, and three buttons can be used to control volume, track selection and answer/end calls, as well as activate the phone’s voice assistant.
Connectivity, APP and Control
Bluetooth 5.3 is used for transmission and supports SBC, AAC codec. SoundPEATS also provides a free APP (Android/iOS), which can check the power, adjust the volume, game mode, 9 kinds of preset EQ selection and custom EQ.
In addition, the headphone supports multipoint connections. Simply pair with your first device (A) – disconnect – pair with your next device (B) – then manually connect to device A. Unfortunately, there is no control over multipoint connections in the App, which will drain the battery slightly – so please only use it when you need it.
The control buttons are nice and responsive, but considering the USB-C charging port is at the bottom of the right control panel, that means the button area has to be somewhere else. There are a total of three buttons flanking the right side – the middle one powers the device on when hold down for 3s and acts as the main multifunction button. Short press to start playback or pause (and answer calls), double-tap for voice assistant, triple-tap for game mode, long press for 1.5s to reject calls. Double-tapping while on a call also switches between calls. Other buttons are used for volume control – when you press and hold the volume -/+ button for 1.5s, you can switch songs (previous/next).
Calls and Battery Life
Next to the button is a small LED that flashes white and red when paired and stays white until music is playing. There’s a voice mic hole on the bottom right, which can actually handle calls with no ambient noise, but any wind or constant crowd noise and your call or voice quality will be marred.
Battery life is pretty good — over 11 hours on my first use, and about 17 hours with 60% volume.
Sound Quality and Leakage
A fundamental shortcoming of air delivery – unlike in-ear earbuds – is the inability to build true sound pressure. So “sound pressure” and “bass” aren’t necessarily RunFree Lite’s strong suits. Still, the RunFree Lite is relatively loud.
For example, if I adjust the sound to the normal volume range, and then I am in a quiet environment in the office, the people standing next to me will not be able to tell whether I am playing music. Because he can’t hear the sound of the headphone, he can only hear it when his face is very close.
But if you turn the volume to 100%, others can still hear you listening to music, but your ears should not be able to stand such a loud volume.
Surprisingly, SoundPEATS Runfree Lite can use LDAC codec. While the audio won’t be reference quality given the form factor, it’s actually one of the best air-conduction headphones I’ve tested. The Runfree Lite delivered a smooth, natural sound without the harsh highs that come with such headphones, which was a pleasant surprise.
While the SoundPEATS RunFree Lite aren’t particularly pretty or feel particularly premium, they generally do a good job of what they’re supposed to do. The 17 hours battery life is a surprise. The RunFree Lite are currently on offer on Amazon US at the very competitive price of $30 – A great option for those who don’t want to spend too much on sports headphones.