The modular nature of the Fairbuds XL is a welcome change in nowadays of obvious deliberate redundancy in merchandise. It’s not nearly that although, as they ship strong audio efficiency with the added bonus of respectable noise cancelling.
Fairphone is a model normally related to ethically and environmentally pleasant smartphones. These gadgets, such because the latest Fairphone 4, buck the present pattern of irreparable handsets that dominate the tech panorama – or ought to that be landfill? – by making them modular, permitting just about the whole lot to get replaced.
It would even promote you the spare components straight so that you don’t need to scour eBay or AliExpress for reasonable knockoffs which will or could not match.
Now, the model is popping its consideration to the over-the-ear headphone market with its Fairbuds XL – the title a play on the phrase excel somewhat than denoting an additional giant measurement. So, do they sound nearly as good as their intentions? Let’s have a pay attention.
Design & Construct
Intelligent modular building
Stitching a bit messy
Fairphone presents the Fairbuds XL in two distinct liveries. There’s the usual black that adorns most headphones, however in the event you’re feeling a little bit extra colourful, then there’s the inexperienced pair like those I’ve right here.
In addition to the general two-tone impact, there’s additionally some black, pink and white dapples on the skin of the ear-cups, including a little bit Jackson Pollock to proceedings and a sign of the eco-friendly building. It’s all neat and fairly cool if you would like one thing extra fascinating than flat black.
The scarf and cushioning are coated in vegan leather-based, as are the cups. It’s tender and cozy, though the outer stitching is a bit messy the place the headscarf meets the metallic bands that home extendable arms. This could possibly be down to those being pre-production examples although, so be sure you verify this space in the event you intend to purchase these headphones.
The arms themselves are plastic, as are the outer chassis of the ear-cups, however they really feel sturdy and don’t flex in ways in which would alarm. The precise cup is residence to the controls, that are made up of a button for switching between the assorted ANC and pairing modes.
Beneath it is a gold mini-joystick management which can be very acquainted to anybody who has ever seen or used sure Marshall headphones, such because the Marshall Monitor II ANC. This may be pushed both up or down to manage the amount or left and proper to skip tracks, whereas urgent it in and holding to energy on or off. It’s a good way to pack loads of choices in a tiny house.
You’ll additionally discover a USB-C charging port on the underside of the cup, plus just a few indicator lights to let if the battery is operating low or when the XLs are in pairing mode. Sadly, there’s no 3.5mm jack, so in the event you have been hoping to make use of a wired connection you’ll want a special set of cans.
The arms are hinged although, so you’ll be able to fold the headphones for storage within the supplied waterproof bag.
After all, the primary promoting level of the Fairbuds XLs is the modular building. With these headphones, just about any piece will be changed, which means that you simply gained’t have an costly set of cans change into unusable simply because an inexpensive plastic half fails. I can let you know that this is a superb method, as my very own Marshall Main III headphones suffered this precise destiny.
Even after contacting buyer companies a number of instances, all in the hunt for a small bit that might have value subsequent to nothing, I used to be instructed that the corporate didn’t promote spares, and that I ought to mainly purchase a substitute set of headphones. Appalling service from the Marshall headphones workforce, however this shouldn’t be a difficulty with Fairphone.
The headphones will be disassembled with a small Phillips-style screwdriver, and the cable that attaches to the cups has a USB-C connector at every finish, making it a easy job to plug and unplug.
Checking the Fairphone website, it appears that evidently the costs are truthful certainly, with issues just like the arms that connect to the cups costing round €20 (all costs are listed in that forex), the batteries are the identical, whereas the costliest half is the correct speaker module at €80 because it additionally homes the controls.
Fairphone makes an enormous deal of its dedication to the setting too, with the corporate utilizing 100% recycled aluminium and plastic for the development. To not point out that it pays its employees a residing wage, which isn’t one thing that could possibly be stated for many outsourced processes in tech corporations.
So, they’re good high quality headphones, which shouldn’t make you are feeling responsible about their manufacturing which is refreshing nowadays. Oh, and I ought to have talked about that they’re additionally IP54 rated, so that they’ll survive the rain with out testing.
Sound High quality & Options
Ambient mode can battle in windy circumstances
After all, not one of the moral practices can be value that a lot if the product isn’t any good. Fortunately, that isn’t the case with the Fairbuds XL.
The headphones they maintain on fairly tightly, which could be a little uncomfortable for individuals who put on glasses and intend on lengthy listening periods. However, the upside is that you simply get an enclosed house wherein to listen to your audio content material, with little in the best way of noises from the encompassing setting.
Sound high quality is excellent, with a pleasant steadiness of frequencies throughout the board, all emanating from the 40mm drivers inside every speaker. If I’m being super-picky, then the higher mids really feel barely much less outstanding than others, however that could possibly be extra because of the guitar-heavy music I take heed to which requires these frequencies to actually come out.
It’s marginal, so don’t let that put you off, I nonetheless loved the music and benefitted from the wealthy tones of the Fairbuds XL. Plus, my ears have spent a few years just a few ft away from enthusiastic drummers, so it could possibly be me somewhat than the headphones.
There’s an accompanying app, referred to as Fairsound, which provides you entry to 4 EQ settings, however I didn’t discover an enormous distinction between all of them. Sadly, you’ll be able to’t regulate the settings manually, so that you’re caught with what Fairphone has selected the presets.
Quantity will get up loud sufficient to do some harm, so possibly go simple on that half in the event you don’t wish to be mistakenly mis-hearing frequencies later in life like some folks. However, there’s no have to deafen your self to drown out nearby-noise, because the Fairbuds XL options lively noise cancellation (ANC).
Merely tapping the button on the correct cup will interact the know-how, with a notification letting what mode you’re in. The ANC is respectable, though you shouldn’t count on absolute silence in the event you’re in a very noisy place. Saying that, it’ll take the sting off the din and offer you some blessed reduction, which is par for the course at this value level.
The ambient mode makes use of the microphones on the headphones to introduce a low stage of sound out of your environment, making it helpful in the event you’re ready for an announcement or simply need to pay attention to what’s happening round you. It really works nicely however, because of the microphone placement, it does battle when it’s windy. Naturally, you’ll be able to change the ANC off at that time, and change it again on once more as soon as the climate improves.
The Fairbuds XL do assist twin connectivity with gadgets (being actively paired with two on the identical time) however it may be a little bit clumsy in getting it going. Principally, when you’re related to at least one gadget, press and maintain the ANC button to re-enter pairing mode.
Though it says it has disconnected to the primary one, that’s not true, and when you pair the second gadget you’ll have the ability to change between them simply by simply hitting the play button on both gadget. Hopefully, this can be made a bit tidier by way of a software program replace.
Battery Life & Charging
800mAh detachable battery
As much as 30 hours listening time
Cheap recharge instances
Fairphone matches an 800mAh battery within the XLs, with the added bonus that it’s replaceable if it ever develops an issue or reaches the top of its pure lifespan.
The capability additionally delivers an extended quantity of play time, with the corporate promising as much as 30 hours of playback with out ANC, with that determine dropping by about 5 hours if the noise cancelling is enabled.
Clearly, I couldn’t take a look at that in a single sitting, however throughout my two weeks with the headphones I solely needed to recharge them as soon as, which sounds about proper as I used to be utilizing them about two or three hours a day.
Getting again to 100% took round an hour, so that you gained’t have to attend too lengthy to get them again in motion.
Value & Availability
Fairphone launched the Fairbuds XL headphones on 11 Could, though they’re solely accessible in mainland Europe and the UK, so US prospects would wish to import them from any taking part retailer.
Costs are in step with different high quality over-the-ear headphones with ANC, at £219/€249 (approx $277).
This places them within the vary of the superb Razer Opus which you’ll be able to decide up for round $269/£200 or the Sennheiser HD 450BT headphones ($200/£150), each of which characteristic ANC however not the moral benefits supplied by Fairphone.
Try extra choices in our greatest headphones and finest noise cancelling headphones charts.
In purely sonic phrases, the Fairbuds XL won’t have the ability to duke it out with different premium headsets, however they nonetheless ship fulfilling audio that may please most customers.
The ANC is sweet, if not class-leading, and the battery life is nice. It’s a pleasant bundle that delivers nicely on its ambitions.
What it is advisable to issue into the pricing right here is the power to repair just about something that goes improper. In case you’re the type of individual that wishes to make use of the identical tech for years, then Fairphone could possibly be the perfect headphones for you, particularly in the event you’re on the lookout for an moral choice, as they’re skinny on the bottom.