With the Blue Byrd ANC 2nd Generation, Beyerdynamic adds discreet noise cancelling to its neckband headphones and thus increases the attractiveness of this enormously comfortable product, which is characterised by high practicality and powerful sound for mobile and sporting use.
- Wearing comfort
- Sound quality
- Sound personalisation
- USB audio
- Discreet noise cancelling
- No customisable equalizer
Beyerdynamic’s Blue Byrd enters its third incarnation since its launch in 2019. These Bluetooth neckband headphones with sound personalisation now come with integrated noise cancelling.
The actual headphones are identical to the Blue Byrd 2nd Generation, except for the added noise cancellation. They have decent workmanship and a subtle black design. At 33 grams, they are light as a feather – and this is especially true of the fitting pieces, which fit perfectly in your ear.
The elastic neckband holds the battery and the electronics. Technically, the equipment is appropriate to its price with Bluetooth 5.2, Multipoint with two transmitters, noise cancelling with transparency mode, voice assistant (Alexa, Siri), Google Fast Pair and the audio codecs SBC, AAC, aptX and aptX Adaptive. There is also a built-in microphone, and this is supposed to deliver good voice quality with the help of Qualcomm cVc. They are operated via controls on the headphones and the “MIY” app for iOS and Android.
Wearing comfort of the Beyerdynamic Blue Byrd ANC
The wearing comfort of the IPX4-certified Beyerdynamic Blue Byrd ANC 2nd is excellent. The flat ear tips fit securely in the ear and stay in, even during sporting activities. Nor do they bother the wearer they are when lying down. Thanks to five silicone fitting pieces, which are included in the package, you can definitely find a good seal in your ear canal for the best possible bass reproduction.
One advantage of this design: the earpieces can be easily removed from the ear and then dangled around the neck. Meaning there is no need for stowing away in charging cases or hunting for carrying bags. The only thing that bothered me was that the backs of the fitting pieces do not magnetically adhere to each other, in the way that is offered by some competitors.
Operating the Beyerdynamic Blue Byrd ANC
The controls are distributed on both sides: The left button switched the headphones on and off – unfortunately, there was no automatic switch-off. This button also takes care of the noise cancelling (on, transparency mode, off – supported by voice announcements). This can also be called up in different languages or switched off.
A small 3-button remote control is located on the right side between the neckband and the earpiece. Here, there are the controls for Start/Stop, handling phone calls, track skipping, fast forward and calling up the voice assistant. The outer buttons control the volume. With a little practice, the operation was smooth.
Battery life of the Beyerdynamic Blue Byrd ANC
I would describe the battery life as practical. The manufacturer states it as being up to 14 hours. However, this value was measured without using ANC. If noise cancelling was activated, the battery life was reduced to about eight hours. In practice, the device we tested comfortably lasted long enough for several long walks and would, therefore, also be suitable for longer train and plane journeys.
The manufacturer specifies a charging time of around 1.6 hours, and a quick-charge function is provided for “intermediate refuelling”. This uses the USB-C interface on the right side of the neckband. Inductive charging, i.e. wireless charging, is not possible.
The Bluetooth wireless connection worked reliably in our test in combination with an iPhone 8 and covered several rooms.
Further functions are provided by the free app “MIY”. These include the ability to make firmware updates (status: 1.01), as well as an equaliser with five pre-sets (bass boost, speech, etc.), but unfortunately, this cannot be configured by the user. That was a pity because I missed having a controllable, pure treble boost. Finally, statistics functions offer control over the duration and level of your music consumption.
MOSAYC sound personalisation
Like the previous model, these headphones offer sound personalisation from Mimi Defined called “MOSAYC”, this was supposed to adapt the sound to the user’s ears. Various test tones are played, and the user must then confirm the audibility of these through a masking background noise – this was done for each ear. A hearing profile is then created based on the user’s input and the user’s age. This correction aims to compensate for hearing deficiencies.
It is difficult to say whether this is really accurate because I found the measurement process rather subjective for various reasons. It was all too easy to confirm hearing sounds because you have done it before. Therefore, you end up setting the playback and noise level quite arbitrarily.
A correction curve can be imposed on the music signal with variable intensity, with quite distinct results. In this way, the system creates a more open treble range and a positive emphasis on the lower frequencies, as long as you don’t use the full travel of the control. The effect, although more complex in its implementation, could be compared to an adjustable loudness function; at least, that was my view. However, this was accompanied by a level increase, which hardly makes real A/B comparisons possible. Unfortunately, the ability to switch between different listening profiles for different users was not offered.
How effective was the noise cancelling?
The noise cancellation in these headphones increased the sound distance beyond the already good passive isolation and thus created an extended quiet space to separate you from the noise of the city and public transport. The noise cancelling was only switchable, and its intensity was rather discreet. Ambient noise was reduced. This was not too drastic, but it was consistent so that you don’t completely lose contact with the outside world and don’t feel a diving bell effect. I found this quite appealing for use in the office. This was particularly effective in addressing lower frequencies. Compared to the specialised systems from Sony, Apple or Bose, Beyerdynamic’s solution was rather simple and less efficient. I would at least have liked to see a higher intensity level of external isolation. Another disadvantage: the circuit was audibly noisy and slightly degraded the sound quality in the mids and highs.
The transparency mode, which was also rather restrained, offered the usual convenience of allowing outside noise to reach the drivers, and this also facilitated communication when you have the headphones on.
Sound of the Beyerdynamic Blue Byrd ANC
The headphones sounded coherent as well as punchy and were simply comfortable to wear. This is something that few other headphones in this price range can boast.
As already mentioned, the sound personalisation made a clearly audible impact on the sound. You should steer clear of the idea of trying to find the “truth” here. I think of the app’s sound personalisation slider as more of a variable loudness control that adds richness and punch to the sound, and to me, this sounded quite beneficial up to the mid-range, especially in mobile use. Above that, it was a little too powerful, at least for my liking.
This resulted in a powerful and high-level sound image that was not neutral in the audiophile sense, but it gave me a lot of listening pleasure. In the bass, these headphones go down deep while still retaining their contour. Beyerdynamic also hit the right note in the mid-range and positioned acoustic, electrically amplified and electronic instruments and voices in the limelight. Dynamics, tonality and detail resolution were also good for the price range. This also applied to the treble range and the stereo panorama: the resolution was appealing. No harshness was noticeable, but as expected, neither was the brilliance of more expensive designs – in that sense, there was “still room to improve”.
If required, the current Blue Byrd even work as a USB output device on a computer. Thus, the sound of a MacBook Pro (macOS Sonoma) could be routed directly to the headphones via USB. Lossy Bluetooth codecs were bypassed in the process.
Telephoning with the Beyerdynamic Blue Byrd ANC
Finally, I would also like to praise the voice quality during phone calls. My own voice came across clearly and distinctly to the person I was talking to, and background noise was effectively reduced thanks to Qualcomm cVc noise reduction. If the level of external isolation is too high when speaking, you can activate the “Sidetone” option, which sends your voice to the drivers via the microphone during phone calls.
Comparison with the previous model
As mentioned, the Blue Byrd ANC 2nd Generation is identical to the previous model except for the supplementary noise cancelling. If this was used, the runtime was reduced. Nevertheless, the addition of ANC and transparency mode can be described as added value because the price of these headphones has remained identical!
In this version with noise cancelling, Beyerdynamic’s Blue Byrd neckband headphones don’t make any rapid leaps forward, but at the same price, they still deliver impressive wearing comfort, practical battery performance and a surprisingly good, powerful sound that sets itself apart from many competitors thanks to sound personalisation. The noise cancelling also represents added value, even if the rather subdued design does not perform on a par with specialists. In summary, Beyerdynamic’s Blue Byrd ANC 2nd Generation offer a coherent and attractive package that is particularly recommended for mobile and sports use. However, we would welcome some improvements to the app from the manufacturer.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 28.000 Hz
What's in the box
- 5 pairs of ear tips (XS, S, M, L, XL)
- USB cable (type A to C)
- Hard case
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX and aptX Adaptive