ISOtunes FREE Aware Earbuds Review True Wireless Hearing Protection

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Don't let heavy machinery spoil your music! With the new ISOtunes FREE Aware earbuds, you can get work done and take calls (loud and clear) while blocking noise and listening to music at the same time. The FREE Aware earbuds use highly isolating tips for cancelling noise without the aid of ANC. The advantage is longer battery life and higher noise isolation.

Being made with safety in mind, the FREE Aware earbuds are designed to be seen. They are made with a "shouty" lime green color and have a bulky design so, they stick out of the ears noticeably. The body shell is made of bright lime green rubbery plastic, while the faceplate is made of glossy plastic with a space like glittery finish. The nozzle is made of metal and has a narrow thread for screwing the tips securely to the earbuds. The FREE Aware earbuds have IP67 resistance rating which should protect against dust, sweat and rain. However, the user manual strangely states not to use the earbuds if they get wet from sweat or rain.
The FREE Aware charging case has a metal hinged lid, which provides a 90 degree opening. The lid closes securely but, the hinge is a bit weak so, it wobbles when moving the case around. The case can be kept upright on a desk with the lid open without falling over. 
On the rear side of the FREE Aware case, there is a passthrough opening for attaching the included lanyard, as well as a reset button and the USB-C charging port. Both the case and earbuds take about 2 hours to fully charge. You can get up to 12 hours of playtime from the earbuds and an additional 24 hours with the case, making it a total of 36 hours on the go. 

The FREE Aware case is made of a rubbery hard plastic finish, which can mark easily with oily fingerprint smudges but wipes clean, just as  easy, with a damp cloth. On top of the lid, there is a large lime green heat transfer decal. The FREE Aware charging case is bulkier and heavier than the original ISOtunes FREE earbuds. The newer FREE Aware case weighs 48 grams and measures 7cm long, 3.5cm thick and 4cm high. While bulky cases aren't ideal, in the case of the FREE Aware earbuds is a good trade off because of the bulky size of the foam tips. You are able to store the earbuds inside the case and close the lid properly, even with the largest foam tips.
The FREE Aware earbuds weigh 7.5 grams each, while the biggest tips you get weigh just 1 gram. The FREE Aware earbuds integrate responsive touch controls for controlling audio playback (play/pause/skip to previous/next) and calls (answer/end/reject/mute mic/ call switching). Volume control is not supported and, there is no app included for button remapping or EQ. You can power on and off the earbuds manually via long press (~5 seconds) and there are a total of 3 gesture controls (single tap, double tap and triple tap).
The short tips and tall tips have a 25dB passive noise reduction rating (NRR) - similar to ISOTunes Link Aware - as well as ambient noise filtering microphones for listening to your surroundings and talking to people without having to remove the earbuds. The ambient mic noise filtering works similar to ANC microphones but have been designed to activate when sensing bursts of noise (above 85dB) to protect your hearing. 
Speaking of noise reduction, the volume has been limited to 85dB, which is a lot lower than regular earbuds but works just as good, thanks to the high passive noise isolation, which amplifies the volume. The sound quality is overall good and there is no latency when watching videos.
Opening the FREE Aware case triggers automatic bluetooth pairing, which means you can connect to the earbuds whilst inside the charging case. You can switch between earbuds for mono listening seamlessly without audio pausing or bluetooth disconnecting. Re-connection is instantaneous so, there is no re-connection delay. 
The status led blinks when playing audio. The FREE Aware earbuds bluetooth 5.2 chip supports SBC and AAC codec and multipoint connection for up to 2 devices. The earbuds also integrate an automatic shut off that will power off the earbuds after 2 hours.

Accessories include 3 sets of TRILOGY long foam tips (S,M,L), 3 sets of TRILOGY short foam tips (S,M,L) and 1 set of triple flange silicone eartips. The foam tips have a sticky-like texture which is really grippy. A short charging cable (unbranded) and a soft fabric lanyard (9cm long) with a adjustable cinch are included. You can buy the FREE Aware (IT-15 model) from ISOtunes and amazon when they become available. Check out the review of the LITE bluetooth in-ear defenders and Free 2.0 earbuds.

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