The Soundpeats RunFree Lite are a cheap set of air conduction headphones that offer surprisingly bright, customizable sound from a design that makes them ideal for runs and workouts.
- Delivers good power
- Pleasingly light design
- EQ mode in companion app
- Overall sound profile not super detailed
- Buttons sit too close to each other
- Odd design discomfort with longer use
- Bluetooth multipointCan connect to two devices at once
The Soundpeats RunFree Lite are a set of very affordable air conduction headphones aimed squarely at runners but made for anyone who needs some audio company during exercise time.
Along with an open-ear design to keep you aware of your surroundings, Soundpeats promises powerful sound, impressive 17-hour battery life from a design that’s fit to handle some sweat and rain.
Now there’s not exactly a massive shortage of headphones built for sport right now, but most do sit at a more expensive price point than the RunFree Lite. Has this small Chinese brand managed to trump the pricier competition?
The Soundpeats RunFree Lite is available to buy from Amazon where you can pick them up for £34.99 / $29.99. That massively undercuts most of the big name bone conduction headphones including the Shokz OpenRun, OpenRun Pro, Haylou PurFree BC01 and the Naenka Runner Diver.
- IPX4 water and sweat resistant design
- Onboard physical controls
- Weighs 28g
If you’ve picked up a pair of air or bone conduction headphones before, the design of the RunFree Lite will feel familiar. It’s a neckband look with physical buttons on one side and an open ear approach that channels sound towards your ears via transducers without blocking them like in-ear or on-ear headphones.
The good news is that they’re light, weighing in at just 28g, so put that up against a pair of Shokz OpenRun (26g) for example, and they weigh roughly the same and never feel bulky to wear. Soundpeats doesn’t go as strong on the water and sweat resistance. It’s an IPX4 design though, which means it can fend off some sweat and light rain. I used them on runs in light rain and for treadmill and general home and gym workouts and I’ve not experienced any performance or drop-out issues.
There are three physical buttons on the right side of the headphones, letting you turn the headphones on and off, and a mix of taps and presses to activate features such as volume control, skipping tracks, handling calls, switching between two calls, and enabling a game mode. My one criticism here is that while the buttons are a good size, they feel too close together and when I was on the move, and it felt challenging at times to quickly differentiate between them. Separating the on/off button and volume buttons would be the way to go in the future.
Comfort-wise, they’ve been fine. They are very light, and I generally forgot they were on, though I have noticed on the odd occasion during much longer use (over an hour) that I experienced a little rubbing from the grilled areas on the headphone arms. It wasn’t all the time, and it didn’t hurt, but it was something I picked up on.
When it comes to charging, there’s a little latch below where the buttons that thankfully doesn’t feel too flimsy and that it might wear badly over time. It does come with a case as well if you don’t want to sling them into your gym bag to complete a pretty solid package overall on the design front.
- Bluetooth multipoint support
- 17 hours of battery life
Soundpeats uses Bluetooth 5.3 to make sure those connections are stable and fast, and also offers multipoint sharing, letting you switch between two paired devices, and it worked as well too.
In terms of battery life, Soundpeats talks big numbers. It claims the 130mAh capacity battery will get you up to 17 hours and take 1.6 hours to charge up from 0-100%. That would suggest bigger battery numbers than a whole host of air conduction headphones. The Shokz OpenRun Pro and Naenka Runner Diver both promise up to 10 hours to put that into context.
In real terms though, I’d say those battery estimates are generous and they deliver something on par with Shokz and Naenka. For hour-long workouts with the volume set reasonably loud, the battery dropped by 10%.
That would suggest the battery is more towards that 10-hour mark than 17. I’m sure if you listened at lower volumes, you’d get closer to that mark, but I think most will likely see it match the competition for battery performance.
- Bright but not immaculate sound quality
- EQ included in companion app
I’d say out of the box, you don’t get the best of what these surprisingly bright and peppy-sounding air conduction headphones have to offer. That’s arguably because Soundpeats doesn’t do a great job of highlighting the accompanying Soundpeats app, which isn’t essential, but does offer better control over the sound profile and a better idea of battery drain if you’re not using it with an Android device.
With the Soundpeats classic EQ mode there’s no denying they sound a little on the muddy side and they certainly don’t rival headphones from the likes of Shokz and Haylou for clarity and detail. You do have some power and warmth here, which you wouldn’t really associate with air or bone conduction headphones in general.
Jump into the companion app and you can pick from 8 different EQ presets as well as dedicating gaming listening mode or use the custom equalizer and address some of that muddiness and place a bigger emphasis on a more finessed sound, with smoother mids and something less harsh sounding on the treble front to get a more enjoyable and balanced sound profile.
Crucially, the volume doesn’t struggle when you need to battle more exterior noise, whether that’s traffic or the sound of the stereo system in the gym. I never felt like they were terribly drowned out and I also felt pretty aware of my surroundings at the same time. It’s a similar story for handling calls as well. Play around with that EQ and while you won’t get the best call quality you’ll find on a set of air conduction headphones, it’s still more than capable on that front.
Should you buy it?
You want cheap air conduction headphones for exercise that sound pretty good: The RunFree Lite offers surprisingly well-rounded sound once you’ve played around with the EQ settings in the companion phone app to get it.
You want air conduction headphones with crystal clear sound: While you do have that EQ to improve things on the sound front, those seeking better definition and balance will have to spend more to get it.
I was fully expecting the Soundpeats RunFree Lite to be cheap and not very cheerful so was surprised to find they can deliver pretty good sound that you can tinker with as well to better suit your preferred workout playlists.
They’ve been comfortable to wear most of the time as well and while they don’t seem to match those lofty battery claims, they do match the competition and for less money. If you want a cheap pair of air conduction headphones for exercise and will take customisable sound over the clearer, more balanced sound you get from pricier sets, then these are well worth picking up instead.
How we test
We test every set of headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested for several days
Tested with real world use
Battery drain conducted
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The RunFree Lite have water and sweat resistance up to IPX4, which isn’t as strong as other air/bone conduction headphones.
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