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Fairbuds XL evaluation: the wonderful noise-cancelling headphones you possibly can repair your self | Headphones

Fairbuds XL evaluation: the wonderful noise-cancelling headphones you possibly can repair your self | Headphones

2023-05-11 05:50:30

On first impressions, the Fairbuds XL are simply one other set of huge, plush noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones. However their novel design permits them to be simply dismantled for easy at-home repairs, making them a few of the most sustainable in the marketplace.

Produced by repairable and Fairtrade electronics pioneer Fairphone, the £219 (€249) headphones observe within the footsteps of the modular Fairphone 4. All merchandise from the corporate are geared toward being higher for the planet, the employees making them and your pockets.

Out of the field they feel and look like a daily set of well-made headphones with properly padded ear cups and a cushioned vegan leather-based headband. However they break down into 9 modular parts utilizing an ordinary small Philips screwdriver, all of that are that can be purchased from Fairphone ought to a repair be wanted down the road.

The Fairphone Fairbuds XL headphones hanging on a stand.
If inexperienced with orange accents isn’t your bag, they’re obtainable in a extra impartial black. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The skin caps unclip, revealing a detachable battery like the great previous days of Nokia dumbphones. The ear cushions twist off for simple alternative once they put on out. If that wasn’t sufficient, the headphones are constituted of greater than 80% recycled plastic, 100% recycled aluminium and tin, and 100% Fairtrade gold, whereas Fairphone tops up the wages of the individuals placing the gadgets collectively to a dwelling wage.

The Fairbuds XL are snug to put on for prolonged intervals with well-balanced weight and good padding. The ear cups swivel a little bit to regulate to the aspect of your head and clamp with simply sufficient pressure to carry them in place. They’re splash resistant in case it rains and fold down for journey, coming equipped with a recycled nylon bag to maintain them secure.

The best ear cup has a noise-cancelling button and a very good management joystick. Press and maintain the stick for 3 seconds to show the headphones on and off, double press to listen to the battery stage. Press it in as soon as for pause/play, left and proper for monitor skip or up and down for quantity. It’s easy and efficient.

The one factor the headphones are lacking in contrast with rivals is a sensor to detect when they’re eliminated to pause the music. However I can reside with out that.


  • Weight: 330g

  • Dimensions: 190 x 180 x 70mm

  • Water resistance: IP54 (splash)

  • Drivers: 40mm

  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 with multipoint, USB-C (charging and audio)

  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX HD

  • Battery life: 26 hours (ANC on)

Strong battery life and multipoint Bluetooth

The joystick and button controls of the Fairphone Fairbuds XL headphones.
The joystick and ANC button make controlling playback and switching modes straightforward. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The battery lasts a very good 26 hours of listening with noise cancelling energetic and absolutely recharges in about 2.5 hours through the USB-C port, which doubles as a wired audio enter too. An non-compulsory USB-C to three.5mm cable is obtainable from Fairphone for €12.95, however there isn’t a analogue 3.5mm socket on the headphones.

The headphones have Bluetooth 5.1 with multipoint, that means they will join to 2 gadgets on the identical time. They assist the usual SBC and AAC Bluetooth audio codecs, but additionally assist Qualcomm’s top quality aptX HD, which is frequent on Android telephones.

Name high quality in quiet environments is great. They had been nonetheless fairly clear in noisier locations, suppressing background sounds effectively, however my voice broke up barely round actually loud sounds.

Good noise cancelling and sound

The app for changing settings on the Fairphone Fairbuds XL headphones.
The Fairsound app for Android and iPhone lets you change sound profile, order spare components and handles updates. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Fairbuds XL have surprisingly good sound for a brand new entry into headphone market, helped by the corporate’s collaboration with pro-audio tuning agency Sonarworks.

On their default “Amsterdam” profile, they produce a properly spherical sound with fairly deep bass, properly heat mids and detailed highs. They deal with advanced tracks effectively with good separation between tones and render most music genres with aplomb. They’ll sound a little bit slender and scientific at occasions, missing a little bit rawness or aggression with some tracks, however total they’re properly tuned.

There are a number of different sound presets to select from within the app, however not a full equaliser. The sound is barely affected by the noise cancelling when energetic, sounding a bit wider with greater bass with it turned off.

The noise cancelling is respectable, dulling the rumbles and noise of a commute effectively. Sounds coming from sure instructions had been dealt with higher than others, which was noticeable when turning your head. They handle greater pitches similar to typing and background chat in an workplace a little bit higher than many, however can’t fairly replicate the cone of silence produced by the most effective within the enterprise from Bose and Sony.

The ambient sound mode is cheap, sounding fairly clear if a little bit muted. Definitely adequate to have a dialog or hear out for an alert.


End cap of the right ear cup of the Fairphone Fairbuds XL headphones.
Regardless of being modular, the headphones really feel effectively made and suitably plush. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Fairbuds XL have a two-year guarantee. The battery is predicted to carry not less than 80% of its authentic capability for greater than 500 full cost cycles and may be simply swapped with spares or replacements costing £17.95.

See Also

Different modular parts embrace: a £69.95 proper speaker, £34.95 left speaker, £17.95 headband, £17.95 headband cowl, £13.95 cable, £13.95 ear cushions and £5.95 exterior covers.

The headphones include 100% recycled aluminium and tin, greater than 80% recycled plastics and 100% Fairtrade gold. The agency additionally tops up the pay of its contract manufacturing staff to a dwelling wage.


The Fairphone Fairbuds XL price £219 (€249.95) and are available inexperienced or black.

For comparability, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless price £310, the Sony WH-1000XM5 price £349, the Bose QC45 price £250 and Urbanista Los Angeles price £169.


The Fairbuds XL show that good, wi-fi headphones may be made extra sustainably and in a means that’s straightforward to repair and preserve with out enormous compromises.

They’re effectively made, snug to put on for lengthy intervals, have wonderful controls, the battery lasts a very long time and you would carry a spare one should you needed to. They join to 2 Bluetooth gadgets directly, assist top quality audio requirements and sound nice. They even have fairly good noise cancelling and are climate resistant regardless of being modular.

The headphones lack a sensor to pause the music when eliminated and received’t bother the easiest from Sennheiser and Sony for sound high quality and noise cancelling however they do higher than rivals across the £150-£200 mark.

In impact, you’re paying about £50 extra to be as moral and sustainable as doable together with your headphones buy. However given the components that put on out are available for affordable sums and are straightforward to interchange, they may final considerably longer than different fashions.

The large query is: why aren’t all headphones designed like this?

Execs: respectable sound and noise cancelling, 26-hour battery life and detachable battery, snug, Bluetooth 5.1 with aptX HD and multipoint, USB-C charging and audio, nice controls, modular design you possibly can repair your self with available components, extra moral manufacturing.

Cons: barely costlier than rivals for the design, no 3.5mm headphone socket, no full EQ, no pause on take away.

Fairphone Fairbuds XL headphones folded in on themselves.
The Fairbuds XL fold up neatly for journey, equipped with a recycled nylon carry bag. {Photograph}: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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