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Friendie AIR Duo headphones Review
The real sticking point is the relationship between the price of the AIR Duos and the quality of the headphones overall. We think the sound is solid when listening to all kinds of music, and it's not bad for casual gaming too. But the physical design of the headphones isn't on par with similarly priced headphones, and though Freindie pitches these for gaming, there's little to appeal to gamers.
We love Aussie technology here at Reviews.org Australia, and Friendie is a Victoria based brand with an interesting product range, including combo headphones/sunnies. The Friendie Air Duo are the firm’s new top of the line over-ear headphones with focus on stylish sound and a tilt towards gamers. But can these headphones be everything to everyone?
What we like about the Friendie AIR Duos
We weren’t sure what to make of the AIR Duos as we took them out of the box. On the one hand, the Rose Gold design is kind of sleek; similar to a pair of cans you’d get from Beats or Bose. But then you power them on and find a rainbow LED light ring on the sides of the headphones, and a plug in microphone attachment, which isn’t very Bose-like.
But for the RRP of $350 (though you can find them for about $200 online) we were expecting a decent sound, and we weren’t disappointed. The sound was reasonably even overall, though tuned towards the bass, which you tend to find in most headphones these days. This is good because there is no dedicated app for tweaking the EQ levels, just a button on the headphones that toggles a Bass Boost mode on and off.
The earcups are plush and comfortable, and seal well too, offering good noise isolation which really helps to produce a good sound overall. The microphones worked well when we tested them in Discord and on Zoom calls, though we found that you needn’t use the detachable mic arm if you don’t want to. The microphone on the headphones does a decent job.
It is also worth noting that the AIR Duos have an enormous battery, with a 1000mAh capacity, or 54 hours of audio playback, which is double what you might get from other similar models.
What we’d change about the Friendie AIR Duos
The $350 price tag on these headphones positions them among some of the top headphones you can buy today. The same money can buy you a pair of Bose QC35 IIs and another for another $50 you can get the excellent Sony WH-1000MX4s. That’s some stiff competition.
Despite the sharp look of the AIR Duo headphones, and the premium hard shell case they come in, the headphones feel cheaply made. The plastic build doesn’t match the quality of the audio and makes the headphones feel hollow and a bit flimsy. When you push the physical controls on the headphones they make a heavy click that echo through the earcups.
The AIR Duo headphones also lack active noise cancelling, which all other models in this price range offer. This is a major missing feature and limits the use of the headphones to places where the background sound isn’t too loud. These wouldn’t make a great travel companion on a long-haul flight, or even on a busy bus during a peak-hour commute.
As mentioned above, the AIR Duos are designed with gamers in mind, but it’s difficult to see what the pitch to gamers really is. The rainbow-coloured LED lights are a nod in the right direction, I guess, but that’s about it. The AIR Duos include a vibration mode that has the earcups shuddering in step with the lower frequencies, so that explosions rumble in your ears, but this distorts the audio somewhat and makes it difficult to hear the finer sound cues in a competitive online game.
Lastly, someone needs to take a look at the layout of the physical controls before the version 2 release. Not only are all the buttons tightly crammed into a small space, but the order of the controls makes no sense at all. For example, the two centre buttons control both playback and volume, with skip forward and volume up on one button, and skip back and volume down on the other button. To switch between the different EQ modes you need to push the two volume buttons at the same time, which is the bottom of one button and the top of the other. Why you couldn’t have a button for playback and a separate button for volume is beyond me.
The Friendie AIR Duo headphones are a great sound wrapped in a cheap feeling package, and it’s a real shame. You’d argue that the focus is in the right place, but the competition at this price point is too high to overlook the way the headphones look and feel.
The AIR Duos pay lip service to gamers, but don’t truly focus on the things that most gaming headsets usually offer. Headsets at this price support 7.1 surround sound, broadcast quality microphones for streaming and customisable sound profiles to tune the headsets to different games.
The AIR Duo are better tuned for music, and are fine for casual gaming, but struggle to compete with products in the $300 to $400 price bracket. That said, the street price for the AIR Duos seems to be more like $199 (at stores like Kogan) which seems much fairer for what you get.