I tried the running-friendly SoundPEATS GoFree2 open-ear headphones —here's what happened

 SoundPEATS GoFree2 in the case on a tree stump.
SoundPEATS GoFree2 in the case on a tree stump.

The SoundPEATS GoFree2 have an open-ear design to let you hear your favorite songs or podcasts as well as the sounds around you. It's a bit like the AirPods transparency mode, but by using the physical design.

And, like many of the best workout headphones, each bud has an ear hook to keep them in place, whether you're out on a run, taking a walk, or doing high-intensity workouts at home or the gym.

The GoFree2 come in cheaper than other popular open-ear sets, including the Shokz OpenFit, offering similar features for less to make them an appealing set to pick up if they deliver the performance goods.

SoundPEATS GoFree2 review: price and availability

At launch, the SoundPEATS GoFree2 retailed for $84.99 and are available from the SoundPEATS store directly or at plenty of other retailers, including Amazon, where they're often discounted to around $60.

At either price, they cost less than a lot of other open-ear workout headphones, like Shokz OpenFit and the Soundcore AeroFit Pro. But the budget-friendly price also reflects that fairly minimal set of features, as you don't get noise cancellation or spatial audio.

SoundPEATS GoFree2 review: design and comfort

SoundPEATS GoFree2 in a person's hand
SoundPEATS GoFree2 in a person's hand

The GoFree2 don't rely on in-ear fit to keep them from falling out during exercise. Instead, they have ear hooks that are a lot like those you'd find on the Beats Powerbeats Pro. Plus, each bud only weighs 0.3 ounces, so they sit pretty light around your ears.

They adopt a similar design to the Shokz OpenFit, which arguably thrust open-ear designs firmly into the limelight. There aren't many color options, though; your only choice is black. But the appearance is pretty sleek and they're comfortable to wear, even for extended periods.

However, they're only IPX5-rated, so they're not fully waterproof. But they should be able to handle slashes of water, sweat, and some light rain if you're caught out while running or walking.

There are controls on each bud, but they're touch-based buttons, so you need to tap them to change the volume, skip tracks, and accept or reject calls. But this system works better in certain scenarios than in others.

When you’re stationary, they’re responsive for handling calls or skipping tracks, though they can feel a bit too sensitive, especially if you’re wearing them underneath a hat, as anything close to them can set them off. There is an option inside the companion app to entirely turn them off.

SoundPEATS GoFree2 review: sound and call quality

Michael Sawh wearing the SoundPEATS GoFree2
Michael Sawh wearing the SoundPEATS GoFree2

The GoFree2 aren't SoundPEATS' first take on open-ear headphones, as the company previously released the running-focused RunFree, which had a headband to attach the two buds. So the GoFree2 are company's first open-ear wireless workout headphones.

The technical specs suggest that the audio quality should impress, but the reality isn't as impeccable. There's definitely some power, and the open-ear experience is solid on the whole, offering a good balance of your sounds and exterior sounds without severe sound leakage.

Having used them indoors and outside in a range of listening scenarios, they left us with a similar feeling — they don’t really match the brighter, more balanced audio you get from SoundPEATS’ other headphones.

They work well for podcasts and some genres we put them to the test with, but they don't sparkle in the way that SoundPEATS promises, and there are definitely more balanced open-ear workout headphones that can offer a step up in sound quality.

Things don't get much better when using them for calls. You won’t see a boost in clarity and detail on voices, and while you get good volume for calls indoors, it’s more of a challenge taking calls outside when you’re battling more exterior sounds like wind and traffic.

SoundPEATS GoFree2 review: battery life

SoundPEATS GoFree2 in the charging case in a person's hand
SoundPEATS GoFree2 in the charging case in a person's hand

The GoFree 2 buds pack a 60mAh battery that promises to keep you listening for up to 9 hours before you need to drop them into the charging case. A fully charged case gets you a maximum of 35 hours with a USB-C charging port required to top up the charging case.

The case isn't too big and the buds sit neatly inside, and it isn't a chore to get them out either. There’s just a single LED light indicator at the front of the case to show the charging status with a USB-C charging port positioned around the back.

In my listening time, the battery dropped by 10% for an hour’s worth of music streaming, and it took 90 minutes to top them up from zero. You don't get a fast charge mode either. The battery claims pretty much add up, giving you good, but not notable, battery life for the price.

Should you buy the SoundPEATS GoFree2?

The SoundPEATS GoFree 2 are capable, affordable open-ear workout headphones. I never had issues with the fit, as they stayed in place during whatever I threw at them, and the battery lasted long enough to handle even the longest sessions.

Where they came unstuck a little was the audio quality. At this price, they're not going to match premium sets but I expected more. Especially when the Shokz OpenRun have a similar design but sound a lot better. That said, they also cost almost twice the price of the GoFree2.

If you're after a set of buds for outdoor workouts, then it might be worth considering some of the best running headphones instead. These have similar designs, either looped around your head, with an open-ear approach, or have dedicated transparency modes for helping keep aware of your surroundings.