By Oktay Ozadam
The alarm promptly goes off at 4:00 AM, and you roll out of bed to get ready to head to your workshop for a long day of filling orders. In such a noisy environment, you must continuously utilize earplugs to protect your hearing from potential damages.
This is great and all, but sometimes you wish that you could just listen to music with headphones and still have the same hearing protection. Well with Plugfones Liberate 2.0, now you can listen to your favorite music and still feel protected from the harsh noises made by your shop equipment.
The Liberate 2.0's started as a crowd-funding projectby Plugfones back in March of 2016. The Kickstarter campaign managed to amass over 420,000 dollars from 4,851 backers. The device is an earplug-earbud hybrid that offers hearing protection and a quality listening experience to your favorite music artists.
With such an exciting blend of products, let's find out of Plugfone's Liberate 2.0s are all they're cut out to be.
- Plugfones Review
- A 100% Unique Concept & Design
- Made for Work Protection, But Are They Comfortable?
- A Great Concept with Inconsistent Build Quality?
- How the Battery Compares to What's Advertised
- Is the Sound Quality a Premium Listening Experience?
- How the Included Mic Performs:
- Comparing the Liberate 2.0 With Other Products by Plugfones:
- Which Plugfones are the Best for Me?
- Plugfones Liberate 2.0: Warranty & Return Policy Information
- Where to Purchase the Plugfones Liberate 2.0 & Other Plugfones Products
- Final Thoughts & Considerations:
A 100% Unique Concept & Design
When you look at these earbuds, there's no doubting that they're unique. These headphones look like someone slapped a Bluetooth receiver onto a pair of earplugs and called it a day, but there is a lot more going on with the technical side of things.
These headphones were made for the working person. Like, they are legitimately wireless earplug headphones for work. It's baffling that they offer a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 29 decibels with the Plugfones ComforTiered Foam Plugs technology.
This noise reduction rating was certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and meets the guidelines set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for working in loud environments.
The Liberate 2.0s are designed with comfort in mind featuring soft in-ear tips that you hardly notice whether you're on the job or trying to sleep. This model from Plugfones comes in a black and gray colorway, as well as a blue and yellow colorway.
While Plugfones has other models on the market, the Liberates offer a truly wireless Plugfones experience to the user. Users might ironically call it a liberating experience not to have to worry about a 3.5mm headphone jack to plug into their phone.
NOTE: Although the Plugfones has a Noise Reduction Rating that is approved by the EPA, you must check with your workplace to make sure that you can utilize Plugfones at your job. Simply ask your supervisor what guidelines they observe and make sure it's within the rating as advertised.
Made for Work Protection, But Are They Comfortable?
A lot of products that you need to wear at work might prove themselves helpful but also be an annoying experience. These things include an annoying face mask that gets hot, a hard-hat that shifts around, or perhaps gloves that get super sweaty. Plugfones are made for work, but they don't seem to bring any complaints to the table regarding comfort.
Users say they feel great in the ear and can even be rolled up a bit before insertion to help expand for greater noise reduction capabilities. These will work great for side-sleeping or sleeping in general if you have a partner that likes to perform a snoring concert each night.
A Great Concept with Inconsistent Build Quality?
Although many users state that the Liberate 2.0s function efficiently when brand new, there are a consistent amount of complaints regarding longevity issues. Some users have indicated that their Plugfones will occasionally disconnect from Bluetooth every once in a while to every two seconds.
If it is the latter, then that would prove the headphone side of the Liberates is unusable. Other users have said the actual build quality of the wires and volume control/mic box is lackluster and not worth the price tag.
It is recommended that you double-check the quality and functionality of your Plugfones when you first get them and near the expiration of any return/warranty periods (more on those specifics later in the review).
How the Battery Compares to What's Advertised
Plugfones markets their Liberate 2.0s as possessing the "NeverOut" technology. This implies that the Liberate 2.0s should last anywhere from 12 hours+. However, some users say that they're lucky even to get 8-10 hours of usage.
It would seem the average is a consistent 8 hours of usage, with some pairs getting 12-15 hours of battery life. To avoid any issues, make sure you time the usage of your Plugfones when you first get them to see just how efficient your pair is.
COMMON QUESTION:"Though these are designed for work, could I use the Plugfones Liberate 2.0's for sleeping with my snoring spouse?"
A:Yes. Each pair of Plugfones comes with their SoundSeal noise-suppressing technology which can block up to 29 decibels. The foam tips are designed to be irritation-free and comfortable whether you're on the job or at home in bed.
Your order of the Liberate 2.0s will include a bunch of different foam-tips that are interchangeable. Each option comes with the same noise suppression technology and will undoubtedly block the noise of your snoring significant other.
Is the Sound Quality a Premium Listening Experience?
There's no denying that Plugfones come in at a tier above cheaply made headphones. Because of this, you should expect a much better, crystal-clear listening experience while you work.
The Plugfones deliver a relatively great Bluetooth hearing protection experience.
Although most of the experiences seem to be flawless, there are still some reports of the headphones randomly cutting in and out. The Plugfones may occasionally disconnect from Bluetooth or make a popping noise that interrupts the listening experience. An easy fix to this problem is to turn the headphones off and then back on.
All in all, the sound quality pairs nicely with the physical noise-reducing design, and it delivers users with an intimate piece of technology. The Bluetooth functionality is quite effective. And you only lose connection when you get 50 feet away from your mobile device without physical interruptions (walls and objects).
How the Included Mic Performs:
One of the added features included with the Liberate 2.0s is the IsoTalk noise-isolating microphone. As marketed, this microphone will cut out any excess wind noise while outside and deliver a quality phone-call experience.
Using the Quickdraw Easy Access Control (the box with the volume and pause/play button) allows the user to easily adjust volume, skip tracks, and answer phone calls without needing to pull out your phone.
Comparing the Liberate 2.0 With Other Products by Plugfones:
To get a sense of everything Plugfones has designed before the Liberate 2.0s, here are some other models they offer for sale.
- The Plugfones Basic:
- These headphones are on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of quality. They come with a wired 54" 3.5mm headphone jack connection and weight 11 grams. These headphones are just as compliant as the Liberates when it comes to noise reduction rating.
- However, the basics do not have interchangeable silicone plugs and what is included only reduces noise by up to 25dB. This option is also only included in the traditional blue/yellow colorway… black/gray is omitted.
- The Plugfones Guardian:
- These headphones introduce the SoundSeal technology and the noise reduction rating of 29/27 dB (depending on which foam plug you use, which also means they're interchangeable).
- This model comes in at 54" with a 3.5mm headphone jack connection and weight of 10 grams. In terms of quality, these are a step up from the basics, but not quite on par with the Liberates.
- In terms of colorways, these are available in orange/blue, blue/yellow, and black/gray.
- The Plugfones Guardian+:
- If Plugfones had an option that could match the quality presented by the Liberate 2.0, it would be this one. The Guardian+ includes the IsoTalk microphone, the SoundSeal technology, and the Quickdraw functionality panel.
- The main difference between the Guardian+ and the Liberate 2.0 is simply the fact that the Guardian+ has a wired connection. The connectivity is via a 54" 3.5mm headphone jack and with all the added functionality brings the weight to about 14 grams.
- These headphones come in the blue/yellow, orange/blue, and black/gray colorways. Meaning if you had an affinity towards the orange/blue colorway, these would likely be favored over the Liberates.
Which Plugfones are the Best for Me?
If you need help deciding which option best suits your budget or specifications, then perhaps this will help clear up your purchasing decisions:
- Get the Plugfones basic if you just want something simple that will slightly reduce noise and offer a decent listening experience.
- Get the Plugfones Guardian if you want a similar listening experience to the Basics, but a more compliant noise reduction rating. It's important to note that this pair also introduces the interchangeable tips.
- Get the Guardian+ if you don't want to shell out the money for the Liberate 2.0s and don't mind the fact that they're wired. All in all, the Guardian+ is virtually the same as the Liberates, just with a wired connection.
- Lastly, get the Liberate 2.0s if you hate headphones with a wired connection and want to feel liberated from your cellular device. The only major concern with this option is the worry about battery life, just remember to ensure the quality of your device's battery upon reception.
Plugfones Liberate 2.0: Warranty & Return Policy Information
When you purchase any of the wired options from Plugfones, your device will be included with a standard 90-day no hassle warranty. Plugfones will happily repair or replace your device if you run into any issues. Plugfones understand that their devices were intended to be in rough/harsh environments.
When it comes to purchasing the wireless Liberate 2.0s, you will find that your device comes with the same standard no-hassle warranty, now with 180 days.
If you run into any issues and require a replacement, visit the Plugfones warranty pagehere.
Where to Purchase the Plugfones Liberate 2.0 & Other Plugfones Products
You can purchase each of Plugfone's products from the following links:
If purchased via their website:
If purchased on Amazon:
NOTE: There is a slight advantage when purchasing through Amazon as Amazon offers a three/four-year protection plan that you can add along with your order. This does, of course, cost money and is only available on the Guardian, Guardian+, and Liberate 2.0 models.
Plugfones has a very accessible price range with their products, allowing virtually anybody to grab a pair that matches their budget. The price ranges from 20-100 dollars and is respectively depending upon which tier of headphones you pick up.
Final Thoughts & Considerations:
Plugfones has certainly presented the market with an interesting and unique concept for a product. Although there appear to be some consistency issues with the Liberate 2.0, most users seem to get an enjoyable experience out of them.
Customers are satisfied whether they use these headphones for work, sleep, or average everyday listening… in fact, one customer commented that they simply liked the industrial look of these headphones and that's why they purchased them.
Overall, I think this is a cool concept for noise-reducing headphones and should be thoroughly tested when you receive them just to make sure their battery-life works as advertised. Thanks to the advantageous warranty and return policy that Plugfones offers, you can check your pair with peace of mind knowing they can be easily returned.
All things considered; this was a creative combination of two everyday products people love to use.
- Comfortable listening experience
- The great audio quality for the price
- Noise reduction that is workplace compliant
- Works for sleeping/blocking out snoring
- Battery life: may not work as advertised (12 hours)
- Drop-in/drop-out Bluetooth connection
- Complaints about cheap quality regarding the Quickdraw box