Poly Voyager Free 60+
Poly Voyager Free 60+ Review
I am a fan of Poly products, well, Plantronics headphones and Poly phones and video conferencing equipment. As a refresher, Plantronics and Poly merged, and then HP bought the combined company. Poly makes great hardware that we have given top-notch reviews over the years. They continue their solid hardware tradition with the $329.95 Poly Voyager Free 60+ that packages several innovations in earbuds and case. Most of the innovations work, especially the smart case, but the earbud’s in-ear positioning and split controls may not be for everyone.
Read the Jabra Evolve2 and Poly Voyager Free 60+ Comparision here.
What we like
- Great, next-generation smart, touchscreen carrying case
- Superb sound with good Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
- Bluetooth® 5.3
- Solid codec support, including AAC and AptX
- Audio streaming from the case via 3.5mm to USB-C cable
Let me start by clarifying what I’m reviewing. This is the Poly Voyager Free 60+. This series comes in several versions, including a non-plus version and a UC version. This review focuses on the Poly Voyager Free 60+, the flagship, with a touchscreen charging case and a paired Bluetooth dongle to increase connectivity.
The Poly Voyager Free 60+’s biggest differentiator is its smart case, which is an auxiliary control to the on-device touches, taps and pushes. The case can be used to set volume, control music, switch between listening modes such as Adaptive ANC, and various forms of transparency. The case also displays battery levels for each earbud and for its own battery.
The Voyager Free 60+ case’s best trick comes not from its display but from its radio, which, when plugged into the entertainment system of a plane (or another analog source), acts as a Bluetooth transmitter, making the ANC earbuds potentially the only audio product you need to bring on a trip. My only worry here is the reliance on a 3.5mm to USB-C cable that makes this feature possible. Owners who want to use this feature need to keep track of the cable.
Other positive features include Bluetooth 5.3, multi-device connectivity with two active devices, and support for fast charging.
The earbuds will run about 5.5 hours for talking and can be topped off for 11 hours more when placed in the case. They will support about 8 hours of music listening with ANC. A 15-minute charge will make the earbuds available for over an hour.
I was very impressed with the Poly Voyager Free 60+ audio. It is deep and rich and supports music as adroitly as it does voice. Audiophiles will appreciate AptX support, while Apple users will appreciate native support for the AAC codec.
The tinkling keys at the opening of Hamilton’s It’s Quiet Uptown, and the incessant synth of The Who’s Baba O’Riley prove equally distinct as they set the mode for those tunes. David Guetta’s Titanium, featuring Sia, pounds through at near concert levels. Earbuds that don’t crack under that strain prove their worthiness—and if they can also manage Guns and Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle, then I’m sold.
I love the voice prompts that tell you everything without memorizing which jingle means what. “Phone one connected” leaves no room to the imagination about which phone is connected.
Note that we evaluated the 60+ version, which included the smart case and Bluetooth transmitter. Poly also sells other versions without these features at a lower price. All versions also come in white.
Poly supports enterprise deployments with Lens Cloud.
The packaging was recyclable.
What could be improved
- Poor fit, at least for my ears
- Control split between earbuds and case
- Terrible app
It may just be my ears, but the in-ear angle required of the Poly Voyager Free 60+ is challenging. Direct competitor Jabra’s Evolve2 buds fit more comfortably and more securely. I don’t like the traditional dangling Apple Airpods, and I’m not a fan of Poly’s take, either. I prefer an in-ear experience that requires more than a bit of jostling to dislodge the earbuds. I have yawned when wearing the Free 60+ earbuds and had one fall out of my ear. Real or imagined, I keep touching the Free 60s to ensure their fit when I do anything other than sitting. The Jabra earbuds do not invite that distracting activity.
The Free 60+ case makes a great desktop companion. In the wild, though, most people don’t want to manage audio experiences via the case. The button on the bottom of each stem can play or pause tracks, manage calls, or invoke a virtual assistant. The strip controls volume and mutes for music and calls. It also toggles ANC on and off, but ONLY with no media streaming.
That split of control between earbuds and case means to talk to an in-store pharmacist, owners will need to pull the case out of their pocket and switch from ANC to transparency modes. Most owners won’t do this more than once before they realize the better approach is to just remove the earbud. My preference is to have all controls on the device, with the case acting in a complementary role. This is especially important for the Free 60 and Free 60 UC versions of the earbuds that don’t ship with a smart case.
Although the Poly Voyager Free 60+ earbuds can be purchased on Amazon, they are more likely an enterprise purchase, so the $329.95 price tag may not be an issue if it appears on an expense report. But even at that, these are very expensive earbuds that run about $80 more than the universally well-reviewed Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 and Apple’s AirPods Pro 2. No, those earbuds don’t have all the features, and they aren’t aimed at conferencing services, but still, a lot of money for earbuds.
I am not a fan of the Poly Lens App. Every day when my Mac mini boots, the Poly Lens App loads and promptly tells me it isn’t connected to a network. It is wrong, and it never resolves this error. The app regularly checks for firmware updates. I click update, and nothing happens. Nothing. I go to the release notes, and I’m informed that I need to use the mobile app to update the earbud firmware.
Poly needs to create a seamless experience that walks owners through any technical issues step-by-step. Ownership and a relationship with expensive technology is a total experience game, and the Poly software experience falls short. This is the same app, BTW, that fails to load camera parameters for the Poly Studio camera unless the app is open to the camera settings (they should be selected and remain loaded between sessions unless explicitly changed).
The Mac app, again, just sat there after hitting update for the earbuds, offering no guidance. The mobile app told me the case needed an update, but I had to switch back to the desktop app for that. Updating the case required connecting the case’s USB-C port to the Mac. This experience contradicts the user manual, which suggests the mobile and desktop app can both perform all firmware updates.
Poly Voyager Free 60+: The bottom line
Poly tried to pack the Poly Voyager Free 60+ with innovations. Most of them worked, but some innovations get in the way of functionality like the dual touch and button stems that require owner precision when attempting to control the earbuds using either approach. The smart case is much more successful. Poly needs to spend significant time on the app, which undermines its touted engineering prowess.
Poly provided the Poly Voyager Free 60+ for review. Images courtesy of Poly unless otherwise noted.
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