The Dottir Freedom On-Grid are sports-focused headphones that deliver rich audio and stay in place even during tough interval workouts.
Dottir Audio takes its name from the Icelandic world for ‘daughter’, and the Freedom On-Grid headphones were designed in collaboration with Crossfit world champions Katrin Davidsdottir and Annie Thorisdottir. It’s therefore no surprise that the audio is heavy on the bass, keeping you motivated when the pressure is on.
When you want to head outdoors, you’ll benefit from the headphones ‘transparency mode, which uses the headphones’ microphones to pick up ambient noise and mixes it with your music. This allows you to stay aware of your surroundings and avoid potential hazards such as traffic and other pedestrians. It’s possible to use a single headphone in mono mode as well, which is handy if you want to retain spatial awareness.
The Dottir Freedom On-Grid have both physical and touch controls, and we sometimes found ourselves hitting the touch areas by accident while fitting the loops securely around our ears, but they’re otherwise tough to fault.
Price and availability
- Available to buy now
- Same price as Shokz OpenRun Pro
The Dottir Freedom On-Grid headphones launched in September 2021, and cost £ 119.99 (about $ 160 / AU $ 230) direct from Dottir Audio. That’s roughly the same as the Shokz OpenRun Pro, which currently holds the number one spot in our guide to the best running headphones, and are priced at $ 179.95 (about £ 130 / AU $ 250.
For comparison. the similarly styled Beats PowerBeats Pro cost almost twice as much at $ 249 / £ 219 / AU $ 349.
- Soft, flexible earhooks
- Choice of 12 ear tip sizes
- Physical buttons and touch controls
The Dottir Freedom On-Grid headphones are true wireless sports headphones that bear a strong resemblance to the Beats PowerBeats Pro thanks to their hook-over design. They come in two colors (ash gray and white), and are supplied with a set of 12 different sized silicone ear tips so you can choose ones that seal out external sounds completely so the active noise canceling is as effective as possible.
They are supplied in a circular charging case with a knurled finish around the edge and a USB-C charging port at the back. The case is quite large, measuring roughly 8cm in diameter and 3.5cm deep, but it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. It’s also nicely engineered, with a Z-hinge that allows the lid to rise slightly before tilting back and a secure magnetic closure.
On the housing of each earbud, you’ll find both touch and physical controls. A red button on top can be used to control the volume by tapping, and skip forward and back between tracks by pressing and holding.
The touch control on the side of each earbud allows you to play, pause music, accept a call, or end a call by tapping once. Tapping three times will allow you to access your phone’s voice assistant, which you can give commands using the Freedom On-Grids’ noise-canceling microphones (three of which are built into each bud).
The Dottir Freedom On-Grid have an IPX7 water resistance rating, making them fine for sweaty workouts and rainy runs, but not for swimming. If you’re looking for a set of headphones for the pool, take a look at our guide to the best waterproof headphones.
It’s refreshing to see that Dottir Audio has chosen to keep packaging to a minimum; the headlines are packed entirely in cardboard rather than plastic, and there’s no separate shipping box.
Battery life and connectivity
- Stable Bluetooth connection
- Solid battery life
The headphones are easily paired to your phone via Bluetooth; take them out of the case, and they will enter pairing mode automatically. Simply search for them using your phone, and tap to initiate pairing; there’s no need to download an app to link and manage them. Once paired, they will connect automatically each time they’re removed from the case.
In our testing, they retained a stable connection to our phone in most conditions, and only stuttered when close to a major railway station, which throws off most true wireless headphones. At the gym and for most runs, the connection was strong and steady, and the connection never dropped outright.
Dottir Audio claims that each earbud delivers up to 12 hours of playback on a full charge (presumably without ANC), and can be charged five times from the charging case, In our tests, they lasted around 10 hours with active noise canceling enabled, which is very respectable.
- Bass-heavy sound
- Secure, comfortable fit
- Effective ANC, but no ‘through’ mode
The headphones are comfortable, and the hooks hold them firmly in place even during vigorous workouts. In our tests they never felt in danger of slipping, even during intense tempo sessions. They were also light, and were easy to forget after the first few minutes. The hooks are made from soft silicone, and never put undue pressure on our ears.
Another feature we particularly appreciated was automatic playback; your music starts automatically when the headphones are in place, and pauses when they are removed. It works exceptionally well, and if you remove both headphones, they will power down automatically after a few minutes to conserve battery power, even if they’ve not been replaced in their charging case.
The physical controls work well, and aren’t so small they’re fiddly to operate mid-run. The touch area was also responsive, but we found it easy to accidentally hit while hooking the headphones around our ears (a job that requires two hands).
The sound is bass-heavy, which is a sensible choice for fitness headphones, particularly for adrenaline-intensive workouts like Crossfit and interval training. They’re also ideal for instructor-led classes from the likes of Apple Fitness Plus and Peloton, allowing you to immerse yourself in the virtual class experience.
It’s not as balanced as you might like if you’re looking for a set of headphones to wear at your desk, and there’s no option to tweak the sound for speech rather than music, but for the gym, it’s just right.
The earbuds fit snugly, and block out most ambient sound even without active noise canceling activated. Switch ANC on, and background noise is muted even further. You’ll still be able to tell if someone nearby drops a weight, but the general chatter and background music of the gym will be muted and easily ignored.
When you want to hit the open road for a run, the headphones have a ‘transparency’ mode that’s easily activated with a couple of taps of either the left or right earbud. This uses the built-in microphones to pick up ambient noise, so you remain aware of your surroundings and potential hazards. You don’t get the directional audio you do with open-ear bone conduction headphones, but the Freedom On-Grid have a mono mode that allows you to wear just one bud for extra situational awareness.