In past years, the Jabra Freeway was my pick for best Bluetooth car kit because of the superior hands-free call quality. With exceptional HD microphones, advanced noise cancellation and three speakers, it provides better call quality on both sides of the conversation than any other Bluetooth car kit I’ve reviewed. However, recent studies show hands-free calling is as unsafe as hands-full calling. It is distracted driving. Neither option is safe. So, with this in mind, I shifted the emphasis from hands-free call quality to audio performance – streaming music from your favorite apps through your car stereo. The Freeway is certainly capable of this, especially with the FM transmitter, but it’s not better than the far more affordable options.
The audio performance of the Jabra Freeway is disappointing, as it received a C- for clarity and a D+ for strength. The three built-in speakers had a significant amount of distortion, even at three-fourths volume. It’s clear they aren’t made for high-fidelity music, but for voices. In addition, the maximum volume reached just 86 dB. It was better than the Jabra Tour , but far below what other Bluetooth car kits achieved in the same test.
It has an FM transmitter and this allows you to stream music through your radio. The quality of the signal was better than the other FM transmitters I tested, including the Nulaxy KM18 – my pick for the best Bluetooth FM transmitter. However, it’s not a lot better and still has a significant amount of noise in the signal, especially during quiet moments. But most importantly, at $100, it’s more than $80 more expensive. The audio performance would need to be on-par with high-fidelity audio to justify this price difference.
Despite my reluctance to support hands-free calling, I still performed call quality tests. This is where the Freeway excels, receiving an A+ grade. You shouldn’t take calls when you’re operating a vehicle, but if you do, this is the best option. The combination of the three speakers and the multiple microphones placed near your head, via sun visor, makes for a clear conversation on both sides. When you make a call with the AUX-in and FM transmitters, the caller’s voice is amplified over the car’s stereo. This has a tendency to cause echo feedback, as the device’s microphone picks up the amplified voice over your own.
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As with all of Jabra’s Bluetooth devices, the Freeway is very easy to use and very quick to pair. A voice guidance system walks you through the process. And the controls are clearly labeled. The only issue with concern to functionality is the size. It covers most of the sun visor and the clip can cover the mirror. The thick profile makes it feel out of place.
The Jabra Freeway is an expensive in-car Bluetooth speakerphone. If hands-free calling is your priority, it’s the best option. But as a technology bridge for streaming music, it’s not a great option. Even with an FM transmitter, it’s not worth the $100 price.