Review: Soundpeats RunFree Lite – Trailblazing Companion

The RunFree Lite in all their glory.
The RunFree Lite in all their glory.

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Veteran wireless manufacturer Soundpeats tackles a new form factor and finds success.

Thanks to Soundpeats for sending a unit for review purposes.

Running with earphones isn’t always the most pleasant thing in the world. I like to listen to music when I run, so I’m all too familiar with the typical issues: IEMs can be jostled out of place, and with each step, there’s a loud, bassy thud.

At the same time, like many, I enjoy listening to music when I run. That’s why the idea of an alternate form factor for portable audio appeals to me – something to bypass the typical problems of IEMs and allow you to hear your surroundings.

Bottom Line

Soundpeats have done it. They’ve made a great product at a budget price point. The RunFree Lite check off boxes in every category for me: ease of use, convenience, and sound. The only limitations faced by the RunFree Lite are due to their form factor. Namely, they lack any semblance of sub-bass and could have better dynamics. But we really can’t expect them to do any better in these areas, given their price and form factor.

What We Like 😍
  • Ideal form factor for running
  • Even sound signature with good timbre
  • Good soundstage and technicalities for the price
  • Intuitive design
What We Don't Like 🤢
  • Heavily rolled-off bass
  • May present fit issues for certain users

Open-ear or “air conduction headphones” (a dubious term, given that all standard headphones transmit sound via air conduction) sit fully outside your pinna, with the driver at some distance from the ear canal, much like a pair of over-ear headphones – but in this case, there’s no enclosure or earpads. Instead, they hook over your ears.

There are some obvious technical barriers to overcome here. The enclosure of a pair of headphones is a crucial part of the tuning system, allowing products to achieve high sound quality and good bass response.

The RunFree Lite, a new product from Soundpeats, attempt to overcome these issues. At just under USD$40 at the time of this writing, they’re ultra-affordable and perform quite impressively for their price.

Company Overview

Soundpeats is a Chinese manufacturer that sells budget portable audio products. Most of their products are part of the tide of market saturation flooding the current Bluetooth market.

So far, most of the Soundpeats products I’ve heard have been solidly middle-of-the-pack (at least, from an audiophile perspective), with issues in terms of both tonality and technicalities. Nonetheless, I appreciate these products for what they are: value-friendly Bluetooth products that at least try for “neutral” tunings.

Technical Specifications

  • Form factor: Air conduction, open-ear
  • Bluetooth version: 5.3
  • Chipset: WQ7033MX
  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC
  • Battery capacity: 130mAH
  • Charging time: 1.6 hours
  • Charging port: USB-C
  • Total playtime: 17 hours
  • IPX: 4


The elegant and simple controls.
The elegant and simple controls.

In the sub-USD$50 market, one shouldn’t expect great things from the build quality of the RunFree Lite. Materials-wise, what we get here is essentially what we’d expect: plastic and rubber, for the most part.

The build quality is relatively good, with nothing seeming particularly out-of-place or fragile. The seams are well-put-together.

Visually, they’re nothing special – the black matte shells with a glossy Soundpeats logo on the outside won’t win any awards for beauty, but at this price point, an unobtrusive look is usually what we want. These look better than many products under USD$50 that go for weird, eccentric aesthetics.


The design of the RunFree Lite is not novel within the market, but it’s a solid design that works well for its purpose.

As previously mentioned, the RunFree Lite hook over your ears, placing the capsule at some distance from your ear canal. Comfort-wise, this works very well, and I can easily wear these for hours without developing hot spots.

The fit is also quite good; true to the name, I can go for a run without the RunFree Lite shifting around or falling off. They really nailed the curve of the ear hooks for an optimal fit.

I often struggle with IEMs and other portable audio products because my ears are shaped differently. I notice that with this product, the capsule is better placed with my right ear than my left, resulting in a stereo imbalance.

If you have asymmetrical ears like me, you might experience the same issue. Such issues are endemic to this technology, but it would be cool to see an engineering solution.

It’s worth noting that the RunFree Lite offer no noise isolation at all and will leak sound to the outside. This makes them appropriate for running or walking outdoors, but they are not intended for use in transit or in an office setting where leakage would be distracting.
These may look like normal in-ears, but they don't touch the inside of my pinna at all!
These may look like normal in-ears, but they don’t touch the inside of my pinna at all!


The RunFree Lite offer a very decent user experience.

Budget Bluetooth products can often be finicky, with too few buttons or vague gesture controls that trigger too often. The RunFree Lite have three buttons on one side of the product – a power button and two volume controls.

I don’t often use these functions, but it’s easy to remember how to turn them on and off and enter pairing mode, and I didn’t accidentally input commands very often.

The battery life is quite good at an advertised 17 hours, and I never found myself running out of batteries while on the go.

Overall, the RunFree Lite are a pain-free product to own, and they get high marks for their UX.

Workout Suitability

I love to listen to music while I run, but I’ve had problems with many of the options for doing so. For a product to be considered suitable for exercise, it must meet a few criteria.

First and formost, the product has to stay in place while running. A proper fit is more important than ever in exercise applications. The RunFree Lite pass this test with flying colors. During multiple runs, the RunFree Lite only slipped from their position once, and I suspect that’s because I put them on a little wrong.

Another must-have is that they should not be damaged by sweat. The RunFree Lite don’t even come into contact with your head, so sweat shouldn’t be an issue, but if sweat does get on them, they have an IPX rating of 4, which indicates that they are sufficiently water-resistant.

My favorite aspect of the RunFree Lite, though, is situational awareness. You can hear your surroundings (and music) perfectly well, which can be crucial for someone who runs in urban settings (I lived in New York City for a while).

The RunFree Lite make much less sound from rubbing against your head than most earphones or headphones, but they do slightly squeak and whistle during running.

RunFree Lite Sound

The bass ports for the RunFree Lite are an ingenious design.
The bass ports for the RunFree Lite are an ingenious design.

At a price point under USD$50, we typically expect to see decent but not great sound, especially from a wireless audio product. In fact, the RunFree Lite offer sound quality that, while not technically outstanding, is above its competition in several categories.

The general sonic presentation of the RunFree Lite is relaxed and warm. This is quite welcome from a Bluetooth product, as usually, the drivers used in these products don’t have sufficient technical ability to support a bright, “detailed” sound signature.

That doesn’t mean the RunFree Lite are overly veiled or lacking in high-end information, though. Rather, they are tuned in a way that allows them to avoid any annoying issues with treble grain or sibilance.

The form factor allows the RunFree Lite to have a wide, spacious sound compared to most, if not all, IEMs at this price point.

The trade-off is that the distance between the driver and the ear doesn’t allow the RunFree Lite to convey dynamic contrast as vividly as their in-ear counterparts. Even then, they compensate for this aspect of their design impressively, and I wouldn’t consider their dynamic ability lacking.


Given their open-air design, we expect to see reduced bass ability from the RunFree Lite, and this bass reduction is indeed present.

Bass is severely rolled off at the bottom end of the frequency spectrum. Below 120 Hz, there’s a steep dropoff in volume. Below around 80 Hz, the sound is nearly inaudible relative to the rest of the frequency spectrum.

The RunFree Lite almost entirely lack sub-bass, robbing them of any sense of rumble and slam.

Ordinarily, this would be unacceptable, but given the price and the form factor, I actually don’t find this lack of sub bass to be a huge problem. For listeners prioritizing sub-bass, the RunFree Lite’s form factor – the “air conduction” model – is probably not ideal.

The RunFree Lite have a rather pleasant bass response for the rest of us. What they lack in the lowest frequencies, they more than make up for in the midbass and upper bass.

The capsules have small ports on the outside. Cover these, and the bass response nearly disappears. I’m not exactly sure how the mechanism that boosts the bass works, but it does quite a good job. It’s remarkable that such a small driver can direct low frequencies toward the ear with enough precision to prevent them from completely dissipating.

While the form factor limits the bass response, the RunFree Lite still achieve a full sound.


The way these hook over your ears is really nice for long-term comfort and convenience.
The way these hook over your ears is really nice for long-term comfort and convenience.

One of the biggest issues that products of this price range tend to face is an overly excitable upper midrange. This often produces the “tinny” quality associated with ultra-budget audio products.

Soundpeats made a smart decision in tuning the RunFree Lite with an overall laid-back midrange. The sound is warm and smooth. I wouldn’t call the upper midrange “recessed,” exactly, but it takes a backseat to the lower midrange, with a gentle downward slope throughout the midrange.

A forward upper midrange can create the illusion of “hi-fi clarity.” Still, when a driver with less than stellar technical capability is tuned that way, the accompanying grain in the upper midrange can quickly become irritating.

Instead, the RunFree Lite have a very even-keeled, realistic midrange tuning. This extends to timbre, as well. The overall timbre may be slightly soft or sleepy, but instruments mostly sound as they should.

The RunFree Lite really excel with a very natural midrange that offers a touch of warmth.


When it comes to budget audio products, what I’m looking for in a good treble response is unobtrusiveness. It’s all too easy for a product on the cheaper side to have grainy, peaky treble that unnaturally emphasizes cymbals, sibilant vocals, and the like.

Luckily, the RunFree Lite don’t have that problem – their treble response is excellent in that it’s relatively even. It’s a bit subdued, but that shouldn’t be an issue – cymbals are still given room to breathe and sparkle, and there’s no issue understanding vocals.

While definition and detail may not be as fleshed out as more expensive audio products, I wouldn’t call it lacking in this regard. Overall, the treble in the RunFree Lite is very balanced, and I give it high marks.

Detail-heads might find some competitors that offer more at this price point, but such competitors are unlikely to be wireless.

Where to Buy


The way the Soundpeats logo is emblazoned subtly on the outside of the capsules is fetching.
The way the Soundpeats logo is emblazoned subtly on the outside of the capsules is fetching.

Soundpeats has done it. They’ve made a great product at a budget price point. The RunFree Lite check off boxes in every category for me: ease of use, convenience, and sound. For running, the RunFree Lite are a slam dunk. They fit securely, don’t generate much noise due to motion, and allow for great awareness of your surroundings while delivering a good audio experience.

The only sonic limitations faced by the RunFree Lite are due to their form factor. Namely, they lack any semblance of sub-bass and could have better dynamics. But we really can’t expect them to do any better in these areas, given their price and form factor.

Plus, even headphones considered some of the greatest of all time, like the AKG K1000 or the RAAL SR-1b, fall flat in the bass due to their free-air design.

Meanwhile, the RunFree Lite counter these shortcomings with a great soundstage and natural timbre. I recommend this product to anyone looking for a portable product to use while running, just as long as you don’t prioritize bass too much.

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