Tech Review: Jaybird X2 Bluetooth Headphones
I have long struggled with bluetooth headphones and when the chance to review the new Jaybird X2s came up, I jumped at the chance. If you’re like me, then you probably have a pair of wired headphones that you keep set aside for running. At some point, more often than not, they end up in a tangled mess that you spend the first five minutes before your run untangling. They also tend to never be just right for working out. You probably tried over loops, in-ear, earbuds, and maybe even full-blown over-the-ear models. Given Jaybird’s history and the look of the X2s, I came in very hopeful that this would be the solution I have been looking for. I was not mistaken.
Out Of The Box Experience
The unpacking experience for the Jaybird X2 is extremely pleasant and my first thought was, if they function the way they are packaged and the thought that went into that is put into the technology, then it’s already a winner. It’s not just the box, or how the internals of their packaging nicely fit together, but even the care to provide a nice little case to hold your headphones when not in use. It just all leads to a very pleasant first use experience which you don’t always get with headphones. Its Apple-esque in its simplicity and visual and that says a lot because Apple has become the gold standard for first use experiences. I know I’m harping on this, but the container alone for headphone storage earns them the additional kudos just because it shows they thought of everything. That container has now traveled across continents, and I can vouch for its usefulness. It’s not something you are just going to throw away.
Setting Up The X2s
When first pull the headphones out, there are a few things to do as part of the set up. First, you are going to select the correct ear tips that fit into your actual ear and for that you want a pretty solid fit. Note you can choose from foam or rubberized tips. I found the foam absorbed water a little too much so switched the rubberized version. Second, you will select the correct size ear fins that lock the Jaybird into your into the center of your ear. The in-ear pad selection process is probably going to take you a few tries because you want to adjust this to getting really dialed into what feels good. I started at the mid-level, tried moving up to a slightly larger pad, but then settled back down onto the medium padding level and found that was a good place for me. The sport fin locking piece is even more important and that one you really need to massage. The reason for this is that when you first insert the lock into your ear while testing it, it actually feels good at a number of different sizes. What you’re not experiencing is having it in your ear for a significant amount of time and any movement from your run. So put one in that seems good and take it out for a run, come back and adjust if needed.
In terms of fit, you want to maintain a really solid lock in the inner portion of your ear and also select a pad that fits well into your ear canal, but something that doesn’t block out all sound because that would be unsafe. It should still provide a nice level of volume and tone for your music, podcasts, etc. On long runs, I can say I do get some small level of discomfort within the inner portion of my ear where the point of the fin hits, but when I say long runs I mean greater than two or more hours. For normal runs, I hardly noticed the X2s were in there.
The last thing to adjust is the cord that connects the two headphones. It is longer than necessary intentionally and I tried my first few runs with it out of the box and found it was a little long. You can wear it over or under your ears though, so really this fit will depend on the size of your head. Jaybird Includes a few sport clips and directions for a double stack looping design which reduces the cord length, keeps everything in place, and for us, never loosened up. I’m really glad I made the switch and tightened this up because now it sits nestled a few inches below my hat line and is secure.
Using the X2s
The Jaybird X2 uses Bluetooth 2.1 to connect to your smartphone and for my testing I was using an iPhone 6. I have to say set up was remarkably smooth and very simple. As a note, its compatibility list is very long so Android or iOS users should not have a problem getting it to pair. To set it up, you first long press the middle button to put it into pairing mode. After doing this it shows up almost instantly on your device. Once setup, every time I powered on and off it would instantly re-link itself without me doing anything, really like a good Bluetooth connection should. I never experienced any strangeness related to the actual connectivity. The other place it seems to shine is in the actual audio quality itself as I’ve never experienced any outages, interruptions, or loss of sound. Regardless of what sort of content I listen to, I always had very solid and cleanly distributed volume.
The Jaybird X2 uses the same three button system that has become common on most headphones. The top and bottom buttons are used for volume control and the center button is used in varying capacities depending on the duration or type of press. A long press can turn on or off the headphones, a quick single tap can start or stop playback, a double tap will skip a song, etc. It really captures all of these, at least in my case, very well and functioned exactly as expected during all testing.
I don’t have a lot to see about the in-exercise experience because the X2s perform really well. In fact, they just melt away into your experience. During most of my exercises, I simply forget they are in there and can really go at it as hard as I want with no thought of them falling out. This was always my complaint before and in the end a good experience comes down to the fitting. Take your time at the beginning to get it right and the actual experience using the X2s becomes that much better. Then, take time to readjust and find your happy medium.
The only minor nitpick I have with them is the slight discoloration I have experienced on the Charge color option we tested. This was most noticeable on the fin and seemed more like color transfer and its definitely very minor. It would not deter me from getting this color again, but if its noticeable in the photos, then you understand why.
Battery life always comes up with bluetooth devices and the X2 seems to do a really good job managing this. They promise 8 hours of battery life and we have definitely put this to the test. Most weeks I will run or ride or even workout at least an hour a day if not two or more and can typically get through an entire 5 day week without charging. Before any long efforts on the weekend, I definitely put it through a full charge just to be charge, but so far I have never had it die mid-activity.
The X2 charges via any micro-USB cable and Jaybird includes a really nice, but somewhat short version along with the unit. Charging it fully doesn’t feel like it takes more than an hour, but depends on the power level of the charging device (laptop, wall, etc).
BONUS, What Am I Listening Too?
As a little bonus, I thought I would share what I listen to when I’m out there on the road. I was always a music guy, but got annoyed over long runs as I always inevitably looped over and streaming Spotify the whole time was a non-option. I then discovered podcasts and haven’t looked back since. My podcasts of choice are The Nerdist, which is great for interviews, and makes me look like an idiot when I start cracking up mid-run. I was also introduced to The Black Tapes and TANIS which are great for sci-fi lovers. Basically, they feel like Serial but with some great twists. They also remind me of what it would have been like to gather around the radio pre-television and listen to serialized shows. Always open to new ones, so let us know!
Overall I can say that I am a convert to Bluetooth headphones. DJ birds are definitely one of the best pairs of athletic headphones I have ever tried. They now have over 500+ miles on them and have been used for running, cycling, etc. and have never really bad and I. They charge quickly, last for quite a while, and provide a very high level of audio quality. I have used a lot of headphones over the years for travel, exercise, etc and these really stand out. They are simply a great bluetooth headphone.
The Jaybird X2 are available in a variety of colors and you can get them directly from Jaybird for $179.95.