“Power on,” says the lovely Jenna, the BlueBuds X in-ear voice control that helps with pairing, low battery, switching bluetooth connections, and, once you hear Jenna announce, “Headphones connected,” you’re ready to play.
How often are you on a run, bike ride or just sitting at your desk jamming to some hip-hop tunes on Beats Radio 1 completely focused and in-the-zone when suddenly your head is yanked by a thin white cord? You know the discomfort that I am talking about as a headphone earbud is quickly pulled out from your ear because it’s chasing your arm as you swing it forward to achieve a better running pace or reach for that late-afternoon cup of coffee. Well, thankfully there is a durable and incredible sounding solution: the Jaybird BlueBuds X, an almost-wireless bluetooth in-ear headphones which also include a lifetime warranty against sweat and an amazing 8 hours of battery life.
Upon arrival, the BlueBuds X are packaged in a solid box that embodies the passion and personal design of the headphones from earbud to earbud. Inside the portable, clamshell hard case is a bendable Jaybird branded, but not so flexible, micro-USB cable, two small cable shortening accessories, small/medium/large silicone ear cups, and the Jaybird patented secure-fit ear cushions. The clamshell case has enough room for the charge cable, headphones and and secure-fit ear cushions, as well as the in-ear headphones themselves. Most of the time the clamshell lid closes securely with a snug magnetic snap. However, sometimes I had to scoot the buds around or remove the secure-fit ear cushions so the case would completely close. I found a simpler storage solution is to keep the charge cable and BlueBuds X in a small mesh pouch. In fact I purchased one at Amazon for $6 and it made carrying and accessing my BlueBuds X a lot easier.
So, what makes this first-generation in-ear bluetooth powered headphones by Jaybird worth the $99 (Note: These are not the Jaybird X2 wireless headphones which retail for around $179 at time of this review).
Is it the comfort of the BlueBuds X?
The sharp, high-fidelity acoustics?
The freedom of being almost-wire free?
Jenna the lovely female voice that tells that your headphones are powering up then connected and powering down or have a low-battery?
Is it that they are sweat-proof, or have over/under ear fit options?
How about the voice control of answering phone calls and texts using Siri?
For me, it is the freedom of being almost-cord-free during a run with an almost-noise cancelling quality sound. The BlueBuds X include silicone ear caps, where as, the Jaybird X2 (second generation BlueBuds) include Comply foam ear cushions, which although I didn’t test, I expect provide a more clear and sharp in-ear sound, especially when competing with the wind on a fast bike ride along the American River trail in Sacramento.
Even without the Comply foam ear cushions, the quality of sound from these little buds is truly amazing. I have used Sony, Bose, Beats, Skull Candy and a few dozen other in-ear headphones and the BlueBuds X are my favorite. They hit the highs, roll with the mids and boom the bass at levels which are perfectly tuned for athletics. For you audiophiles, the impedance is 16 Ohms and the sensitivity is 103dB. These are not only my goto workout headphones but also my everyday at work headphones.
Regardless of sport, my BlueBuds X sound superb and have decent noise reduction that tunes out wind and people, yet still allow you to hear a car honking. However, running with the BlueBuds X is significantly different than cycling or working out in the gym. This is because of body movement.
While running the motion of my arms and variable speed and impact of my feet has a direct response on the cord hanging around the back of my neck that connects the two earbuds. This is why I have also been referring to the BlueBuds X as “almost-wire-free”. To alleviate the pull on the back of my neck I found shortening the cord using the included cord-clips worked best, otherwise it gently bounced as I ran. This became a touch annoying rather quickly. Although the secure-fit ear cushions, for the most part, did their job, keeping the buds inside my ears I discovered they began to hurt after long periods of time. I also found that for some reason the earbud in my left ear would always slip out just enough to effect the sound quality and require me to gently press it back in about every tenth of a mile. The left-ear bud slipping is consistent when either wrapping the bud around the top of my ear or under, so I am guessing it’s just some weird-me thing with my left ear. Kind of like one foot is always bigger than the other so using a slightly smaller silicone ear cup resolved the slipping for the most part.
Over ear, or under ear? That depended on what activity I was doing. I found that while running over the ear with the secure-fit ear cushions provides the most secure fit as well noise reduction. However, while cycling, under the ear is more comfortable as the helmet straps actually help hold the earbuds in. I suppose this will vary depending on helmet style. It honestly took me a few times around the track, stopping and adjusting as I ran or rode to figure out the best fit. Eventually I adjusted the cord length perfectly for anything: running, cycling or at my desk working finding that “over the ear” to be the most comfortable and least likely to fall out for me. If you are having trouble with one ear, like I did, try using a slightly larger or smaller silicone ear-cap on the slipping ear.
The BlueBuds X also have the ability to use voice commands to answer calls and read and respond to text messages as well as access Siri’s music commands. By press and holding the center controller button for a long second Siri will come to life, “Hello James, how may I help you?” Unfortunately because Siri will be Siri and doesn’t work well with even the slightest background noise, 9 out of 10 times she replies back “I didn’t get that, could you say it again.” So I typically control my music with the under ear buttons.
Although I would argue whether this feature is counterproductive to people trying to do serious training. As a runner, having iPhone alerts when I receive a text message tended to break my concentration and became too distracting. To make sure that I got a good, uninterrupted workout I simply put my iPhone in Do Not Disturb mode.
In conclusion, I would recommend the Jaybird BlueBuds X to anyone looking for a great pair of in-ear bluetooth headphones, and, at around $99 right now they are a bargain for the durability, quality and sound. However, I would also pick up some Comply isolation foam ear cups as well as a small mesh bag.
What I like
+ Bluetooth Version V2.1 + EDR. Has a decent range of about 15 feet if you need to leave your phone on a table for work outs like Yoga.
+ Battery life is good as long as you remember to power them off when done using. I have achieved a solid 5/6 hours of continuous play.
+ Quick charge. when fully dead it takes about 90 minutes to fully charge via USB plugged into laptop.
+ Access Siri to accept phone calls, read text messages back and respond to text messages.
+ Secure-fit ear cushions hold the earbuds in position in ear while running, cycling and most other medium-active sports.
+ Guaranteed sweat-proof. I wouldn’t swim with them.
What I don’t like
– No auto off, so if you’re not diligent in remembering to press and hold the button to power the headphones off they may just not turn on when you’re ready to use them after a few days.
– The secure-fit ear cushions often slide out of place during activity or storage and may require minor adjustment prior to a workout.
– Adjusting the strap using the cord-clips isn’t a fast process.
This review sample was provided by Jaybird
Jaybird has since released the Jaybird X2 in-ear bluetooth headphones. They are built on the same solid sounding engineering as the original BlueBuds X, but with some nice upgrades, including better battery life, redesigned ear-fins and a custom Bluetooth implementation. Watch a video to see for yourself what makes the X2 just as amazing.