Update (Sept 2015): Meet Jaybird X2 – A Worthy Upgrade To The World’s Best Bluetooth Earbuds.
I started getting into the audio game (side of the geek culture) only mid last year; by “audio game”, I mean paying much more attention to the details, balance and richness of the sound of music I listen to. For the better part of the last few years, I had been using Sennheiser CX200 earbuds and then I picked up a pair of Audio Technica ATH-CKS77X earbuds, both of which produce incredible sound quality and decent noise-cancellation.
I first came to know Jaybird Bluebuds X after watching MKBHD’s Top 5 best headphones under 200$. Now, note that my first bluetooth headset/headphone experience was with Motorola S305, the crap that came with the purchase of Motorola Milestone XT; the sound quality was totally underwhelming and it was designed so badly that it started to cause discomfort to ears within an hour of listening. That’s also when I got the idea that bluetooth cannot possibly deliver what wired headphones can. Though I was not fixated on that idea, I had never really given any fair chance to bluetooth headphones whenever I did research on audio equipment.
But I was intrigued, very much intrigued, by the Bluebuds X. It looks so small, lightweight and it’s positioned as one of the best, if not the best, sports headphones. I have a rather mobile lifestyle and I can’t go through a day without music, so it seems as though the earbuds were screaming at me to give them a try. After reading half a dozen of raving reviews on the Bluebuds X, I was pretty much sold. Being an impulsive buyer that I am, I placed an order on Apple Store.
And it arrived the next day…
What’s In The Box
User Manual – Who still reads those?
A pair of Bluebuds X
Travel Pouch – a sleek black box that has a strap inside to hold the USB cable and the Bluebuds X if you’re patient enough to fit them both in.
USB Cable – the cable is really portable and I really love the design. But it’s very short, so you’ve to keep it close to your laptop while charging. I think it’s obvious that you’re not supposed to use it while it’s charging, but I am not sure if they make the cable so short to ensure that? *shrugs*
Canal Tip – as with most earbuds, they come in 3 different sizes; I am going to refer to them as L, M and S. These might not be the most comfortable tips. You may want to check out Comply Foam Tips, which are already confirmed by Jaybird as compatible.
Secure Fit – unlike most earbuds, you can’t get a great fit with Bluebuds X by just pushing the tips into your ears. These apparently patented secure fit wings are crucial in what kind of sound quality you’ll get. Serious.
Cable Groove – 3 cable grooves are provided to shorten the cable. Under-ear option needs no shortening, but if you choose over-ear fit option, which is a very tight fit option for some serious workout, then you would need these. Watch the How To video by Jaybird on X-Fit + Bluebuds X. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t get it right the first few times. Hell, it took me over 10 days to finally get the best fit. Will elaborate more later.
Features and Specs
Visit Jaybird Bluebuds X Product’s page for detailed specs. I want to focus this review on sound quality and fit.
Sound Quality and Fitting
As I mentioned previously, it took me more than a week to finally discover what the best fit and setting are for Bluebuds X. I’ve been using it predominantly to listen to music on my Nexus 5 with PowerAMP player. I started using the Bluebuds X with the medium tips and medium wings. For the first couple days, I tried both under-ear and over-ear fit options but I got very frustrated when I just couldn’t get the sound quality claimed by professional reviewers.
Then I read on one of the blogs that if you constantly have to push those tips in, you should probably try a size bigger. So I did, and it sounded relatively better for a period of time, until it started to hurt my ears. Apparently, my ears fit perfectly with the medium tips, but that I just haven’t found the best way to wear them. Using the large tips gives a marginally improved sound quality because they seal much better than those medium tips, but the drawback is that I’ve to push the tips in with a bit of force to get the fit, which is probably not the right way to go.
After about 5 or 6 days with the large tips, I went back to medium tips. Only this time, I started to obsess less with pushing it all the way in, but more with using the secure fit to really seal the buds in. And that’s how I got the best fit, after some trial and error for over a week. Once you get the perfect fit for the ears, the sound quality is phenomenal. Bluetooth with SHIFT Technology definitely steps up the audio quality in bluetooth headphones. The sound is crisp, with really deep, rich bass. The sound isolation is also superb with a great fit as they seal really well.
What about the battery life?
From fully charged to hearing Jenna’s “Battery Low” voice prompt, I would say I get an estimated 7 – 8 hours of battery life, which is very close to what Jaybird claims. It can be a bit frustrating if you don’t use Bluebuds X with iOS devices as you have no idea what battery percentage it is at. You can only check the battery percentage on iOS devices for Bluebuds X.
Does it live up to the sports headphones positioning?
After I settled on the perfect fit, I have also started using Bluebuds X for my workouts. I do a little bit of dancing for my cardio and HIIT sets as conditioning. I wear Bluebuds X for all my workout purposes. Sometimes, it does wiggle a bit when you’re moving too much, too fast, or both. Maybe over-ear fit option would minimize wiggling out, but since I can never figure out the best fit for that option and that I don’t want flat hair at the back of my head, I am okay with under-ear option with a bit of wiggling. I guess it’s inevitable that it’ll move a bit when you’re working out, but note that it gets really bad when you sweat a lot on your forehead and it starts going into your ears (while doing crunches).
Overall, there are very few negative things I could say about Bluebuds X because I am still very much in love with those after finding the perfect fit. Now, I cannot leave house without those. They are just so portable and deliver phenomenal sound quality for bluetooth headphones that they’re definitely my go-to earbuds for all purposes. The price tag may be a tad on the higher end though – the white one is retailing on Amazon at 140 USD now. But if you are going to spend some serious money on bluetooth music experience or if you’re looking for the perfect pair of headphones for your workouts, I can’t recommend Bluebuds X enough.