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JayBird BlueBuds X wireless sports earbuds review

on January 16, 2013 11:00 am

jaybird_bluebudx-box
I like to be as minimalistic as possible when I workout, especially on my runs. To keep my mind off the pounding of the pavement, I like to have music with me when I run outside or when I watch movies and shows while on the elliptical machine or treadmill. Typically, that necessitates earbuds with their cord running from my ears to whatever device I happen to be using. The cord is always flopping around and in the way, distracting from the Zen of my run. I have long envisioned wireless earpieces that you wear in each ear like a pair of fitted hearing aids that provide great sound streamed from whatever Bluetooth device you have. We are not quite there yet, but the folks at JayBird have recently released the BlueBuds X wireless Bluetooth sports earbuds and gotten pretty darn close.

jaybird_bluebudx-inthebox

The BlueBuds X are JayBird’s top-of-the-line Bluetooth wireless, sports, in-ear, noise-isolation headphones.

In The Box

BlueBuds X Premium Bluetooth Buds
3 pairs ear tips (S,M,L), none installed.
3 pairs secure fit ear cushions (S,M,L)
2 X-Fit cord management clips
Standard Micro USB Cable
Premium Protective Carry Case

Specifications:

Audio
Type: In-Ear Style
Noise-isolation: Passive
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Speaker sensitivity: 103 +-2dB At 1KHz
Output 12mW RMS (with level limit)
Total Harmonic Distortion <5% (1KHz, 1mW)
Audio Format: 16-bit Stereo
Codec: Shift™ custom SBC implementation
Response Bandwidth 20-20000Hz

Integrated Microphone
Type: MEMS omni-directional (2.75 x 1.85 mm2)
Sensitivity: -38 dB + /-3dB (1KHz, 0dB = 1V/Pa)

Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth Class 2.1+EDR
Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz
Tx Power: Class 1
Profiles: Handsfree 1.6, Headset 1.1, A2DP 1.2, AVCRP 1.4

Pairing
No of Paired Devices: 8

Battery
Play Time: 8 Hrs*
Standby Time: 250 Hrs*
Charging Time: Less than 2.5 hrs
Charging: USB (included)
AC power: DC 5A 100mA
Type: 83 mAh Lithium Polymer
* May vary dependent on usage & device
Operation
Operating: 14F – 122F (-10C – 50C )
Storage: -4F – 140F (-20C – 60C)
Weight & Dimensions
Width: 22 mm
Height: 29 mm
Depth: 13 mm
Weight: 13.8 g
Cord Length: 540 mm

Button Controls
AVRCP Music Controls (Play/pause, next, back)
Call Controls (answer, end, reject call, etc)
General (Volume, pair, power)

Warranty
1 Year Limited Warranty
Lifetime Warranty Against Sweat

The BlueBuds X can be paired with up to eight devices, including everything from the latest iPod nano to a majority of iPod Touches, all iPhones and iPads, and most Android devices as well. I have paired these wireless earbuds with my iPhone 4S and 5, iPad mini, and Galaxy SIII. My hope is to get a 7th generation Bluetooth-enabled iPod nano to go with the BlueBuds for this year’s running season, since all of those smartphones are (IMO) too heavy for running.

jaybird_bluebudx-closeup

BlueBuds X earbuds are impressively small and lightweight in comparison with other Bluetooth headphones. However, in the earbud ecosystem, BlueBuds X are relatively big, especially compared to ones like Etymotic Research hf5’s. In their defense, JayBird packs a good deal of technology in a well-made, nice-fitting, sweat-resistant package. Inside, they jam a Bluetooth 2.1 chip, an eight-hour battery (250 hours standby time), and a microUSB port hidden inside the right earphone.

jaybird_bluebudx-usb

There is a cap on the right earbud that securely covers the microUSB port, attached with a small tether to avoid becoming lost or misplaced. JayBird includes a very rugged but short microUSB cable for charging (approximately 2 hours). There is a small LED indicator light on the right earbud that lets you know the earphones are on and when they are charging.

jaybird_bluebudx-battery

The headset’s battery level is conveniently shown on the upper right corner of any iOS device’s screen using Apple’s headset power indicator meter.

Where Android has Google Voice Search, iOS has Siri, and the BlueBuds X have Jenna. Once you put your headphones on, voice prompts announce “power on” and then “headphones connected”. Push play, and your music/show begins. Jenna also helps with pairing and lets you know when the earbuds are powering down.

jaybird_bluebudx-fit

The BlueBuds come with three different-sized silicone buds and three “wings” that are designed to keep the earphones in place during workouts. There are two ways JayBird recommends you wear the BlueBuds X, over the top and back of your ear or straight down against your chest. If you are planning on using these earbuds while exercising, you will likely want to use the over the top of your ear and behind your neck method. But either way you use them,  the “wing” attachment securely keeps your earbuds firmly in place during sports-related activities.

jaybird_bluebudx-wings2

The BlueBuds X are designed to be inserted into your ears.  A tight seal is crucial to getting better sound with deeper bass. If that tight seal comes loose, sound quality and volume are definitely impacted. The right earbud was easy for me to achieve a nice fit that stayed in my ear throughout my entire workout. But the left took me a while to determine the right combination of bud tip and wing attachment size combination to keep the left bud in during workouts. Sadly on a good, perky run, I still have to regularly re-adjust/insert it into my ear. That is more of a function of the shape of my inner ear than the earbuds; I have had similar issues with most other of this type of headphones.

Their noise-isolating design does block out a good amount of ambient noise and sound.

When inserted into your ear canal correctly with a nice tight seal, the BlueBuds do sound very good for a pair of sports earbuds, delivering a sound quality that is close or equal to wired equivalents. According to JayBird, it is due to their patented Shift technology:

jaybird_bluebudx-shift

In addition to “Shift”, there is “Puresound“, which eliminates the white noise with an on-board filtering system. Along with that, JayBird has their own patented system “Signal Plus for skip-free connectivity from your smart device. The combination of these three technology works very well – not only do the BlueBuds produce great sound quality but I never had any sort of skipping, fading, or signal degradation.

jaybird_bluebudx-cableholder

If you do choose to wear them over the top of your ears, JayBird includes 2 X-Fit cord management clips that enable you to shorten the earbud’s cord so it sits against the back/base of your head instead of bouncing around – a relatively simple yet effective system. Too bad JayBird does not include a few spare clips; they seem very easy to loose.

jaybird_bluebudx-sweatAt JayBird, we’re athletes with a passion. A passion for getting products right. We include a Lifetime Warranty Against Sweat across all JayBird products.” The BlueBuds X lifetime warranty against sweat damage is a huge plus for me. I get  pretty icky and sweaty when I run and have destroyed many earbuds in my time due to just that.

While the BlueBuds are made of plastic, their material quality and workmanship are perfectly fine for their intended use. That said, I do have to comment on JayBird’s “premium” Protective Carrying Case: its not very well made and barely fit the BlueBuds with the large eartips and wings. I actually use a different case to transport and protect them.

BlueBuds X earbuds are definitely expensive at $170. For a pair of sport earbuds, their sound quality, features, and capabilities are impressive, but their bud-size and all-plastic construction does not give a premium or top-shelf vibe. When a good seal is achieved, the earphones sound great, but for me, they did need to be reinserted regularly while running. They did work well and sounded excellent while on the elliptical machine, lifting weights, and working around the house.

 

Product Information

Price:$169.95
Manufacturer:JayBird
Requirements:
  • - Bluetooth-enabled device
Pros:
  • - Great minimalistic design
  • - Excellent sound quality (with good fit)
  • - 8 hours of use per charge
  • - Lifetime warranty against sweat
Cons:
  • - Expensive
  • - Could fit/stay in ear better

Comments

  1. 1
    Ronald says:

    thanks for your review.

    I’ve been looking for something like this for years.
    But, according to your review, we’re not there yet.

    I’d like my earbuds not to be in-ear because I would wear them on my bike in traffic ( … need to hear that bus creping up to me from behind … )

    The price would hold me from buying them too.

    But who knows … this product should surely inspire another developer to come up with something even better and cheaper.
    :-)

  2. 2
    Yaniv C says:

    Dangit…. another thing I need to spend money on.
    I have yet to find any really good bluetooth headsets that reproduce music well.
    With that said… Dave you didn’t mention one thing that I feel may be really important. Did you use them to talk to anyone on the phone? Does it support phone calls? And… if so, how was the quality?
    My experience is the best of the bluetooth headsets for music are usually horrible at voice communication. Now, I know that’s not what they are intended for but hey…. can’t I bed and choose? :)

  3. 3
    dave rossin says:

    Good review.
    I completely agree about the fit. Jaybird have made a good effort with this but they are fighting an uphill battle. In ear is just not ideal for exercise. Even if they don’t fall out, with sweat they can become loose and then whatever bass was there is pretty much gone.

    The best solution is definately the FX-Sport VR1 model. This is over the ear [but small and light], with the mp3 player actually in the headphones. Great consistent bass, playlists are voiced to you and best of all is an integrated personal trainer which is customisable for any training session using your words. To be fair this is a lot more than just an audio device. It is just a lot better having the fit correct.

  4. 4
    sarah peters says:

    According to the spec this is a class 1 device. That means WAY more powerful than the standard class 2 used usually – and WAY more radiation. How can they justify putting this product on the market?

  5. 5
    Terri says:

    Thank you for this helpful review, but I do have a question regarding the battery life. Are you actually getting 8 hours? And is that 8 continuous hours, or an hour here and there adding up to 8? I recently purchased these and my battery life is absolutely horrible. I’m getting a max of 3 hrs 45 min.

  6. 6
    Ron Bradford says:

    Hey I bought a pair of jaybird freedom they stopped working . How do I get my warranty?

  7. 7
    Julie says:

    @Ron have you tried contacting Jaybird directly?

  8. 8
    Yaniv C says:

    @Julie you must have the patience of a saint. Also @Ron needs to be banned lol. I mean really….. Coming into a public forum to ask such a question? Hysterical!

  9. 9
    Johnny says:

    Can other people with bluetooth devices can connect with the blue buds while you’re using it? Or does it have any security code so that they cannot pair with it while it is in use.

  10. 10
    Dave Rees says:

    Extremely unlikely. While you do not need to use a code, you do still have to put the earbuds into pairing mode before they connect.

  11. 11
    Ross says:

    To solve the fit issue, buy some Comply TSX-500 foam earbud replacements. Solved.

  12. 12
    Nick says:

    Thanks for the really helpful review.

    Can you possibly explain how the Bluebuds switch between two different (already paired) devices? Say I’m currently listening to a podcast on my iPhone but now want to be able to watch a video on my iPad instead.

    On my current BT headphones (Sony MW600) the switch has to be handled by the headset, not from the iOS devices. Which means fiddling around with a (very clunky) interface on the headset.

    How exactly do you manage the transition with the Bluebuds? Can you simply toggle off Bluetooth on the iPhone (using the handy toggle in Control Centre on iOS7!) and then select the Bluebuds from the list of available devices on the iPad? If you haven’t tried this already, would you be kind enough to give it a go an let me know how it works? I’m really tempted by these headphones but don’t want to spend the money unless the switching mechanism works better than my current device! Thanks so much!

  13. 13
    Ken says:

    My first pair quit working after 2 months. 2nd pair quit working after 6 weeks. Battery life on both pairs was no more than 4 hours max, no where near the 8 hours claimed. They were not abused, dropped, did not get wet, anything. They just stop working. First set stopped when I was wearing them. The 2nd set…well, they were working when I took them off and set them down. Picked them up next day and nothing. Good thing I got them at Best Buy and paid extra for the 2-year warranty. Guess I’ll be bringing these back too. Pretty bad experience for the most expensive ear buds on the shelf!

  14. 14
    Chad says:

    Hi Dave,

    I just read your product review for the Jaybird bluebuds and thought it was a great review. I quote your saying “I have long envisioned wireless earpieces that you wear in each ear like a pair of fitted hearing aids that provide great sound streamed from whatever Bluetooth device you have. We are not quite there yet,”

    We believe we are there now with our new product called Pipes. Please contact me so we could set up a review from you on our brand new product.

    Thanks!!!

  15. 15
    White Glossy says:

    Our resident runner, Doctor Dave, took the BlueBuds to the track and gave it a real-world test. The results… pretty dang good! Check it out – http://wp.me/p106i6-4dQ

  16. 16
    Anthony says:

    Hi folks,

    For those who are interested in picking up a pair, please note there’s a few of us who have had time for some time 1+ years that have had problems with battery life and charging problems. Further experiences from other folks are posted in the comments section of the post below:

    http://carltonbale.com/jaybird-bluebuds-x-bluetooth-headphones-review/

    For those who are still interested, JayBird the company will only honor non-sweat-related issues for 1 year from the purchase of the original product; Afterwards (as in my case when the battery issues started rearing its ugly head), they only offered to take back the headphones at my expense and provide a $60 credit. If the product was robust enough to last longer than one year, perhaps that would warrant another purchase, but after reading about the others’ experiences with the same battery problems, I’ll take my business somewhere else.

  17. 17
    chicannaruns says:

    I got the first pair as a gift and after about six months, they just stopped working. JayBird replaced them but could not offer a warranty on the replacement because I didn’t have a receipt for the first pair. The second pair quit working after about 7 months, yesterday!! Very frustrating!! Pretty sure it’s because of sweat as I only wear them to workout in and I do that about 6 days/week. However, they are advertised as SWEAT PROOF. I now have a love/hate relationship with JayBird….

  18. 18
    Rene Frei says:

    any product that stops working after 4-5 month of a purchase (like mine did) needs to be considered a very bad product that needs to be pulled from the market, no matter the type if warranties the company offers. never again….

  19. 19
    Carmen says:

    Dose any one why my iPod 5th generation doesn’t connect to the bluebud X I was really excited for them but it wouldn’t connect to my iPod. Any one have a answer please response as soon as possible.

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