Near perfect earbuds with intermittent ear-to-ear connection problems.
I’m constantly on the search for the ‘next best earbud’. I’m a fan of the Apple AirPods but have also found that they don’t necessarily have all the features or sound quality I want. So, I’m always on the lookout for earbuds that offer everything I want in a premium, succinct package. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to try the Jaybird Run Wireless Sport Headphones and today, I’m eager to test out the second generation version of that headphone — the Jaybird Run XT True Wireless Sport Headphones.
These are the updated version of the Jaybird Run Wireless Sport Headphones and even though there are some updates to the design, for the most part, the headphones have remained the same. Jaybird wanted to combine the ultra-comfortable, active fit and premium sound from the first generation earbuds with a set of headphones that were weatherproof. Therefore, Jaybird has released the Run XT headphones as a fully waterproof and sweat proof. They are rated IPX7 and are built to perform.
The earbuds are designed to be minimalist in nature and feature a streamlined sport fit for users. The headphones have a 4-hour playtime battery with an additional 8 hours of charge stored in the charging case for a total of 12 hours (five minutes of charging provides an hour of listening time for the headphones). The headphones are compatible with Siri and Google Assistant. There are controls on the headphones in the form of multipurpose buttons. The left ear controls the voice assistant while the right earpiece allows you to play/pause, answer/end phone calls with a single press of the button and skip tracks or decline calls with a double click.
When I first put these headphones in my ears, I was a little concerned about the sound quality. To be honest, they sounded garbled and like I had just tuned in a poor reception on the radio. I’ve used other Jaybird headphones before I couldn’t imagine that the reception and sound quality was really ‘that’ bad. So, I readjusted them in my ear and swapped out ear tips and voila — the sound quality improved. I mention this incident because I don’t think users should be too quick to judge wireless headphones. A lot can go wrong with the connection and if you are like me and enjoy streaming music and videos a lot, that connection can also contribute to the sound quality coming through your headphones. I did experience a bit of static sound coming through the earbuds and it never went away.
Now, I want to talk about how comfortable these headphones are. I will sometimes have problems with earbuds causing earaches and by relation — headaches. They simply won’t fit me correctly and as a result, they cause me discomfort and sound just doesn’t sound right coming through the earphones. I have tested out dozens of earbuds and only found three sets I really like. I would say 75% of why I like those three sets is because they fit me correctly. I listen to music constantly while I’m working and so I need something that is going to be comfortable. The Jaybird Run XT definitely ‘fit’ the bill when it comes to comfort. The fit gently into the ear canal and the ear wing makes the earbud feel secure without causing an ache. The ear wings are flexible and so they sort of move with the ear’s natural shape instead of being rigid and causing a sore inside the ear (this happened to me with a different style of earbud).
Each earbud has a multipurpose button installed on it as described above. I found this button to be a little difficult to use on either ear. It’s hard to press in and has limited functionality. To control the volume you either have to do it on the connected device or ask your voice assistant to do it. This was a criticism we had of the first generation of the headphones, too.
One thing I did notice was that I did experience some cutting in and out. This is apparently a problem that the first generation Jaybird Run headphones had, too. That model used a Bluetooth connection to join the individual earbuds together instead of Near-Field Magnetic Induction as many other true wireless headphones use. It appears — even though I can’t back it up with any information from the product designer — that this method of connection is still being used. Because of this, I ended up experiencing a lot of random dropouts and the left earbud just couldn’t keep up with the right earbud 100% of the time. The right earpiece would stay connected but the left would cut in and out randomly. There was never one certain thing I was listening to that would cause it — it was just random. So why did Jaybird continue using this method of connection when it seems to plague users’ experiences? Maybe it’s because they wanted to guarantee the single-bud mono mode could be used. I do rather like this feature because I am still able to enjoy having the full features of the earbuds while being able to interact with people around me because I can hear them through my left ear. That said, I didn’t enjoy the cutting in and out part and I feel that since this was an issue with the first generation earbuds that it should have probably been remedied with this updated product.
It feels strange to say, but with the exception of the drop-out problem, these earbuds are pretty close to perfect for me. They fit securely in my ears — never felt loose while I was using them — provided a consistently good sound, and come equipped with a charging case. I found the Jaybird Run XT Headphones to be incredibly comfortable even after hours of listening and the audio quality was above average no matter what I was listening to. I did use the app, but sort of found it to be subpar and not entirely necessary. I liked the EQ presets that were included in the app, but other than that, I really didn’t see it as a needed support app. The Jaybird Run XT have a pretty high retail price tag — especially with the drop out problem — but they are a quality set of headphones.