The Jaybird X2s have a bit of a reputation for being the best wireless earphones out there. In my review, I explore whether or not the Jaybirds deliver the best sound in the business, and we come to some surprising, and some not so surprising conclusions.
The design of the Jaybirds is beautiful and colourful, with a matte finish. The model I received for review was red, but honestly I think you can’t really go wrong with any model. They’re all cool, muted colours (except the neon, but even the neon is slightly muted), which I personally love, and are very stylish.
Not only is the design good, it is also light. It weighs a mere 13.8 grams, making it comfortable on the ears to wear for extended periods of time. To keep the earphones in your ears, Jaybird includes its Fins (similar to Jabra’s Wings) on the earphones that hook to your ear so that they don’t fall off. I must say, these Fins are extremely comfortable. The rubber/silicone material is smooth and doesn’t cause abrasions on the inside of the ear, and is generally a joy to use. And they really work. I did some exercise that involved a lot of jumping around and the earphones stayed put throughout, so I’m confident they would not fall out in most rigorous forms of exercise or sports.
Furthermore, Comply foam earbuds also come with the Jaybirds. They’re comfortable because they’re made of foam instead of silicone like the usual earbuds that come with most earphones, and conform to one’s unique ear canal shape. This keeps it secure in your ear, even when you sweat, unlike the traditional earbuds which can get slippery when wet. And yes, the Jaybirds are sweatproof, and come with a lifetime warranty against sweat so you don’t have to worry about that.
The Jaybirds also have in-line controls, so that you can play or pause your music, go to the next or previous track and adjust the volume. The details are below. One think I didn’t particularly like was the “plasticky” feel of the buttons. They don’t feel very premium, but this is admittedly a non-issue and I’m just nitpicking because the Jaybirds are close to perfect.
Battery life is spectacular, at 8 hours. That’s easily enough for almost a full day of listening, and is particularly impressive for a pair of earphones this light. Charging is done using a microusb cable, plugged into the microusb port seen below. It’s nice that when the cap is closed, the earphones still look good.
As for the sound quality, I must say it is the absolute best I have ever heard in a wireless pair of earphones. The sound is truly amazing. Separation is immaculate, and the sound is really clean and clear. Every instrument can be heard with pinpoint precision. Furthermore, the virtual soundstage is out of this world, and if I close my eyes, I can just about imagine that I’m in the middle of a studio as the song is being recorded. It delivers exceptional surround sound and I cannot praise it enough. Highs, mids and lows – the Jaybirds handle every type of sound or music of any genre with aplomb. The sound is punchy and lively, and with the Jaybirds, I’ve actually, for the first time in my life, spent quite a bit of time doing nothing but listening to and fully appreciating the music.
The Jaybird X2s also have this technology called “PureSound” which according to the website is an “on-board filtering system” which “filters out and eliminates white noise, delivering a clean audio experience, offering hours of pure enjoyment while eliminating listener fatigue.” I don’t know how it works, and I don’t know if it is the real reason for the clean music I’m hearing on the Jaybirds, but I know the facts and they are that the sound is indeed crystal clear, and that should be all that matters.
Some may think that the lack of aptX is a drawback, but I think it’s an advantage. Instead of relying on aptX, Jaybird has decided to go with a custom implementation of the native Bluetooth SBC codec, dubbed Shift Premium Bluetooth Audio. It works with any device, and by relying on Bluetooth 2.1 instead of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE, also known as Bluetooth 4.0 and above), the Jaybirds are better equipped for streaming high bitrate music.
I love this. It shows real thought and care that went into the process of creating the Jaybirds. Instead of rushing to adopt the latest technologies and the versions with bigger numbers, Jaybird has made some very smart, admirable engineering tradeoffs that I have a profound respect for, ensuring that these earphones can work consistently well with just about every device, and have the best sound possible. Yes, that it still uses the older technology may be off-putting to some of you who only look at the specs, but the results it delivers is the best I have ever heard (and so have a ton of other reviewers online), and isn’t that what matters most?
This is, in a way, emblematic of the Android vs iPhone debate – iPhones have ‘outdated’ specs, while Android always goes for the newest and greatest specs. Yet, the iPhone still holds its own against Android phones, and even outperforms Android in many aspects such as fluidity and overall performance. To get back to my point, I feel that Jaybird’s decisions are well-thought out and logical, and create the best user experience possible, and that ends my defence of their decisions.
However, I cannot help but feel that this experience is marred somewhat by the stereo reversal inherent in wearing the earphones over ear. When wearing under ear (like most people do), the earpiece with the in-line controls is on the right. When wearing over ear, which is what most audiophiles do, the earpiece with the in-line controls is on the left. You may ask whether it is a stereo headset after all, and it is. The “true right” earpiece is the one with the in-line controls. This means that if you are wearing it over the ears, and watching a movie with a car zooming from left to right, you will hear it as if the car is zooming from right to left.
In essence, the stereo is reversed when you wear it over the ears, and there’s no way to change it other than using an application on your phone or computer which can reverse the stereo when playing the audio track so that you will be listening to it in the right way. This I find disappointing, especially since it is not something explicitly stated when one buys it, and very few people would actually know about it. Perhaps in the next iteration, Jaybird could implement a hardware-based method of reversing the stereo. In the meantime, you as an over ear user of earphones, must decide whether the reversal of the stereo is something you can live with.
Sadly, while objectively better than many earphones out there, the sound isolation of the Jaybirds leaves something to be desired. Having come from the Jabra Pulse Wireless, which has the best sound isolation of any earphones I’ve ever used, bar none, the Jaybirds, with a slightly above average sound isolation, struck me as worse than it should have. Where the Jabra Pulse would block out almost all noises in the MRT even as the MRT went through a tunnel, the Jaybirds doesn’t. And where the Jabra Pulse would almost entirely eliminate the sounds of people talking around you, these same sounds are, while dulled, still audible on the Jaybirds.
The Comply earbuds do help alleviate this a little, because they conform to your ear canal thereby blocking out more sound, but it’s the one thing about the Jaybirds I would change if I could. However, I am used to near-total sound isolation, and if you do not come from the Jabra Pulse or the Etymotic line or any other pair of earphones that delivers truly exceptional sound isolation, or if you do not really care for spectacular sound isolation, then this will be fine for you. The Jaybirds still do deliver good sound isolation, but just not as good as I’m used to, and my standards in this regard are admittedly very high.
Also, there is a case for not having perfect sound isolation in a pair of earphones meant for sports or outdoor activity. One would certainly need to be able to hear approaching cars honking or bicycle bells ringing, and blocking out all this sound could prove dangerous, even fatal. So, it might actually be a good thing if you know you need to be able to hear the outside world for whatever reason. But, just make sure you know what you want and you get what you need. If you just want to use it for commutes and at home, then perhaps these are not the best for you depending on how noisy your environments are. But if you’re going to cycle on the roads then of course, don’t get earphones like the Jabra Pulse!
In conclusion, there’s very little about the Jaybirds I hate. The sound isolation is something I’d personally like improved, but I can appreciate that my needs are different from others and that Jaybird may not want near-perfect sound isolation due to their target group being involved in sports. The sound quality is top notch, and the battery life is very good. This gets my seal of approval.