I remember reviewing the Jaybird X2 around 1.5 years ago, and being blown away by the sound quality, because (and most other reviewers would agree) they’re simply the best in the Bluetooth sports earphones category. However, fit wasn’t fantastic, sound isolation was subpar, and I found it painful to wear for long. (That’s the tl;dr version. You can read my original review here.)
With the Jaybird X3, a lot of my complaints are addressed, and it’s gotten substantially better by improving over the X2 and the original Bluebuds X. In fact, I’m surprised they even managed to improve upon an already excellent design, by so much.
Micro-sized Universal Fit
Jaybird’s reduced the speaker housing diameter by 20% to accommodate smaller ear canals, supposedly resulting in an enhanced comfort-fit for all.
I actually have very small ear canals, so I’m a good person to test this. I found these much more comfortable than last year, and they fit really well.
Redesigned Ear Fins
They’re now smaller, which has helped make them more comfortable. Previously, I found the pressure on the ears due to the fins to be pretty painful after a while, and I never got used to it. The pain persists now, but it is less intense and only comes after a few hours of wearing the ear fins.
New Ear Tips
Jaybird is still using Comply Foam tips, but this time instead of using the Sport ear tips, they’re using the Isolation tips. They also provide traditional Silicon tips in the box. They are available in Small, Medium and Large sizes.
I love the Comply tips. They have excellent isolation, which was a problem in the X2s. Whether you’re on the streets or going through a tunnel in the MRT, it blocks out most of the sound from your environment.
In short, the Comply tips are great… when they aren’t broken. My ear canals only allow for me to use Small and Medium, and I prefer Medium because of the greater seal afforded. Unfortunately, the form on the left side tore after about 2 weeks. So I switched over to the Small one. Again, after 2 weeks it tore, and again, on the left side. This could be due to my ears, or rather, left ear, but perhaps it was coincidence. I have no clue. I have used my Shure SE215 foam eartips for the longest time, and other than the natural loss of the foam’s ability to remain compressed in my ear, none of them have ever torn. The Shure foam eartips are, as far as I know, built by Shure, though you can buy Comply eartips for the SE215 if you’d like. Perhaps it’s a problem on Comply’s end, then?
Anyway, since I’ve been using the Silicon tips since then. However, the experience pales in comparison. The Comply tips have excellent isolation, while the Silicon ones, well, don’t. And because foam moulds to your ear canals, they also fit much better.
I really dislike Silicon tips to be quite honest. So it is great that you can buy a pack of Comply tips from the Comply site. Unfortunately, they are pricey. Really pricey. And if they are going to break again so quickly, they would not be worth it. Be warned then, potential buyer. These earphones might end up costing you a lot if you love foam eartips enough.
But then you could always give it a shot, and if it breaks for you, you may be able to get foam earbuds from other brands, or get a good pair of Silicon tips if you are fine with Silicon.
They reduced the size of X3 by 34% that brings full helmet compatibility to the X-Series for the first time. I’m not in a position to review this by the way, as I don’t have a helmet. I did a quick check online and people seem to think it is indeed helmet compatible, but please do your research if you care about this aspect of the review.
The charging cable is interesting. It’s a 2-piece design which has a short micro-USB cable which plugs into a small adapter of sorts, that then connects to the X3’s inline remote. It makes it pretty easy to charge it; no fiddling around with opening the lid on the back of one of the earphone pieces, to expose a micro-USB port for charging. Simply do the below and it will start charging.
It is irritating though, because this means you cannot charge your earphones using other cables without the adapter, so you must ensure you don’t lose it. Thankfully, a lanyard is attached to both the cable and the adapter so you don’t lose one of them, but then if you lose the whole setup you’re in for some trouble and a couple days of having your earphones be dead until you can get a replacement from Jaybird.
The battery gets a redesign too. This comes in the form of a switch from nickel-metal hydride to lithium-ion, supposedly resulting in faster charging and improved battery life. Jaybird says it should last at eight hours per charge on “moderate volume,” which is good, but not any better than the X2s, actually.
I found that it does last 8 hours, but I listen at a lower volume than most. If you listen at a louder volume, you should obviously expect it to last a shorter duration. The “voice” informs you of the battery life at 20% intervals starting from fully charged to 20%, at which point it informs you that you have low battery. I find the voice too loud, and rather disruptive. It also starts up and switches off with a sound that’s rather loud. As I said, I don’t like listening to music loud.
New Connectivity Features
Finally, you can simultaneously pair and connect your Jaybirds with 2 different devices, courtesy of Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity. This works very well, and I frequently connect it to my phone and computer at the same time with no hiccups.
It switches between the two inputs with ease, so if I’m listening to music on my computer, but receive a call on my phone, I can easily pick up the call then get back to my music. Or, I can switch music inputs (sometimes someone sends me a YouTube video of a song on WhatsApp, and switching from computer-input to phone-input is a breeze. Really great!
Two sets of X3 headphones can connect to the same mobile device to share the audio. Unfortunately, I don’t have 2 sets of X3 headphones, but it seems that other reviewers have found this to work well.
Enhanced 6mm Driver
Basically an attempt to improve its audio quality further, and I daresay it’s done a great job at that.
I loved the Jaybird X2 sound quality, and this certainly does an even better job, with a great soundstage, more resonant highs and punchier lows.
Honestly I have nothing to complain about, as I already loved the sound quality in the X2s, but would like to note that the sound is better with foam earbuds because you can hear it more clearly.
Jaybird MySound App
With the MySound App, you can customise your sound settings. This is then saved on your X3 earphones as a custom sound profile, which will be used no matter what device you’re on, or which music service you use. That’s pretty nifty, actually, to not need to customise your sound profile for each separate device. You can also browse from some presets, one of which is meant for extended listening, which might confuse you, so I’ll explain. It basically massively reduces the highs, because high frequency sounds are most likely to damage our hearing. That’s actually pretty smart. I downloaded a preset, “Audiophile Utopia” and applied it to my pair. It makes the sound super clear, which I love.
But you know what’s truly incredible? They actually improved on a big (and underrated) problem with the X2s. Namely, you know how one side of your stereo earphones is right and one side is left? Also, you know that if you wear it over ear instead of under ear, the “right” side is worn on your left ear and vice versa? Well, this is solved, because just like how you can save equaliser presets on your earphones, you can actually switch the left and right channels now! And the best part is that the changes will apply to whatever device you’re using. I don’t actually wear my earphones over ear, but loads of people do, and finally they will be able to wear their earphones as they wish while hearing audio as it’s meant to be. Colour me impressed.
In fact, it’s the first time I like the app that comes with a pair of Bluetooth earphones.
Should You Buy It?
For the cost, there is a list here which details the resellers in Singapore.
However, like any good tech journalist, I’ve found you some deals which would save you quite a bit of money. Usually, online stores sell it at S$215, but I found Mobyshop sells it at S$189, and Lazada goes for as low as S$179.90 (with warranty!). At just S$180, I honestly think these are a really good buy, and would buy it myself if I didn’t already have the JLab Epic 2 earphones, which are not as good, but good enough that I wouldn’t want to throw away my investment in it.
Anyway, I’m rambling. It’s a fantastic deal. Get it if you don’t already have Bluetooth earphones. Maybe get it even if you already do.