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Jaybird Vista Earbuds Hands-On: An AirPods/PowerBeats Pro Competitor for Sports?

Jaybird-Vista-Charging-Case-Overview

My relationship with music while working out is somewhat moody, and usually depends on how complex everything is to setup and maintain. Sure, pairing is usually easy – but up until really the last year or two, getting streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music on our wearables that we use in sports wasn’t really possible. Instead, we were stuck with static music that we never bothered to update.

But that was only one part of the equation – the other was the earphones/earbuds. Sure, there’s been Bluetooth headphones/buds around for a long time, but their compatibility with watches for music streaming had more drama than the Kardashians. You often had to figure out which side was the communications side of the headphones, and then wear the watch on the same side, in order to get a drop-free experience. And even then, for me simple things like walking during intervals with my hands at my side would cause drops on some watch/earphone combinations.

Over the last 6-12 months we’ve seen companies start to make progress on that though. For example, prior to that, Apple released their AirPods, which offered excellent connectivity…if you were on an Apple device. For 3rd parties? Mostly a mess with non-Apple watches. It was the perfect storm of two devices (tiny wireless earbuds & small watches) both engineering their communications stacks right to the limit to conserve precious battery. But over the last year we’ve seen the two sides of the equation improve things.

Through firmware and hardware updates from both parties, you’ll now find pretty good success with AirPods on Garmin wearables for example (especially the latest gen watches and AirPods). But ultimately while AirPods make excellent all-around audio earbuds ($159), they kinda suck from a sports standpoint (not waterproofed, no custom fit option, can fall out easily, etc…). Which is why Apple-owned Beats came out with their equally wireless (but great for sports) PowerBeats Pro. But those will set you back $249.

Well as of today there’s one more option on the ever-growing block of totally wireless sports earbud options: The Jaybird Vista totally wireless earbuds, which are designed specifically for sport. And unlike the previous Run and Run XT ones – they claim they won’t suck connectivity wise. But how does that hold up in real-life? Fear not – I’ve got you covered. Oh, and they ‘only’ cost $179, in the same ballpark as the AirPods. So let’s dig in.

(Usual note that these are media loaner units that’ll go back to Jaybird once I wrap up a review, and I’ll go out and get my own through normal retail channels. This isn’t sponsored or any of that messy jazz. Also note that I’ve purchased my own AirPods and PowerBeats Pro as well as all the other headphones I have – from $25 Anker ones that work great to older pre-Apple Beats ones (roughly like this), to Bragi Dash units. I recognize there are nearly a dozen options on the market today, and I’m unlikely to review all of them – instead, focusing on the sports element, primarily with wearables.)

What’s New:

Jaybird-Vista-Box

The Vista is not Jaybird’s first wireless earbuds set, the company had not only the previous Run and Run XT units in that configuration – but also a long slate of other wireless (but wired together) products. However, the biggest challenge people had with the Run & Run XT is that connectivity basically sucked. Dropouts were the norm, especially for fringe connectivity (which is common in wearables).

But with Vista, the Logitech owned company has taken a different direction in terms of the communications chipset. They worked with two outside companies to develop a new chipset (dubbed the JBS1) that they say should eliminate those drops. But it also includes a different architecture than in the past, one that more closely resembles what Apple and others are doing. Rather than have one earbud function as the master and then relay audio to the secondary earbud (which is prone to failures), the company pairs to whichever earbud has the strongest signal at that time, and then the secondary earbud effectively ‘eavesdrops’ (super-simplification) on the audio from the phone/watch/etc. Thus ultimately acting like a failover paradigm.

Jaybird-Vista-Earbuds

What makes this scheme slightly more interesting in a workout scenario is using a single bud. For example some people might want to cycle with the earbuds, but don’t want it blocking out all the outside sounds (which it will do). So they can use either of the two buds. So you could run/ride with just the left one in, or just the right one in. Doesn’t matter which one you choose (a difference from past products). I tried it out on today’s run, alternating between the two (it doesn’t have any ear-detection in the unit today).

Jaybird-Vista-USB-C-Charging-Cable

Though in some ways we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. We should probably back all the way up to the case. Like most wireless buds, it includes a charging case. The case has a built-in battery that can provide 10 hours of charge. The earbuds themselves can hold 6 hours of charge. The whole gamut is charged via glorious USB-C cable.

Jaybird-Vista-USB-C-ChargingInProgress

A 5 minute quick charge of the buds will provide 1hr of listening time. Meanwhile, to charge the entire case and buds from 0% up to full will take about 2.5-3 hours. Also, the case has magnets on it to snap it closed and also pull the buds into their little homes quick and efficiently.

Jaybird-Vista-Magnetic-Latch-Case

To pair Vista with your device of choice (any Bluetooth compatible audio device), simply put the buds in the charging case and briefly hold the button on the case. This will start the pairing process.

Jaybird-Vista-Pairing-Garmin-Forerunner

The buds can remember/store up to 8 device connections. So for example thus far today I’ve paired them to my phone, my Forerunner 945, a MARQ Athlete, and an Apple Watch Series 4.  I could then pair them to another four devices before someone gets kicked off the island. It’s only able to maintain a single concurrent connection for audio playback though (meaning both a phone and watch can’t concurrently play back to Vista at the same time, which makes sense).

Jaybird-Vista-Earbuds-Apple-Watch-Series-4

In addition on the phone side you’ve got Jaybird’s app. This app doesn’t require any sort of login (though, you can create one if you want), and allows you to customize the levels on the Jaybird Vista.  You can create totally custom levels, or you can choose from a gazillion presets (both created by them and by random internet peoples).  And you can also have it track the last known location of the earbuds, in the event you lose them – assuming your phone was nearby when it happened

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The app also allows you to customize the actions of the button on each side. Both buttons act identically (less things to remember), and you’ve got two options: Single tap, double tap. By default a single-tap will pause/play, whereas a double-tap will advance the track.

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But if using your phone with the app somewhere in the background you can do things like have a double-tap open up a specific playlist. The button on the earbuds is simply the entire side where the logo is.

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Now in my testing the tapping (of any sort) didn’t work with a Garmin watch playing music. So it didn’t pause/skip/etc. There’s also no volume changing on it, though you can change volume (and tracks/etc) via the Garmin watch itself.

Garmin-Forerunner-Spotify-Jaybird-Earbuds

Next on the features front note that both sides do have mics in them. This goes back to the concept of being able to use either bud independently. But those mics can also access Siri or Google Assistant (depending on your phone), or just talk if connected to your phone. Again, both of those actions require a phone, just like they do on Apple products.

Inside the packaging you’ll find two extra sets of differently sized tips, in case the default tips are too big/small. These easily pull off and attach to the buds:

Jaybird-Vista-Extra-Tips

There isn’t any spot in the charging case of the extra tips, so just put them somewhere safe (which you’ll invariably never remember 3 months from now).

Last but not least the company noted they made some significant waterproofing changes. In the past they’ve nanocoated the device, which is a technique most sports/wearables companies use to try and waterproof components internally in the event water gets in. The most famous example I can remember in the sports tech world was the original Fly6, where I could fill the inside of the unit with water and it kept working for a while. Once drying it, it was perfectly fine again. Rinse/repeat…literally.

But nanocoating isn’t perfect, especially when sweat is involved – which sorta acts like sea water – rarely good applied to anything except fish. So with Vista the company has internally sealed all of the electronics in a hard encapsulated single shell, which they say completely removes any chance of any liquid coming into contact with it. But more on my brief testing on that in a minute.

First Run Test:

After getting everything all setup it was time for my first test run this morning. With the Netherlands having beautiful sunny weather for weeks (ok, miserably hot, but at least sunny), I was all set for an enjoyable loop around Amsterdam.

And then I started running. And it poured out. And then it poured harder. And then it added one bucket of water atop that for good measure. Water water everywhere.

vlcsnap-2019-07-31-21h27m30s487

Well, at least I can confirm they aren’t dead yet. Of course, typically speaking waterproofing device fails take much longer to manifest themselves – often days or weeks (or longer). So it’s something I’ll be on the lookout for.

As for the music itself, I was using the Garmin Forerunner 945 to play back Spotify to the Vista. I had paired it prior to heading out, super quick and easy. Then during the run I simply opened up the music selector on the FR945 and hit play. Off I went running.

DSC_3933

At first I used both pods, and during that time period things sounded good. Vista will totally remove any non-severe outside noise – so you won’t hear anything else, short of that bus honking at you the split second before it runs you over. Thus, you’ll want to pay attention accordingly. It also means you can’t talk to anyone else while running.

vlcsnap-2019-07-31-21h30m42s347

But since I was running with another person, I then tried out the single-sided option. First I started with my left side out (and right still in). The FR945 kept streaming to that, no issues at all. Since the Vista doesn’t have ear detection, it doesn’t stop playback when removed from your ears (like the AirPods or PowerBeats Pro would, though you can turn that off on those if you want to).

After a bit of time I then switched again, this time to my right ear free and the single Vista bud in my left ear. No issues there either. It just works fine. Volume levels were good as well, though I don’t like my volume crazy loud or anything.

After my first run I then went out for a bit of a second run too – again with more dual-bud time. No issues there.

vlcsnap-2019-07-31-21h29m32s283

Now interestingly – I had zero drops/quirks during my run, but sitting here this afternoon writing this I’ve seen a few quirks. I’ve been playing back the music from the Garmin Forerunner 945 initially (unless after numerous hours of that streaming the battery died), and then I switched over to the Garmin MARQ. Generally speaking, things are good. But I do notice a small quirk every few minutes where there’s a split second of distortion, almost how I’d imagine if it was handing off the ‘master’ between the two buds, or a buffering catch-up. There’s no actual drop, just the audio levels feel like they hit a speed bump, go a bit soft on one side, and then normalize between the two buds – all within perhaps 1/4th of a second.

I then iterated through a slew of combinations over the next hour: FR945+Vista, MARQ+Vista, iPhone+Vista, iPhone+PowerBeats Pro, iPhone+AirPods, and MARQ+PowerBeats Pro. Even changing spots in the studio/office. Wondering if perhaps there’s some sort of WiFi interference (since I never saw it outside, including doing a bunch of photo work later on). I then went outside and sat and worked at the picnic table. Zero issues.

DSC_3906

And what I found on this singular Wednesday was that for a purely Apple to Apple connection (iPhone to PowerBeats Pro or AirPods) there was never any dip/quirk. However, as I strayed further from that, the quirks increased in intensity. For example, MARQ to PowerBeats there was the tiniest of imperfections at roughly the same frequency as the more noticeable Jaybird Vista + anything combination. My suspicion is there’s something in the environment here on this given day that’s causing imperfections that are handled better on a pure Apple ecosystem (yet other days I’ve had no issues). It’s well known that Apple does incredible things with audio resiliency of AirPods/PowerBeats Pro and their own products, things that 3rd parties can’t take advantage of, even when streaming to the AirPods/PowerBeats Pro. And this sorta shows that.

I brought up the issue with Jaybird, they started digging into it and have a few more tests I can do tomorrow in a single-pod configuration. Though ultimately I expect the answer will simply be that interference happens to be a fact of life.

Product Comparison:

DSC_3954

As I said at the start, I don’t have every wireless earbud solution on the market. My ‘Noah’s Arc’ philosophy currently only extends to watches, trainers, power meters, drones, and action cameras. Ok, I guess also bike computers, heart rate straps, and cycling sensors. So this isn’t inclusive of everything out there.

Instead, it’s inclusive of the three things sitting on my desk today that I have used: Apple AirPods, Jaybird Vista, and (Apple’s) Beats PowerBeats Pro. Thus, that’s the comparison for now. I’d caveat that while the AirPods are great for day to day use, I find they can easily fall out of my ears while running with a single errant sweat removal swipe. And depending on the situation you might not even realize it till it’s too late (such as in the middle of a busy city).

I’ve got no issues with the PowerBeat Pro or Jaybird Vista units falling out – they’re definitely in the ears for the long game. The PowerBeats Pro are obviously bigger than the Jaybird Vista, with a design that wraps around the ear. But I don’t find the Jaybird Vista any less secure. I can shake my head like a crazy person and they stay in rock solid.

DSC_3951

As far as quality goes, I find the overall quality of the Jaybird Vista better than that of the Apple AirPods (I have the V2, latest gen variant). The sound is crisper, louder, and of course it removes all outside noise easily. There’s really no comparison there (despite being the same price – $179). On the flip side, I find the music clarity on the far more expensive PowerBeats Pro ($249) above that of the Jaybird Vista. Not massively, but certainly noticeable when you wear them back to back. But one would be hard pressed to actually notice that out on a run gasping for breath doing hard intervals or such.

Which is ultimately a factor one has to remember here: The main point here (for me anyways) is sports, not sitting back on a lounger on a quiet Sunday morning listening to soft jazz music. In my mind, I see those as pretty different use cases. But maybe that’s just me.

In any case, here’s a quick run-down of the key specs between the two:

Function/FeatureJaybird VistaBeats PowerBeats ProApple Airpods (2nd Gen)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated August 6th, 2019 @ 3:05 pmNew Window
Price$179$249$159
AvailabilityJuly 31st, 2019 - GlobalGlobalGlobal
Weight (per pod)6g each20g each4g each
Waterproofing SpecIPX7Sweat/Water 'Resistant'None
FitJaybird VistaBeats PowerBeats ProApple Airpods (2nd Gen)
Adjustable/swappable ear tipsYes (comes with three options)Yes (comes with four options)No
BatteryJaybird VistaBeats PowerBeats ProApple Airpods (2nd Gen)
Playback Time6 hours9 hours5 hours
Fast charge option5 minutes = 1 hour playback15 mins = 1.5 hours playback15 mins = 3 hours playback
Charging Case Battery Life16 hours24 hours24 hours
Charging CaseJaybird VistaBeats PowerBeats ProApple Airpods (2nd Gen)
Port/Cable typeUSB-CApple LightningApple Lightning
Fits in pocketYes (has lanyard too)Not reallyYes
GeneralJaybird VistaBeats PowerBeats ProApple Airpods (2nd Gen)
Transparency Mode (configurable)No (always blocking)No (always blocking)No (always pass-through)
ConnectivityJaybird VistaBeats PowerBeats ProApple Airpods (2nd Gen)
Supports phone callsYesYesYes
Mics on both sidesYesYEsYEs
Can operate individually (one-side only)YesYesYes
Auto-pause if removed from earNoYes (with Apple hardware)Yes (with Apple hardware)
AppJaybird VistaBeats PowerBeats ProApple Airpods (2nd Gen)
Voice assistance supportSiri/Google Assistance (with phone)SiriSiri
Ability to customize EQYesLimitedLimited
Ability to customize functionsYesNoNo
Last known locationYes with phoneYes with phoneYes with phone
PurchaseJaybird VistaBeats PowerBeats ProApple Airpods (2nd Gen)
Amazon LinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)Link
DCRainmakerJaybird VistaBeats PowerBeats ProApple Airpods (2nd Gen)
Review LinkLink

Got it? Good, let’s wrap this puppy up.

Summary:

DSC_3936

Jaybird seems to have nailed the price to value prop ratio perfectly with the Vista buds. They’re a far better sport-specific solution than Apple’s AirPods, but save you some $70 compared to the much pricier (and sport-specific) PowerBeats Pro. For the vast majority of people, I don’t think you’d notice the difference between the PowerBeats Pro and Jaybird Vista unless you wore them back to back and did so inside. Add any form of workout element, or outdoors and the differences go away. The sound quality is great for me in those scenarios, and the noise isolation follows through with killing anything except the bus or errant tram of death.

While I did run into some sort of quirk inside the office, it’s definitely limited to that specific environment. Perhaps it’s my multi-node Google WiFi, or maybe the crazy beer guy’s next door. While a variant of that same quirk was also barely noticeable in a PowerBeats Pro + Garmin combination, a purely native Apple/Apple combination didn’t yield any blips. But again – absolutely zero issues outdoors for me. Whether or not you’d see the same issue in your home/office/gym/Walmart is really anyone’s guess. In talking with Des of DesFit (and having him iterate through a bunch of tests as well with me this afternoon), he hasn’t been able to reproduce it. Basically, it’s just a me issue.

For the units that I’ve tried that are totally wireless between earbuds, I think this strikes the best balance between price and functionality. And that’s before you look into aspects like some of the app-based EQ or function customizations that others don’t offer. Overall, not too shabby.

With that – thanks for reading!

Update: You can now order the Jaybird Vista from Clever Training. This helps support the site, but also gets you as a DCR Reader 10% off using coupon code DCR10BTF, plus free US shipping. Enjoy!

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83 Comments

  1. Steve

    Would kill for a bluetooth version of my Sennheiser PMX 686s (or similar) – don’t seem to be able to get buds that stay in but remain comfortable in my ears and I’d be terrified about losing one (or both) of these totally wireless types.

  2. lukasz

    I’d be curious of how they work in heavy winds considering their rather large batteries.

    I am on my third pair of Bose’s SoundSport Wireless, and the problem is the pods are so large outside the ear that in heavy wind it’s hard to hear anything except of air buffeting around them.

    thanks for the review! the Bose’s are, sadly, dying after today’s heavy rain and I am not going to buy the fourth pair. they are great when it comes to sound quality and stay put in the ear regardless of what i do – but they each failed in this way or another within 18 months of purchase.

    • Fwiw, it was fairly windy yesterday (because: Netherlands), and no issues with buffeting or wonk there. I was running though and not riding (not a big fan of riding and wearing headphones).

  3. John h

    Hmm, burned by the jaybird run (works great when the planets align every 7.29 days) , not sure I want to throw more cash their way even though spec wise it’s what I want

    Let me know when they do an upgrade programme

  4. Jonathan

    Thanks for this post! I just ordered a 645 Music during the Prime day sale and I’ve been debating which headphones to buy. I’m an Android user, and I’ve tried a few cheaper (non-truly) wireless earphones and have been annoyed by the cord connecting them and the comfort of the buds.

    I’m wondering if you can speak to the comfort of each of these headphones. Could you give an estimate of the number of hours of wear on each pair before your ears feel fatigue? I would say that my ears are on the sensitive side, so this is a big concern for me

    • Des Fit

      Hope Ray doesn’t mind me chiming in here, but I’ve been wearing them consistently over the last 5 days and can share my experience.

      A lot of truly wireless headphones are slightly larger than their wired, wireless counterparts – the Vistas being slightly larger than the Tarah Pros (not necessarily in depth, but it’s more of rounded rectangle than a circle in regards to overall volume). During the last 5 days, on one occasion I wore them for about a 3-1/2 hour period without removing them and while the size difference is noticeable from the Tarah Pros, I can’t say that they were uncomfortable. However, I would say that the Tarah Pros are more comfortable overall and those have been my go-to headphones.

      I’ve found that although you can get a great pair of headphones under that $100 mark, often times there can be a compromise in either comfort level or security compared to their higher-priced counterparts.

      For reference, Apple Airpods don’t work in my ears – for both comfort as well as security. I also have sensitive ears which is why I generally don’t prefer over-the-ear variety.

      Hope that helps!

    • Victor Munteanu

      Des Fit, any difference sound quality wise between the Tarah Pro and the Vista? I’ve done a few adjustments to my Tarah Pro by cutting off the silicone in-ear nozzle and wearing them with Comply foams instead, which resulted in great external sound isolation and quite a bit of additional bass punch. I’m wondering how are the Vistas on that front?

    • Stephen Bilen

      DesFit,
      I saw your review of the SoundPeats Q30 and got a pair for running / indoor cycling. $30 and they work well.

      Have you tried the SOUNDPEATS TrueCapsule True Wireless Earbuds ($36)?

      Again, they look good on Amazon and they cost $36!

      Thoughts? Another budget review?

      Thanks, Stephen

    • Des Fit

      Hi Victor,
      I talked about some of the differences between the Tarah Pros and the Vistas in my review but here’s the skinny: it’s very hard to distinguish between the two expect for the Vistas are just a touch quieter than the Tarah Pros. About one “notch” on the volume rocker is what I experienced.

      In regards to sound isolation, I’d probably have to go with the Vistas but I think that has to do a lot with the fact that the Vistas have slightly more volume (dimensional volume, not sound) so the sit in the ears a bit more snug than the Tarah Pros, but I’ve never had an issue with the Tarah Pros falling out though.

    • Des Fit

      Hi Stephen,
      Glad those are working out for you!

      I haven’t tried the TrueCapsules but I’ll take a peek at them. It doesn’t appear that they have any fin/wing for security? That would be my worry from a sports perspective unless I missed that in their photos/specs.

      Thanks!
      Des

    • tadaka

      Thanks Des! I actually got the Jaybird Tarah Pro after watching your video of it and have been extremely happy with it (except for when I accidentally lost one of the tips). Great to see that you still prefer it over the Vistas.

      I’m in the market for a “true wireless” set of earphones (same reason in that i can’t do over ear), but am waiting to see the new Bose true wireless ones to be released later this year to see how those pan out. Hopefully, you’ll get to review them as well!

  5. Mister M

    I want someone to try the new Bose sunglasses with speakers. I realize its limited but dang they sound good.

    • JVC

      I’ve been using them for a couple of weeks. If they fit you (there are two sizes), they work remarkably well. The sound is not bad at all (not much bass, but that’s to be expected) and being able to gear most of the noise around you is a plus for most of my uses.

      Plus, the stealth factor is amazing – no visible clue of anything other than sunglasses with a thick arm, so when you are talking on the phone, you really and truly look crazy.

      They are now my go to for casual walks, rides, etc. Not sure about the goto for everything yet.

  6. Mike S.

    I’ve had very good luck with the Plantronics Backbeat Fit wireless headphones. $79 USD at Costco. They connect immediately and I *never* have dropouts. Plus they are comfortable in my ears for hours at a time. I’ve had the same pair for over two years with no problems.

    The only downsides are the controls are a bit hard to use with the tiny buttons. So I basically control it with my iPhone. But I am in the same boat with my Airpods when it comes to changing tracks or volume. Also you can’t charge the backbeats in a case (need a micro-usb cable).

    But for sport wireless headphones they are practically perfect.

    • Andrew

      If we’re going to start reviewing headphones for sport these are the ones to check out. The newer version 2100 fixes the button issues and significantly improves the looks. The button was also the thing that tended to kill the older version as well. These let in almost all of your environmental noise, super comfy, never fall out, all the things you want in a good pair of sports headphones. The sound is sufficient. It’s mediocre. More suited to podcasts (like the FIT File, check it out wherever you get your podcasts) then big, bassy music. Still as someone who has multiple pairs of wired headphones and more than one headphone amp and I’m completely satisfied with the sound from the Platronics. I recommend these to everyone who asks what headphones to get for running.

    • Jonathan

      I’ll second that. I’ve had the backbeat fit for almost 2 years and they have lived a hard life in a pool of sweat in my gym bag. Battery still lasts, they’re comfortable and just work. I use with the Fenix 5+ and don’t have any dropouts.

    • JR

      I love the Backbeat Fits, but their waterproofing leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve had 4 pairs so far, and they rarely make it to 9 months. They’ve been good about honoring the warranty, but for heavy users, that’s a concern. To be fair, the same is true of most “sweat resistant” headphones I’ve tried. I’ve come to view them as essentially disposable, so $100 is the most I’m willing to spend.

    • Frank

      I think the waterproofing of the Backbeats is fine! Mine went through a full cycle in a washing machine and a dryer and still work perfectly 😉

    • Dirk R.

      I bought my Backbeats in January 2015, and I’m using them for 6 to 7 hours per week. No problems with waterproofing, even in heavy rain. Sound is great. Battery life after 4 and a half years is now down to 4 hours, but that’s still OK for me.
      I used them with iPhones 6, 7 and XR and now with AW4. I never had any dropouts!

    • James

      I too have been using the Plantronics Backbeat Fit for years now… at first paired with my phone, then later paired to my Fenix 5+. Aside from a few issues with a beta software on the watch, dropouts are extremely rare for me. I like that they don’t block outside noise so that I’m not surprised by cars approaching. More than anything, they just work. Every time.

    • RichieP

      Ray, I think the newer Plantronics Backbeat Fit 3100 (totally wireless ones) are great too, and you should strongly consider reviewing them. Comfortable and minimal ear fatigue. Few reviews on the internet for them, especially from a sports standpoint. I like hearing things around me when running, which is why the Powerbeats Pro didn’t work for me. The 3100 allow in outside noise due to their open design, not the microphone approach taken by Under Armour/JBL or Jabra. Those all caused ear fatigue for me.

    • Mike S.

      I just picked these new ones up at Costco. They are actually $49 now! The controls are much easier and intuitive now.

    • Claus Jacobsen

      Don’t know if they’ve fixed the biggest issue. Serious dropouts. just google around. But that’s what kept me from buying them

    • Mike S.

      I would never use wireless headphones that had dropouts. I’ve had zero problems with the Backbeat Fits.

  7. Lewis Marama

    Interesting regarding the interference issues you noticed. I’ve got the Jaybird Run and noticed similar behaviour. Zero issues when out running trails or on the track, but in heavily congested areas (running through town) or within range of certain wifi networks (my office for example) I’ll get random cut-outs and “blurps”. I also noticed while at home when the microwave oven was in use too – and I was around 2 metres away. Despite that, I’ll be looking at picking these up as I do rate the Jaybirds – with the addition of some Comply foam tips for added comfort, security and noise isolation. The ability to use 1 bud is a great feature as well.

  8. TravisM

    I had 3 pairs of Jaybird Runs fail on me in a period of about 5 months. Finally just gave up on replacing them under warranty because I was always without earbuds. Picked up Airpods and haven’t looked back.

    I don’t think I could trust Jaybird again after that. Luckily the warranty process was pretty easy though.

  9. gingerneil

    I find this style simply won’t stay in my ears. I’m a huge fan of yurbuds – so have been trying some cheapish fully wireless Bluetooth headphones from amazon that have a bud style that the yurbud rubber bits fit on. So far so good… And for a fraction of the price of these posh ones!

  10. bupkis

    Maybe Jaybird have nailed the price to value proposition. But at $179, I’m a bit sceptical when you can buy perfectly functional, great sounding true wireless earbuds (that only occasionally drop out for me on my FR645M) for $25 from aliexpress. For such a temperamental product class–where it may or may not work for your personal use case–I’d much rather “experiment” with a set of $25 buds than a set costing nearly $200. And I’m not convinced the more expensive ones will work or sound any better than the ones recommended here:

    link to medium.com

    After reading that article, I bought a pair of QCY QS2 buds for $25 and couldn’t be happier with them. Sound great, 4 hour battery life with the case able to charge them an additional 7 times or so, no difficulties pairing the buds with each other or with the watch. Most importantly, if they end up not working properly (or if one falls out of my ear on a run), I’m out $25, not $180.

    • Yeah, I think there’s lots of great options out there for sports, even cheap ones. For example the the Anker ones (not totally wireless though) I’ve listed are a good option when you think you might kill something, being only $25 retail, and often down to $18-$20. Do they sound incredible? No. But are they more than good enough for a track workout? Absolutely.

      The good news for you (and us), is that connectivity wise the FR645 Music is basically as ‘bad’ as it gets antenna/reception wise for audio headphones. Garmin has learned a lot from that product in terms of design (as has the rest of the industry). The Fenix 5 Plus and Vivoactive 3 Music that came 5-6 months later incorporated a lot of tweaks. And the FR245 and FR945 being the ‘best’ products they’ve produced audio connectivity wise, with a lot more focus on compatibility/test/tweaking. Garmin noted for example that the consider the AirPods as their internal reference standard for headphone connectivity. Another way of saying ‘If we can make AirPods connect/work well, then everything else should also connect/work well’, which from talking to numerous companies is pretty much true. Obviously they test lots of things, but that’s a ‘must work’ baseline now for them.

    • bupkis

      Good to hear that Garmin is getting their act together on this. Now if they would only update the list of officially compatible headphones (which is woefully out of date): link to support.garmin.com

  11. Robin

    I haven’t tried these but I had the Tarah Pros. I had the first set replaced under warranty after a couple of weeks as the left earbud permanently dropped out. I had the same issue on the second pair although it took longer to eventuate, maybe a month. I’ve now returned them, but for a refund this time.

  12. Jim

    Your channel is amazing for sports tech, but I’d respectfully ask that you stick to devices not headphones.

    There are many review sites out there, that critique audio quality, features and how the product holds up on everyday life, that includes running.

    • Chris S

      I disagree. If you’re an audiophile this may just not be the place or you to read about headphones. That does not mean that the rest of us shouldn’t benefit from Ray’s insight, especially with regard to running or cycling.

    • Jim

      What’s to know re running or cycling? Do they fall out, are they comfy! A detailed review by someone who is clearly not an audiophile is stepping on the toes of us who are. 👹

    • Hi Jim-

      “What’s to know re running or cycling? Do they fall out, are they comfy!”

      I think this basically says it all. There will undoubtedly be sites/channels that focus on the audiophile side of it more than I, but that’s not what I’m aiming to do here. To imply that it’s as simple as whether something falls out or is ‘comfy’, is kinda laughable. Especially since ‘comfy’ is as subjective as it gets on headphones (and is often dependent on your body adapting to it – just like how a comfy bike seat might feel good for the first 30 minutes, and miserable after 2 hours).

      But technically speaking, I haven’t seen really anyone (except DesFit) actually meaningfully test a multitude of wearables with audio devices. Given some 40-60 million smartwatches were sold last year (most with music capabilities), that’s a pretty big gap. And there’s a fundamental difference between using a phone and a smartwatch, and even differences between using an Apple Watch versus anything else (non-Apple Watches made up another 20+ million or so units last year). Connectivity, audio standards, playback controls, functions, etc… In fact, I discuss some of the limitations above.

      In-depth audio quality discussion won’t mean much of anything when it disconnects every 15 seconds with the wearable you’re actually using to stream music to it. Nor will it mean anything when one talks about settings that aren’t compatible with a wearable. And testing inside versus outside is important, due to the way signals can bounce. Again, all things I’m not seeing anyone else actually validate.

      Ultimately though, it’s far more simple: If someone feels ‘threatened’ by this non-review review – then that’s awesome. It means I’m probably doing something right. Can I improve? Of course – I’ll continue to expand. But there’s plenty of room in the (review) world for more detailed information from secondary sources.

      Cheers.

    • Des Fit

      Hi Jim,
      A good analogy would be the action camera, which at it’s core is a camera and should be reviewed for those capabilities. However, being an action camera, it also has to be reviewed for characteristics such as durability, stabilization, and ease of use. If it doesn’t pass those requirements, it may not even matter how good it is as a camera. At that point, it’s just a small camera.

      The same can be said for these earbuds. Although I think Jaybird’s have good sound quality (opinion coming from a non-audiophile), they are clearly targeted for the sports crowd. Jaybird’s tagline is: “Designed for Athletes. Built for Adventure.” Not really anything said about sound quality in that statement.

      The sound quality can be fantastic but if they don’t work for the sports-focused requirements, then they are just another set of headphones.

      But here’s the good news: you can get valuable information from both kinds of reviewers. There will be things that Ray will cover that others don’t, but at the same time, other sites will have information that Ray may not. As consumers we’re all lucky to be able to get different perspectives from varying sources.

      All the best, Des.

    • Louis Matherne

      I for one appreciate your reviews of all things tech in the sports world. So keep it coming!

    • Eugene

      How about mountain biking (jumps, etc) do they stay in?

      Can I pair /control two devices such as my phone and camera, since they have two mics.

  13. José

    How are the PowerBeats Pro with glasses/shades? That has been an issue for me in the past with around the ear headphones.

  14. Frank

    Any chance that you will have a look at Jabra elite sport ? I am just curious about the HR accuracy, does it compares with Scosche Rhythm or if it is basically not reliable. Valencell claimed that the ear is more accurate than forearm for OHR. Also do you get good music and good OHR or do you need to scarify one of them ?

    • Yeah, I might poke at them – do they actually broadcast as a legit BLE HR source? Or is it all internal? The last I looked a long time ago, it was all internal stuff that wasn’t really 3rd party compatible.

    • Paul

      Yep, it does broadcast BLE HR. I have a pair and my Fenix 5 detects them as a BLE HR sensor.

  15. Ben Pine

    If you don’t like in ear phones I swear by the 66 Audio BTS Pro. You can only get them from the states but they are awesome. I use them for running and also for cycling off road and they seem plenty rugged enough. Also they have 40 hours of charge!

  16. Lasse

    But will they last?
    I love the fit and sound of Jaybird, but I have yet to own a pair that have lasted a full year (X2, X3, Free and now X4 including replacements). Either they stop working completely, turn off randomly or drain the battery while off – Perhaps it is because I do generate more “seawater” than the average gym-goer? …
    While I am waiting for my X4’s to come back from service, I had actually decided that it was my last pair from the brand, but then they announce this… damnit.

  17. RunningBezz

    Anyone else feel anxious when seeing phone screenshots with such low battery?

  18. Monkswhiskers

    In-ear type headphones for me are a no no, dulling one of your senses. I like my Airpods at low volume as you can still hear what is going on around.

    • bupkis

      Better still if you’re worried about situational awareness are the Aftershokz Trekz Air. They are bone conduction headphones that leave your ear canals open. I use mine any time I want to listen to something on a run that’s not in a park or a track or a treadmill. The sound isn’t great but the signal never drops. They are a bit expensive, but can sometimes be found on sale.

  19. Jason

    ” the company pairs to whichever earbud has the strongest single at that time”
    I suspect “single” should be “signal”.

    “compared to the must pricier” — should say “much pricier”?

  20. Patrick

    Could you add a “transparency mode” type feature to your comparison tables? It’s just the feature that uses the microphones so that you can hear noise around you better. It’s the difference between hearing a car half a block away instead of half a centimeter away. That’s one of my favorite features of the Jabra Elite Active 65t. It’s also available in a few others. I definitely don’t expect you to be testing every headphone, but I would think it’s a good feature for runners. Even just being able to briefly interact with others without removing a bud is nice. It’s useless on a bike due to wind noise, but super handy on foot.

    Thanks for what you do!

    • Yup, good call. I discussed it in the post, but have added it into the comparison table. See if that fits the bill a bit. I wanted to make it clear that there should basically be three ‘option’s for that value: Yes/Configurable, No/Always Blocking (cancelling), No/Always pass-through (no blocking/cancellation). Roughly.

      I typically add in products once I’ve had hands-on time, merely because I don’t trust most companies to list their specs correctly. With the fields I have for headphones they’re a bit more clear-cut than some other tables I do.

    • Richie

      Ray – great add to the comparison tool. Being able to hear outside noises is a great feature that a lot of reviewers mostly ignore.

      Same can be said for pairing headphones to 2 devices at once. Jaybird has done it on and one off devices (Tarah can but Tarah Pro can’t??); same for Bose. Apple’s never done it. Jabra has. It’s not just a Bluetooth functionality that everyone adopts with new Bluetooth protocols. Great if the headphones you’re wearing are connected to your laptop and a call comes in on your cell in your pocket. Same for a watch/phone-type situation. Would be great to add to the tool if you start reviewing sports headphones regularly.

    • Patrick

      Thanks. I don’t see how that won’t become a standard feature in the next few years.

  21. ChrisTexan

    For the “stumbling” you could try downloading a frequency analyzer (bt shares the 2.4ghz spectrum with many things) given the picture, with what, 10 bt frequency items shown, the earbuds are probably channel hopping(other things also probably are) and during the hop it stumbles slightly. Just a guess but I’d start there if it’s worth the trouble, to see how much noise you really have in that airspace.

  22. I am really happy with Samsung Galaxy Buds. They fits pretty good, hard to loose them while running. Price is less than Airbuds. Quality is ok and they have auto-pause function, when you removing it from ear.

  23. Karim

    Hey DC, love your blog/website…so my question is what are your thoughts on the\ Jabra Elite Active 65T which are sports centric and, in my opinion excellent sound and priced the same as the new Jaybirds. obviously you can’t compare everything but I see them as AirPods killers…thoughts?

  24. tadaka

    Thanks Ray! great to see your thoughts on these as i was curious to see a review from a non audiophile (sorry if you are one).

  25. I recently completed a headphones shootout including three Jaybird models (shame I only bought the Run XT a few weeks ago), Outlier Air, and PowerBeats Pro.

    For me the PowerBeats Pro wins by a mile because of one key feature, the “micro-laser barometric venting hole in the front chamber.”

    With all other earbuds, all I hear is the thump-thump of my footsteps, called occlusion effect. That hole in the PowerBeats Pro makes a HUGE difference in that department!

    That said, I much prefer the fit of the Run XT (and likely Vista) than the over-the-ear design, which gets in the way of sunglasses.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, it’s a shame that for some, securing AirPods in the ears requires 3rd-party hardware. Notice how the Earhoox’s “hook” is eerily similar to the Vista’s…

  27. Liz

    I recently purchased the Powerbeat Pro’s. I cannot get them to connect to my FR 645 and Garmin support can’t figure it out either. Clearly you were able to get your 945’s to connect. Did you ha r any issues? Any idea why I’m struggling?

  28. Tim K

    Crazy beer guy next door??? That’s what I want to hear about…. I’m thirsty.

  29. Ryan S

    Hey Ray,

    Thanks for the excellent information. Timely as I just picked up a 945 and have been looking at buds and investigating connectivity and features.

    On the connectivity front, when you tested single bud mode on either side, did you simply have the second bud in your pocket? Or did you dump it somewhere and not have it in range? Because if you can’t turn one of the bud off (which I’m assuming you can’t) but still have both buds with you, it doesn’t seem you’re actually truly testing single-bud operation (that said, I know nothing about how the technical aspects behinds the scenes would work).
    Could you please elaborate or clarify this detail? Single bud mode using either side on any given day is important to me.

    Thanks!

    • I did it both ways. So in some cases I left them (one) in the charging case (in pocket on another run), and in others I just kept them out of ear.

      The way it works with it is that if only a single pod is connected it’ll channel the stereo into that single bud. So you don’t have to worry about for example only hearing the left or right side.

      The company does make a big deal of the single-bud operation, even going as far as giving an interesting 32hr battery life claim by just using single buds. While interesting and certainly truthful, I didn’t want to include it here since I found it easily confusing.

  30. Bob Hamilton

    I’m not far from having a 945. I am also a regular lane swimmer. What is your recommendation for swimming with music?

    • Unfortunately I don’t have much in the way of good swimming music recommendations at this point. :/

    • H M

      OMG, how is there still nothing for this!

    • There are things. It’s just not new things. Everything is kinda 3-5 years old and stale and stinky.

      We basically need earbuds to catch-up to the point of having music storage on them, but with Spotify/offline type capabilities. And we need a way such that two independent earbuds can time-code sync together perfectly, since while swimming water would block any connectivity between them.

  31. Bob Hamilton

    I did a bit more looking and it seems that Bluetooth doesn’t work well in water! I was thinking that with the 945 having music on it, it would be cool to occasionally have music going. However, I am a bit of a social swimmer and tend to do a lot of intervals which leads to visiting with friends. So, having music in my ears probably would be a bit antisocial!

    • Niclas Granqvist

      The 2.4 GHz frequency is absorbed by water so no device working in the ISM band will work during a swim. It would have to be a device with memory build in so that you don’t need to stream during the swim.

  32. Adam Lewis

    Be great to see how the new Nuraloop stack up in this market place. Do you have any on order for September delivery?

    Thanks for the review.

  33. Charles Rush

    I wouldn’t say that paying more than $150 for any set of earbuds is affordable. But people like the Bluetooth connectivity and since it’s new it’s going to cost right? Wrong! Creative Outier Bluetooth wireless earbugs are only $79 US and according to reviews rate the sound same as a set of Sennheiser earbuds. I got a set of these and I am fully happy. I own 3 other very expensive wired earbuds and the Outlier’s do offer just as pleasant a sound. The way I found out about Creative is they have been doing sound for PC’s for a long time and are considered one of the best. Don’t let the low price of the Outier’s fool you, they are good. Ray, I didn’t know you include audio tech in any of your reviews but you should review these if you want to let your followers know about truly amazing tech at a low price.

    • I roughly do audio stuff when:

      A) I think it’s interesting enough
      or
      B) There’s enough demand for a specific product

      I won’t do everything out there, but I think it’s key that anything I focus on is slanted towards the wearable side. Though I agree on paper the Creative (Labs) units do look pretty good for the price. Plus, USB-C charging – woot! All really comes down to antenna design and whether or not there connectivity issues with wearables, since that’s where many otherwise great headphones/buds go wrong (even the Airpods back in the early days).

  34. Is the lack of “tapping” working on the 945 something Garmin can fix or in Jaybirds court?

  35. Hey folks-

    Just a minor heads up that Clever Training now stocks the Jaybird Vista. That’s notable because the DCR Reader 10% off Coupon Code (DCR10BTF), plus of course the free North American shipping.

    link to clevertraining.com

    Btw – continue to use them, even in fact yesterday during an indoor trainer workout connected directly to Apple TV. Zero drops.

  36. Jeff

    Tapping (press) features work with my Garmin Fenix 5S Plus. I have my Vistas set up to Pause/Start with a single tap (press), Next Track with a double press and Volume Up (right bud)/Down (left bud) with Hold press. Works fine with my 5S+. You may want to give it another try. I LOVE THESE BUDS!!!

  37. Cameron L Sawyer

    I just ordered mine from Clever Training and got the discount.

    Thanks Ray! I am further in debt after buying the Coros Apex and now the Jaybirds. Apex is awesome, will let you know about the Jaybirds when they come in.