11 September 2017
Comfortable! (which is hard for me to come by)
Great audio quality
Thoughtful design touches
Storage pouch for accessories
Good battery life and charge/transfer pod
Google Assistant/Siri launch function (if you forego volume control)
What’s not so good:
No noise-passthrough mode
Limited controls on the headphones (single button on left/right bud, resulting in either volume control OR assistant launcher & play/pause)
Jaybird app is of limited use to me (I prefer to use my own music apps anyway)
No additional functionality (i.e. heart-rate monitoring)
Some slight intermittent connectivity hiccups (might be just me)
I am comparing these headphones directly with the Jabra Elite Sports which I also possess. Whilst I don’t currently know the retail price of these Jaybird’s, I’m assuming around a £200 price point in direct competition - but given that the Jabra’s have heart rate monitoring I would assume the Jabras would cost more than these Jaybirds.
The overall specifications of these Jaybirds are very similar to the Jabras, although the design is slightly less garish. They do seem slightly more proud in overall size, but that has a useful side-effect which I will come on to later.
They come with a similar micro-USB powered charge pod which can hold 2x additional full charges of the headphones so that you can transfer power from the charge pod without having to go back to mains-power. Each charge should last for 4 hours of use which is pretty good. I like how the charge pod gives separate indications as to the charge status of the left and right bud.
The packaging is all nice and neat - which is not a surprise given that Logitech is behind this brand - Logitech are one of my favourite computer accessories companies and I have bought stuff from them for many years. I like that they have included a nice little pouch to put all the little earbud caps and wingtips and USB charge cable in, as it keeps it all together. Although in reality you won’t often (if at all) change the fitments once you’ve found a combination that works for you.
The Jaybird app is around 60Mb in size (on Android) and relays information to the phone such as percentage charge of each unit - which is handy - although they announce their charge status in your ear when you turn them on anyway - albeit in a rather irritatingly chirpy american tone. The majority of the app serves up different playlists of music for your running or exercise routines - which might be handy for some people, but personally I like to stick to my own music apps for that purpose. There is no added heart rate tracking functionality on this device, so there is no added complexity for that function here. There are however various equaliser settings that you can choose, and there are choice of two different settings for the button functionality. A double tap on either left or right will skip forward a track on your music, or decline a call (why they didn’t have the left one skip backwards or start a track over I don’t know), a single press on the left will launch Google Assistant or Apple Siri, a single press on the right will play/pause your music or accept/end a call. The alternative configuration will swap the single tap functionality to volume up/down. Long-press will turn off the buds - although they will power down anyway if you put them back in the charge pod or leave them out for 30 minutes. The one feature that I did quite like from the Jabra Elite’s that is not on these Jaybirds is the noise-cancellation on/off functionality. With these Jaybirds there is no option. They are relatively isolating. That might be something you might want to bear in mind if you want to have an option of purposely allowing external noise in - perhaps if you run in urban areas where there are more hazards around you.
Comfort is a big thing for me when it comes to earbuds of any kind. I find them a bit of a nightmare most of the time, as I can never find a combination of accessories that work for me. The Jabras I struggled with, not because of the accessories, but because of the body of the earbud itself which pressed against the cartilage of my ear so they were never a very comfortable fit - becoming quite irritating and sore after prolonged periods of use. These Jaybirds however are actually comfortable for my ears right out the box. I suspect the slightly more pronounced design, and perhaps the lack of added heart rate monitoring might have allowed the design to be a little roomier in that sense. But I also like the design of the wingtips better with this set as they are less rigid and seem to fit more organically. I have been wearing these sets for extended periods, and they haven’t bothered me at all. That means a lot in my book.
Audio quality is really nice, with decent bass response and clear treble. Telephone audio performance is also surprisingly decent.
As one technical issue observed, I have found that occasionally the left bud seems to lose audio playback - yet somehow remains connected, in that it can still advance a track with a double press, or launch my phone’s assistant with a single press. To restore audio playback, I have to long press to turn it (and the other bud) off, then turn them back on again, et voila, audio restored. I haven’t been able to figure out if this is something I’m doing wrong myself though.
Overall, I am really pleased with this set. It ticks a few important boxes for me - the biggest of which is the comfort factor. It does miss out on a few other little tricks that the Jabra Elites provide, but the jury is out as to how much I use those functions yet while I flick between sets. If these end up being priced at a reasonable drop below the Jabra Elites due to the lower functionality, then I would say these are a great audio-focussed set with thoughtful design and useful battery charge pod and waterproofing.
UPDATE: OK, I am finding the connectivity hiccups to be a bit annoying. I sometimes find they skip and jump, and more often I find the left bud seems to lose connection to the audio playback and I have to turn it off and on again, or return that bud to the charging pod and then turn it back on again, then it seems to work. Can't tell if there are any firmware updates for them to improve this, or if it is down to phone compatibility (currently using a Sony Xperia Z5C).
UPDATE: I used the app feedback function to get a message back from someone at Jaybird who sent me a reset procedure as he had implied that he needed to do a reset on a pair he had used which resolved some gripes (I can't get the feedback message to re-appear so it's lost now), which I have just gone through to see if this improves things. I am still using them to see what changes have occurred, and so far I must say the volume is definitely louder. The reset procedure is as follows: Power off both earbuds. Go to bluetooth settings of your phone and delete/forget the profile for the Jaybird Runs. On each bud, hold the main button down for 6 seconds until the light starts to flash rapidly, then press the main button twice. The LED should change to orange then to red then go out. Make sure you've done that on both buds. Then power on both buds and re-pair the earbuds. I did the pairing via the Jaybird app as opposed to manually from my phone's bluetooth settings. I'm monitoring things for the time being, but as I say, the volume is definitely louder. I did notice that the bluetooth profile previously seemed only to be granted for call audio whereas now it automatically granted call and media audio. Might just be a red herring. Hopefully things will be ok going forward and fingers crosses these instructions will have aided some people...
UPDATE (Oct 30th 2017):
OK, so the connection issues are still a pain. They released a firmware update to 1.1.0 which suggested it would improve connectivity. I have done this update and done a full reset on the buds, re-pairing them back to my phone. From my experience so far, the connectivity is not improved. There are two connectivity issues from what I can ascertain - firstly the connectivity from the phone to the earbuds - if you have the phone in your pocket - left or right it doesn't seem to matter, the connectivity is troublesome. I've been for several walks this past few days and it was forever dropping the connection to the phone. This could only be alleviated by taking the phone out of my pocket and holding it in my hands. I don't wear lead-lined clothing, just jeans, a belt, a tee-shirt and a hoodie, oh and I was carrying a torch - not that that should make a difference? The second issue - just as irritating as the first, is the connectivity between the left and right buds. This seems to half-fail on occasion when there is a track change. I use Deezer to listen to music, and I am often finding that when a track changes the left bud will suddenly fall silent and I'll only get music out of the left. To resolve this, I press on the button on the left bud to launch Google Assistant, then press it again to cancel the Assistant, at which point the music will restart in both earbuds.
Much as I like these earbuds, the connectivity is driving me nuts, so I have docked a star until things improve.
UPDATE (30th Jan 2018)
So I've been giving these buds another crack of the whip, and for the past week I could be imagining it, but things seem to have stabilised. Whether it is down to software updates (I don't think there have been any firmware updates since the last time), or maybe a change of music app (I am now using Spotify instead of Deezer), but I can honestly say they have no missed a beat. They have remain connected during my gym workouts, even with my phone on the floor a few metres away. Both earbuds have been consistent with no "right-ear-only" periods of time, and when it did seem like that was about to happen, the left ear came back in less than a second. I haven't seen any other re-visit reviews of this product, so I don't know if my experience is isolated, but I'm hopeful they have somehow improved. Will update further if need be.