(The article was written by Andre Rodrigues & originally published in Times of India here )
You don't need to be an athlete to opt for sports headphones. With health consciousness on the rise, people are taking to the parks for runs. There's a new generation of working professionals who cycle to work on a daily basis. A normal pair of wired headphones just won't cut it. With the annoyance of them falling off, causing a break in your stride, or worse, causing you to get distracted from the road or on your treadmill, resulting in disaster.
While there are several wired and wireless sport headphones out there, the X2 is a serious contender for the premium crown. Made by Jaybird Sport, a Utah based company that creates Bose level headphones for serious athletes, has finally made it to our shores with the X2. We test them to see how good they are?
Packaging, Design and Build Quality
The packaging of the Jaybird X2's scream premium. So much so you don't want to rip the box apart to remove the headset. Jaybird has packed in a lot of nick-nacks with the headset. You get a silicone carrying case, that's quite compact and fits everything neatly inside. A small microUSB charging cable, three sets of silicone and memory foam eartips, a few wireclips and three sets of earfins.
The design of the unit is as sporty as you would expect from a sport headphones. The driver housing is brightly colored, in our case, it was lime green, with matching earfins. The X2 comes in brighter and muter colors. The wire is black with a black control unit that has three buttons. The quality of the plastics are good, while keeping the weight down, and the material is a matte sweat proof finish. On the back of the right unit, a flap opens revealing the charger port, while as on the side there is a neatly disguised indicator light. The entire unit is quite good looking.
The entire wireless unit is two headphone units connected with a wire, like a nunchuck. So the Bluetooth unit, battery and all reside in the headphone housing, so as a result it's bigger than your average headphone. In comparison to some of the other headphones of it's kind we have seen, the X2's are small. Those coming from one of the bigger units will love the size and weight of the X2. However, those scaling up from a Philips Actionfit or moving from a Bose SoundSport wired headphone, into the world of wireless, may find the weight a bit daunting.
You will need to try different permutations and combinations of eartips and earfin sizes to see which suits you. The silicone ones provide a nice smooth feel, but the Memory foam ones are a bit weird at first with it's "fullness", however once they settle to the contours of your ear canal, they are the weapons of choice. The earfins slide easily over the barrel of the earphone and have to be positioned right to successfully hold onto your ear cartilage.
There are a few ways of positioning the X2's. Front, back and reverse around the ear, depending on your sport or preference. As a result, it's a bit hard to find out which is right and left. Remember, the right side is the one with the microphone, unless of course you use this reverse. The idea though is to find that spot that balances out the weight of the headphones, thankfully the earfins have bulbous tips that do a great job holding on tight to your ear cartilage.
We found that the X2 has to be inserted a bit deeper into the canal to get the best sound result, so it is recommended you opt for a eartip a size smaller than your comfortable size. If you remove the eartip, you will see the slightly longer sound nozzle, which shoots the sound directly into your ear canal.
All in all, once you get that sweet spot, the X2's are fairly comfortable. On long periods though, we did feel that little weight on the ears, which warranted in a few breaks.
Assuming you got the fit right, and are comfortable. Do test the sound to see if you are getting bass. If you are only hearing the treble, then the headphones are not deep enough. So you may want to opt for a smaller eartip if things get a bit stuffy.
Now for the performance for performance. We took to several tracks that were armed to the teeth with bass, which a popular choice to get the adrenaline pumping for workouts. Lil Jon's - Turn Down for What, which sounded crisp and clear, with the bass really standing out. To check sound separation we listened to several dubstep tracks from Skrillex, and found that we could easily make out the mids, bass and treble, especially in Bangarang and Summit. We did find the treble a tad sharp, and had to dull it a bit in the equaliser. The aural diversity of Daft Punk's seminal Tron Legacy soundtrack did not disappoint.
We then listened to a bit of cinematic, which was Final Frontier from Thomas Bergersen, a track you will recognize from the Interstellar trailer. A piece with a predominant piano followed by a rising orchestra with several instruments flourishing at the same time. Listening to this track on the X2's were a treat, that will even please most audiophiles. According to Jaybird, they have made several improvements to the Bluetooth codecs, to be able to carry audio perfectly across the airwaves. The clarity of the X2's were impressive.
Sound isolation was pretty decent, we could hear the music clearly over traffic, which was muffled enough so you are aware of what's going on around you. We did have to adjust the headphones periodically, as they kept moving out of place, making the sound go all treble.
Call quality is quite decent, no complaints, it does the job well, and the person on the other end of the call could not hear much of the traffic noise around when talking.
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