This article first appeared on NDTV Gadgets360 here.
Demand for wireless headphones is growing, and music-focused stereo Bluetooth headsets are all the rage right now. Thanks to a vast improvement in the quality of Bluetooth audio transmission over the years, it's now possible to effortlessly stream high-quality sound without any of the typical issues that plagued the early years of wireless audio.
Jaybird, an American company, has already won some praise for its Bluebuds X earphones, and is widely considered among the better audio products for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. The newest product in the range is the Rs. 15,999 Jaybird X2, touted by the company as "perfection in wireless sound". We're keen to put that claim to the test in our comprehensive review of the Jaybird X2.
Design, specifications and comfort
The Jaybird X2 is a pair of wireless in-ear headphones, with the earbuds connected to each other by a short flat cable that runs behind your neck when worn. The short length of the cable and the fact that it's flat makes it extremely tangle resistant. Additionally, there is a plastic in-line three-button remote and microphone near the right earbud, which can be used to control the power and Bluetooth pairing settings as well as the volume and calls with a paired smartphone. The headphones are available in six interesting colour options, and our review sample was the fluorescent green 'Charge' model, which we feel is the best looking of the lot.
The headphones are powered by 6mm dynamic drivers with 16Ohm impedance and a sensitivity of 103dB. The frequency response ranges from 20-20,000Hz, and passive noise isolation is achieved using in-canal ear tips. Running on Bluetooth 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate, the X2 also supports A2DP, can be paired to and will remember up to eight devices, and will work with a paired device up to 10m away. The headphones are powered by a 100mAh battery with a claimed life of eight hours on a full charge. We generally got over seven hours of usage during our time with the headphones.
The earbuds are plastic, with a dull finish on the outer casings and prominent Jaybird logos on both buds. Under a flap on the right earbud is the Micro-USB port for charging, and the sales package comes with a short USB cable included for this purpose. There is no mains power adapter so you would typically have to use your computer to charge the headset, but Micro-USB Type-B means that you can use practically any modern smartphone charger. The Jaybird X2 is, all in all, eye catching and functional at the same time.
Also included in the package are three pairs of silicone ear tips, three pairs of Comply Sport foam ear tips and three pairs of Jaybird's 'ear fins', which are fitted on the earbuds and help keep them in place even when you're active. Thanks to their battery and Bluetooth circuitry, these headphones are a lot larger than typical in-ears. As a result, fit won't be quite as secure and comfortable for everyone. You'll have to experiment with the ear fins and tips to get the right fit, and even then you might need to make adjustments when moving about, primarily to maintain the sonic isolation and proper positioning of the earphones.
We used an Android smartphone as our source device for the duration of the review of the Jaybird X2, in outdoor and indoor environments. Focus tracks for the review included Dave Horne's QED, David Bowie's Let's Dance and Hindi Sad Diamonds from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.
We started with QED, a progressive house track with an intense bass line and plenty of drive. The sonic signature of the Jaybird X2 was immediately evident, and it's one with sensitivity spikes in the mid and upper range. The low end isn't muted or subdued, but it certainly isn't as distinct and aggressive as we'd have liked. A little bit of attack would have done a pair of headphones like this a world of good, especially considering that Jaybird wants to push the headset at fitness enthusiasts. Music goes a long way in helping athletes maintain their rhythm and drive, and a stronger low-end would have helped.
Moving on to one of the late David Bowie's greatest hits, Let's Dance has a great instrumental riff and beautiful flow. The Jaybird X2 showcases its clarity and quality here, with some rather excellent handling of the busier parts of the track. You get a good sense of separation and three-dimensionality, with the headphones managing to give each individual instrument and element of the track its due recognition. Furthermore, a bit of attack in the treble gives the sonic signature a subtle sharpness, which we liked. The handling of highs and mids is decent, and listeners who are looking for an all-round pleasant sound will enjoy the sonic signature of the Jaybird X2.
Finally, we played the rather powerful Hindi Sad Diamonds. We turned the volume all the way up to maximum on both the smartphone as well as the headphones, and the result was still a bit soft. While the levels will be adequate for most people, the point we're trying to make here is that the headphones aren't quite capable of truly loud volumes. Furthermore, playing music at maximum volume puts some amount of strain on the small 6mm drivers, and a bit of distortion and sibilance can be heard as a result. However, with the volume adjusted to slightly below maximum, the sound is suitable for most practical purposes.
The Jaybird X2 is a decent pair of Bluetooth earphones in all ways. Although there are some issues with the snugness of the fit, it's easy to get used to. Charging is hassle-free, and battery life is better than we're used to seeing on other wireless in-ear options such as the Jabra Sport Coach and Brainwavz Blu-100.
Sound quality, while not at the same level as the slightly more expensive Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless II, is decent for a pair of in-ears. The low maximum volume might be a negative to some, and the lack of attack in the bass is a slight weakness as well. However, on the whole, the Jaybird is one of the better pairs of wireless in-ears, and offers a premium sound that is pleasing to the ear.
Price (MRP): 15,999Pros
Ratings (Out of 5)