(The article was written by Marc D'Souza & originally published in DNA here)
When it comes to sport headphones--the kind you use when treading the tarmac or working out at your local Gold’s Gym--it’s often a matter of compromise: the convenience of unobtrusive buds, but at the expense of the luscious fidelity typical of a good home stereo system.
The markets are packed with all manner of wireless headphonesacross the price and performance spectrum, but virtually all of them fall prey to this compromise. The few that do not are the ones that the purist action junkies hanker for. The Jaybird X2 happens to be one such pair of headphones.
From the packaging to the evident attention to detail at every step, these Bluetooth buds clearly appear out of the ordinary. Unpacking the box, a clear peel-off sticker reveals a compartment that houses the selection of changeable ear tips and ear fins (more on this later,) with the earphones nestled in the central compartment around the rubber carry case. The earphones appear simple, elegant; connected with a length of wire with inline control for start/stop/call, volume up and volume down buttons.
Opening the rubber carry case reveals the USB charging cable--incidentally the same used by most smartphones--and a Ziploc pouch containing the ear fins and cable management clips. These two elements are especially interesting--the ‘Secure Fit’ ear fins are rubber units that loop on to each earphone with a flexible fin that snuggles into the curve of the ear. This makes for a surprisingly firm yet comfortable fit that easily sees the wearer through even an intense bout of headbanging or running.
The trick to getting the most out of these earphones lies in spending time setting them up out of the box. Their efficacy, both in terms of fit and fidelity, is subject to selecting the right pair of ear tips and ear fins, and learning to put the earphones on correctly. And it does take a bit of practice. All around the box there are visual cues to guide an uninitiated user in wearing process--graphics on the inside base of the box indicate their modes of wearing (over or under the ear) and the manner in which the ear tips can be used.
Detailed instructions for setting up require getting online though; there is no printed documentation included. For charging, pairing the earphones with your mobile device and fitting the earphones, there are instructional videos at JaybirdSport.com; You’ll also find downloadable PDF user guides here.
The pairing process is straightforward enough once known (pressing the center inline control button for four seconds puts it into pairing mode.) However we did encounter quirks when trying to pair it with certain hardware: while the headphones worked flawlessly with a Samsung Galaxy Note 5, it remained undetected with a Huawei Honor 4X smartphone.
During the setup process we tried several of the ear tips and found the Comply memory foam tips to be far superior to the regular silicone tips for both audio fidelity and comfort. Also it was a bit of trial and error before we decided that the medium ear fins were the right fit. Finally, we used the included cable management clips to shorten the length of cable behind the neck which eliminates slack when worn. All of this out of the way, we fired up our playlists.
These are the kinds of headphones that catch you off guard: you mentally expect a certain type of sound to flow into your ears, but when your favourite song launches you break into an involuntary smile while your eyes widen. These headphones sound spectacular. And not just by sport earphone standards--the ability of these earphones to render music faithfully and with satisfying power rivals some of the best studio headphones we’ve heard. Which, by portable Bluetooth earphone standards, is saying a lot.
The surprising ease with which they deliver clean, natural bass, crackling highs and warm mid tones made for an excellent listening experience. Also unlike most in-ears that tend to restrict and narrow the sound stage, what we heard here was expansive and bright. From the pulsating rhythm of Dave Weckl’s Road To Connemara to the Adele’s powered contralto in Hello, the X2s excelled.
If were were to nitpick, we found they did have a tendency to be enthusiastic in rendering bass, as evidenced on some tracks. But nothing a touch of equalization couldn’t fix. Also, with the Comply memory foam earphones delivering such a clean fit inside the ear canal, it all but completely blocked out external sounds. While most audiophiles would laud this, it almost cuts you out from the rest of the world--so it’s to be used with caution on busy city commutes!
The earphones also feature voice prompts, delivering relevant instructions and responses that are piped into the earphones, making it particularly intuitive to use when pairing, making calls etc. The Jaybird X2 can go for about eight hours of playback, and recharging is done by plugging them using the USB port beneath a flap on the left earphone.
Whether you’re in the market for sound that accompanies you while you push physical limits (they are sweat proof too) or if you simply need a pair of high quality wireless headphones to soundtrack your evening ride home, the Jaybird X2 fits the bill perfectly.
What we liked:Excellent sound quality, interchangeable modules that deliver a perfect fit
What we didn’t:Finicky with the types of mobile devices it pairs with, doesn’t come cheap