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Jaybird BlueBuds X Bluetooth Headphones Review
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Jaybird BlueBuds X Bluetooth Headphones Review

by Sam ChenFebruary 28, 2013

Gym Friendly Bluetooth Headphones

jaybird-bluebuds-x-bluetooth-headphones-custom-pc-review-2Ahhh… it’s almost spring time! The season of allergies and working off all the weight we’ve gained over the winter. While I’d love to talk about both subjects, I don’t think I’m all that qualified to talk about allergies, so let’s talk a new piece of tech that’ll help us get that much harder, better, and faster.

Today we’ll be reviewing the Jaybird BlueBuds X. The BlueBuds X is Jaybird’s latest and greatest pair of Bluetooth headphones, and in line with many of Jaybird’s previous offerings, the BlueBuds X is aimed at those with active lifestyles. Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t use the BlueBuds X while sitting in front of your TV, but Jaybird does include a number of features that primarily benefit those looking for a new pair of headphones for the gym.

Ready to see what the BlueBuds X has to offer? Flip the page to find out!

Jaybird BlueBuds X Specifications

ManufacturerJaybird
ModelBlueBuds X
TypeIn-Ear
InterfaceBluetooth 2.1 + EDR
Driver Diameter6mm
Frequency Response20 – 20000Hz
Impedance16 Ω
MicrophoneMEMS Omni-Directional
Warranty1 Year, Lifetime against sweat
Check PricingClick Here

A Closer Look at the Jaybird BlueBuds X

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Here’s a look at the packaging for the Jaybird BlueBuds X.

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Here’s a look at the accessories that come with the BlueBuds X. Included we get some documentation, a USB charging cable, a hard carrying case, three sets of eartips (S,M,L), three sets of secure fit ear cushions (S,M,L), and two X-Fit cord management clips.

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Included of course is also the BlueBuds X headphones. The headphones don’t come with any eartips or secure fit ear cushions pre-installed, so you’ll have to do that prior to use. Jaybird does include instructions on the proper way to fit and install the eartips/secure fit cushions, but installation is fairly self explanatory especially for those who’ve previously used the Jaybird JF3 Freedom or the JF4 Freedom Sprint headphones.

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Here’s a look at the BlueBuds X with the eartips and the ear cushions installed.

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Here’s a look at the cord with the X-fit cord clips installed. While these don’t need to be installed for the BlueBuds X to function, these pieces are adjustable to remove any slack in the cord so the cord doesn’t dangle during exercise. More on X-fit later.

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On the right earbud, Jaybird has also included a control module which includes three buttons that serve a number of functions such as play, pause, volume up, volume down, next track, previous track, on, off, and Siri activation. The control module also has a microphone as well, which allows voice calling and the use of Siri.

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The right earbud next to the control module also opens up at the rear to reveal a micro-USB port for charging. Charging time for the BludBuds X is about 2 to 2.5 hours and the unit has a battery life of about 7-8 hours.

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In addition to having access to Siri, iPhone users also get a battery meter on the top right corner of the screen when paired with the BlueBuds X which lets you know how much juice is left in the BlueBuds X.

Jaybird BlueBuds X Features

Shift and Puresound

With the BlueBuds X, Jaybird has implemented two technologies which they’re calling Shift and Puresound.

Since the standard Bluetooth SBC audio codec is compressed and lossy, Shift is basically an audio enhancer on the BlueBuds X unit itself that processes and enhances the incoming Bluetooth audio streams from the audio device. Now, Shift isn’t a whole different end to end codec like apt-X used on the Sportsband SB-2. It still uses the standard Bluetooth SBC codec, but it processes the stream after it’s received, which means it doesn’t require you to purchase additional adapters to take advantage of it.

The other feature is Puresound, which is an audio filter that’s designed to eliminate white noise. Jaybird claims that reducing white noise also helps reduce listener fatigue, which allows listeners to listen to music over longer periods of time.

Secure Fit

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First introduced with the JF 3 Freedoms, the BlueBuds X features secure fit, which as the name implies provides the user with a more secure fit with the headphones. The way that’s done is with the secure fit ear cushions which are designed to be stuck into a small groove in the front part of the ear as seen in the diagram above. This helps keep the earbuds in place during physical activity.

X-Fit

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Another feature of the BlueBuds X is what Jaybird calls X-Fit. X-Fit basically allows you multiple options for wearing the headphones either above the ear or below the ear. Wearing the headphones over the ear allows the earbuds to fit more securely in the ear as the wires are run above the ear and behind the head.

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As you can see above, the girl on the left is using the Blue Buds X in the below the ear fashion while the man on the right is using the BlueBuds X in the above the ear fashion. For more intense physical activity, wearing the BlueBuds X in the above the ear fashion will reduce the possibility of the cord getting caught on something.

Signal Plus, Battery HD, Jenna, and Sweat Proofing

The BlueBuds X also carry a couple new features along with some old ones as well. With the BlueBuds X, Jaybird is using a Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR which is a pretty standard Bluetooth interface, but with the BlueBuds X, Jaybird is promising greater signal range when the audio output device is placed on the body. Hence, Signal Plus.

It seems like “HD” is the new marketing buzzword for everybody these days and while I can’t really figure out what HD actually stands for (High Definition? High Density?), the BlueBuds X feature a whopping 8 hours worth of battery life on a single charge, which gives it a longer battery life than any of Jaybird’s previous Bluetooth headphones. Considering how small the BlueBuds X actually are, an 8 hour battery life is quite amazing.

Jaybird has also included audio prompts with what they’re referring to as Jenna. Previous Jaybird Bluetooth headphones had beeps that indicated when the power was on, when the headphones were connected, when the headphones were off, etc. With this new feature, Jenna will tell you when the headphones are on, when the headphones are off, when the headphones are connected, etc. This helps eliminate the guessing that generally occurs when the prompts were only beeps and LED status indicators.

One of the biggest problems with taking headphones into the gym is that sweat always seems to be able to get into them and somehow short them out. However, like previous Jaybird Bluetooth headphones, the BlueBuds X is sealed off against sweat to prevent this. In order to back their claims, Jaybird also provides a lifetime warranty against sweat as well – a feature very much welcome for those looking to use the headphones while exercising .

Jaybird BlueBuds X Performance

jaybird-bluebuds-x-bluetooth-headphones-custom-pc-review-9Starting with audio performance, I felt that the BlueBuds X were really able to deliver great sounding audio despite the fact that it’s a pair of Bluetooth headphones being powered by tiny onboard batteries. The bass response is deep and powerful, the mid range is warm and clear, while the high end was clean and free of distortion. Now do keep in mind, the bass does bottom out sooner than what you’d find with most wired in ear headphones, but it’s far better than any other in ear Bluetooth headphone I’ve used to date.

As for the audio profile on the headphones, Jaybird is also still sticking with a bass and treble boosted audio profile in the BlueBuds X, which pretty much is the sound profile I’ve noticed across all their headphones I’ve tested. However, since most people do prefer to listen to more bass and beat heavy tracks during workouts, and Jaybird is marketing this pair of headphones for use during exercise, having a factory boosted bass response is probably the way to go here.

Having some pretty good experiences with the audio quality on the Jaybird Freedom JF3 headphones, I was quite impressed with the fact that Jaybird has managed to improve on the JF3’s with the BlueBuds X. Upon playing a couple of my usual test tracks on the BludBuds X, it was immediately noticeable that the BlueBuds X was able to deliver a significantly fuller range of audio than the JF3 Freedoms, which I felt was already quite good for a pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Signal quality on the BlueBuds X is also improved over the older JF 3 Freedoms as well as many other Bluetooth headphones I’ve used over the years. Whereas previously I’d get audio dropouts when putting my iPhone in my pant pockets while walking or jogging, the BlueBuds X did not have this issue, even when wearing thick snowboarding pants and snowboarding jackets.

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As far as comfort, there’s really little to complain here as well. While the large earbuds and the secure fit cushions mounted on the BlueBuds X may look intimidating, the entire unit itself is quite comfortable to wear, even for extended periods of time. Fit was the only minor issue for me with the BlueBuds X. Whereas the older JF 3 Freedoms fit me very well, the BlueBuds X didn’t fit  as well and the problem I believe is with the larger sized driver housing Jaybird is using.

While the larger driver housing helps create a tighter seal in the ear canal improving noise isolation and audio quality, I find the larger driver housing tends to start slipping out of my ear after a while. Unfortunately, the moment the earbuds start slipping out, I lose the nice seal between my ear canal and the earbud, which severely reduces the audio quality. Luckily, the secure fit ear cushions help keep the earbuds on the ear so it doesn’t start dangling halfway through workouts, but it’s quite annoying when I have to reseat the earbuds more than a couple times during a short run.

Jaybird BlueBuds X Conclusions

jaybird-bluebuds-x-bluetooth-headphones-custom-pc-review-15Overall, I’m impressed with what Jaybird has done with the BlueBuds X. Audio quality far surpasses their previous offerings and as far as I’m concerned, audio quality far surpasses any pair of in ear Bluetooth headphones at this pricepoint. That said, if you’re not a fan of the factory bass and treble boosted sound signature you’ll likely not be a fan of the audio profile on the BlueBuds X. However, while working out I generally enjoy having this type of sound signature as I find that a boosted low end really helps invigorate my workout especially when the drumline starts rolling in at 0:48 in Strength of a Thousand Men by Two Steps from Hell.

Design wise, I feel like Jaybird has done a great job making an extremely good looking product that’s functional as well. I’m also extremely glad they’ve also gone with a more standard approach with the micro-USB slot rather than the proprietary USB connectors of the past. However, I’m not a huge fan of the flat cord being used to connect the two earbuds. With a little sweat, the flat cord tends to get stuck to your neck and with a quick turn of the head, the headphones will sometimes get pulled out of your ear. This was a problem I found with the older JF3 Freedoms and is still a problem now.

Battery life was definitely quite good with the BlueBuds X. I usually stick to a 1 hour a day workout schedule and the BlueBuds X allowed me to get through a full week’s worth of workouts on a single charge. With the BlueBuds X, Jaybird also changed the way they let you know that the battery is low by warning you once and only once. With their older headphones, the headphones would beep every couple minutes which was quite annoying, so definitely kudos to that. It’s definitely the little things that make all the difference.

In terms of comfort and fit, Jaybird gives you a couple options for wearing the headphones with their X-Fit feature. While the headphones can be worn either above or below the ear, I personally found that wearing the headphones below the ear was a lot more preferable than wearing the headphones over the ear. Unfortunately, wearing the headphones above the ear requires you to wear the headphones backwards and, as you may imagine, this flips the left and right earbuds which will make your music sound quite funky.

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I also found that the fit with the BlueBuds X wasn’t as good for me personally as the JF3 Freedoms. Since Jaybird decided to increase the size of the driver housing with the BlueBuds X, it caused the earbuds to slip from time to time during use. That said, as with any pair of headphones, your mileage may vary with regards to comfort, so I’d definitely encourage testing out the headphones if you ever get the opportunity.

Pricing on the Jaybird BlueBuds X is $169, which makes this one of the most expensive Bluetooth headphones on the market. Competitors include the Plantronics BackBeat Go ($70), Jabra Sport ($70), and Jaybird Freedom Sprint ($127). That said, with the BlueBuds X you get great sound quality, a unique fit that actually works, excellent signal, long battery life, and a lifetime warranty against sweat. What more could you want?

These days, the headphone and even the Bluetooth headphone market has become quite crowded with a sea of products that pretty much look and feel the same – a sea of mediocrity if you will. However, with the BlueBuds X, I think Jaybird has really spent a lot of time and effort in creating a product that really stands out from everything else on the market, and in a good way too. While I feel like there are some small kinks to be worked out here and there, and of course there’s the high pricetag to consider, the BlueBuds X might very well be the Bluetooth headphones you’ve been waiting for.

CPCR-Gold

Sample provided by: Jaybird

Available at: Amazon, Jaybird

About The Author
Sam Chen
Hardware and Technology Enthusiast. SSD Evangelist. Editor-in-Chief. You can find Sam's full biography here