Is it time for a new pair of wireless earbuds? There are hundreds of options to choose from, but if you want to wear them while exercising, Jaybird is a brand that should be on your shortlist. I’ve been testing the company’s latest release, the Jaybird X4 sport wireless earbuds. Hopefully, I can help you to decide if these are the right wireless earbuds for you.
Unboxing and initial impressions live up to expectations
I’ve had the opportunity to test many Jaybird headphones over the past few years, including the Freedom wireless earbuds in 2016 and the company’s true wireless RUN earbuds last fall. The new Jaybird X4s live up to the lofty expectations the company’s fans have of its products. That starts with the attractive packaging (purely cosmetic but it helps to set the stage) and extends to the large assortment of accessories that are included. You get multiple ear tips, ear fins, a charge cable, cord cinch and a clip.
Jaybird also includes a snap-close pouch to store everything in.
The X4s are offered in attractive colours (my review units are a very cool Alpha Metallic Jade) and their ear fins are now a more flexible, hollow tube-style silicone. Water resistance also gets a boost to IPX7, which is a big deal. Most earbuds aimed at the fitness market are sweatproof, but these have no problem with exposure to rain and can even survive being dropped in one metre of water for 30 minutes.
Highly customized Fit
Jaybird’s headphones are focused on the fitness market and this means secure fit and comfort are more important than usual. It’s always important to have a snug fit with earbuds—without a good seal, the bass response all but disappears. But when you are wearing earbuds while running and exercising, the last thing you want is to be constantly fussing with them to keep them from falling out. And you don’t want them irritating your ear and distracting you from the task at hand.
So Jaybird takes the fit of its earbuds very seriously. In the box with the X4 earbuds are two sizes of silicone ear tips, three sizes of super flexible silicone fins and two sizes of premium Comply Ultra foam ear tips. The Comply tips are a Jaybird-exclusive design that uses thermo-reactive foam.
There should be a combination of accessories that will provide a snug, secure and comfortable fit for virtually anyone. I had no problem, and I often struggle with earbuds …
The cable that connects the two buds is fitted with an integrated cinch to adjust the slack. You can wear these buds in an over-ear or under-ear style (I prefer the under-ear approach) and cinch them so the cable isn’t flopping around loose.
Audio quality and battery life
Audio quality is very good for earbuds in this price range. These aren’t aimed at audiophiles, so don’t expect the kind of refinement you get from a quad-driver setup. But the Jaybird X4s sounded good, with some low end to the sound and plenty of energy. If music playback isn’t quite to your taste, Jaybird’s app (for iOS and Android) includes a series of presets and also lets you completely customize performance with an EQ. I boosted the bass a bit and was quite happy with the results.
Battery life is excellent at eight hours on a charge (a bit more if you keep the volume lower, a bit less if you crank up the music). It takes about two hours for a full charge using the included the charge cradle, but you do need to supply your own USB charger. One that comes with a smartphone works fine, so long as it has a USB-A port. If you need a quick top up, 10 minutes on the charger will get you one hour of play time.
Jaybird X4 key specs:
Comparing to true wireless earbuds
Many potential buyers will naturally wonder what the differences are between Jaybird’s X4 and RUN earbuds, and whether one or the other makes a better choice.
The primary difference between the two is wireless (X4) versus true wireless (RUN). The X4 buds connect to your smartphone or smartwatch using Bluetooth wireless, but there is a cable that physically connects the two buds. The RUN earbuds have no wires whatsoever.
Personally, cool as true wireless buds are, I prefer the X4 approach. That cable connecting the bud lets Jaybird offload the controls and battery to an inline control module. That makes for easier operation, and double the battery life at eight hours instead of four. The buds themselves are slightly lighter and smaller since there’s no battery inside, and that makes them a little more comfortable. The connection to your music source is still wireless with the X4s, which gives you considerable freedom of motion, but the connecting cable makes it a lot less likely you’ll drop or misplace a bud if it pops out of your ear.
One advantage that true wireless earbuds like the RUNs have is their self-contained charge case. the Jaybird X4s have a longer battery life, but when they need to be recharged, you need to find a wall outlet, a USB charger and that special charge cradle.
Are the Jaybird X4s the earbuds for you?
If you’re not sure the Jaybird X4s are the earbuds for you, Best Buy carries the full line of Jaybird wireless headphones, so you can can compare features. Of course, that’’s just one manufacturer among the massive collection of headphones you’ll find at Best Buy.