Living Up to Jaybird’s Reputation
Jaybird is a headphone manufacturer that’s built a cult following among fitness enthusiasts. And its reputation is well-deserved. The company pays attention to audio quality, especially the relationship between a secure fit and high quality audio. It patented ear fins that lock its buds snugly in place, while remaining very comfortable—a key requirement for wearing them during strenuous activity. Other earbud makers now offer similar fins, but I’ve yet to find any that work quite as well as Jaybird’s. It has perfected sweat-proofing and water resistance in its products, also must-haves for athletes. With the growing popularity of true wireless earbuds, there’s a lot at stake with the Jaybird RUN, but after spending time with the new earbuds I think the company did an excellent job.
Jaybird has done Bluetooth wireless before, with last year’s X3 and excellent Freedom earbuds (you can read my review of the Freedoms here), but the RUN is its first true wireless effort. With the growing popularity of true wireless earbuds, there’s a lot at stake with the Jaybird RUN, but after spending time with the new earbuds I think the company did an excellent job.
Jaybird RUN Unboxing
Considering the technology involved, there wasn’t much to unboxing and connecting the Jaybird RUN earbuds. Inside the box you’ll find the charge case, with the buds already inside and charged. Pop out one of the buds and it automatically goes into Bluetooth pairing mode, so you simply have to choose it from your smartphone. This happened so smoothly it was virtually automatic, and the second bud was immediately paired to the first, so there was really no fussing around to get them up and running.
Also in the box are an assortment of ear fins and silicon ear tips so you can customize the fit, and a USB cable for the charge case.
Fit and Comfort
I mentioned Jaybird’s excellence in ear fin design and that comes into play perhaps even more with the RUN earbuds. With a battery and additional electronics packed into each earbud, they’re significant heavier than wired buds—6.83 g each. But thanks to that fin design, much of the weight is supported simply by locking into the ridges in your ear. You feel the additional weight at first, but soon forget it’s there.
The earbuds are comfortable to wear, with the right tips installed they provide a good seal, and they remain securely in place during motion. That’s especially important when there’s no wire safety net. If a true wireless earbud falls out, it’s hitting the ground …
Functionality and Audio Quality
You never get the same quality of audio from earbuds that a good set of on-ear headphones can deliver, but Jaybird’s RUN does pretty well so far as buds go. Audio is crisp, has plenty of volume, and if you get a good seal the low end response is decent. You can make it much better using the Jaybird app, but I’ll cover that in the next section.
Besides music playback, you can take voice calls on these buds. And with a microphone included and a connection to your smartphone, Jaybird also incorporates Siri and Google Assistant. The entire outer face of each bud is a button, so there’s no fumbling to find the controls. Activation requires just a light click—a good thing given that the buttons are mounted on devices that are jammed into your ear canal … Clicking the left bud activates Siri or Google Assistant. The right controls music playback and voice calls. If you want to use a single bud (so you have an ear free for ambient noise), you can do so using the right bud.
Battery life is rated at 4+ hours. That can be less if you have the volume turn up and/or make extensive use of features like Siri. Keep the volume lower and stick with listening to music and you can stretch it out to beyond the four hour mark.
When you run out of battery, pop the buds into the charge case (which is small enough to fit in a pocket). They slot into place so connectors make contact. Five minutes gets you an hour of playback time. To get a full charge takes about two hours, and the case itself holds two complete charges. So altogether, you can go roughly 12 hours without being near an electrical outlet. LED lights on the outside of the charge case show the battery status of the case itself, and of each bud at a glance.
Jaybird offers a free app for iOS and Android that has some excellent features.
The presets function is particularly useful. It lets you completely customize the sound of the Jaybird RUN earbuds, and can work wonders if you want the bass pumped up. You can save multiple profiles for different kinds of music. Also included is a “Find My Buds” feature that can help to track down a missing RUN bud. The functionality is a little limited—it displays the last connected location on a Mapbox map, so it won’t be pinpointing your couch cushions, but at least it can narrow the search down to a specific geographic location.
There’s not much to complain about with the Jaybird RUN earbuds.
Like all true wireless earbuds, their biggest limitation is battery life. Four hours is plenty to get you through most workout sessions, but to go longer than that you’ll need to pop them into their case for a quick top-up. Also a common concern with true wireless earbuds, losing one is always a risk, although Jaybird’s app can help find a missing bud. The closest thing I have to a complaint is that unlike the X3s and Freedom earbuds I had previously, Jaybird didn’t include premium Comply memory foam ear tips with the RUNs … If you want them, it’s easy enough to order them separately, but it would have been nice to have them included as pack-ins.
Should You Buy Them?
If you’re looking for earbuds to wear while exercising, I suspect you’ll be pretty happy with the Jaybird RUN true wireless earbuds. No cords, cables or wires, high quality sound, sweat-proof and they’re both comfortable and secure to wear—even during vigorous activity. Use was simple, with no fussing over connectivity.