Jaybird continues on an impressive fall run of new product launches with what might just be its most interesting release yet: the Tarah Pro wireless sport headphones. I’ve been trying out a pair of what Jaybird describes as “the ultimate adventure headphones” for the past few weeks. Here’s what I think of them, how they compare to the other recent Jaybird releases, and how they stack up against other earbuds in general.
Unboxing an initial impression: like the Tarah, but subtly different
A few weeks back, I reviewed the Jaybird Tarah earbuds. These were an all-new design from Jaybird, featuring IPX7 water resistance (meaning rain, snow and sweat are absolutely no concern and the buds can even be submerged in up to three feet of water for a short time). The Tarahs were also Jaybird’s most affordable wireless buds, which meant cost-saving measures like all-in-one EarGels (instead of separate ear tips and ear fins), and no carrying pouch.
Unboxing the Tarah Pro earbuds, I noticed the Tarah family resemblance was obvious, but there are some subtle differences. For one thing, there’s a carrying pouch this time. The EarGels are the same comfortable silicone construction, but the shape is slightly different. The inline remote is curved with the Tarah Pros. And the cable that connects the two buds is thicker and covered with woven cloth instead of the flat, rubberized cable used by the Tarah earbuds.
Are these differences worth the step up in price from the Tarah earbuds—and the recently released Jaybird X4 wireless earbuds, for that matter? Spoiler alert, there is a lot more to the Tarah Pro than snagging a carrying case and a more upscale looking cable. By the end of the review, these new Jaybirds had catapulted to the top of my list of favourite wireless earbuds for 2018—and I’ve tested several dozen competitors so far this year.
Hands-on with the Jaybird Tarah Pro wireless earbuds
I say this virtually every time I review wireless earbuds, but it’s worth repeating. The Tarah Pro is not “true” wireless in the sense that a cable connects the two buds. The connection to the audio source is wireless, but there is still a cable. While some see that as a disadvantage, I far prefer this design approach. The buds themselves are smaller because the battery shifts to the inline remote (where it can also be larger), there is no pushing buttons on the buds themselves (which can be uncomfortable and could dislodge them), there are no wireless sync issues between the buds, and they are a lot more difficult to drop or lose.
With the Tarah Pro wireless earbuds, Jaybird is once again supporting what it calls “Switch Fit.” This means the EarGel shape and orientation of the bud connection to the cable supports the option of wearing the Tarah Pros with the cable over your ear, or under your ear—like the X series. That’s a matter of personal preference. I personally prefer under the ear, which is the traditional method for wired earbuds. The EarGels are extremely comfortable and offer a secure fit. There are three sizes to choose from, so that should cover off most people—but if you want more flexibility, you may want to consider the Jaybird X4 earbuds instead.
The cloth covering on the Tarah Pro cables and the curve to its inline remote is much more than window dressing. The cloth cover is designed to eliminate the issue of a rubberized cable sticking to skin when you’re sweating. It is also reflective, for greater safety when running at night. The curved remote fits nicely against the head when you use the integrated cinch to tighten the cable up. When properly fitted, I didn’t even notice the cable. However, if you wear the earbuds with the cable hanging loose, that cloth cover does introduce noise if it rubs against clothing.
The buds themselves are magnetic. Connect them in a necklace when you want to take a break and they’ll automatically pause the music.
Tarah Pro key specs
Excellent audio that’s highly customizable
The Tarah Pro earbuds continue in Jaybird’s tradition of energetic and enjoyable audio performance. The basic specs of these latest earbuds closely resemble those of the Tarah and X4, but the Tarah Pro has the edge in maximum volume, with 12mW maximum output (compared to 10mW). The Tarah Pro earbuds also support Jaybird’s mobile app (free for iOS and Android) that offers a class-leading degree of audio customization.
The net result? Earbuds that play music very well, no matter what your preference. If the stock audio doesn’t have enough low-end for your taste, the Jaybird app can bring considerable bass oomph. Comparing between the Tarah, Tarah Pro and X4 earbuds, I can’t tell any difference in audio performance, but the Tarah Pro can get a smidge louder—not that I could picture anyone playing music that loud.
Unbelievable battery life
So far, all is well and good with the Tarah Pro earbuds; but there’s still no must-have feature that makes them worth spending more for over the Tarah and X4 earbuds.
Well, there is a killer feature and it’s battery life.
Battery life is the Achilles Heel of any wireless earbuds. There’s only so much battery capacity you can fit in an earbud that’s stuck in an ear, so with true wireless buds, you’re usually lucky to get four hours on a charge. By moving the battery to the inline remote, the Tarah Pro get six hours between charges while the X4s can last up to eight hours. The Jaybird Tarah Pro wireless earbuds are rated at 14 hours of playtime on a charge. In testing, I actually exceeded that and got nearly 15 hours—and that was with several hours of blasting the music so loudly I had to take the buds out and have them resting on my shoulders like mini Bluetooth speakers … Set them on a table for 15 minutes and they’ll automatically power down to save battery life.
There’s your killer feature: amazing battery life. The longest I’ve ever seen in wireless earbuds.
A great choice, and not just for fitness enthusiasts
Jaybird’s target demographic is runners and fitness enthusiasts. When I spoke to a company rep about the Tarah Pro, they told me these new earbuds were designed based on feedback from athletes who are training all day. I have no doubt the Tarah Pro checks all the boxes for an elite athlete. However, as I mentioned earlier, the Jaybird Tarah Pro wireless sport earbuds are so good they are my favourite buds so far in 2018. They offer a combination of comfort, secure fit, water resistance, audio performance and extreme battery life that puts them in a class of their own. If you’re looking for wireless earbuds, these should be on your list, even if you don’t own a pair of running shoes.