If you’re into fitness and music—two things that go perfectly together, in my opinion—you probably know the name Jaybird. The company has built a reputation for being the wireless earbud brand of choice among fitness enthusiasts and runners. The Jaybird RUN, X-series and Freedom are great earbuds, each with its own advantages. The one thing they aren’t is inexpensive. And that’s where the new Jaybird Tarah Wireless Sport Earphones fit into the lineup: as Jaybird’s first model aimed at the entry-level market.
Are the Tara earbuds the affordable Jaybirds you’ve been waiting for? I’ve spent the past few weeks testing them and comparing them against the recently released Jaybird X4 buds (read my review here if you’d like to learn more about those).
Unboxing and initial impression
There is nothing low rent about the Jaybird Tarah packaging or appearance. In fact, they look remarkably similar to the more expensive X4 earbuds, from the box to the buds themselves.
The Tarah earbuds look sporty (mine were black with a bright yellow-green housing), but the first hint of what a lower price might mean came with the included accessories. There was no carrying pouch in the box, and instead of separate ear tips and ear wings, the Tarah box had three sets of EarGels. These are an all-in-one solution that combines wings and tips.
Charging is via a proprietary POGO charge cradle. This connects to a USB charger (that you supply), and the Tarah’s inline controller snaps into the cradle. A complete charge from zero takes about two hours, but there is support for fast-charge that gets you an hour of music after 10 minutes of charging. Overall battery life is six hours, give or take.
If you travel with the Tarah earbuds you’ll need to remember to bring that charge cradle with you, and take care not to lose it.
Comfortable and secure fit, plus they’re waterproof
Jaybird may have saved some money by going with the EarGels, but they are made of the same comfortable, flexible silicone material as the ear tips and ear fins supplied with its X4 earbuds. I found they fit comfortably and securely. There was no fussing to get a proper fit, I could wear them for several hours at a time and I could shake my head vigorously without them popping out.
The Jaybird Tarah earbuds are also IPX7 water-resistant. That means they are impervious to sweat or rain, and can even withstand 30 minutes submerged in a metre of water. I tossed them in a sink filled with water—something that would kill virtually every pair of earbuds in my collection. After a quick pat dry, the Tarah’s were fine. That doesn’t mean they’re meant for swimming, but if you’re trail running and accidentally take a spill into a river, at least you don’t have to worry about your earbuds being ruined.
High quality audio
These aren’t audiophile headphones, but I like the way Jaybirds sound and the Tarah earbuds are recognizably Jaybirds. With the Jaybird app (for iOS and Android), the audio can be fine-tuned to a high degree no matter what your preference is.
Jaybird Tarah Wireless Sport Earphones key specs:
What’s the difference between these and the Jaybird X4 wireless earbuds?
It’s really hard to avoid comparing the Tarahs to the X4s. After all, the two new Jaybird wireless earbuds were released just weeks apart (I actually received the review units at the exact same time) and at a glance you’d be hard pressed to tell the two models apart.
This family resemblance is obviously intentional—the company wants you to know these are full-fledged Jaybird earbuds, not a sub brand—but that close resemblance can be confusing. I’ll break down the most important differences, but first a few smaller ones:
- The X4 earbuds have a premium metallic paint job
- The cable connection to the buds on the X4s seems a little more robust
- The inline controller on the X4 uses round buttons, the Tarah has moulded symbols
- The X4s include a carrying pouch while the Tarah earbuds do not
The two big differences?
First, the Tara earbuds have those single piece EarGels. The X4s come with separate ear fins and ear tips, and also include a few pairs of comply foam tips. In other words, the X4 earbuds make it possible to really customize your fit and to optimize audio performance through use of foam ear tips (that offer a superior seal to silicone). The other big one is battery life. The Jaybird Tarah offer up to six hours of use on one full charge, while the Jaybird X4 go for up to eight hours. Both are good for an extended workout or run, but you’ll be recharging the Jaybird Tarah earbuds a little more frequently.
What’s the same? As far as I could tell, the audio performance between the two models is identical, or close enough to virtually indistinguishable. Both are IPX7 waterproof. Both are supported by the Jaybird app. Both use a proprietary POGO charger and support fast-charging.
Bottom line: Jaybird experience at an entry-level price!
At the end of the day, the Jaybird Tarah Wireless Sport Earphones stand on their own as a solid entry in the wireless earbud category. You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy these. They offer great audio performance with a high degree of app-based customization, a comfortable and secure fit, and class-leading water resistance. They give up some extras compared to Jaybird’s more expensive X4 earbuds, but the result of those trade-offs is Jaybird earbuds at a new level of affordability. If you’ve been sitting on the fence based on price, the Jaybird Tarah earbuds are the ones that should convince you to take the Jaybird plunge.
Still not convinced these are the buds for you? No worries, Best Buy has a huge selection of headphones and earbuds to choose from, with plenty of choices from all the leading brands.