Bluetooth headphones are all about compromise. Convenience, portability, price, aesthetics, sound quality, and durability are all knobs to turn, and even the most expensive models aren’t perfect. Sport headphones are particularly difficult to get right, since they must be even more durable than normal headphones, fit securely, maintain a strong connection during movement, have good sound despite ambient noise, and resist the bane of all electronics — sweat. With the X2 ($180), Jaybird thinks it’s nailed the perfect mix of features in a Bluetooth sport headphone. For the most part, we tend to agree.
The X2 is Jaybird’s successor to the very good BlueBuds X. Like the BlueBuds X, the X2 are light, compact earbuds connected with a 22-inch tangle-proof cable. The earbuds are cylinder-shaped, presumably housing the battery and all necessary electronics. A three-button pod handles all controls, including pairing, volume, play/pause, track forward/back, phone calls, and Siri. The X2’s micro-USB charging port is hidden behind a plastic flap on the right ear; though this flap may appear fragile, our positive experience with the Bluebuds X leaves us with no doubts as to its durability. The X2 also carries the same “Lifetime Warranty Against Sweat” as the Bluebuds X.
Jaybird clearly set out to refine the BlueBuds X and, thankfully, almost all changes in the X2 are for the better. The X2’s ear flaps are now contoured to fit more securely in your ear, and three sizes of Comply foam tips are included in addition to traditional gels for better sound isolation. The included carrying case is now made of silicone, which appears better suited to protect the X2 and included charging cable from water and dirt. The new matte finish is a definite improvement over the BlueBuds X’s glossy plastic and chrome, though we never got used to the look of two cylinders sticking out of our ears.
We lived with the X2 through more than 100 miles of cycling, running, and walking. Like its predecessor, pairing and connection are fast and reliable and battery life is excellent. With most of the X2’s mass securely held in your ear, the earbuds never feel heavy, and the many included accessories make it easy to customize for comfort. The only change to the X2’s controls was welcome — the X2 no longer emits loud beeps every time the volume buttons are pressed.
Jaybird calls its new audio technology “Shift,” claiming that it “outperforms most wired headphones.” While we’re not able to completely confirm the latter, we can say that the X2 sounds better than the Bluebuds X. Bass is definitely more prominent, with an overall richer and warmer sound signature. Like the BlueBuds X, however, detail can be lost to wind noise, especially while cycling. Though we don’t expect any sport headphone to provide perfect isolation during an outdoor workout, it is possible that the shape of the X2’s earbuds — two cylinders protruding from your ears — exacerbates wind noise. This forced us to listen at higher volumes, but never ruined the experience. With music in the background, the X2 proved to be a worthy companion on our workouts.
If you’ve got the money, Jaybird X2 is a solid choice for a pair of Bluetooth sport headphones. They’re light, they sound very good for their intended use, battery life is great, and, try as we might, we couldn’t kill them with sweat. Though the X2 is undoubtedly a very well-designed pair of headphones, their utilitarian sport focus resulted in a somewhat unflattering shape not present in some other Bluetooth headphones that sound just as good. Despite the somewhat-odd look — and despite still sporting a relatively high price tag — X2 is one of the best options out there in its class, and Jaybird’s newest effort earns our strong general recommendation.
Company and Price
Models: X2 Bluetooth Headphones
Compatibility: Bluetooth iPads, iPhones, iPods