December 21st, 2020

Tarah Pro Headphones by Jaybird - Reviewed

I've had a love/hate relationship with Jaybird products. The first pair of headphones they ever released worked for years in all conditions. They easily handled 6 hours in the pouring rain or bushwhacking in the mountains. My wife still uses a pair of their first generation headphones many times a week running and they work great. Mine did eventually die, but I felt they served their useful life many times over and were a great pair of headphones.

Then I purchased multiple pairs of headphones that barely lasted weeks. Freedom version 1 and 2 would stop charging and then become unresponsive when their batteries died. X3's would also have the same issue within weeks. To Jaybird's credit, they replaced each pair of headphones, then replaced the replacements, then again, then I gave up after the 4th or 5th return because I was wasting so much time getting working headphones.

Since then I've also tried the PowerBeats Pro, and while I love them they also have developed issues with the right ear bud that I can only attribute to sweat damage. They still work, but I'm very careful about not subjecting them to any type of harsher conditions anymore. I've also purchased a pair of Trekz Air headphones, that have put in a solid season of terrible weather and been subjected to lots of sweat without any issues at all. The only knock against Trekz headphones is that they don't fit under a winter hat well and I like to head up to the mountains and the snow regularly.

So, because I had such a stellar experience with the original Jaybird headphones when I saw the Tarah Pro on sale I decided to take the plunge and see how they work.

My Usage

I run or ride my bicycle 5 or 6 days a week. This last week I did that, then skied with the family on the 7th day. I spend one day on the treadmill, and sweat heavily enough that my shorts are often dripping at the end even with a massive fan blasting me and the garage open when it's only 1C out.

I live near Vancouver BC, and this time of year it rains a lot. I run or ride in any weather and have done 6 hour training sessions in "regard breaking rain" before and will do them again.

I think I'm a fairly heavy user that puts the headphones in tough situations where they are likely to fail if there are flaws in their design.

Fit

The fit on the Tarah Pro's has been acceptable. I always have trouble with my right ear, and these don't change that trend. In fact the only headphones that fit my ears and don't fall out at some point are the PowerBeats Pro, but they have an ear hook to support the weight of the headphones.

Nothing exceptional in the fit department. They have some tips to test with and if you put in a bit of effort you can probably find a fit that works.

They do fit well under a winter hat unlike the AfterShokz headphones.

The biggest issue I have with fit is that the extra cable can get caught under your shirt and pull the headphones out of your ears. The original Jaybird headphones had some clips that took up all the extra slack of the headphones so it sat tight against your head and couldn't get caught. This excellent feature meant no cable snags ever, even when I was bushwhacking new routes in the mountains.

Battery Life

I've been very impressed with the battery life of the headphones. I've had them out on two six hour days without charging between and they lasted. I assume they give you some type of audible warning when they are getting low, but I've never heard the warning. I believe their claimed 14 hour battery life rating, and I've used them for 12 without charge.

Sound Quality

My biggest issue with the AfterShokz headphones outside of the winter hat issue, is that they don't get very loud when I'm on the treadmill. The Jaybird Tarah Pro doesn't have this issue. They're plenty loud and I find the sound quality to be decent. Nothing to write home about, but if you're looking to get into some music, you'll hear it well enough. If you're listening to podcasts the voices will be clear even at the 2x speed I use to listen to spoken word audio.

Will they Last?

On this point, I'm sceptical that they're going to last much longer than any of my previous purchases from Jaybird. They still function but I've had them shut off twice now in the middle of a run and not turn back on. Both times they were full when I left on a 2 hour run and part way through the humid and very sweaty run, they shut off.

Once home I let them dry out and charged them again and they've continued to work, but this is the same type of thing that started with my previous Jaybird headphones. It only got worse and then I had to get replacements that occasionally would only last a few days of use before needing to be replaced again.

Should You Purchase the Jaybird Tarah Pro?

Nope, I can't recommend them yet. If they still work in a year then I could say that some initial issues never turned into anything but after 2 months of use I can't say that yet. They're an expensive set of headphones, and I'm not convinced that they're going to stick around and work for years under heavy use.

If they're on sale and you're a light exerciser or not someone that spends hours in the pouring rain and sweats heavily, I'm much more confident in the Tarah Pro. I'd purchase them for my wife knowing she doesn't sweat like I do and in general will push the limits of their function a bit less than I do.

Purchase the Jaybird Tarah Pro on Amazon