A while ago I reviewed the Vankyo X200 wireles earbuds and in that video I lamented the state of Jaybird headphones. Outside of the first pair I owned, which laster years, I’ve been getting months out of these headphones. I’ve returned for exchange more pairs than I’ve ever owned, and they’ve made the return process involve more steps for customers now so I don’t even bother.
Someone recommended the Jaybird Run XT as a viable replacement so I’ve been putting them through their paces since May 2021 to see how they hold up.
The controls on the Jaybird Run XT are actual buttons instead of the capacitive controls that many headphones have now. While I do find that you have to press them fairly hard to get them to work, I haven’t found that the pressure created on my ear is anything terrible. Not the most comfortable, but not as bad as it could be.
Out of the box you have 3 possible control options. One press on the left bud will activate your voice assistant. One press on the right bud will stop/start music or accept a call if you have one coming in. Double pressing the right bud will skip forward in your music/podcast or decline a call if you’re currently talking.
The biggest oversight to me is the lack of volume adjust on the headphones. I can most often reach my phone to adjust the volume but I’d much rather simply interact with the headphones. Unfortunately, I don’t even know which control I’d drop from the standard ones to have the option to control volume. I wish there was a squeeze action, or some other action for both headphones so that I could control volume up and down without accessing my phone.
To customize the controls for the headphones you’ll need to use the Jaybird application. I’ve never done this because I have no idea what controls I’d give up.
My biggest fear with the fit of these headphones is that they’d be heavy in my ears and fall out, but that hasn’t come to pass. I’ve found them as comfortable as any other in ear bud I’ve owned. They stay secure in anything I’ve done with them and unlike other buds I’ve had, I don’t need to adjust them during activity.
The Jaybird Run XT buds are rated for IPX 7, which means they should be fine in sweat and rain but are not for swimming. In theory IPX 7 is officially “protection in water up to 3 feet” but I wouldn’t trust them actually going into water at all. If you drop an ear bud in a puddle it should be fine though.
The case for the ear buds isn’t waterproof at all though so make sure you store the case in something that can protect it.
Another weak point of any of the Jaybird headphones I’ve owned is the pogo pins that provide power to the unit. The Tarah Pro in particular seemed to have this issue if you connected the little extra battery to the headphones during use. This felt especially lame because they were advertised as a headphone that you could run down, then add the battery to and use longer. Specifically they had a bunch of mountain runners on their campaigns.
I found that doing this broke the headphones though so I’ve been very careful about putting the Jaybird Run XT in the case when they may be damp at all.
The charging case uses Micro USB, and I’m so ready to have all USB C in my life. Still if you’re travelling for a few days the charging case caries an extra 8 hours of device use. You could certainly leave the Micro USB cable at home and still use the headphones for a run daily without issues.
The sound quality on these is good enough for me. I can hear the podcasts I want to hear or the music I want to listen to. Music is flatter than with the AirPod Pro’s but it’s on par for any other in ear bud I’ve used.
These do not have active noise cancelling, and even if they did I’d turn it off. While I like to listen to a podcast or audiobook while cycling or running, I do want some idea of what’s happening around me. These do seal well enough in the ear to provide reduction of outdoor sound, but when I’m going downhill fast on the bike the headphones get overwhelmed and I just stop what I’m listening to for a bit.
You can also setup custom sound profiles in the application, but I’ve never bothered with that.
My biggest complaint with the sound is actually a Bluetooth issue. When I have my phone in the back pocket of my cycling jersey and turn my head one of the buds cuts out. I guess this happens as the Bluetooth signal has to go through my body? When I turn my head back straight it works again, but since you shoulder check lots during a ride it gets old fairly quick to have one random bud drop signal.
To start the battery life was right on claim giving me between 3:50 and 4:10 hours of use. More recently that’s been creeping down to 3:30 though and on one recent ride where it was a bit cool they told me they had 20% battery left late in a ride that was only 1:30 long. They never died, but if I hit 20% left then the cold deeply affected the batteries and it wasn’t even cold enough to need to cover my ears or wear heavy gloves.
During use a 5-minute charge tops them up for about an hour of usage. If I’ve been out long enough to kill them I’m usually in the last 20 minutes of a ride so I just let them die and head home, plus you don’t really want to put them in the case when barely damp so you don’t break them. That means if you’re actually doing activity with the headphones, you won’t be charging them in the middle.
Fully charging the headphones takes 3 hours.
Despite the relatively good performance of these headphones I struggle to recommend them simply because every time I’ve reviewed Jaybird headphones in the last number of years I say good things about them, then they die a few weeks later. Sweat gets in and I’m off to warranty land, which they’ve actually made far more work than it used to be.
I think that if you’re doing activites under 4 hours and it’s not crazy wet, then these are a decent set of headphones. They lasted through treadmill sessions for me and a hot summer of running. Sweating during those activities is what has generally killed the Jaybird headphones for me in the past. They’ve also stood up to a pouring rain run that turned into snow without issue.
So I’m saying cautious buy.