Jaybird X2 wireless sports earbuds hands-on: Couple design tweaks over last generation, but bass is weak

Jaybird is focused on bringing wireless audio to serious athletes, but its headphones are very expensive and lack the bass that is often desired at the gym.

Back in early 2013, I started running with the Jaybird BlueBuds X earbuds, but after a couple of months I switched to another brand since the BlueBuds X kept slipping out of my ears during longer runs.

Jaybird just released the next generation sport earbuds, the X2, and a couple subtle design changes have them staying put while also providing better audio quality than the BlueAnt Pump model I have been using. The Jaybird X2 Bluetooth sports earbuds are quite expensive at $179.95, but they are arguably the best available for athletes.

Retail package

The Jaybird X2 wireless buds come in a sturdy package that is held closed with a magnet. Opening up the front flap reveals a plastic window withe the X2 shown around the carrying case. This year, you can purchase the X2 in charge (lime green earbuds and tips with black cable), midnight (black cable and earbuds with lime silicone tips), storm (white earbuds, black cable, lime silicone tips), alpha (black cable, olive green earbuds, and orange silicone tips), fire (black cable with orange earbuds and tips), and ice (black cable with light blue earbuds and tips). I was sent the alpha color to evaluate.

The retail package include small, medium, and large pairs of silicone and comply foam ear tips so you will find something that fits you. I used the medium silicone tips and large foam ones during my testing.

The carrying case contains a small rugged USB to microUSB cable for charging up the headset, along with three pairs of ear fins and three cord clips. The cord clips are used to shorten up the cable connecting each earbud so you can place it behind your head so it doesn't bounce around when you workout.

Walk around the X2

You can wear the Jaybird X2 earbuds using an under the ear or over the ear method. I tried both, but preferred the over the ear setup since it kept the cord up off my neck and seemed to stay more secure in my ears. With the under approach, the controller is on the right side and over the ear has you flip the controller to the left side.

While the X2 looks very similar to the BlueBuds X, check out my image gallery, I found a couple of minor design improvements that helped hold the X2 more securely in my ears. All of our ears are differently shaped so while one method works better for me I recommend you try out the different size earbud tips and wings to find your perfect fit.

One improvement is the added small ridge at the base of the earbud where the cable is attached to the earbud. You need to slide the ear fin piece against the earbud, away from your ear opening, and the ridge helps keep it in place. On the BlueBuds X this area has a glossy chrome finish and I found the ear fin kept sliding away from where it was supposed to be positioned, especially when I sweat heavily, so that the earbud shifted on me during my workout.

Another design improvement was made in the ear fin construction. The ear fins are now a bit more rigid with the ends that fit into your ear opening having a bit more thickness. The ear fins now fit more securely in my ear.

The back of one earbud still contains the microUSB port, the remote has the same three button design, and the cable securing system remains the same. The earbuds are the same size as the BlueBuds X so that means they are quite small and lightweight, 26 grams.

You will still experience up to eight hours of music playback, a solid Bluetooth signal, and lifetime sweat-proof warranty.

The in-line controller contains a mic for great sounding calls while the three buttons let you control volume, skip forward or backward, play/pause, and answer calls.

Workout and usage experiences

My current running setup includes wearing a Polar V800 on my left wrist and my Apple Watch on my right wrist. My Apple Watch provides music so I paired that smartwatch with the Jaybird X2 for my evaluation. Pairing was quick and simple. I also paired with the Galaxy Note 5 and LG G4 in order to test out phone calls and wear the headset during my daily train commute.

My BlueAnt Pump HD headset stays in place even better than the Jaybird X2. I also hear more bass with the BlueAnt. I tried using the equalizer on my phones to increase the bass, but it didn't help much. I also listen to a lot of podcasts while commuting and running, they didn't sound that great with high levels of treble.

I had to turn my Apple Watch volume down to about 40 percent, while I typically crank it up to about 90 percent with my BlueAnt headset. The music was not only loud, it was crisp and clear.

The cord management system takes a bit to figure out and I recommend you find and download the user guide to get it right. Once the cord clips are in place, things are great, but it does take a bit to understand how they function.

Jaybird has been making workout earbuds for a few years and the X2 is the best yet. They are quite expensive, the quality is top notch, they are lightweight, and the battery will get you through a few intense workouts. However, I'm completely satisfied with my now-$40 BlueAnt Pump headset and won't be buying the Jaybird X2.


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