Review: JayBird Endorphin and Tiger Eyes headphones

Summary:As we continue to enjoy decent weather in the summer months and look to get and/or stay in shape there are a ton of headphone options out there that allow you to take your music on the go. In particular I have been looking for a pair of Bluetooth headphones that I could use while running. A reader sent me a link to the Jaybird Freedom Bluetooth headphones so I contacted them to see if I could evaluate that model. Jaybird told me they had a couple other newer products they wanted me to try out first so they sent along the Endorphins and Tiger Eyes. One aspect of these that particularly appealed to me was their 100% warranty against sweat because I sweat a lot when I workout or play sports and need something that isn't going to fail due to this type of moisture.

As we continue to enjoy decent weather in the summer months and look to get and/or stay in shape there are a ton of headphone options out there that allow you to take your music on the go. In particular I have been looking for a pair of Bluetooth headphones that I could use while running. A reader sent me a link to the Jaybird Freedom Bluetooth headphones so I contacted them to see if I could evaluate that model. Jaybird told me they had a couple other newer products they wanted me to try out first so they sent along the Endorphins and Tiger Eyes. One aspect of these that particularly appealed to me was their 100% warranty against sweat because I sweat a lot when I workout or play sports and need something that isn't going to fail due to this type of moisture.


Image Gallery:Check out photos of both the JayBird Endorphin and Tiger Eyes headphones.
Image Gallery: Retail packaging
Image Gallery: Endorphin package contents

Jaybird Endorphins

If you have ever played sports or worked out with me you would know that I sweat like crazy. I can never work out in the same shirt twice and need a pair of headphones that can stand up to this type of environment. The Jaybird Endorphins are the only pair of headphones I have been able to find online that specifically have a lifetime warranty against sweat so it was a perfect product for me to try out.

The packaging was very well done with a durable box that contained the headphones lying in a bed of foam. You will find the earphones, rugged carrying case, cable manager, optional earhooks, and six pairs of eartips to fit your ear size perfectly. The case is a small round case with two net pockets inside and a durable zipper closure. The cable manager is a piece of rubber designed with cutouts for you to wrap the headset cable around and keep your cable and earphones organized. The optional earhooks are pieces of black rubber that have a channel cutout to feed your cable through and back around your ear.

The Endorphins are designed to go in your ear with the cable leading up over your ear and around to the back of your neck. With all of the different eartips you can find one set that gives you the best fit and I personally liked the multi-level tips that fit well in my ear canals. I personally also found the earhooks to be essential for getting a good secure fit that kept the earphones in while running. Your cable then leads down your back and to your MP3 player for unrestricted music listening as you workout. I like that the cable used is coated in black rubber that helps keep the cable from twisting and wrapping up too. Jaybird includes a sliding piece so you can tighten the cable that meets around the back of your neck to minimize cable bounce and sway when working out.

The Endorphins have a titanium coating over the speaker diaphragms to help keep the sound much like originally designed since the diaphragm won't break down with sweat over the years. I am not an audiophile, but I can hear differences in treble, bass, and basic sound quality. I found the Endorphins to be good at maintaining very good levels of bass, even at the highest volume level on my Zune (device with best sound quality I have available) without any sound distortion. I prefer a bit more bass than treble and was very pleased with the Endorphins.

Here are the specs listed on their website:

  • Driver unit: 10mm
  • Driver type: High Grade Neodymium
  • Diaphragm: Titanium coated
  • Impedance: 18W
  • Sensitivity: 104dB
  • Cable length: 110 cm (43.3 inches)
  • Plug type: 3.5mm 4-pole stereo
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 20KHz
  • Weight: 13.5 grams ( ounces)

The Endorphins are warranted against sweat for a lifetime and their website even lists rain, which is a weather condition I commonly run in since I live in Washington State and we experience many overcast and drizzly days throughout the year.

Jaybird Tiger Eyes

The Jaybird Tiger Eyes have a major functionality difference compared to the Endorphins and that is the microphone and media/phone controls found along the wire of the headset. The main cable is also not as thick as the cable on the Endorphins. Where the two cables leading to your ears meet there is a volume controller assembly where you can control volume with a silver slider. Below this you can attach a clip to secure the cable to your shirt.

About three inches down from the right earbud you will find the microphone and single silver button that lets you control your calls and media. I tested this headset with an iPhone 3GS, BlackBerry Curve, and T-Mobile myTouch 3G. Music played fine on all three, but the myTouch 3G needs a dongle to connect with the headset because it does not have a 3.5mm headset jack and thus the mic/controller did not work with this phone. The Tiger Eyes are really optimized for the iPhone experience where a single click plays/pauses music, a double press moves to the next track, and a triple press moves back a track. While in a phone call a single press mutes the call and a press and hold ends the call (same actions as on the BlackBerry). A press and hold also launches iPhone Voice Control and BlackBerry voice dialing so that is quite handy.

Here are the specs listed on their website:

  • Driver unit: 8mm
  • Driver type: High Grade Neodymium
  • Diaphragm: Titanium coated
  • Impedance: 18W
  • Sensitivity: 104dB
  • Cable length: 110 cm (43.3 inches)
  • Plug type: 3.5mm 4-pole stereo
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 20KHz
  • Weight: 13.5 grams (0.48 ounces)
  • Mic unit: 4x1.5mm
  • Mic sensitivity: -45dB +/- 3dB

The packaging is very similar to the Endorphins with the earphones, case, cable manager, and different earbud tips.

In comparing the sound from the Tiger Eyes to the Endorphins I definitely noticed the volume was lower and the bass was not as strong on the Tiger Eyes. When I cranked my Zune up to max volume there seemed to be a lot of treble and the sound just wasn't quite as clear as it was on the Endorphins.

In regards to phone calls, the callers stated they did notice I was on a headset and that the sound was not as clear as when I use my Jawbone Bluetooth headset. The call controller button is easy to find because it has a decent length so controlling calls and media was not a hassle or anything. On my end, callers sounded just fine. I am rarely in a situation where I am listening to music and make or receive phone calls so I find having a dedicated set of earphones that give better performance to be a bigger benefit than having a pair that gives me phone and music capabilities.

If you are listening to music when a call comes in, then the music fades out and the call sounds. Ending the calls initiates the music playing again too.

Like the Endorphins, there is a lifetime sweat warranty on the Tiger Eyes.

Final thoughts

The Ultimate Ears myFi 5 headphones cost about $200 and are definitely still the best sounding pair I have ever personally tried out. I have used them over the years to work out with and they are holding up pretty well, with some cable corrosion. The major problem is that the Ultimate Ears keep falling out all the time when I run. The Jaybird Endorphins stay in place and I have yet to have them pop out while running.

The Jaybird Endorphins are priced at $99, which seems to be a good price for a very nice sounding pair of headphones that are guaranteed to work even if you sweat a lot when working out. With the design optimized for use with the cable routed behind your neck (the around-the-ear channel helps) I find the Endorphins to be a much better option for working out and highly recommend you give them a try. You get free shipping and a full 60-days to try them out so you can see they believe and stand by their products.

Like I said, I don't make a ton of phone calls as it is and never hold conversations when working out so the Tiger Eyes are not something I personally need. You can also use them when commuting if you listen to a lot of music stored on your iPhone or other mobile phone. The Tiger Eyes are available for $89.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Networking, Telcos

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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