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Rock out and run with the JayBird BlueBuds X ultimate Bluetooth earbuds (review)

I enjoy listening to music and podcasts while I run and haven't used anything but a sweat proof JayBird product for the last couple of years. The latest model, the BlueBuds X, provide a significant improvement over the last and are the ultimate Bluetooth headset to exercise with.
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By Matthew Miller, Contributor on
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BlueBuds X retail package

I have been running quite a bit over the last six months, completed my first half marathon in November, and the JayBird Freedom Sprint earbuds have been providing audio with my smartphones and MOTOACTV. JayBird recently released a new version of their wireless Bluetooth earbuds, the BlueBuds X, and I have been running with them over the holidays. The BlueBuds X improve on the Freedom Sprint model with double the battery life, smaller form factor, improved audio quality and signal strength, and an inline controller.

The BlueBuds X come in an attractive and well built green and black retail package. Like the previous models you will find the headset, carrying case, cord clips (I'll explain these later), three pairs of eartips, three pairs of "wings" (aka secure fit ear cushions), and a small, sturdy USB to microUSB cable. The Jaybird Freedom Sprint model brought a microUSB port for charging and this continues with the BlueBuds X. It took me a while to actually find the microUSB port because they now have it hidden underneath the back of the right (controller) earbud. The indicator light is also located adjacent to the microUSB cover that snaps on and is secured with a tether.

The one aspect of the Freedom Sprint model that was a negative from the previous JayBird Freedom headphones was the reduction in battery life (6 hours to 4 hours). I am happy to say that they solved this with the BlueBuds X and even though it is the smallest model yet you get the best battery life, a reported 8 hours. I can confirm that I can now go more than a week, I typically go on three 1+ hour runs in a week, where I could only complete two runs with the Freedom Sprint model.

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Back of the BlueBuds X retail package

There is also a Getting Started Guide and while you could get away from reading it with previous models, I highly recommend you check it out to see the details on the two different methods of wearing these earbuds. I have always worn my JayBird earbuds running under my ear and around the back of my neck and have honestly never had a problem with a secure fit using this method. You can continue to wear the BlueBuds X this way, but you may also want to consider the over-the-ear option. The over-the-ear option is designed for those who just want to listen to music (not make calls) and get the cord off the back of their neck. I rarely receive calls when running so I decided to try out this over-the-ear option first.

The secure fit ear cushions (wings) are applied differently for over-the-ear usage and the controller moves from the right ear to the left ear. You use the included cable clips to reduce the length of cord that hangs down and tidy things up. I followed the specific directions in the guide and fitted up the BlueBuds X for over-the-ear usage. The earbuds fit into your ear and then the cable runs forward a bit and up over the front/top of your ear and around the back. I didn't think this felt as comfortable as the under-the-ear method I was used too, but decided to give it a try on a couple of runs. It turns out that this method holds the earbuds securely in place and worked pretty well. However, I still prefer the under-the-ear method as the BlueBuds X feel more secure for my ear form and the cable on the neck never bothers me. It is great that you have two options and I am sure one of them will work best for you too.

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BlueBuds X and included carrying case

There are three buttons and a mic opening on the BlueBuds X. The center button is used to turn on the earbuds and setup the connection to your Bluetooth device. Voice prompts, she is listed as Jenna in the documentation, make pairing and status checks easy. The center button is also used to play/pause and make/end phone calls. The upper button is for volume up and skip forward while the lower button is for volume down and skip back. A press and hold is used for the alternative control that a simple tap does not activate.

I found that the JayBird Freedom Sprint improved on an already solid Bluetooth signal from the first generation and can say that the BlueBuds X makes this connection even better. I could get the Freedom Sprint to cut out every once in a while if I held my MOTOACTV down low on my left side with the JayBird control side in my opposite (right) ear. I have not had one skip or messed up connection with the BlueBuds X even after placing the MOTOACTV on the complete diagonally opposite side of my body so can rest assured that my music will play flawlessly with the BlueBuds X. You may not expect awesome sound from a sweat proof pair of headphones designed for those who work out to music, but I can tell you that I have been using these on my train commute even when I am not working out. Previously, I used wired earbuds for commute audio, but these have such fantastic audio quality that I am now using them for most everything. JayBird calls their Bluetooth audio technology Shift while also labeling their filtering system PureSound. They really do sound fantastic and I know you will be impressed.

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Included package contents

Bluetooth 2.1+EDR is used since the new Bluetooth 4 (Bluetooth Low Energy) is not designed for high bandwidth stereo music and JayBird wants to provide you with the best audio experience. You can pair up to eight devices with the BlueBuds X and I used them with my MOTOACTV, iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, and Galaxy Note II. You can purchase them now for $169.95 in either black or white. These are expensive, but when you consider they have fantastic audio quality and provide everything you could want in a Bluetooth headset that may be enough to justify the cost. I sweat a LOT when I workout and have yet to have a failure of a JayBird Bluetooth headset so their lifetime sweat proof warranty is alone worth the value to me as other headsets have failed me due to sweat.

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USB charging cable

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Other side of the USB cable

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Hidden microUSB port on right earbud

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Earbuds with "wings" for a secure fit

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Three button controller with mic

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Using the cable clips

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Rigging for over-the-ear mode

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