The Problem to be Solved
Steve and I both do a lot of exercise, and love to listen to podcasts while we run and go to the gym. For ages we’ve used Sony over the head headphones, like the ones you could get with a Walkman in 1972. You may recall me talking about this and how we discovered a way to add the functionality of iPhone headphones – pause, play, volume and more – by added an adapter to the old fashioned headphones. We bought 3 different ones and I told you the virtues of them. Unfortunately, every single one of them failed after a while. We’re back to having to dig our iPhones out of our Spibelts if we need to do any of those functions.
We decided it was time to look into Bluetooth headphones. You can find about 238 articles on the Internet that will tell you the top five Bluetooth headphones for running. The top contender on many of these sites is the Jaybird Bluebuds X Sport. I read an article at squidoo.com that gave us some really good advice. The author specifically said to make sure the batteries last at least 6 hours, look for small size, and to make sure they’re sweat proof. Like the other sites, they recommended the Jaybird headphones, for the for it, the battery life, and especially the sound quality. They were more expensive than Steve and I were hoping for at $130, but they came with such great reviews we figured we couldn’t lose…
Jaybird Blubuds X Sport
The Jaybirds are in-ear headphones, and come with several different-sized cups to fit your ear canal. In addition, they have a little flange thingy that you connect to the ear bud that’s supposed to hold it into your ear by fitting into the flangy parts of your ear. Steve and I spent probably 45 minutes trying the different ear bud cup sizes and flange thingys, trying to rotate the flange to the right angle to try to find the right fit. After that much time we were getting a bit irritated, but we carried on and managed to get them to fit fairly comfortably into each of our different ears.
After that much rigamarole, we were REALLY disappointed to find out that they sounded horrible. Now you know I’m not an audiophile, right? I’m not one of those people who complains that audio has been ruined by listening to 96kbps mp3s. I don’t even listen to music for crying out loud, I listen to spoken voice. So you know I’m not a critic, but these were absolutely awful. Tinny and high pitched.
After reading so much about the quality of these earbuds, I thought maybe we were doing something wrong, so I called their customer service number. I think one of my favorite things about being retired is to have time to actually call people on the phone. I AM that annoying woman who calls the city because of a broken sidewalk. Anyway, this guy answers the phone and I tell him that the headphones sound really bad. He says, “well, they’re _not_ going to sound like studio headphones you know.” I explained that I was comparing them to Apple earbuds for crying out loud. He says, “well they sound better than THAT.” I explained that indeed, they don’t. That my husband and I both agree that they’re unlistenable. I asked him then, “These get great reviews, so couldn’t something be wrong with this pair?” Get this, he says “No.” Just flat out no, that’s not possible. I couldn’t believe it! Well, good thing Amazon has a good return policy so back they went.
Jabra Sport+ Wireless Headphones
Our friends Devon and Maryanne from New Zealand (aka The Professors) were staying with us at the time, and Devon mentioned that Maryanne had bought her a set of Bluetooth headphones she really liked. She had the Jabra Sport Wireless+ Headphones and said they were super comfortable and light. I went back to Squidoo.com and read their review and found two things to worry about. They said that they had connectivity problems if you kept your device on your waistband (say, like in a Spibelt) and on another site it said they were hard to wear with sunglasses, especially thick sunglasses like say, Rayband Wayfarers. You have to know what kind of sunglasses I wear, right? Undaunted and armed with Devon’s recommendation, we bought the Jabra Sport Wireless headphones for only $56 on Amazon.
I’ll jump to the punch line – we’re keeping them. They do work better for Steve, because for some reason he has better connectivity to them. Maybe the iPhone 5s has better Bluetooth but on my iPhone 5 they would sometimes work great for an entire workout and other times cut in and out a bunch. They are pretty comfortable but the Raybans do make them a bit hard to get on. We had far less fiddly time with getting them to fit in our ears, event hough there are 6 different attachments to find the right fit for your ear, from a flange thingy to just a rubber thing to hold them in your ear. The sound quality is what I would call “fine”. Not great, not bad, but listenable for our podcasts.
They only have a few buttons on them – one multi-function button that turns them on and off, as well as pause and play. There’s a toggle for volume and very oddly a button dedicated to turning on the FM tuner. If you’ve got TVs at your gym that broadcast over FM this could be a great feature but I don’t see that too much any more, I would have preferred a dedicated on/off switch to be sure I wasn’t leaving them on. That reminds me, I wrote to customer support at Jabra and asked how to be SURE you had turned them off, and they got back to me right away with the answer (you’ll see a blue light if they’re turned on). Lot better customer support than from that snotty guy over at Jaybird!
I’m not sure what I’m going to do in the future, for now I’m running with my iPhone headphones. The cord bounces around a lot and kinda drives me honkers, so I’ll probably try a third set some time soon. I’ll be sure to let you know if I find something I like better, but for now Steve and I both recommend the Jabra Sport+ Wireless Bluetooth headphones over the Jaybird Blubuds, 10 to 1.