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  1. Expanding The Sound Horizon with The Jaybird Vista The Jaybird Vista took me a bit by surprise. It was just back in March when I started using the Jaybird RUN XT headphones, Jaybird’s upgraded version of their RUN bluetooth headphones. I was a fan of the original RUN, and I found the RUN XT to be an improvement on the original. Knowing typical product cycles, I figured that the RUN XT would be the last Jaybird earbuds that I would see for a while. I was incorrect in that assumption. As it turns out, Jaybird had another pair of wireless earbuds waiting in their wings, the Jaybird Vista headphones. As you can probably guess from the name, this new pair of speakers is not a new version of the RUN, but rather a new style all together. As I said, I am a fan of the RUN headphones, and as such, a wholesale redesign of the ear buds seemed strange to me. This confusion quickly morphed to indignation. How could they mess with the RUN design? Unless, the Vista design is actually better than the RUN... Vista Specs: Case and Battery Before I get into comparing the Vista to the RUN, let’s take a look at the general characteristics of the Vista. The Jaybird Vista headphones are bluetooth connected earbuds that store in a charging case. OK, so maybe that’s exactly like the RUN, and Airpods, and similar designs. Regardless, this allows Jaybird to put smaller batteries in the actual headphones, with the rechargeable charging case carrying a much larger battery that can then deliver the juice to the earbuds when you put them away after use. Getting to the specifics of the battery, you’ll get six hours of music on a full charge in the earbuds, and the case will add another 10 hours. Should you need charge in a hurry, 5 minutes of charging will get you an hour of music. The case itself charges via a simple USB C port, a departure from the more run of the mill USB cable used for RUN charging. Vista Specs: Custom Fit Like most Jaybird headphones, the Vista earbuds come with silicone ear coverings to fit ears of different sizes. Unlike the RUN series though, the ear fins and the part that goes into the ear are connected as a single piece. This does reduce the possible fit combinations from nine to three, but maybe Jaybird realized that there are not many people out there with tiny ears with huge ear holes. I actually welcomed the lower level of adjustability. I got a little brain locked with the extended choices when I first dialed in fit with the RUN. With the Vista, I only had to pick between three, and the standard sized ones actually fit the best. The fit is nice and snug too. These are not noise canceling, but they block out the vast majority of the ambient sounds. Granted, this can be a bit dangerous if you are running on roads and can’t hear cars, but it’s amazing at the gym or range when your neighbors are talking on the phone, or when bad golfers are giving other bad golfers lessons. The fit is definitely secure enough to meet my gym and range needs. I didn’t experience any slippage at all. The Vista buds stay in the ears. There’s a bit of movement when you press the buttons, especially if sweaty, but not enough to be annoying. Vista Specs: Tune Control Controls on the Vista are pretty intuitive. You have single-press pause, double-press to skip, and so on. What’s cool with the Vista is that you can use the Jaybird app to customize how the buttons work. You can even dial it in so that you can adjust the volume from the buds with long presses. I know that I was initially annoyed with the first batch of RUN headphones where you could not adjust volume, and now you can do just that. Irony is after I goofed around with the new settings, I just ended up going with the factory settings. Should you want options though, you can reprogram the buttons to suit your needs. Vista vs RUN XT So how do these new Vista earbuds stack up against the RUN XT? Here are some of my observations: Both are super easy to pair, but the system has changed a bit with the Vista. Rather than pairing from the headphone like the RUN, the Vista pairing is initiated from a button in the case. This was a bit unexpected, but it worked without a problem. I was worried about the buds becoming unpaired, and then needing the case to repair them, which is likely true, but they have yet to unpair, so this is not an issue. The new Vista case has a smaller profile, and I think that it is an improvement on the RUN case. Sizewise, it fits way easier into a pocket than the thicker RUN case. There are also little magnets in the case that align the earbuds precisely for charging. I actually had one of the small brass charging prongs break in one of the RUN cases, making inserting the earbud correctly annoying. With the Vista, there are only two charging prongs per bud, and the magnet lines them up perfectly with the holes in the earbud. Hopefully this leads to a longer case life. I think that the sound quality out of the Vista earbuds is actually better than the RUN XT. I’ve got no real way to quantify this, but that’s my overall impression. The bass is amazing, especially considering how small the speaker is overall. The Jaybird app allows for easy sound level customization as well. A few tweaks on the EQ, and I was very happy with the sound output. Make sure to use the app because you can also take advantage of the Find my Buds feature should you misplace them. A Vista Worth Exploring With the Vista, Jaybird has continued their streak of producing excellent wireless headphones, and although I was a bit skeptical about them redesigning the RUN, I think that the Vista is a better design. The fit and sound are improved, and the case, even with the switch to USB-C, is better than the RUN case. At $179, the Jaybird Vista is not cheap, but they also do not perform like cheap headphones. This price places the Vista in direct competition with the Apple AirPods. Having “borrowed” my son’s AirPods this summer, I prefer the Vista for anything physical. The fit is just way more secure. I also think that the Vista’s tighter seal in the ear makes for better listening. Watching movies with the Vista headphones allows me to totally tune out the other environmental sounds, something that the AirPods could only accomplish at much higher volumes. As an Apple diehard, it’s tough to not go with Team Jobs, but I think that the Jaybird Vista is a better option.
  2. The Golden Age of Wireless Those of you who join me on the front tees may know that The Golden Age of Wireless was the name of Thomas Dolby's breakthrough 1982 album. You remember the song, She Blinded Me With Science? That was Thomas Dolby. As I write this thirty-five years after that album was released, I would argue that we are actually in the Golden Age of Wireless right now. I know that Mr. Dolby was referencing radio with wireless, but think about how that term has grown in usage. Everything is wireless now. Internet, phones, phone charging, car starting, game controllers, speakers, and the list grows daily. There are probably three or more wireless things within ten feet of you right now. Now is truly the Golden Age of Wireless, and the Jaybird RUN headphones I'm reviewing for you today definitely adds to that golden glow. Jaybird RUN Wireless Headphones Bluetooth headphones have been on the scene for a few years now. Though it was super cool to finally detach from the music player, many of those headphones had issues with size, connectivity, and overall quality of both sound and design. These areas have definitely improved in recent years though, with size in particular growing ever smaller, until finally reaching the wireless ear bud level. Though other headphones were on the market prior, Apple releasing the AirPods really changed the Bluetooth bud landscape. That's what Apple often does. No longer was it chic to have the white headphone cord showing, now the cool kids needed to have little white hooks in their ears. Apple made the Bluetooth ear buds desirable; prompting other companies to make ones that are as good, or better. A few months back, I put the Jaybird X3 wireless headphones through the paces, and they were my go to headphones for everything (gym, golf, tablet, and so on), until I first opened and installed the Jaybird RUN headphones in my ears. Without a doubt, these are the best wireless headphones I have ever used. Let's take a quick look at the specs, and then I'll share with you why I am so high on the Jaybird RUN headphones. Jaybird RUN Specs 4 hour play time + 8 hour charge case Fast charge - 5 minute charge = 1 hour play time Secure + Comfort-Fit with interchangeable tips and fins Customize your sound with the Jaybird app Sweat-proof and water resistant Music + Calls $179.99 Complete specs can be found HERE Charging the RUN I want to start with the coolest thing about the Jaybird RUN, the case/charging system. While the Jaybird X3 had excellent battery longevity, I still forgot to charge them, and was left without tunes at the range. With the RUN, the case has a battery too, and so your headphones are always charged. Sure, the AirPods do this too, but it is such a huge benefit to the headphones that it's worth mentioning, even if it's not unique to the RUN. This feature alone pushes the RUN well past other wireless headphones in my arsenal. They always have juice! If for some reason you don't put them in the case when done, putting them in there as you drive to the course/gym should give you plenty of charge for the range session. The case also has multiple lights to let you know the charge state of the headphones, and also the case itself. Any USB connection can be used to charge the case. This is another advantage over the X3 where a proprietary cable was needed for charging. Testing the RUN Connecting When you open up the case the first time, the Jaybird RUN headphones immediately look to pair with something. Quick press of the Bluetooth connect button in your phone's preferences, and you are ready to rock. From that point on, every time you open the case, the headphones turn on and pair almost immediately. Putting them back in the case and closing the lid also turns them off. So seamless and easy. Fit Like the Jaybird X3, the Jaybird RUN package includes multiple fins and ear socks to dial them in for your ears. This is a huge benefit vs. the AirPods where you are far more fit-limited. This time around, the stock fins and socks fit my ears perfectly, keeping the RUN secure no matter what my activity. These stayed in place on the range, on the course, at the gym, walking the neighborhood, and even when I got the body up to run speed. I figured I needed to run a bit since that's their true target after all. Even for a guy whose run is more of a rumble, the Jaybird RUN headphones never even wiggled. Performance As I said above, the Jaybird RUN stayed in place regardless of my activity. The ear tips made an excellent seal, blocking out much of the environmental noise. I like this a ton because that means you can play the music at a lower volume, and still not hear the 50 cap in the next hitting bay giving lessons. They also do a pretty good job of staying connected to the phone. With the phone close by, sound never dropped out, though I could get them to drop by moving away from the phone in the house. During all of the activities where I used the RUN headphones, my phone was always near me, so this was not an issue. If you leave your phone in the gym locker and just take the headphones to the weight room, there may be some connection problems. Controls are similar to the Jaybird X3. The left bud button controls power and Siri; play/pause and skip are controlled on the right. My only real control gripe is that there is no way to adjust volume on the RUN. To do that, you'll need to use the buttons on the phone. If all of your music is at the same recorded volume, this is not an issue, but I hit some louder and softer tracks during my shuffle. If the sound volume was not ideal, I typically just double clicked to skip. Phone call performance was excellent, though their level of noise canceling makes it a bit awkward for me. I don't want to be the guy that yells into the earpiece during the phone call. The person on the other end could hear me just fine. Those of you who want to tweak the various bass and treble levels can do so on the Jaybird phone app, though I found the stock settings to be perfect for my tastes. Value At $179, the Jaybird RUN represents no small investment. That price is actually $20 higher than the AirPods. Are these better than the AirPods? Truth be told, I can't really answer that because I don't own the AirPods, but that may actually be the answer. I'm one of those all-in Apple guys. My first computer in college was as Mac Plus, and I've probably had twenty or more Apple computers, iPods, iPhones, and so on since then. I loved the look and the features of the AirPods when they came out, but didn't buy them because I was worried about one falling out and getting damaged or lost. I know I'm not the only one who felt this way about the AirPods. I have no fears of losing one of these RUN headphones. They stay in place, even though they are so light that you forget you are wearing them. Maybe I didn't give the Apple headphones a fair chance, but I just can't see how they could fit better than the RUN. Dave's Take: Running with the RUN So far, I'm definitely gushing over the Jaybird RUN. These are so close to being the perfect wireless headphones. I just wish that I could adjust volume from the speaker. That's really my only complaint, and it is totally overshadowed by the other awesome aspects of the RUN. If you are a dedicated runner, or just if you feel like losing a few pounds, eating healthier, and making a few friends in the process, then the Jaybird RUN are for you. Now I just wish that Apple (or someone) would make an iPod Shuffle with Bluetooth connectivity. Leaving the big phone behind and playing music on lightweight wireless headphones from a lightweight wireless player would truly be my Golden Age of Wireless.
  3. Dave's Take: Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Headphones The Jaybird X3 headphones are very simple to use, sound great, and come with enough options to fit twenty-four different ears! The Bigness of Bluetooth I remember the awesomeness the first time I took Bluetooth headphones to the driving range. Prior to wireless, I would drop my MP3 player in my back pocket, and run the headphone cord up my back, under my shirt. It worked OK, but was annoying. Then came the golden age of wireless, and I could put on the headphones while leaving my music-playing phone in my golf bag. It's hard to imagine ever going back to wired golf audio. I still use one pair of wired headphones on my tiny iPod Shuffle, and another big pair of noise-canceling, over-the-ears cans, but everything else has shed the cable. Wireless is here to stay, and now I just need to find the right snazzy little audio exporters. Today, I have for you my take on the latest pair of wireless headphones to come across my desk: Jaybird's X3 Headphones. Come along, and let's explore how the X3 can meet the wireless-audio needs of the golfer. Jaybird X3: IN THE BOX X3 Wireless Buds Comply™ Isolation Foam Ear Tips: S/M/L Silicone Ear Tips: S/M/L Secure-Fit Ear Fins: S/M/L Cord Management Clips Cord Shirt Clip USB 2.0 Charging Cable + Charge Clip Carry Pouch Color: Platinum (exclusively at Best Buy) Price: $129.99 Comfort and Fit So let's start with getting the Jaybird X3s into your ears. While most of you only have two ears, the X3 headphones come with enough attachments to fit twenty-four. In the box, you have three different sizes of foam ear tips, silicone ear tips, and ear fins. My math says that makes twenty-four combinations of tip size and fin size, including the no fins option. Now if you wear one small tip in one ear, and a medium in the other ear, the number of fit combinations jumps to something like 256 combinations! Maybe my math is a little shaky there, but the take home message is that there should be enough versatility in the tips and fins to comfortably fit any set of ears. For me, I started with pairing the medium silicone tips with the medium fins. Ultimately, I switched to the medium foam tips, finding them a bit more comfortable than the silicone. The foam tips are still plenty secure, something that I thought could be lost with the switch. Once the tips and fins are configured, you can then use the strap adjustment system to secure the cord behind your head. I did need to follow the included directions on this part. It's not difficult to wind the cord back and forth between the plastic clips, just wasn't totally intuitive for me. Once you get the right fit, you should never need to adjust it again, and you, like me, will find the Jaybird X3 headphones very comfortable and secure. Overall, they are very lightweight, both the earpieces and the control element. Once in place, the headphones are very unobtrusive, and I didn't really notice them ever during usage. The sound through them was all I noticed. The headphones had no trouble staying in place through practice sessions on the range, or during workouts at the gym. I went for the over the ear configuration, and never once did I feel an earpiece slipping out, the cords tangle, or the control bang against my neck. Light, secure, and comfortable. Ease of Use Getting the right combination of tips and fins can take a bit of trial and error, but once you complete that task, using the X3 to play music is super easy. You hold the middle button to turn them on, resulting in an audio message that they are now powered on and how much battery is left. I love that it tells you battery level when it turns on, but be forewarned that the volume of this power-up message is a bit loud for my taste. I've gotten in the habit now of turning them on before inserting them into my ears. You may not be as sensitive, but I found the volume excessive for my delicate ears. Pairing to my iPhone was as fast as any Bluetooth device I've used in the past, and after pairing, the Jaybird X3 does an excellent job of finding the phone whenever it's powered up. So far, the Jaybird X3 has not dropped the connection during use. Volume and track skipping are controlled using the same buttons on the controller, with short presses changing volume and longer ones (until it beeps) changing the track. Super easy, and responsive. If you have songs at different recorded volumes and tracks you need to skip or repeat, the system works flawlessly. The same controls are used for interacting with phone calls, though I mainly used the do not pick up option when I was wearing these. I'm not that interested in talking to anyone if I'm on the range, the course, or at the gym. I'll call you back... Sound Quality The volume produced by the X3 is louder than any human needs. That's not a knock; it's praise. The Jaybird X3 has volume for days. You will not likely get to the top of the range and be left wanting. If you are, then you may need to get your ears checked. I've maxed out other headphones on the range, or in the gym, but not these. Though not actively noise canceling, the fit of the ear tip into the ear canal is quite snug, and thus blocks out a bunch of the environmental noise. My audiologist said that this is a great way to actually be able to play the music at lower, and thus less damaging, volumes. Highs, mids, and lows are balanced. Bass is deep, and booming if you want it. You can also download the free MySound app to tweak the eq sound profile to your liking, or test out a saved sound profiles in the app. Volume is ample, and the sound range is expansive. No complaints across musical genera. Battery The Jaybird X3 is a battery sipper. The specs say that the battery should last for eight hours, but I'd swear it would last longer. I fully charged these, and then threw them in a pocket in the golf bag. Every time I turned them on, the battery level was higher than I expected. They just keep playing and playing. Another battery feature worth noting is that they stay charged for 200 hours when not in use. That's almost twenty days. I've had other brands of headphones that if you left them alone for a week, they would have fully discharged the battery. The X3 hold a charge, and then just nibble current when you use them. Impressive battery, especially considering how light these headphones are. My only gripe with the battery is that charging the Jaybird X3 requires a special cord. I'd like them to just use the same universal USB charging cable that charges everything else. I'm sure that the special cable is required for certain design elements that would not be possible with a standard cable. The charger works great, especially liking the 20 minutes of charge = 60 minutes of music feature. My concern is that I'll misplace the special cable, and not be able to charge the headphones. Jaybird X3 Headphones Review: Summary Though the initial fitting took a bit of time, once the Jaybird X3 was properly configured for my ears and head, it delivered nothing but easy, high-quality sound. Though it does require a proprietary cable, the X3 charges rapidly and retains that charge for a long time. The headphones remained secure through all of my usual golf motions, and even through the dizzy-making irregular motions as I tried to dislodge them. I'm also pretty happy with the value on these. The MSRP of $129.99 puts these in the same conversation with similar headphones from Beats and Bose. Having used the Beats Powerbeats3 myself, I'm totally comfortable saying that the X3 can definitely compete with Beats, and for active usage, I prefer the X3 to the Beats. All in all, the Jaybird X3 headphones have checked all of my boxes, and are now my go to golf headphones. Find out more at the Jaybird website, and at Amazon. Detailed Specifications: Jaybird X3 AUDIO · Type: In-Ear Style · Noise-isolation: Passive · Impedance: 16 Ohm · Speaker sensitivity: 96 +-3dB At 1KHz · Output 5mW nominal, 10mW max · Total Harmonic Distortion · Audio Format: 16-bit Stereo · Codec: AAC, SBC, Modified SBC · Response Bandwidth 20Hz - 20kHz · Driver Size: 6 mm BLUETOOTH · Bluetooth Version: 4.1, Multi-point · Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz · Profiles: Hands-free, Headset, A2DP, AVCRP, & SPP PAIRING · Number of Paired Devices: 8 · Pairing passkey: 0000 INTEGRATED MICROPHONE · Type: MEMS, Omni directional, ultra low power · Sensitivity: -38dB +-3dB (Test conditions: 1KHz, 0dB = 1V/Pa) COMPATIBLE PRODUCTS · Any A2DP Bluetooth stereo device OPERATION · Operating: 32F - 113F (0C - 45C ) · Storage: 14F - 122F (-10C - 50C) WEIGHT & DIMENSIONS · Width: 1.1" (28.02mm) · Height: 1.09" (27.69mm) · Depth: 0.52" (13.42mm) · Weight (With Fins and Tips): 0.63 oz (17.9g) · Cord Length: 19.29" (490 mm) BATTERY · Play Time: 8 Hrs* · Standby Time: 200 Hrs* · Charging Time: 2.5 Hrs · Quick Charge: 20 min = 1 hour Play Time · Charging: USB with included charging clip · AC power: DC 5V 500mA · Type: Lithium Ion · Battery Voltage: 3.7V · *May vary dependent on usage, device & aging WARRANTY: 1 Year Limited Warranty
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