Breaking into today's headphone market is no easy feat. That's mostly because a few household audio brands know how to hit all the right notes, making it difficult for newer brands to get noticed. Jaybird, however, has succeed in making its mark.
Still a relatively new company, Jaybird has carved out its niche making products aimed at fitness and sports enthusiasts. For those purposes, the $179 (£119, AU$244) X2s are a sweatproof, ruggedized option that earn an easy recommendation.
But there's good news for less active audiophiles too. The features that make the X2s great for fitness use, like hearty sound performance and above average battery life, translate fluidly into a set of wireless in-ear headphones that are equally great for general use.
Jaybird doesn't reinvent the wheel with the design of the X2. In fact, it's awfully similar to its last effort, the BlueBuds X, albeit with a new name that cuts to the chase. These wireless in-ear headphones include all of the goodies that you'd expect for the price. But, the X2 sets itself apart with Jaybird's signature style and cleverly implemented features.
Jaybird provided techradar with its "Alpha" color variation, which stands out in the lineup of available colors for its unique medley of olive green and fluorescent orange. Starting with the sweatproof earpieces, where the guts of the X2 are contained, I found them to be a bit bigger than, say, the earpieces of one of its competitors, the Optoma NuForce BE6.
If you're upgrading from a set of Apple EarPods, the increase in size will be especially staggering, but Jaybird compensates with more comfort and versatility than earbud users are probably used to enjoying. The X2 are likely to fit most sets of ears, unique as they may be, with only a little bit of adjustment out of the box.
The plastic earpiece enclosures are matte-textured and, on this model in particular, offer up a stylish combo of black and the aforementioned olive green. As the BlueBuds X did previously, the X2 also features a small, pronounced lip that rounds the top of each driver housing unit. These are used for installing the included ear fins, should you feel that using them is necessary to keep the X2 from wiggling out from your ears.
Outside of the instruction manual, there is no clear indication on the X2 as to which earpiece belongs inside your left or right ear. I'd generally say this is a design flaw, but it's easy enough to see that the tips of the earpieces are angled ever so slightly.
Plus, the right side of the headphones houses a few distinguishing features, like the microUSB charging port tucked under the brand-embossed cap, as well as the inline remote down on the cable.
Speaking of the remote, the one featured on the X2 has everything you need to control your media or phone calls without touching your phone. The volume rocker allows you to increase or decrease the volume with a press, but you can also skip or reverse songs by holding each down for a second.
The middle button is multi-functional and gives you the ability to play or pause your tunes, as well as pick up or hang up your phone calls. Powering the X2 on or off also uses this button. Just hold it in for about three seconds to execute that command.
At $179 (£119, AU$244), Jaybird's X2 might seem a bit on the expensive side, but its build leaves no features to be desired, and it certainly includes enough extra goodies to make the price more digestible.
First off, there's a deluxe silicone case that matches the stylings of the color scheme you choose for the X2. Giving it a squeeze releases the top and uncovers the included flat microUSB cable, three sets of ear fins and a staggering six sets of ear tips. An improvement over the BlueBuds X is the inclusion of the Comply foam tips, which allow for greater noise isolation. Lastly, there are a few cable management clips included to tie up the slack of excess cable.
The design of the X2 plays a big part in its performance, which is excellent across the board. While its earpieces can be knocked for being a little on the large side, this allows for better battery life than we usually find in these types of headphones. Not just that, the sound quality, with both phone and music playback, is impressive.
Going into more detail, the X2 provide an expansive soundstage for fans of spacey arena rock, jazz, and hip-hop alike. Bass performance is accurate, meaning that it's no more or less punchy than it should be. Mids and highs ring in with clarity and even a bit of warmth, a quality that you'll only find in well-crafted cans.
Battery life is better than I expected. It's advertised to last up to eight hours, but I was able to squeeze just over 10 hours of off-and-on use out of the X2. Its closest competitor in terms of performance, design quality and value, the Optoma NuForce X2, could only push six hours tops.
Call quality is crisp, and its Bluetooth range delivers industry standard performance, capable of being about 30 feet or so away from the host device without a single cut-out in signal. To top the cake, the X2's voice assistant, Jenna, makes for some of the most pleasant audio prompts I've ever been greeted with on a Bluetooth device. It's a small touch, but one that leaves a lasting impression.
At $179, the Jaybird X2 finds itself in between the Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless and the Optoma NuForce BE6 in terms of price. But, in comparing it to each of these competitors, it's easy to find a few perks that these Jaybird in-ear headphones have going in its favor.
Its slick design is hard not to notice, and the fact that it functions just as well for its active crowd as it does for more laid back listeners is a plus. It isn't the most affordable set of headphones around, but it possesses a trifecta of fantastic sound performance, above-average battery life and ease of use, something that its competition has a hard time accomplishing. If this is what you're looking for in a set of wireless headphones (and why wouldn't it be?), you can't go wrong here.