Jaybird tests its headphones with real athletes and bottles of fake sweat

Fitness kit takes a beating. And while that’s obvious in terms of running shoes and clothes, it’s easy to overlook the toll that repeated workouts can take on your tech. 

A company that knows all about the stresses that your tech has to endure is Jaybird. The company, whose products feature regularly in our best running headphones list, creates a range of headphones for fitness-minded individuals.

Jaybird created the very impressive X2 and X3, which are wired-wireless in that they're wired to each other, and the slightly less impressive but still very capable fully wireless Run headphones. 

As part of TechRadar Fitness Week, we sat down with Jaybird's partnership and athlete manager Jeff Taylor to talk about how it gets your headphones ready for the beating they're going to endure.

Keeping it simple

"We utilize our team of professional athletes as well as our ambassador team to do extensive work on what runners – and fitness people in general – are looking for in their headphones," said Taylor.

If you head over to Jaybird's website you can see the full lineup of professional athletes that it teams up with. It's an impressive lineup of endurance runners, mountain bikers and triathletes.

"The overwhelming feedback we got from runners was that they wanted it simple. They didn't want a lot of really technical bells and whistles when they were getting into the gym or out on a run. 

"We really made an effort in keeping Jaybird Run as simple and straightforward as possible."

So obviously feedback is important for making a streamlined product that people like using, but what about making a product that's going to last a long time?

Going for a nice soak

"By far the largest hurdle we had to overcome is making them a hundred percent sweatproof," said Taylor. "It’s so acidic, and it corrodes and eats away different parts." 

Of course sweat is going to be a major thing to contend with if you're making technology that is for people that are working out. But how do you test for that?

It looks as disgusting as it sounds. We're soaking them in synthesized human sweat all the time.

Jaybird athlete manager Jeff Taylor

"It's actually a pretty disgusting answer unfortunately," Taylor continued, "Besides athlete training, where we bring them into our performance lab and really run them through the wringer, our quality assurance in our research and development department actually has different pH levels of synthesized human sweat. 

"Bottles and bottles and bottles of it. It looks as disgusting as it sounds. We're soaking them in synthesized human sweat all the time." 

Jaybird Run

Jaybird Run

The Run headphones were a pretty big leap from Jaybird’s previous products, so we were interested to see if the next offering was going to be iterative, but it seems not.

"You should be expecting another big leap," says Taylor. "We have broken some barriers with our future roadmap of products that we really feel are going to be a game-changer in both our wired-wireless as well as our truly wireless product.”

If you're after a new pair of headphones for your workouts, Jaybird may soon have a new product to suit you – you'll just have to wait for them to finish the sweat test first.

  • Catch up on the rest of TechRadar’s Fitness Week, where we're highlighting the tech tools you can use to improve and monitor your physical health
Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.