Jaybird has been a pioneer in wireless audio for almost a decade, and in a field that seems crowded and stagnant, it continues to push the limits. Almost a year after Jaybird announced the next iteration the ultra popular X2 wireless sport headphones, it has finally released the X3 Wireless Sport Headphones.
Arguably wireless headphones are more important now than ever with Apple doing away with the 3.5 audio jack. Yet Jaybird saw the need for wireless headphones way before Apple ever dreamt of killing off the audio jack, and is now several generations into its products.
Unlike other manufacturers that have vast product lines, Jaybird focuses solely on wireless headphones and the results speak for themselves. The X3 headphones are the latest shining star from Jaybird and are well worth your attention if you love listening to music.
If you know the Jaybird X2 Wireless Sport Headphones, then you’ll be familiar with the X3s. They aren’t true wireless headphones with one wire that connects each earpiece, however there is no cable that connects to your audio device. The X3 headphones are made with metal and ultra durable polymers that are about 40% smaller than their predecessor.
An inline remote house the power button (play/pause, answer/end call), microphone, and +/- buttons for controlling volume and tracks. The inline remote is also where you charge the headphones with the included adapter. The design is very familiar to other wireless headphones, but remember that Jaybird was one of the first to come up with this design.
The wire that connects the two earbuds is worn behind the neck with the remote hanging just below your ear.
What creates the sound are 6mm drivers in each ear piece that are tunable through Jaybird’s iOS and Android MySound app. Almost all other wireless headphones are tuned to suit a large audience, but with the MySound app, you can adjust the sound settings and firmware within the X3 headphones for complete control and customization.
6mm drivers allowed Jaybird to shrink the size of each earbud. Size has been a typical limitation with most users as wireless earbuds are usually large and generally only suitable for men.
Similar to its other headphones, Jaybird designed the X3 headphones to last eight hours on a single charge.
The X3 headphones are also waterproof which is important since they are designed for sport use.
Included in the box are Jaybird’s patented ear fins, comply foam and silicone tips, shirt clip, charging cable, carrying case, cable shorteners, and a carrying case.
Sound and Usage
If you know Jaybird, then you know that it focuses on the entire package. Build, functionality, fit and sound quality are all equally important. It must master each category before it releases a product, and the X3 Sport Wireless Headphones definitely checked each box.
For me, nothing matters more than sound quality. But sound quality won’t really matter if the headphones don’t fit right, and fit won’t matter if the headphones aren’t durable. That’s why Jaybird gives users the ability to customize the sound anyway they want with the MySound app, while offering a plethora of tips and ear fins to get the right fit.
I chose to go ear fin free, and wore my X3s over my ears with cable shorteners to keep the headphones behind my head. This offered the most comfortable fit for me, especially in the gym. I am a gym rat and have been for the past 20 years. I can’t do wireless headphones that rest on my neck. When I am squatting, the bar sits across my traps and neck and can be extremely uncomfortable when a few hundred pounds is pressing a wire into my neck.
While comply memory foam tips are very comfortable and form fitting, I also chose to go with the soft silicone tips since they don’t dampen sound. With a proper fit, the headphones block out almost all of the outside noise and that allows me to truly enjoy my music. I did play with some of the sound presets that Jaybird offers in the app, but was more than satisfied with the balanced sound signature out of the box.
I’ve listened to dozens of different earbuds, wired and wireless, and Jaybird makes the best sounding wireless earbuds you can buy under $200. I’m not sure how the engineers managed to deliver so much sound over Bluetooth and compact 6mm drivers, but they sound detailed, rich and have a large sound stage. Lows are punchy and deep, highs are crisp and clear, and the mids are energetic and balanced that round out the entire sound package. However if you want more bass, less treble, or any combination, you can adjust the firmware settings through the app.
The mid-range sound is probably the most important aspect of sound reproduction. Many sport headphones, and generally many wireless headphones, focus on over emphasizing bass since people love to feel their music. That’s what you get with Beats Audio, but that kind of sound isn’t typically favored by most audiophiles.
Headphones that are too focused on highs can be detailed and analytic, but are tiring to listen to after a short period of time. I can imagine Jaybird sound engineers spending hundreds of hours in a sound lab perfecting the sound signature and they hit a home run with what they produced. If I were one of those engineers, I’d be pretty damn proud of myself for the X3 headphones, because they’re extremely good.
Jaybird claims eight hours of playback on the X3 headphones, and that amount is on the high end for wireless headphones. I averaged 6-9 hours of playback over two weeks of solid usage. I work out everyday, for a minimum of one hour and went about a week between charges.
Charging the headphones from almost dead to full took less than an hour. Jaybird managed to squeeze the batteries into each earbud while shrinking the size and maintaining the same playback time as its larger predecessor.
Wireless connection and microphone
The Jaybird X3 Sport Wireless Headphones have a newly designed antenna that offers an incredibly strong wireless connection. If you’re using a smartphone, you don’t have to worry about carrying it in front of your face to maintain a strong connection. Or if you’re using a smartwatch that allows music streaming without a smartphone like current Android Wear devices, there will be no signal issues no matter which wrist you wear it on.
I paired my X3 headphones to multiple smartphones, carried them in both pockets, and even left my phone underneath the dumbbell rack while I wandered the gym. I easily walked over 30 feet away and forgot my phone was across the room until the signal cut out at about 50 feet away. Other than that one signal drop from 50 feet, I never once experienced a connection issue with my Nixon Mission Android Wear, iPhone 7 Plus or Pixel XL.
I took several calls on the X3 headphones while I was on vacation in Maui. With a strong wireless signal, and clear microphone, I never once experienced issues with background noise or poor call quality. Keep in mind, Maui gets rather windy in the afternoons, and I dealt with that and background noise while laying out at the beach.
Many manufacturers make call quality a throw in feature, but Jaybird made sure this was an area that met its high standards.
Jaybird managed to build a great set of wireless headphones in the X3s. They’re not cheap at $129.99, but considering the quality of the build, sound output, battery life, MySound app, and call quality, it’s one of the better priced headphones when you factor in the entire package.
The Jaybird X3 Sport Wireless Headphones are designed to fit all ears, from small to large and are good enough to use beyond sport activities. If you’ve never used Jaybird headphones, or if you own the X2s, I highly recommend you try out the X3 Sport Wireless Headphones. You will not be disappointed.
Jaybird X3 Wireless Sport Headphones are expected to be available at jaybirdsport.com on Oct. 27, 2016 and in Best Buy stores and bestbuy.com in the U.S. and Canada in November 2016, for a suggested retail price of $129.99. The wireless headphones areavailable in four colors with metal accents: Blackout (Black and Silver), Sparta (White and Gold), Alpha (Military Green and Dark Chrome) and Road Rash (Red and Dark Chrome).