Review: Can Jaybird's X2 Wireless Buds Live Up to the Hype?

A few years can make quite a difference in the technology world. From the time that Jaybird released its highly praised BlueBuds headphones, the company has been hard at work refining its winning formula of a lightweight, completely self-contained Bluetooth headset. Read on to find out if this objective been achieved with the release of Jaybird's X2 Wireless Buds ($179.95).

The first indication that the X2 is a high-quality product is the box it's packed in. It's built and protects its contents like a brick, yet folds open easily to display the beautiful piece of headphone engineering inside. Removing the adhesive strips holding the headphones in place is quick thanks to non-adhesive tabs that make it easy getting to the goods. Once removed from the protective packaging, the two larger than normal earphones have a single cable between them...and that's it. The X2, like its BlueBuds predecessor, has no heavy electronic boxes or dangling wires pulling down on your ears.

Besides the headphones, the package also includes three sizes of Jaybird's Comply premium sport ear tips and ear fins for keeping the headset in place. While they do a pretty good job, I initially had to reposition the earphones during even low-impact exercise like power-walking. It wasn't until I cycled through the various ear tip and ear fin sizes that I finally found the right balance for my ear and was able to keep everything in place during even strenuous activities.

Compared to the original and favorably reviewed BlueBuds X headset that this new headset has evolved from, the X2 offers better sound, longer battery life, and slightly more comfortable ear fins. Beyond that, not much else has changed in either the style, size, or design of the headset. While they fit comfortably in the ear, the buds are still somewhat noticeable and remind me of Frankenstein neck bolts. But there’s no denying that the sound emitted from the earphones are the best I’ve heard from any Bluetooth wireless headset. Jaybird’s proprietary Shift Premium Bluetooth Audio technology amps up the fidelity and dynamic range in a remarkable way. This is one of those headsets that you truly have to hear for yourself to believe.

Battery life on the X2’s has also received a boost from its predecessor with up to eight hours playback. This is an amazing achievement considering how small the headphones really are. Voice commands still use the Jenna voice font which I find much less annoying than Siri’s voice. Jaybird has also improved its SignalPlus skip-free music technology. While this may be true, I still encountered a few instances where interference interrupted playback. But as this feature implies, music did not skip or cut in and out. Rather, it paused until the signal locked back on.

With all these improvements, Jaybird apparently disregarded my critique of the BlueBuds X by still not including a simple optional clip to attach the headphone cable to a shirt. Given how much these headphones cost, I really felt stressed when wearing them as I found myself chronically tapping my shoulders to make sure the X2 didn’t slip away.

Another criticism that is really more of a future feature suggestion is I have become spoiled by the noise-cancellation technology found in other high-end Bluetooth headsets. As such, I have become much more attuned to how much external noise there really is, especially when trying to listen to music or podcasts while walking along a noisy city block. Given how much impressive technology that has been compacted into the X2 headset, noise cancellation would be an exciting addition to the next generation headset that Jaybird may be working on.

My only other criticism is that the X2 headphone case that replaces the hard-shell case of the BlueBuds X is now a mushy rubber case that is just as bulky and also somewhat more cumbersome to pry open and store the headset when not in use.

Yet even with these minor complaints, the X2 headset is still an incredible piece of technology and, more importantly, offers an incredible and long-lasting listening experience. No other Bluetooth headset matches them in their price range in terms of size or audio quality.

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Mike Riley's picture

Author Details

Mike Riley

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.