The Jaybird X4s are solidly built sports headphones that won't break the bank.
- Solid, comfortable fit
- Decent sound for a sports set
- Great build quality
- Prone to dropouts in busy areas
- Review Price: £110
- 8-hour battery
- Driver size: 6mm
- Comply and silicon tips and wings
What is the Jaybird X4?
The X4s are a refresh of the company’s older Jaybird X3 wireless headphones. The only significant changes are their improved IPX7 water/sweat proofing, redesigned tips and ‘Speed Cinch’ cord management system, which, according to Jaybird, will provide users an even more secure fit.
Though the changes aren’t monumental, they all add up to improve the X4s’ overall appeal to fitness fanatics. If you’re a casual runner, avid gym goer or hardcore hiker on the hunt for a near-unbreakable set of wireless headphones with listenable audio, then the Jaybird X4s are an excellent choice.
The only issue is their slightly buggy wireless performance, which will be an annoyance for city runners or cyclists who regularly exercise in noisy areas.
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Jaybird X4 – Design
The Jaybird X4s have had a minor visual overhaul compared to the X3s, and the biggest step forward has addressed my main issue with X3s – their lack of any form of waterproofing. The Jaybird X4s’ design meets IPX7 water certification, which means the newer headphones should be able to survive most weather conditions and the odd accidental submersion at depths of up to one metre for 30 minutes.
The change won’t make a huge difference to people that just exercise in the gym, but as an avid runner in rainy Britain, it’s a key upgrade for me. The older headphones began to fall apart after a few months, during which I was accidentally caught in a few downpours mid-run. The X4s, by comparison easily survived the occasional rainy run and a brief attempt to drown them in my kitchen sink.
Fit has also been improved thanks to the addition of redesigned tip and wing options and a new cord management system. The headphones come with wings, silicon and foam tip options in a variety of different sizes. The options on offer make it easy enough to get a solid seal and fit that’ll hold, even during heated running sessions – an achievement beyond some competing sets, such as the stellar-sounding, but easily dislodged Fender Puresonic Wireless.
The reworked cord management system also makes it easy to stop loose cables flapping behind your neck while exercising, which is a frequent annoyance on many of the cord running headphones I test.
The quoted eight-hour battery life proved slightly optimistic during my tests, but still good enough to survive a week’s worth of regular exercise. This entailed a quick 10-minute free weight set and 20 minute run/cycle each morning, plus two 5km (average 25 mins) runs per week.
The only real annoyance I experienced happened when running in busy city areas. Cutting through Greenwich, the headphones frequently lost signal, breaking my flow. Using them around Waterloo, which is one of the busiest signal areas around, they regularly became close to unusable.
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Jaybird X4 – Audio quality
Audio quality is good by running headphone standards. Audio isn’t as detailed as on the cheaper Puresonics, but it’s a clear step up on most competing sets at this price.
Tonal balance is reasonable, with no one part of the audio overpowering the other. Classic rock tracks with a heavy, rumbling low end didn’t overpower the crunchy, high guitar parts. Mid-level vocals were reasonably well-represented and never suffered from sibilance.
Detail was occasionally lost when listening to more subtle genres or songs with multiple layers stacked on top of each other, like post-rock, but that’s to be expected at this price.
Dynamism isn’t stellar but no worse than any other set of wireless gym headphones at this price. Swooping crescendos and attacking breakdowns don’t have the power you’ll find on more expensive over-ears, but they are a step up on competing sets such as the KitSound Immerse Active.
There’s not much stereo image, but again this is true of every gym set of headphones I test at this price. All-in-all, the X4s sound better than most gym headphones and you’ll struggle to do better without spending significantly more or sacrificing on build quality and fit.
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Why buy the Jaybird X4?
If you’re on the hunt for a near-unbreakable set of running headphones then the Jaybird X4s are a great option. The wealth of tip options and nifty new cable management system make it quick and easy to get a secure seal that’ll hold even during especially active workouts.
Sound quality is also good considering the X4s’ price and gym focus, and will be fine for most people. The only downside is that they have an annoying tendency to lose signal in busy areas, which will be an issue for city runners.
A great set of gym headphones that won’t break the bank.