It’s hard to keep up with the relentless release schedule of new sports headphones and earbuds these days. Constant improvements in battery capacity, audio drivers, and Bluetooth technology make the wireless headphone scene a hugely competitive battleground for the consumer dollar even as the traditional wired headphones for hi-fi use hold their ground steadily on the back of more mature technology.
Into this wades the brand new Jaybird Vista, the American brand’s second true wireless offering, after the Jaybird Run and the related Run XT released a couple of years ago.
Now we’re one of the first in Singapore to get our hands on the Jaybird Vista, and after more than a week with the unit, impressions are favourable. It’ll be far reaching to say that this is the best pair of sports wireless headphones ever made, as there is always something better a few months down the road, but for now, it is an excellent bit of kit.
The Vista’s main selling points are its relative robustness, light weight, and excellent sound quality. Like its contemporaries, the unit’s buds store in a small carry case with a magnetic closure that doubles as a power bank. There’s an additional 10 hours of battery life in here, while the individual earbuds have six hours of playtime each.
Bluetooth connection has been greatly improved and involves zero instances of messing with buttons. Initial pairing is done only once with your chosen devices. Then, taking each earbud out of the case will result in a near-instantaneous link up with your mobile phone or playback device. Putting them back in the case disengages them and begins the recharging process.
The usual selection of eartips are included, and when the right sized ones are fitted, sound isolation is above average. Wearing them slightly loose might be a better option if you run with them along a busy street, but when fitted snugly into your ear canal these really cut out external noise. Not ideal for situational awareness, but great on a noisy bus ride.
They’re not recommended for swimming, but an IPX7 rating gives peace of mind about their durability in wet weather. They’re very light, unobtrusive on the ear, and actually seem to fit Asian sized ears with no discomfort, unlike some of the larger sized ones from other brands.
The free-to-download Jaybird app is useful for its powerful custom sound equalisation settings, which is actually uploaded into the Vista’s internal firmware through the Bluetooth connection. This means you can tweak the sound signature, and it stays with the buds even if you use it with a different player. Still, the Vista works fine without the Jaybird app, and the audio quality is pretty good, whichever way you look at it. There’s plenty of detail, a decently groovy bass punch, and the default audio signature is not overly skewed towards any bias.
Jaybird claim that the design brief for the Vista was to build a pair of wireless buds that feel like they’re not there when worn. It’s not perfect due to the physical limitations of batteries, audio drivers, and wireless receivers, but they’ve gotten pretty close.
Another cool thing about the Vista is that they can genuinely be used single-sided. If you properly appreciate your music, you’ll know that wearing just one earbud means that you usually miss out on stuff on the other side of the stereo spectrum. The Vista will intelligently route all stereo audio to one earbud if the other one is kept in the case, and this works with both left and right sides. It’s a little detail that will likely be missed by the casual user, but if you care enough to understand how two-channel stereo works, you’ll greatly appreciate this feature.
The Jaybird Vista isn’t revolutionary, but the brand has clearly been innovating and learning quickly. These are the first pair of wireless sports headphones that we have used that pairs seamlessly, doesn’t drop connections, don’t shake loose with use, and deliver music with better than expected clarity. This pair is an early test pair, but expect to see it in stores by the end of August.