There’s a fine line to walk with marketing sports oriented headphones to the public. As a brand name, you’ve got to have some sporting pedigree, and also a convincing amount of audio-geek know-how on board to convince other that you know what you’re doing. The trouble is, these two attributes tend to be polar opposites.
We think of the sporty sorts as outside most of the time, engaging in challenging physical activities, while the appreciators of fine audio entertainment tend to be indoor types that sit at home in the lounge listening to the nuances in music recordings. This is a big generalisation of course, but marketing is tricky business these days.
Jaybird first jumped into the fray in 2006, when company founder Judd Armstrong decided that he had enough of hopeless headphones that he couldn’t get to work with his athletic lifestyle. The first Jaybird headphones were well-received and the X2 continued to rise in popularity. This was no easy task, considering the fickle and fast-moving consumer good segment these days.
The earlier Jaybird headphones did a very good job of winning over customers with high-quality builds, thoughtful accessories and above average audio clarity.
Now the new Jaybird X3 wireless headphones continue to build on the previous-generation designs.
No longer an independent, Jaybird acquired by electronics giant Logitech recently, it’s still early to see how this goes, so let’s just concentrate on the new X3.
A fully wireless, Bluetooth affair, the Jaybird X3 is designed tough. Water and sweat resistant, it comes with accessories to customise it for your preferences. While you can use it right out of the box, this is really a pair of headphones for fettlers. Locking flanges, a pair of cable shortening clips and various earbud tips are packed in together with a storage pouch.
It is charged via a micro USB cable and a proprietary clip-on cradle. Jaybird states that this was made because experience with the X2 showed many cases of the connector getting clogged with dirt when users were plugging the charging cable directly into the headphones. Considering that these headphones are built for rough use, this seems quite well thought out.
A pair of small cable shortening clips allow the user to pull the connecting cable between the two ear pieces tight against the neck, fully eliminating cable noise from a loose cable bumping on your body.
The headphones are designed to be worn two ways, either with the wire pointed down or routed over the top of your ear. The earpieces are angled in the housing, so the instructions say to swap them left to right for wire-over-the-ear wear. Sounds reasonable, but the audiophiles amongst you will note that now the soundstage has been reversed.
A custom phone app allows you to tune the X3’s frequency balance to your liking. Rather than just a simple phone based, passive graphic equaliser, it goes a step further and the tuning is actually stored in the headphone’s firmware. This means you can pair it with any other Bluetooth device and still retain your custom equaliser settings. Very handy.
In its neutral state though, it’s well-balanced and provides enough depth and detail for a premium headphone. There’s enough weight to the bass end, and clarity along the top for a shimmering sparkle to most music without being over shrill and fatiguing. Still, having the ability to adjust it for your style and preference with the app is pretty cool.
The Jaybird X3 is now available on the RUN Shop, retailing at $215.00. Get yours today!