We are in full on summer mode here in the Pacific NW. For us, there’s no better way to escape the heat than to head for the snow. Yes, we still have LOTS of it and it’s been safe enough for us to enjoy it accompanied by some tunes heard through our new JayBird BlueBuds X bluetooth earbuds (not something we’d typically do when we need to be alert to avalanche or other snow dangers around us). We were stoked to have these wireless earbuds on a recent 3 day trip up to Mt. Rainier to ease the long approach to our ski adventure. Enough time to come up with a list of things we really like about the Jaybird Bluebuds X:
Form factor: Earbuds. Wireless. No-brainer. For skiers and boarders, it’s this simple: being earbuds, the BlueBuds X fit comfortably under helmets. JayBird (based in a ski/ride mecca, Salt Lake City) surely had this mind and made sure to design them without any stiff bands so that they’re completely flexible and form fitting under helmets – and very lightweight. They smartly positioned the remote controls between the helmet and jacket collar so there is no need to unzip to get to the controls or fumble with excess cord to get the controls in a good spot. When the helmet’s off, the open ear design is cooler (sweaty, bulky headphones just aren’t an option for us -especially me, with my pierced ears). The BlueBuds X come with earbuds and a proprietary ear cushion attachment in 3 sizes to ensure a comfortable and snug fit. The open, in ear, earbud design set at the right volume can also give us the ability to hear what’s going on around us – just in case safety’s a factor. The earbuds come with a compact hard carrying case the size of a small (albeit thick) wallet – it should withstand anything you subject your backpack to.
Bluetooth: Wireless is the way to go for any active sports -wireless means there’s no cord to get tangled on and no need to unzip, take out and potentially drop (off a lift or cliff) the music player or phone. The Jaybird BlueBuds X works with the latest iPod Nano and iPod Touch and any operating system be it Apple, Android, Blackberry or Windows Mobile. It’s also compatible with other bluetooth MP3 player and GPS, PC, Mac and gaming devices. BlueBuds X can be paired to and remember 8 devices without the need to delete and re-pair devices each time.
Ease of use: A good implementation of new technology shouldn’t make the user experience more complicated. Jaybird’s bluetooth earbuds are super easy to use. The BlueBuds X remote controls are conveniently located between the helmet and jacket collar and the raised buttons facilitate use with gloves on. Audio cues assist with operation so there’s no need to take out and look at the device. The Jenna system’s voice prompts accompany use from powering on -when Jenna says “power on”- to low battery indicator. Jaybird BlueBuds X were a snap to set up. Both our android and windows phones recognized the BlueBuds X and connected automatically. The phone function automatically switches on the built in mic and mutes the music.
Quality: Since bluetooth audio has to be digitally compressed, the feature traditionally meant trading off some audio quality. However, the Jaybird BlueBuds X were designed from the get go to achieve greater fidelity for stereo music. The audiophiles at Jaybird developed a custom implementation of the native Bluetooth SBC codec (=an audio subband codec that digitally encodes/decodes audio at higher quality to bluetooth headphones). The custom implementation is called Shift™ and it delivers incredible fidelity. For iPhone, iPod and iPad users, the Bluebird X is compatible with Apple’s new Equalizer so audio can be customized to specific musical genres and experiences. Jaybird prides itself in delivering the best audio quality for bluetooth earbuds and believes them to be on par with wired headphones – we were extremely satisfied with the audio quality and loved their on-board noise canceling system called, PureSound™. It filters out white noise and decreases listener fatigue. The Bluebuds X were also designed with the athlete in mind and warranted to “not fail because of perspiration for the expected life of the product”. The product is intended to be ”sweat and water resistant”, meaning they are designed to “withstand moisture under normal non-water sports and everyday use such as perspiration and accidental splashes of water….” “Expected life of the product is based on the expected life of the rechargeable battery which is up to 500 charges (Since we cannot verify how often the customer charges the product, JayBird applies a rule of 2.5 years as the expected lifetime of the product).” At first, that seemed short but after some thought, we realized that for us, that translates into what we’ve come to expect out of an electronic device (either through wear and tear or if we think about useful life lasting only as long as current technology). As for battery life, we are experiencing longer usage than the stated 8 hours using a low volume setting and about 20 minutes remaining after the audio low battery warning. Anyway, not a problem for us: we carry a very small battery pack for the many cams, phones, and yes, EVEN the BlueBud X now (which uses a standard micro usb port), for a quick re-charge. This being said, all of you Pacific Crest Trail, Long Trail, Adirondack, Continental Divide hikers that now have a solar set up as part of your essentials, this is a great product to add to that list (especially for those long painful slogs – just ask the USA Triathlon Team – these are their Official Training Headphones).
About the reviewer: Snow Trooper Sting is a member of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Awards) and headed up the music and soundtrack licensing business for Xbox. In addition to working on the billion dollar Halo video game franchises, she has worked on dozens of video game music soundtracks with multi-Grammy Award winning producer and artist, Nile Rodgers. Her credits include Executive Producer of Halo 2 Soundtrack with Incubus, Hoobastank, Breaking Benjamin and Nile Rodgers which received the Spike TV Video Game Awards nomination for Best Soundtrack.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received JayBird BlueBuds X for free from Jaybird as coordinated by Deep Creek PR an Outdoor Retailer Public Relations Company in consideration for review publication.