(Pocket-lint) - For a while Jaybird was its own independent manufacturer of affordable earphones. It would mostly focus on the fitness market by releasing neckband earbuds with fins and waterproofing to outlast even your longest and sweatiest workout sessions.
Fast-forward to 2019 and this is now a brand that sits within Logitech's peripherals empire. With this kind of marketing might and brand strength behind it, as well as lots of experience in wireless connectivity, branding and design, Jaybird has turned from a plucky upstart into a bona fide audio accessories maker.
With the Vista wire-free earphones, Jaybird is looking to set a standard, drawing a line in the sand and distancing itself from the first attempt - the Run Free, which was an unreliable product that experienced problematic connectivity issues - to aim for reputable quality.
We Can Work It Out
- IPX7 water-resistance
- Sealed against dust and grit
- In-ear fins for secure fit
- Single button on the outside
The Vista means business for sports. Everything from the reflective cord attached to the charging case, to the colour scheme and the ear fins designed to grip your ear securely, says that this is for runners and gym-goers - not for the minimalism-loving audiophile.
Starting with the case, it's perfectly practical in virtually every way. It's a small rectangle, coated with a grippy finish that, in this review sample instance, has a two-tone bright green/yellow and navy colour scheme. It has a decent-sized indent in the lid to make it really easy to open, while also having a strong magnetic closure system to ensure it won't just open on a whim.
What's more, it has a neat little cord attached to it, which you can loop into your keyring if you want to. The case is small and unobtrusive enough that you could just hang it off your keychain without any real issue. Sure, it's bigger than your usual keyring, but it's not much different in size to a modern car key fob.
Inside the case are two cradles for the individual earbuds, which are designed in a way that's easy to access and remove the earbuds, while featuring strong enough magnets that the buds hold on tight. We never experienced any issues with either the case opening of its own accord, or the earphones falling out at all. Even when shaken vigorously, the earbuds wouldn't become dislodged.
However, our experience with actually wearing the earbuds wasn't the most pleasant we've ever had. Like a few other earbuds we've tried over the years, the secure fit offered by the Vista, combined with the ear tip inside the entrance to the ear canal, did leave us feeling that pressured 'under-water feeling' at times.
That said, the fit is snug and secure, so there's no worry of these earbuds ever falling out during a run. We tested this on a number of running sessions, ranging from shorter and faster runs to intervals and longer sessions.
There are two major plusses to this snug fit. First, it means the seal between the outside world and your music is really good, meaning isolation from the world around you. Second, we never had to adjust the fit because one of the earbuds started to come slightly loose.
However, as with most in-ears for running, there is that issue of feeling sometimes like your breathing and heart beat are amplified inside your head. This mostly comes with the territory of exercising while wearing in-ears, so isn't exclusive here.
The only other downside to the design is that there's only one button per bud. There are no dedicated volume buttons or a volume rocker. We found this to be an issue when paired with our Apple Watch. It meant having to try and increase volume on the watch itself, which is pretty fiddly during a run.
Pair with a phone, however, and you can use the Jaybird app to customise what a long-press on each button does. By default, it switches off the earbuds, but you can have it so that the right earbud turns the volume down, while the left turns the volume up again. It's a bit of a long way around doing something that should be an easy and default action, but it's not impossible.
Features & Performance
- 6 hours playback outside case
- 10 further hours of playback from case battery
- Bluetooth 5.0
As for battery life, that's not been a problem during all of our testing. After its first charge we took the Vista on six runs. Four of those were roughly 30 minutes, the other two were over an hour, totalling around four hours of listening to music - and with plenty of juice left.
That's not exactly surprising though, as Jaybird says these buds will serve six hours of music playback outside of the case before needing to be docked in their cradles again. What's a little disappointing is that the case only offers an additional one-and-a-half charges, meaning the most you'll get before needing to plug them into an outlet is 16 hours of music playback.
When you consider that earphones like the Powerbeats Pro offer nine hours of playback outside the case, or the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 delivers a total of more than 30 hours playback including the charge from the case, the Vista's total time is a little lacklustre. But you could still go for a six hour run and have music playing the entire time, which is a counter point to that.
Unlike its first pair of wire-frees, we're very happy to report there has not been a single issue with the connectivity in our testing. We've not experience any drop outs between our Apple Watch and the earbuds, or between the left and right earbuds.
- 6mm drivers
- Customisable EQ via app
One of Jaybird's biggest strengths is its app. In our experience, no other earphone manufacturer makes it easier to customise and choose your own preferred sound. Right from the home screen of the app you can choose some equaliser (EQ) settings published by chosen featured athletes. More importantly, you can create your own personalised one.
This can be achieved one of two ways: you can either manually customise it using an EQ visualiser, where you adjust the bass, mids and trebles until you find a sound you like; or you can use the new personalisation tool.
Using the personalisation tool is simple: just tap the option to start the process and the app will play a tone at a set frequency, and all you do is adjust the volume slider until you can just about hear that tone. It plays through a handful of different frequencies, from lower and upper bass, through the mid ranges and up to the higher end clarity frequencies. The process only takes a couple of minutes, but once done, we found the resulting balance was just about perfect for our preferences.
We love this approach, because as we've learned from companies like Nuraphone, nobody has the exact same response to audio frequencies. And so companies that only give you one sound profile without the option to personalise it might sound great to one person, but not so great to the next. With this Jaybird approach, you can get a sound that's ideally suited to your ears.
On the other side of this, you might find you have a sound profile you like when you're exercising that you might not want when you're on the train, or sat at home. With a couple of simple taps you can create your own custom presets and choose between them.
For earphones at this price, the Vista offers good bass and clear high-ends. These buds are capable of producing impactful, dynamic sound with plenty of thumping lows to motivate you through your runs. There's not quite have the clarity of some other pairs of earphones, but again, to get noticeably better audio, you have to spend considerably more.
The Jaybird Vista is a great pair of running earphones, offering that value-for-money appeal that's synonymous with the brand. These buds stay in your ears, deliver good sound, and will get you through your sweatiest workouts while delivering a punchy soundtrack.
If your budget is around the £150 mark and you need a pair of versatile, secure and reliable earphones to power you through your workouts, you'll struggle to find a better pair of wire-frees than Vista.
It's a pair that's not without its faults though. The lack of a volume button, or at least not having a function setup by default to change the volume, seems like a fairly big oversight, and the pressured feeling you get at times during running sessions can make them a little bit uncomfortable.
Still, we wouldn't hesitate to pop them in our ears to head out to pound the pavement. Besides, at this price point, these in-ears are unmatched.
Of all the wire-frees we've tried, the Powerbeats Pro is the undeniable champ of workout earphones. These buds are comfortable to wear for long periods, have a battery that lasts ages, and the sound is great. The only downside is the price is higher than the Jaybird Vista.
Bose SoundSport Free
These buds may be old now, but with a price drop meaning a similar level to the new Jaybirds, you'd be foolish not to consider the Bose SoundSport Free. The sound is great, the wear is comfortable, and five hours of playback out of the case makes for similarly reliable longevity too.