Today we're taking a closer look at two sets of headphones that are ideal for those with an active lifestyle, perfect for the gym or sports.
Jaybird make arguably the best wireless sports headphones in the business. Following their smash success with the Jaybird X2 and Jaybird X3 flagship models, the company have now launched a new and improved version - the Jaybird X4.
The X4 has some improvements over the X3 - the most important being that it's now water-resistant. With an IPX7 rating, the X4 can now be submerged in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes (but that doesn't mean you can now take them swimming).
While the X4 is a great wireless headphone, if you’re anything like me (budget-conscious), you may want to have a look at the other new addition, the Jaybird Tarah. The Tarah is the entry-level option in Jaybird’s wireless headphone range. This means it's cheaper than the X4, but naturally, that means some trade-offs, such as battery life. So is it worth spending the extra money for the X4? I tried them both to find out.
On first glance, it is difficult to distinguish the X4 and Tarah as they share a similar design, with the only major difference being the control pad on the wire. The X4 has three round buttons where the Tarah has a ‘+’ and ‘-’ shaped buttons with a circular button in the middle. I preferred the design on the Tarah, as I knew straight away which button I had my finger on.
In the box, you get the headphones, charger and extra earphone tips. With the X4 you also get a small carry bag to put your headphones in. I liked that the X4 came with three different sizes of earphones tips, so you are more likely to get the best fit. In terms of fit, I found the X4 to be the most comfortable to wear. I am used to over-the-ear hooks on my sports headphones to keep them locked in place when running. However, thanks to the signature Jaybird fin design, both headsets felt secure when wearing them and didn’t fall out during my run.
Both sets come with a shirt clip and cord cinch to stop the cord bouncing around too much when you’re running, which is handy. They also have fast charging capabilities: 10 minutes of charging gives you one hour of playtime.
On paper, both headphones appear very similar. They are both sweat and water resistant with an IPX7 rating, they both allow you to take calls, and they can be both connected via Bluetooth to two different devices at the same time. This is great, for example, when you are listening to something on your laptop and you receive a call on your mobile phone. The headphones automatically switch to the device you need. While Jaybird are known for their sports focus, this makes the new range worth considering for more than just running.
The biggest difference between the two is the battery life. The Jaybird Tarah has only 6 hours of battery life compared to the X4’s 8 hours. This extra two hours may be important to you, but for me, I found 6 hours to be more than enough.
Both devices allow you to control your playlists (skip/play/pause songs, adjust volume levels, etc), basic phone call functions (answer/ignore/redial/mute/switch calls) and access your phone’s voice assistant (Siri/Google Assistant).
The Jaybird Tarah is the first set of headphones released under the new "Made for Google" program as being Fast Pair compatible. This is Google’s assurance they will work well with smartphones running Android and will Bluetooth pair easily across Android phones (6.0+) associated with the same Google account. For iPhone users, the X4 supports the AAC codec and is, therefore, the better choice.
The sound quality from the microphone on both devices is very good, as long as you are not moving. Taking a call while running does not work well. The caller will struggle to hear you against the background noise of the microphone bouncing around, which is disappointing, but understandable.
What I really like about these headphones is the level of customisation available. Download the Jaybird MySound app, and you can customise the EQ settings of your headphones, or select from a list of custom sound profiles. In the app, you also get access to Jaybird’s playlists for free, or you can import your own Spotify playlists. Another great feature of the app is ‘Find My Buds’ which shows where you last paired your headphones with your phone and gives you directions there.
To sum up, both the Jaybird Tarah and X4 are great options if you are looking for a new set of wireless sports headphones this summer. With the X4, you are paying that little bit more for an extra 2 hours of battery life and a better selection of accessories including interchangeable fins and tips for greater comfort.