- Good audio quality and sound isolation
- IPX7 certified (water resistant down to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
- Ability to customize EQ settings via Jaybird app
- Solid battery life at 8+ hours on a single charge
- Quick charge feature gets you 1 hour of playback off just 10 minutes of charging
- Jaybird got rid of the cord management clips (we think this was a mistake)
- Fit won’t be for everyone
We’ve been big fans of Jaybird products for several years now and while there’s plenty to like with the X4, the upgrades over the X3 are somewhat underwhelming. The X4 excel in a number of areas, but we’re just not sure that the changes are worthy of releasing an entirely new model. Bottom line is that the X4 are pretty awesome, but you can save money by getting the X3 and you won’t be missing much.
Every year Jaybird, like many companies, updates their existing products. For the last four years, we’ve seen them make upgrade after upgrade to their X lineup of headphones, which are incredibly popular and have a near cult-like following. In this review we will explore what’s new with the X4 and how they compare to the X3.
What’s new with the Jaybird X4?
If you just glance at the X4, they look nearly identical to the X3 and that’s because, for the most part, they are actually the same headphones. In fact, Jaybird only made seven changes total to the headphones.
- Waterproofing — The X4 are now IPX7 certified (i.e. submergible down to one meter for 30 minutes)
- Soft Ear Fins/Hooks — Slightly improved ear fins with the X4.
- Conical Silicone Ear Tips — Nice to have, but I don’t know that anyone was requesting new ear tips.
- Quick Charge — A 10-minute charge now gets you 1 hour of playback time. That’s half the time it took the X3 to yield the same result.
- Jaybird-Exclusive Foam Ear Tips — Again, nice to have, but the Comply foam tips were just fine on the X3.
- Slightly Altered Charge Clip — Not worth elaborating on.
- Cord Cinch — Jaybird added a standard cord cinch in place of cord management clips (way more on this below).
The X4 are more water-resistant
Instead of being “sweat and water resistant” the X4 are now IPX7 certified, which means you can submerge them down to one meter for 30 minutes.
This is great, and actually pretty impressive, but we’ve not had a single issue with the waterproofing capabilities of the X3. In fact, Jeff has used the Jaybird X3 nearly everyday for working out over the past two years and he’s yet to encounter a problem resulting from water or sweat. And, for the record, Jeff sweats a lot.
So, it’s nice that the X4 got the waterproofing upgrade, but it really wasn’t necessary.
New ear fins on the X4
Most people will appreciate this upgrade. The ear fins help the X4 lock into your ear for a more secure fit—clearly important for wireless workout headphones.
The ear fins on the X3 were a little harsh and pointy, but we still felt that they were comfortable.
The new ear fins are made of a softer silicone and have a rounded edge. As you’d expect, this makes them more comfortable than that of the X3, but honestly, not by much.
Conical ear buds
Pretty simple change. The X3 has cylindrical silicone ear buds. They worked just fine and were comfortable. The X4 now have conical ear tips, which, from what we can tell, provide no practical advantage.
The new ear tips are nice to have, but are hardly worth writing home about. They actually remind us a little of the ear tips on certain Bose headphones.
A proper quick charge feature
With the X3, you could charge them for 20 minutes and get about an hour of playback time. That’s fine, but it’s not exactly a quick charge feature.
The X4 only take 10 minutes to achieve about an hour worth of playback time. This is great for people like Jeff who are forever running late. You can charge your X4 in the car ride to the gym and you’ll be good to go.
Jaybird-exclusive foam ear tips
The Comply foam ear tips were one of our favorite things about the X3. Not only are they more comfortable than the silicone tips, but also they fit better and expand in you ear to completely seal off your ear canal.
This helps to isolate sound better and really lock them in place.
The only downside with the Comply foam ear tips is that after a while they split and tear, which means that you’ll need to purchase new ones. Luckily a quick search on Amazon yields plenty of replacement options.
The X4 still come Comply foam tips, but these are now exclusive to Jaybird. What they changed, we don’t know. To be honest, the ear tips seem exactly the same as that of the X3. We really like them, but we can’t consider them a meaningful upgrade.
Slight change to charging cable
Not even worth discussing. You won’t notice the change and it provides no practical advantage or disadvantage.
Cord cinch added
A cord cinch is a seemingly benign accessory include, only in adding it, Jaybird decided to wholesale get rid of the standard cord management clips, which were beloved by some users (cough cough…Jeff).
And, to add insult to injury, Jaybird is marketing the cord cinch as though it’s some new invention when in reality you can find pretty much the same thing on the $30 Anker SoundBuds Slim+ [see on Amazon].
Please excuse my rude tone—Jeff wanted me to really hammer home his disappointment, not with the addition of the cinch (it’s nice to have), but with the omission of the clips.
The cord management clips were the lynchpin in being able to wear the X3 in the over-ear format. These allowed you to get the cord off of your neck and string it up against your head.
The over-ear format was the sportier way to wear the headphones and was one of the big advantages of the X3, relative to other headphones.
Now just so you’re aware, you can actually purchase the clips separately (sort of). Jaybird sells accessory replacement kits for the X3 on Amazon and these kits include the cord management clips. The only catch is that the kits are like $40, and therefore I can’t imagine anyone (aside from Jeff) buying the kits just for the cord management clips.
You can still wear the X4 in the over-ear format, but then you have a bunch of extra cord dangling from the back of your head—it’s just weird.
Having said all of that, the over-ear fit is less utilized than the traditional under-ear fit, so it makes sense for Jaybird to throw in a cord cinch. And the cinch allows you to quickly change between over-ear and under-ear, which is nice.
The cord cinch works just fine and indeed makes it easier to adjust the length the of the cord. It does its job, but it’s not a feature.
As a side note, the cord cinch makes use think of the Beats Powerbeats3. Either Jaybird got a lot of requests for the cinch or they are sort of emulating what Beats has done.
Now onto the review portion of this post
Ok, so I just went off on what’s new with the X4, but I also want to discuss the key elements of the headphones such as design, fit, battery life, audio quality, etc.
Design of the Jaybird X4
The X4 have nearly the exact same design as the X3, and we actually see that as a good thing. The X3 were among the best wireless workout headphones on the market—if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
There’s a contoured shape to the earbuds so that they fit snuggly in your right and left ear. They also have a tangle-resistant cable, full remote, and inline mic.
As you can see in the image above, the remote is about three times wider than the cable itself. As such, you’d think that the remote would weigh on the cord, but it’s actually fairly thin and lightweight. We actually really like the remote.
How’s the fit?
It’s very snug and secure, particularly if you use the ear fins. We recommend you also try out the foam ear tips. They’re unique, but in a good way.
Overall though, the fit is secure and snug and thus provides a great seal. In other words, the natural sound isolation is fantastic.
You can’t really hear the environment around you, which can be positive and negative. It’s positive in the sense that it allows you to focus and tune everything else out.
But it’s negative for when you want to let some of that ambient sound in. A prime example is when you’re running in an urban area, such as New York City, you want to be able to hear everything around you. The sound isolation in this instance can actually be detrimental.
We didn’t have any issues with the X4 falling out, but the over-ear fit is more indeed more secure. Not to re-open old wounds, but it’s a shame that you can’t really wear them in the over-ear format (unless you want extra cord flailing all over the place).
One thing we should add is that if you plan to use the X4 with the silicone ear tips, but without the ear fins, don’t. This is a recipe for disaster. The silicone ear tips, alone, will not provide a secure fit. The foam tips by themselves should be fine, but not the silicone ones.
What’s the battery life like on the Jaybird X4?
It’s actually pretty good. On a single charge, we were able to get nearly nine hours of playback time. This is actually slightly better than what Jaybird quotes (eight hours).
Battery life will depend on usage and volume levels, however. The louder you play our music, the quicker the battery will drain. This is the case with all wireless headphones, including the Jabra Elite 65T, Apple AirPods, and others.
When you do need to refill the X4, they use a proprietary charging cable. It works fine. Also keep in mind that the X4 have that quick charge feature (10 min = 1 hour of playback).
Sound quality of the Jaybird X4
We don’t have any true audiophiles on our team, but we have tested dozens of headphones and thusly have a good idea of what quality sounds like.
The X4 sounds really great for wireless headphones, especially considering you’re playing music via Bluetooth that is presumably being streamed via the internet (there’s a lot of compression happening).
Out of the box, the X4 sound crisp and clear, but they’re also more neutral and flat—this is done on purpose.
Jaybird has an app (iOS and Android) that allows you to alter the sound signature (EQ) of the headphones. You’re actually changing and customizing how the headphones sound. It’s pretty amazing.
This enables you to pick what sounds best to you. You can manually adjust the EQ or test out other present sound profiles from professional athletes and other users.
What’s neat about this is that you’re changing the firmware of the X4 so the sound preferences follow the headphones (i.e. they sound the same regardless of your Bluetooth device).
The ability to manually adjust the EQ is pretty amazing. It’s not new to the X4, but we’re delighted to see that Jaybird kept this feature. Just so you know, the Jaybird Run, X3, and Freedom 2 all have this ability.
What else can the Jaybird app do?
Beyond allowing you to adjust the EQ, the app has one other prominent feature. It’s called “Find My Buds” and it allows you to geolocate where you last paired your headphones to your phone.
This isn’t a perfect solution, but it is clever. It doesn’t actually show you where your X4 are, but rather where you last paired them to your phone.
Jaybird X4 Review: Closing Thoughts
These are really nice workout headphones. They’re comfortable, have a secure fit, offer great audio quality and sound isolation, and have a few extras that you really won’t find elsewhere. Also, with an MSRP of $130, the X4 are priced affordably.