Jaybird Run Wireless Headphones Review

Well before running, music was my first love. The particularly satisfying and mood-influencing aural hues of a great song can literally change my day, and the ability to combine this passion with my second love of running is always enjoyable. For lack of a better way of putting it, the two together provide me with a sort of 1972 Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” feeling when I hit the trails.

In high school, I cradled a Sony Walkman while listening to metal classics on cassette, and I even happened to own the first Sport Discman which skipped horribly while running with CDs. As technology progressed I progressed with it, buying every version of the Apple iPod up to the incredibly small and effective Shuffle. But, this still meant that I had a pair of earbuds haplessly dangling from ears and running under my shirt and jacket. A small price to pay, sure enough, for the freedom of having multiple gigabytes worth of my favorite music with me. However, we now have something much better, my friends.

Introducing the Jaybird Run ($179.99), the first truly wireless Bluetooth headphones aimed at pleasing the running crowd. As with any wireless headphones I’ve tried, I expected tinny sound, poor bass response, and worse reception. In fact, I expected to hate them and return to my tried-and-true Apple earbuds. Let’s cut to the chase, I’m still wearing them, and for more than just running. Here’s the rest of the story.

Jaybird Run 1

The Jaybird Run. All photos: Tom Caughlan

Jaybird Run Fit

For some people, earbud fit would not even be a concern. These people have normal ears, and normal earholes (that’s a thing, right?), but I am not that person. My daughter jokingly calls me an elf (she’s six) and I’ve never been able to wear the kind of earbuds that compress into one’s ears for maximum bass response and minimal outside noise. For awhile, this was a bit of an obsession for me without any success.

Upon unboxing the Jaybird Run headphones, I realized that they had included four differently sized sets of silicone tips as well as interchangeable fins that I could swap out to find the best fit for my non-interchangeable and permanent ears. I experimented with this (probably more than any human should) over the course of several weeks until I found the correct combination that allowed the Jaybirds to stay put and offer me the best high-fidelity audio. I blundered through headphones falling out mid-run to experiencing poor audio due to insecure fit/seal. After a lot of pickiness and trial and error, I throw in the Jaybird Run headphones and I don’t even think about them anymore.

The fit of the silicone earbud tips can seem slick at first, and I’ve noticed that after about 15 minutes of running they really settle in. The more I sweat, the more they adhere. In fact, I’ve absolutely sweated these things out and they continue to work and sound great without issue.

Jaybird Run 4

The Jaybird Run headphones in Tom’s small(?) ears.

Jaybird Run Audio

I used the Jaybirds with an iPhone 6s as well as a Google Pixel 2 and connectivity was quick and instant with the hold of a button. Once connected by Bluetooth, the Jaybirds did not disconnect despite the phone powering on and off multiple times. I experimented with phone placement while running and defied the suggested placement on the front of the body or arms. I like putting my phone in the large zipper pocket on the back of my shorts, and I never lost connectivity with the Jaybirds.

My first impression of the Jaybird Run performance was less than stellar. Performance seemed just as flat as the Apple earbuds I was hoping to replace. That was, until I installed the Jaybird app on my phone and started to play with the equalizer. This app is comically easy to use and I was able to set up different presets that my Jaybird headphones remember for different types of music, meaning I don’t even have to have the app open or adjust prior to each run. The Jaybirds absolutely remember the last setting I used to listen to Norwegian black metal.

The audio is fantastic with deep-bodied bass and clear treble that isn’t tinny like most earbuds. Every genre of music I listen to with the Jaybird Run sounds fantastic and they started to replace my tried-and-true Sony cans for listening while working in the evenings. It is definitely freeing to run unencumbered by cords and nice not to have to find creative ways to wind them under or over one’s clothes for a run.

Jaybird Run 2

The Jaybird Run headphones and all their accoutrements.

Jaybird Run Performance

I’ve hyped the audio enough, but how about ease of use? With connectivity being seamless, let’s look at how the Jaybird Run functions while on the run. The factory presets dictate that the wearer can easily skip songs with a double click of the right earbud, while a single click to the left accesses your phone’s assistant. Calls come in as interruptions to the streaming audio, with a soft ringing sound in the background, and my wife loved the audio quality on her end while interrupting my runs. These presets can be changed in the Jaybird app to simply make each button function solely as volume buttons as well.

Jaybird Run Battery Life

While I feel like we are in the infancy of wireless-headphone development, battery life remains one of the most important factors. Like early electric-car owners, I developed ‘range anxiety’ and did several runs with a full charge to try and exhaust the Jaybird Run batteries. Advertised at four hours of play, I noticed that the Jaybird’s fully charged battery ran out around three hours and 20 minutes of play time. I noticed that battery time decreased the more heavily equalized the sound settings were on the app, and increased bass response took a toll on the battery. Every time Fergie’s “My Humps” came on it was totally worth it, and my long runs would just have to be 3:20 worth of absolute booty intensity.

But, think about it. In my most recent training cycle for a 100k, only five of my runs exceeded this duration, and for everyday runs the Jaybird Run worked wonderfully. You receive audio cues when the battery is at 20%, which allows you to conserve if needed, and the provided charging pod basically adds another two full charges even if you don’t have access to a USB outlet. I noticed that, fully depleted, the Jaybird Run headphones would charge from the pod in about an hour. Additionally, as soon as you take them out of the charging pod they let you know that they are ‘fully charged’ and ‘connected’ without even messing with my phone settings.

Overall Impressions

Music and running are two passions that help us decompress from the day. While I love getting deep in the mountains for the solitude and sounds of nature, often times my weekday runs can sound like cars, tourists, and the noise in my head. I have really enjoyed testing the Jaybird Run, and it is a product that, while it may seem superfluous, I would actually spend the money for this level of performance and convenience. If you’re a runner who craves the energy boost and dissociation that trail running with music provides on a daily basis, then I would recommend checking out the Jaybird Run.

For many runners, battery life and ‘range anxiety’ will be an issue. If there is anything I know about a life spent with distance runners, it is that they are eternal skeptics, and three and a quarter hours of battery life will not be enough to change from their wired earbuds. I have to say, I was the same way until I experienced the improved audio. Hopefully, in the not-so-far-off future, we will see Jaybird and other small companies venture into batteries capable of improved storage. Until then, maybe dissociating for three hours is plenty.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Have you given the Jaybird Run headphones an, ahem, run yet?
  • If so, what are your thoughts on how they feel, sound, and otherwise behave?

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a company that produces audio equipment, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

Jaybird Run 3

The Jaybird Run headphones and their traveling case.

Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 34 comments

  1. Sean

    I find these block out too much external noise to where I am in no way aware of my surroundings. Therefore they seem safest at a gym. On roads or trails I tend to just use one earbud.

  2. Adam Wilcox

    How durable are these? Will they survive a trip through the laundry? How about rain?

    For $179(!) I’d hope for more value than just improved sound quality and the absence of wires. Some assurance that they’ll last more than six months months would go a long way toward improving ye olde value proposition.

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Adam,
      See Michelle’s response below. There haven’t been any storms here in Colorado Springs for most of the winter, so I didn’t get to soak them with anything other than sweat. I’ve dropped them on rocky trails, drop kicked them when they fell out of my ears prior to getting the fit correct, and they’ve ridden around in a sweaty pack without the case for hours.
      Laundry though…. now that would be a real test!

  3. Cody

    While I like that iRunFar is doing tech gear reviews (great addition), the following sentence reads like a Kickstarter pitch:

    “Introducing the Jaybird Run ($179.99), the first truly wireless Bluetooth headphones aimed at pleasing the running crowd”

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Cody –

      I am not a writer; I apologize if it sounded cheesy:)
      Know that there are a lot of products that we test that don’t get written up because we don’t think they’re worthy. If we’re publishing a review then know that its a product that we are generally stoked about. In this case I also tested the Jaybird Freedom 2, and while they were great headphones for walking around and hanging out, they didn’t stay put on the run (for me anyways).
      Again, thanks for the feedback.

  4. Sarah Lavender Smith

    I need to try harder to get them to fit, I guess. I bought them and they’re still sitting in the box, because I got frustrated. I tried seemingly every combo of the silicon tips and can’t figure out a way to get them to stay securely in my apparently odd-shaped ears.

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Sarah –
      Having small ears I started with the smallest tips and fins, and they kept falling out, multiple times, in the dark, and I’d have to get down on my hands and knees to find them. Really frustrating and it led me to put them back in the box for a week or so. Then, I started researching fit videos on youtube and generally being a geek. It led me to try different sizes and do test runs until I found the correct fit. I found it imperative to get a good seal with the tip, but then also to rotate the fin so that it sits behind the cartilaginous thing in your ear.
      Still, I do have to adjust them a couple of times during the first 15 minutes of my run, and once I start to sweat they seem to lock into place and then I forget about them???
      I like the tips and fins on the Jaybird Freedom 2 better, but they’re not interchangeable with the Run.

  5. Michelle Rice

    I have had these since early December and absolutely love them. To answer Adam’s question, they are completely waterproof. And to respond to Sean– I agree, but the reason I bought these is because the right bud can function completely independently (I always leave the left in the case). Gives me amazing audio, with one free ear to hear everything on trail and around me. Best of both worlds, for sure.

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Michelle-
      Thanks for responding about the waterproof capabilities. I only ran in one snow storm with the Jaybirds as it has been dry as a bone where I live. Good idea with the single ear bud.

    2. Kevin Boneno

      Are these IPX7 waterproof rated? I’ve killed 3 pair of X3’s with excessive sweating in the heat of south Louisiana and won’t buy another pair unless actually waterproof. Water resistant just doesn’t cut it.

  6. Gary Robbins

    Battery life is the only drawback to these and I’ve gotten as little as 3h15m on a cold winter day. Having said that, they fit me straight out of the box and I was very impressed when I harboured much doubt about the minimal design in fact being functional. I’d also add that the ‘buttons’ on these aren’t sufficient and it’s difficult to even skip a song if you want to. I purchased both these and the Jaybird X3 and have found myself gravitating towards the X3 more than the run. The X3 has twice the battery life and though there is a cord between the ear buds of the X3, it’s minimal. I prefer the ease of use of the buttons on the X3 and can skip between songs even on a cold day while wearing gloves.
    I would most certainly use the “Run” during a shorter distance race (not an ultra) or a training run of 3hrs or less, where I knew I wasn’t going to want to skip songs at any point along the way. Great for podcasts and audiobooks for sure. Overall, I was impressed by the product but it’s still a generation or two away from being my go to device.

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Gary –

      Your battery life assessment is spot on, and this seems to be a work in progress. I tried the Freedom 2 as well from Jaybird and while I found them to be more comfortable to just wear around, the added weight of the controls on the connector strap caused them to fall out while running. I’m assuming you didn’t have this issue with the X3?

  7. Alex Ezell

    I’m curious if anyone has found a decent MP3 player to use with these that is NOT a phone. I specifically run without my phone to avoid calls/texts/work/etc. But, I would like to listen to music wirelessly. Are there any decent MP3 players that have Bluetooth?

  8. Alex Ezell

    Thanks Bryon. That’s a great idea. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me. It would require pre-run planning to ensure playlists are downloaded to the phone. Planning is a notorious weak spot for me ;)

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Alex –
      The best $10 I spend per month is on Spotify, and the service does allow you to download full albums and playlists to use offline. I am actually surprised at how well curated their “Daily Mix” personal playlists are, and they’ll group them by bands and genres that are spot on. A lot of times this saves me from obsessively creating the perfect playlist (which I have spent hours on prior to ultras).
      The other great thing is that new releases are available same day. It almost feels like cheating. FYI, the only band that I can’t find on Spotify, but will apparently be coming on later in 2018, is Tool.

      1. Alex Ezell

        Tom,
        I have two comments about this:

        1) I was a long-time Spotify proponent but then I looked into how they actually pay out to the artists and found that I couldn’t support such woeful sharing of the profits (or lack thereof as the recent IPO numbers about their losses indicate). As a person with many musician friends, I found it hard to justify my lining someone’s pockets that isn’t actually creating the music. That said, I still want streaming music, so I use Google Play Music which has marginally better payouts and at least more transparent accounting with artists than does Spotify (or so I’m told). Ultimately, the best option for supporting art is buying digital directly from the artist but this is unreasonable for casual listening or playlist building.

        2) You can download playlists with Spotify but you can only play those downloaded tracks with Spotify which necessitates carrying a bulky, expensive phone around the trails. That’s the main thing I’m wanting to avoid though managing MP3 files is absolutely a pain in the butt.

        Ultimately, I don’t think the market forces and/or technology exist to build what I want. Imagine something like these headphones that can connect to the cellular network and use audio commands to control a Spotify/Google-based streaming service.

        1. Tom Caughlan

          Alex –

          1) You make a good point. I hadn’t looked into this for a long time, and as an artist in my former life with two albums on Spotify and Google Play, the record label takes all of the profits anyways :) I didn’t realize that Google Play Music has better payouts (never saw those either). Everyone I know who is still in the music industry has to tour relentlessly to make a living it seems. You’re right about buying directly from the artist, and I do continue to buy albums especially from bands and indie labels.

          2) Yes, defeats the purpose.

          I do think that your idea for a product has some merit, and I could see that being developed down the road. I would certainly be interested!

  9. Chris

    It’d still be nice to have a very small mp3 player though, so there’s not even the option to connect… and also because I find the phone clunky.

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Chris,
      I agree, carrying a phone all the time sucks. I recently looked into this and I can’t find a single small mp3 player on the market with Bluetooth (like iPod Shuffle size). It also seems that the small mp3 player market is kind of disappearing because of everyone’s reliance on their phones. Start a kickstarter!

    2. Andy M

      Agree totally with this thread (no so much the Spotify part). I don’t mind running with my clunky phone when wearing a vest with ample pockets, but for any runs short enough not to require a vest (under 3-4 hours) I simply won’t bring the phone. I’ve missed some great wildlife photo ops but I stick with my old iPod shuffles for as long as they last! Yup, a bluetooth mp3 in a tiny package would be something big!

    3. Tom

      I just stumbled onto this website while looking for reviews of Jaybird Run headphones. But I may have a solution for your troubles! It is called the Mighty. I don’t want to link it and I am in no way connected to the company. Just search Spotify+mighty player.

      I do not own one but I feel like these headphones plus that player would be perfect for me as I hate to carry a 6inch plus phone in any way, shape, or form on my body while running.

  10. Samuel Lavoie

    Interesting review, seems a bit on the paid side BUT the takeaway is the battery seems to be the only drawback. Surprised about the comfort of wearing them for an extensive time that you mentioned, I’ve found my X3 to be ok for a hour or two but then it degrade quickly, at least for me in over-ear mode ‍♂️

    1. Tom Caughlan

      Samuel,

      No payola here, but we did request the product from Jaybird back in December because they looked interesting to me. You got the takeaway correct, and down the road I’m sure we’ll see a product that is this hands free with a six hour battery life which would be amazing. When I’m going longer than three hours I’ll typically put them in my pack and take them out when I feel like I’d enjoy music or a podcast.
      Btw, the over the ear fit is a complete mystery to me. I’ve tried it with other wireless buds and I can’t ever get them to stay put.

  11. Micah Larson

    While it’s a Spotify dedicated device, the Mighty player syncs your Spotify playlists to a device the size of an iPod shuffle. I have never used the device, but it looks like a good option for those that don’t want to run with their phone. It also supports Bluetooth headphones.

  12. Steve

    Far too expensive for me given the lack of decent battery life, in my opinion.

    I’ll stick to wired sets until battery life is in excess of 10 hours.

  13. Lewis Marama

    If you get a set of these, look into getting Comply Foam tips. Amazingly soft memory foam tips that work better IMO than the supplied tips. Comply make them specifically for different models of headphones so make sure you get the right ones. They grip better and the sound isolation is at a much higher level.

  14. Garrett Blondell

    Definitely check out the Mighty or the older version of the iPod shuffle. Both have bluetooth capabilities but the real winner is the Mighty in my opinion.

    https://bemighty.com/products/mighty

    It gives you the ability to download your Spotify playlist and listen to it offiline. This is awesome because you can update your playlist on the go if you want to quickly add or remove music. The Mighty app is a little glitchy but works great for it’s purpose.

  15. Mark Loss

    Horrible customer service. I’ve tried for weeks to get someone to respond to me about sending my jaybird run ear buds back due to the left bud not staying connected. I keep getting the same email from “JayBird Bruce” saying that I’ll get a seperate email from UPS with the return label but I never get that email. Ive checked all my email folders including my spam folder and still no email.

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