Should you upgrade to the Jaybird X4 or skip them altogether?
Update: It seems Jaybird is having quality control issues. While we didn’t have any durability problems during our test a large number of users complain about poor build quality, hence the low ratings (on Amazon).
The Jaybird X4 are the latest wireless workout earbuds from Jaybird that are supposedly better than the popular X3s. But are they actually an upgrade?
Note: We bought the headphones with our own money, and we’re not paid for the report. This is our independent review, and we’re in no way connected to a bigger media corporation or entity.
What’s new in the Jaybird X4?
- For the first time, the Jaybird X4 earbuds are sweatproof and waterproof with IPX7 certification (waterproof up to 1m/3ft underwater for 30min). It might be an essential upgrade because Jaybird’s sports headphones are known for lackluster durability. The new additional water-resistance might prolong their life.
- Small differences include; a new conical shape of the foam ear tips (that are as good as the old).
- Softer ear wings which supposedly create less friction and offer better comfort
- Replacing the cable clips with a cinch.
- Another change worth mentioning is the quick charge function. You can get 1h of playtime with 10 min of charging.
What are the old features?
You get premium sound with custom EQ (equalizing) that fits all music tastes, but the older version (X3) has the same app support.
The “Sport Fit Plus” makes them perfect for any sports activity where a secure fit is needed. The older version is equally superb at it, and this was never really a problem. So this is nothing new.
You can make phone calls on the go or during a working, but that’s the same as with the old model.
Moreover, the capacity of the lithium-ion battery is the same, under 8 hours. Unfortunately, the charging dongle hasn’t be swapped to a more convenient USB-C charging. You must use the proprietary charging cable which is a bit annoying.
Overall, the differences compared to the previous model are small, but the new IPX7 certification might make all the difference since the Jaybird X3s suffer from durability issues.
We put them under stress by showering water onto them, and they held up fine, but it’s hard to say what their overall durability is just from one test. Only time will tell.
Should you get them?
If you’re a sports person, for $30 more (compared to the old model as of writing this), you get great sounding wireless sports headphones with fantastic fit and an IPX7 water-protection which makes them one of the best in the category.
- Great sound quality
- Now waterproof with an IPX7 rating
- Excellent EQ app
- Super stable fit for all types of sports
- The proprietary charging cable is a nuisance
- Questionable Jaybird durability (update in the future)
Jaybird X4 related:
What’s in the Box?
- Jaybird X4 wireless workout earbuds
- 2 pairs of silicone eartips
- 2 pairs of Comply memory foam eartips
- 3 pairs of ear fins (ear wings)
- Shirt clip
- Cord clip (already installed)
- Proprietary charging cable
- Soft carrying bag
- Quick start guide
Comfort & Fit
Just like with the previous Jaybird X models the fit is superb. The soft memory foam eartips from Comply (now conical) are the best non-custom tips you can get. You get 2 sizes, one pair smaller and one larger.
They provide ample comfort as they conform to the size and shape of your ear canals. The 3 sizes of silicone ear fins or ear wings are soft to the skin (more elastic than with X3s). You almost don’t feel them, but you must pick the right size.
If you don’t use the right size of tips and fins, you’ll complain because you won’t get the comfort.
Because of plastic design, they’re lightweight, only 14.7g which helps with comfort over long hours.
There are multiple ways to wear them.
There’s under-the-ear way which is how we wear regular earphones with wires going down. In the X4 case, the cables can go under the chin or better yet, behind the neck as this gives better stability.
You might notice that sometimes the wires rub against the back of your neck and because they’re rubbery can pull on the earbuds. The force can be enough to remove the buds out of your ears, so you have to readjust.
Thankfully, you can play with the cord management clip and get the wire length just right to minimize the problem.
But the most comfortable is over-the-ear fit.
It’s what Jaybird promotes as the best because it actually is. Getting it right for the first time takes some fiddling around with the tips and ear fins, but once you get used to it, you won’t change it.
The wireless workout earbuds stay in place like a rock. You can easily run and jump around, and they don’t budge. That’s why these are one of the best headphones for runners.
Stability is perfect for all types of activity, and you’ll soon forget you’re wearing them.
The only problem might be bench pressing. When in the position you lay your head on the bench. Because the cables are in the way, the over-the-ear fit is not optimal.
In the gym, you should wear them like standard earbuds, in front of you. It might look a bit funny but does the job.
Overall, these are one of the most comfortable and stable workout headphones you can get today. It’s no surprise because other Jaybird in-ear headphones have equally fantastic fit.
The Jaybird X4 have impressive noise isolation due to in-ear design and memory foam eartips. Keep in mind, these are not noise cancelling, as that’s another technology.
If you want to get the best passive noise isolation, you should use the foam instead of silicone ear tips. They provide a substantial upgrade to the amount of ambient noise that’s blocked.
In case you’re running outside in the city and need environmental awareness you should use smaller ear tips to let in more noise. It will improve your safety—hear more sound around you—which should always be your first priority.
Cable noise is not a problem.
When working out in the gym or long-distance running the cables often flap around which can create cord noise (microphonics) in many headphones. It’s not a problem in Jaybird X4.
You can comfortably run around with flapping cables, and it won’t damage the sound quality.
On the other hand…
Wind noise is another thing (as we found out during our testing).
When using them outside on a windy day, you’ll most likely hear some wind noise.
The wind creates an annoying sound that takes away from the music. It’s due to the earbud casing sticking out of the ears quite substantially, as usual for wireless earbuds.
Fortunately, it isn’t a big problem because it’s only bothersome under 40% volume. If you keep it around 50-60%, you won’t notice it much.
Just don’t blast your music too loud for too long. You can damage your hearing quickly.
The new Jaybird X4 use Bluetooth 4.1 with standard features like the 33ft (10m) wireless range and Multipoint connectivity (2 devices connected at the same time).
However, we think they missed the mark. They should use Bluetooth 5.0 for improved performance which is already installed in many wireless headphones.
Nonetheless, the signal strength isn’t the best but doesn’t cut off regularly either. It’s about average. When wearing the music device close nearby, you get almost no interference or distortion.
If you put a thick wall in between, you will get some lag, but generally should still work normally.
Unfortunately, the buds only support SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. No aptX support yet, even though it’s more efficient and results in better audio quality.
How to pair Jaybird X4 (connect to a new device)?
It’s a simple process.
- Turn off the earbuds.
- Then press and hold the power button (middle) for 3 seconds or until the LED light start blinking (red and green).
- The voice prompt will tell you the Bluetooth buds are in pair mode.
- Go to your Bluetooth device and find your Jaybird headphones.
How to reset your X4s?
A reset is advised if you have connectivity problems or sound distortion. It’s a similar process to pairing, just different timing.
- Turn off the earbuds.
- Press and hold the power button (middle) for 8 seconds, until the LED starts blinking red and green.
- Double press the power button.
- The LED should now flash rapidly. The voice prompt will give off 2 sounds.
- Your Jaybird X4s are reset.
The battery life hasn’t been improved and stands at solid 8 hours per single charge. It’s better than Jaybird Tarah which only gives up to 6 hours.
Still, it depends on volume and battery capacity which degrades over time.
Generally, you can get up to 8 hours of music on lower volumes. Many things are affecting the battery life, like when it was last charged and even weather.
The charging takes about 2 hours which is average for workout earbuds. It’s also capable of quick charging which gives you 1 hour of music for 10 a minute charge. It’s a new feature which is pretty neat.
But there’s one annoying thing.
The charging cable is the same old proprietary dongle that nobody likes.
Many new wireless sport headphones are switching to USB-C charging port (like the new smartphones) to make it easier for users to charge. Not Jaybird (even a micro-USB cable would be better).
It’s always better if you can charge many devices with 1 charging cable. It’s fewer things to carry around.
Unfortunately, if you get the X4 wireless headphones, you’ll also have to carry around their unique charging cable. It was a disliked feature in their older model, and it stays here for the time being.
Build quality is the biggest weakness of Jaybird. The X4 are made in Malaysia which probably doesn’t matter if they’ve optimized their production and quality control. Only time will tell, but by the looks of it, they’ve done a good job.
The earbuds are entirely plastic because it saves on weight and production costs. It is quality plastic that’s sturdy and used in other higher-end headphones
The cables are flat and protected by a rubber coating.
They seem really durable and can withstand some tugging and pulling. Just don’t try pulling them out at home, these are earbuds after all.
Seems like the most significant upgrade from the old model is the new IPX7 certification. You can find more about IPX rating here, but it means you can use wash them under water and they should work fine.
You can easily listen to them in the rain, even a downpour shouldn’t stop them. Sweat won’t come near.
This is true if we trust the earbuds are really IPX7 rated. But we have some doubts and here’s why.
In the user manual, it says the charging case is not waterproof. It means it’s not IPX rated and can get damaged by water. You should always wipe them dry before charging.
To be honest, Jaybird isn’t known for best durability.
Hopefully, this time around it’s different.
From the looks of it, Jaybird X4 is the best attempt from the company to create a durable pair of earbuds that survive the sports environment and last longer.
For more IPX-rated models, see the best waterproof Bluetooth headphones.
Keeping your expectations real…
No matter how careful you are with your wireless workout earphones, if you’re using the Comply foam eartips, they will eventually fall apart.
Sweat and constant friction disintegrate the foam until it loses its functionality. Also, now the X4 are using Comply eartips exclusive to Jaybird. They expect you’ll buy new ones specifically for this model (probably want to make more money this way).
Thankfully, we tried other memory foam tips, and they worked fine.
The wireless fitness earbuds come with an in-line microphone and remote control.
The mic is quite sensitive and picks up too much noise in loud environments.
It does work well, and you can make phone calls normally in somewhat noisy and quieter places. We’d rate it as above average, but there’s only that much an in-line omnidirectional mic can do (uni-directional would be better).
Running next to a noisy road can be bothersome to the caller, but regular city street noise is fine.
Furthermore, the remote control has 3 buttons. You can control; power on/off, play/pause, volume, skip forward/back, accept/decline calls, redial last call and mute/unmute a call.
Control is quite straightforward with a combination of short and long presses. It’s well described in the quick start guide and the Jaybird app (iOS and Android).
Hold the + button to skip, hold the – to skip to the previous song.
Moreover, they also have a voice prompt. A female voice tells you the battery status every time you turn them on (battery indicator also visible on the phone).
The only annoying thing is that it doesn’t tell you the exact battery life but rounds up the number. It says “Battery 80%.” But it’s actually 76% on the phone. It can give you false expectations.
The Jaybird MySound app makes all the difference.
Probably the best feature over the competition is the app. With it, you can equalize music to your liking in a simple, user-friendly way.
You can choose from many existing sound presets or create your own and save them for later use. You can go from a flat to bass-heavy signature with a tap on a screen. The transformation is real and instant.
What’s cool is that sound preset travels with the buds and not the music device. So when you set your favorite sound signature, the X4s use the same one no matter what the audio device is.
More features are:
- If you’re using Spotify, you can share and access soundtracks with the Jaybird community.
- Inside the app, you can find useful guides on how to use your wireless headphones (how to get a comfortable fit, troubleshooting, and other “how to” guides).
- You can switch the channel sides, so you get the right sound from the right earbud (when you switch from under-ear to over-ear fit).
- Find your buds, geolocating the location where you last paired them (useful in case you lose them)
Geolocation doesn’t show where they are right now, but the last pairing location instead.
Considering this is a premium product and that sports earbuds use up a lot of the tips, they could give you more eartips in the package.
You only get 2 pairs of Comply and 2 pairs of silicone eartips. They could’ve easily put in another set of memory foam tips to make your life easier.
Also, the soft carrying pouch is very basic and doesn’t offer a lot of protection from physical damage. A harder carrying case would be better.
One other thing they changed is cable management parts. Now you get 1 shirt clip and 1 cable cinch. With the Jaybird X3, you get 1 clip and 2 cable clips.
The best sound quality of any wireless workout headphones.
You might think this is a big statement, but we stand by it.
The original sound signature is okay, but the ability to change it dramatically with an app makes it wonderful.
If you prefer powerful bass, you can change to a “basshead preset” and get overpowering lows that will shake your eardrums. If you prefer a V-shaped sound, you can have it.
In case you like a flat response more, you can have it too. It’s a fantastic feature that satisfies most audio tastes.
You can create your own, unique sound signature and share it with the world.
The option to create an audio preset and save it to your profile for later use is excellent. The user interface is straightforward, and you’ll figure it out in a breeze.
Now it doesn’t mean the Jaybird X4 have perfect sound. It’s not the case, but it will satisfy most people to a large degree.
The soundstage is rather average, the same as instrument separation though you can play around with the frequency response and hear how it’s changing.
Even though you might try many different audio presets you’ll notice slight harshness in highs at higher volumes (in signature EQ too). It’s nothing dramatic, but there’s room for improvement.
The bass can be thundering if you want (emphasizing bass in EQ), which makes them great for any bass lover. Plus, they are very loud.
All in all, these wireless sport headphones offer more sound variety and quality than most alternatives you can get today. For these reasons, they can easily be branded as one of the best sounding wireless sports headphones at the moment.
While the updated Jaybird in-ear headphones don’t seem to have a lot of new things going on for them, the upgraded durability (water-resistance) and the good old features like sound, stable fit, and convenience make them a small improvement over the previous model.
If you’re looking for premium wireless sports earbuds with a fantastic fit, waterproof design, and exceptional sound (plus lots of extra features) suitable for amateur and professional athletes, get the Jaybird X4.
|Mic & Controls:||Yes|
|Charging time:||2h + quick charge – Proprietary|
|Active noise cancelling:||No|
|Bluetooth codecs:||SBC, AAC|
|Wireless range:||33ft (10m)|