Jaybird has plenty of competition in the exercise-focused wireless earphone department, but the company continues to release excellent-sounding products that help raise the standard for the entire category. The Jaybird X3 wireless earphones aren’t the least expensive we’ve tested at $129.99, but they deliver robust bass response and well-defined highs, fit securely and comfortably, and feature a sweatproof design that’s ideal for the gym. There’s nothing revolutionary about the X3s, but they sound great and come with plenty of accessories, so they earn our Editors’ Choice award.
Available in black, military green, red, or white and gold, the X3 are neckband-style earphones that can be worn behind or in front of the neck. Optional ear fins add a level of stability, but the eartips alone will provide a secure enough fit for most users. The eartips are sweatproof and small enough to fit under helmets, making them ideal for exercise. Internally, 6mm drivers deliver the audio.
The X3 ship with quite a few accessories, including a generous array of eartips in various sizes (six total pairs, three in silicone, three in Comply foam) and optional ear fins (three pairs, S, M, and L), a micro USB charging cable that uses a cradle-style connection to snap on to the inline remote control compartment for charging, two cable cinches, a shirt clip, and a protective pouch.
One annoyance: The left and right earpieces are not labeled, but you can remember the inline remote control compartment is closest to the right ear. You can also switch the left and right channels with the free smartphone app, explaining the lack of markings but seeming pretty superfluous. The remote is of the three-button variety, with a central multifunction button for playback and call management. Volume up and down controls work in conjunction with your device’s master volume levels. The volume buttons also double as track navigation buttons, an increasingly common design that we’re not huge fans of—it’s easy to hold the button down thinking you’ll gradually raise the volume and instead skipping the track you’re listening to.
Jaybird’s companion app, MySound, is quite useful. You can set your own customized EQ, or listen to EQ profiles from various Jaybird-using athletes. The ability to listen to other athlete’s profiles is neat, but the ability to fine-tune your own settings is the most appealing aspect.
You can connect the X3 to two devices simultaneously. Jaybird estimates battery life to be roughly eight hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels.
First off, we tested the X3’s audio performance without employing the MySound app, but it is easy to add a little extra (or tone down a little) brightness or bass push to the earphones. In general, without the app, you get a bass-forward sound signature, but not one that upsets the overall balance with out-of-control low-end, as is the case with many exercise-focused earphones. There’s just as much crisp, clear high-end to enjoy, and you can tweak it to suit your tastes with the app.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earphones offer very powerful deep bass response. At top, unwise listening levels, the bass doesn’t distort, and the lows are still quite intense at more moderate volumes, though pleasantly balanced out with a solid presence in the high-mids.
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Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better idea of the X3’s general sound signature. The drums on this track can sound overwhelmingly heavy and thunderous on bass-heavy earphones, but the X3 give them an excellent added bass depth without sounding unnatural. The drums’ round thump and Callahan’s baritone vocals receive plenty of low and low-mid richness, but the vocals and guitar strumming also benefit from a high-mid that brings out the definition, clarity, and crispness of the mix. This is a sculpted sound signature, for certain, but with plenty of full-sounding bass depth and bright, defined highs.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives enough high-mid presence for its attack to retain a sharp contour and slice through the layers of the mix. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with powerful low-end thump. The vocals on this track receive the ideal high-mid and high frequency presence—there’s excellent clarity without things ever sounding overly sibilant or harsh.
If you’re looking for massive, unchecked bass performance to motivate you during your workout, look to the JLab Epic2 Bluetooth, but don’t expect excellent balance like the X3 deliver. We’re also fans of the Bose SoundSport Wireless, the Jabra Sport Coach, and the more affordable JBL Reflect Mini BT in the wireless, exercise-focused realm. The Jaybird X3 are fairly priced for what you get, however: a bevy of accessories, a secure, exercise-friendly fit, and most importantly, an excellent, customizable audio experience that will help motivate you during your workouts. That makes them our Editors’ Choice for in-ear exercise-focused Bluetooth earphones.