A great pair of wireless earbuds needs to have a long battery life, excellent sound quality, perfect fit for exercise and good call clarity. Is it possible to get all that from one model?
Nope, because life is a constant source of disappointment. But here are two pairs that, by their powers combined, are pretty good.
In the beige corner we have the $299 Jaybird Vista. These buds, like most Jaybirds, are designed for ultra-long distance running. If you’re the kind of person who likes to go for a run so long that you have to carry camping equipment, then Jaybird is the brand for you. Similarly, if you’re the kind of person who intends to go to the gym a lot and forgets to charge their earbuds very often, these are also designed for you. Each bud holds six hours of battery, with the case giving them an extra ten. You can even wear them individually to squeeze out 32 hours of listening on one charge.
The fit with the ear fins is exceptional. Clearly the designers listened to all the complaints about the original Jaybird Run model, which fell out constantly and sounded bad. These new ear fins fit so well I forgot I was wearing them, which is also down to how small and light these things are. They easily stayed in for running, boxing and drumming without the weight distracting me from my task.
The only downside of the Vista is one shared by most true wireless earbuds; you can usually only have two sides of the “small and light”, “good battery life” and “excellent sound quality” triangle. Jaybird chose the first two sides, which fits perfectly for the long-distance exercise approach, but the music sounds tinny and empty.
Meanwhile, in the black corner, the designers of the $299 Jabra 75t clearly sold their souls to some kind of dark force, because these small and light buds have a longer battery life and sound really good. Not incredible — I’ve heard better in more expensive buds like the Apple AirPods Pro — but way better than anything this small has any right to be with 7.5 hours battery on board with up to 28 hours with the charging case.
The 75t is designed for business, and employs passive noise cancelling to keep you from murdering the loud chewers in the office. Unfortunately, chewing is these headphone’s undoing. Because they don’t have fins, they rely on the grippiness of your ear canal to stay in, so I found myself noticing the movement of the left ear bud a lot while running and eating particularly crunchy crackers.
Each bud has two microphones to capture noise, and Sony’s own custom HD noise cancelling processor to mask it.
It hasn’t fallen out, yet, but that’s because it feels like it’s about to at any moment so I spend a lot of time adjusting it, which detracts from the experience. Not having fins gave the buds a smaller footprint, but it’s not really a worthy trade off.
Which (if either) of these earbuds is right for you comes down to what you need them for, how aggressively you chew, and how average the shape of your ear canals are.
If it was just sound, battery life and call quality that true wireless earbuds needed to be judged on, then recommending the Jabra 75t would be simple. But as fit is such a huge part of the battle of true wireless, then you can’t go past the Jaybird Vista if you move your head around a lot and don’t want to think about the buds in your ears, even if the sound quality isn’t perfect. If only there was some kind of alchemy that could combine the two models.