Jaybird makes some of the best sport headphones around, but with its completely wireless earbuds, the Run and Run XT, I’ve experienced some technical difficulties. And I’m not the only one. The company realized that the Bluetooth problems were, well, problematic, and went back to the drawing board. The $180 Jaybird Vista, on sale now, is the result.
I’ve been using the Vista for about a week, squeezing in a handful of workouts, phone calls, hours of podcasts and music playback, and found that there’s plenty to love about Jaybird’s newest earbuds. The audio connectivity, which Jaybird has struggled to nail in past devices, still isn’t quite perfect. But the sound and the fit are so good that I can look past the Vista’s minor flaws.
Jaybird Vista design and comfort
Jaybird stuck with the design of its Run and Run XT earphones, but made the Vista more lightweight at just 6 grams per bud, and shaved a tiny bit from the overall size of the earbuds. The lighter size and slimmer profile makes wearing the Vista feel almost like wearing nothing at all, except for the fact that you can’t hear much of the outside world when these are nestled in your ears.
The Vista’s design is so unobtrusive that when a friend sitting right next to me tried to start a conversation, I had to pop out an earbud to better hear her questions. She hadn’t noticed that I was wearing earphones although we were in close proximity, plus my music was blasting away.
In my experience, the Jaybird Vista offers a slightly better fit than Jabra’s Elite Active 65t, because the Vista’s eartips and fins are removable and customizable. Jabra only allows you to swap out the tips for a more comfortable fit. The tips and fins attached to the Vista earbuds out of the box worked perfectly for me, and I was able to wear them for hours at a time while listening to music, catching up on podcasts, or working out — without any discomfort in my ear canal: Once they were in, I didn’t have to fuss with them at all. Jaybird includes two additional fin and tip sizes if the default options don’t work for you.
Like previous Jaybird releases, the Vista is rated IPX7 for water- and sweat-resistance.
Some runners prefer a physical volume rocker to adjust the sound on their earbuds. Jaybird Vista doesn’t offer that option, but the actual earbud itself is a button that can perform tasks. For instance, a long press on the left earbud will turn the volume down, and a long press on the right one will turn it up. Shorter presses skip tracks or play/pause the current song playing. You can customize all of those shortcuts in the app.
Jaybird Vista audio quality
Jaybird’s Vista earbuds aren’t quite noise-cancelling, but the rest of the world falls away when you put them in. I could hear a blaring TV in my living room, for instance, but I couldn’t hear traffic when running through the streets of Los Angeles, or my friend’s voice when she was speaking to me from a few feet away. When I was on the phone, my own voice sounded like it was muffled underwater.
While noise-isolating audio makes songs sound like you’re wearing a pair of high-end headphones, it’s not always a positive thing, depending on the environment. The pulsing beat of Robyn’s “Honey” pushed me to run faster as I ran up into Franklin Hills, but I couldn’t hear my footsteps or oncoming cars. The song itself sounded amazing, though; Robyn’s crooning came through as crystal clear as the throbbing bassline. The audio sounds even better when you’re not running outside. As I jammed out to Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” in my living room, each layer of guitar, drum, tambourine and vocals was distinctive yet cohesive, just as such a complex song would sound in a pair of high-end headphones.
I appreciated that each Vista earbud connects to my phone separately, so I could use one independently of the other. I felt more comfortable running and talking on the phone with one earbud in, rather than two. I could easily hear my playlist or the other person on the end of the line, but could also hear the noise of the road and the sound of my own voice. When I popped both earbuds in, they were never out of sync with each other.
To compare, the $249 Powerbeats Pro earbuds can be used independently, too, and offer longer battery life than Jaybird Vista does. You can take out the left earbud of Jabra’s $169 Elite Active 65t and still listen to music with the right, but the reverse isn’t possible.
The Vista’s audio isn’t quite perfect. The same video lag issue that afflicted the Run XT is also an issue in the Vista. The latency has decreased from the last-generation earbuds, but it’s definitely still noticeable. The problem was worse when watching trailers in the YouTube app and streaming music videos in Apple Music, and far less obvious when binging TV in the Netflix app. I tend to use my Bose QC 35 IIs when watching movies, so this issue isn’t a dealbreaker for me, but if you want one pair of earbuds for all of your streaming needs, the video lag is irritating.
Jaybird’s app for iOS and Android lets you customize almost everything about the earbuds, from personalizing the audio EQ to assigning tasks to the hardware buttons. As with past generations of Jaybird’s Bluetooth headphones, you can choose from preset audio profiles if you prefer a flatter or more bass-heavy sound, or you can take a test to create the perfect audio profile for you.
The volume and play/pause shortcuts are particularly useful if your phone is stashed in a running belt or a phone sleeve around your arm: Instead of feeling blindly for a tiny button on the earbud, I just gave the bud a long press to pump up the sound.
Battery life and charging case
Jaybird promises 16 hours of battery life on a charge: 6 hours in the earbuds and 10 additional hours in the charging case: The Vista delivers. I’ve been wearing these earbuds for a week, and they’re still at 75% even after a handful of phone calls, multiple Peloton workouts, a 3-mile run and plenty of podcasts to accompany me on walks around my neighborhood.
The only way I can tell that I’m making a dent in the battery life is the charging case light, which changes from green to red when the battery is low. The buds are no longer drawing a charge from the case, which is why they’re no longer at 100%, but they were fully charged for six days.
When I use a lone earbud to talk on the phone or go running outside, I can charge up the other, which theoretically extends the battery life up to 32 hours. I don’t use the buds one at a time often enough to actually get that much juice, but having the option is a bonus.
The Vista’s charging case is one of the best-designed earbud accessories I’ve ever used. The ovular case is slim enough to fit in a running pant pocket, and it also has a lanyard attached for easily grabbing it out of the aforementioned pocket (or digging it out from the bottom of a bag).
Magnets in the left and right earbud groove make sure each pod clicks into its charging cradle quickly and holds the buds in place. And unlike Apple’s AirPods case, the earbud grooves are shallow, so they won’t collect lint or other grossness from your pocket or purse.
The case charges up via USB-C, which is a godsend in a world in which almost every fitness-focused device has its own proprietary charger (or, worse, uses micro-USB).
The $249 Powerbeats Pro delivers lengthier battery life — 27 hours on a charge — but the charging case is also way too bulky to fit into your running pants. Jabra offers 15 hours of battery life, just one hour less than the Vista, but its Elite Active 65t charging case is annoyingly difficult to open.
I really, really, really like Jaybird Vista. The earbuds are so lightweight that I rarely felt like I was wearing anything at all, and they never gave me that tingly feeling in my ear canal that other earbuds often do.
Being able to use each earbud independently is incredibly useful, especially for talking on the phone or if you want to be more aware of your surroundings, for safety, while running.
The video lag will be annoying for some, and it’s something to consider if you often use earbuds to stream TV shows or movies. Jabra’s Elite Active 65t offer additional fitness-tracking features due to a built-in accelerometer, and Powerbeats Pro can’t be topped when it comes to battery life and excellent audio. Those alternative options don’t have the video-lag problem that Jaybird does.
But if you need a pair of lightweight, sweat-proof earbuds with incredible sound and comfortable fit for working out, Jaybird Vista is practically perfect.