Jaybird Bluebuds X Vs X2 Comparison Essay

From the moment we first reviewed the Jaybird X2 in-ears earlier this year, we knew this moment was coming. As the follow-up to the company’s popular Bluebuds X – often recommended as some of the best wireless in-ears in their price range – the X2s had big shoes to fill, and fill them they did. As such, it left many wondering if it was time for an upgrade.

While Jaybird might have left the Bluebuds name behind, the X2s are every bit the sequel that the number in the name implies, and any moviegoer can tell you that while the sequel might be bigger and even better, there will always be plenty of people out there who prefer the original. Is it possible that this can happen with headphones as well?

Buy Jaybird X2 from Amazon ($169)

Build & design

Take a look and the first thing you’ll notice is probably how similar the two models look, right down to the Jaybird logo emblazoned on the side. The one key difference lies in the finish – the X2s feature a matte finish that looks much more modern than the glossy black and chrome we saw when we reviewed the Bluebuds X. The Jaybird X2s are also available in a much wider range of colors than their predecessor.

Build quality is very similar between the two – both are sweat-proof and come complete with a lifetime guarantee against sweat-related damage from Jaybird. When it comes to how they are worn the two are near identical with one key difference: instead of the three pairs of ear tips included with the Bluebuds X, the X2s include six pairs, with three Comply brand memory foam tips in addition to silicon tips. These additional fit options can make the X2s more comfortable, depending on who is wearing them.

Both models include a carrying case in the box, which is a welcome addition, but the X2s improve upon the clamshell-style case included with the Bluebuds X. Instead, the X2s feature a silicone case that seals much tighter than the clamshell case, doing a much better job of protecting the headphones inside from dirt, liquid, and drops.

Winner: X2

Connectivity

Looking at the Bluetooth version listed on the box, you might think it’s a mistake, but no, both the Bluebuds X and the X2 use Bluetooth version 2.1 with EDR. Jaybird says that there are no audio benefits included in later versions, but that doesn’t stop people from looking at the box and wondering why it doesn’t say 4.0 or 4.1 like most headphones released this year.

Pairing is a very similar process between the two – right down to the Jenna voice prompts. The Jaybird X2s are less aggressive when it comes to audio cues, though. While the Bluebuds X produce an audible chirp whenever you hit the volume button, this is gone on the X2s. We view this as a positive since simply hearing the volume change is all the feedback you need.

Dropouts were a fairly common problem with the Bluebuds X – while reviewing them this would occur even at distances of three to four feet. In our testing this seemed to be largely resolved with the Jaybird X2s. We didn’t encounter any dropouts when testing for the review, but it’s worth mentioning that we did see reports from commenters that they had some issues.

Winner: X2

Battery life

On paper, the Bluebuds X and the X2 look identical when it comes to battery life, with each claiming 8 hours of playback time and around 2.5 hours to charge the battery back to full. In practice, this isn’t exactly the case. When we reviewed the Bluebuds X, we found that we consistently saw battery life of 6 to 6.5 hours. The X2s, on the other hand, consistently reached the 8 hours Jaybird claimed and charged quickly as well.

Winner: X2

Sound quality

We’ve said before that when it comes to in-ears, proper fit is one of the key components to getting the best sound possible. To this bend, the Jaybird X2s have somewhat of an advantage due to the greater amount of options for ear tips. It is entirely possible to buy your own Comply brand memory foam tips to use with the Bluebuds X, but it’s nicer to see them included out of the box.

 

Tips aside, the sound quality is definitely somewhat better on the X2s, though it might be better to refer to it as simply refined, as the sound between the two is still fairly similar. There is slightly more bass presence in the X2s, but even this isn’t a huge change. The refinements in the midrange and highs are subtler, but do make for a more pleasing sonic signature.

This is definitely the closest category here. If you didn’t like the sound of the Bluebuds X, chances are fairly good that you won’t find much to like about the X2s either.

Winner: X2

Conclusion

Whether or not to upgrade has been a common question from owners of the Jaybird Bluebuds X since the X2s were released. Seeing that the X2s won every single category, you’d think our answer would be yes, but it’s not that easy. If you’re happy with the Bluebuds X, we don’t see enough of a difference between the two to make an instant upgrade necessary, but if your old ‘buds are starting to wear out or the battery is wearing down, the X2s are certainly a worthy successor.

When it comes to which pair a first-time buyer should go for, then the answer is obvious: The X2s. Even if the Bluebuds are heavily discounted, the newly weather-resistant case and longer battery life make the Jaybird X2s the better long-term investment. For a more in-depth explanation of the features and sound quality of the X2s, be sure to check out our review.

Buy Jaybird X2 from Amazon ($169)Buy Jaybird BlueBuds X from Amazon ($115)

This post features an in-depth comparison of all of the key features of Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 vs Jaybird X2, including a comparison chart. Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 and Jaybird X2 Headphones are both popular with millions of music lovers. But which premium Bluetooth headphones are better?

I must start by saying that I love listening to music with BOTH of these premium sports headphones. Sometimes I buy new headphones that cause me to throw all my work aside and just settle down to listen to old favorite tunes. Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 Wireless In-Ear and Jaybird X2 Headphones both made me do that, and I had a wonderful time with both.

These two sets of premium Bluetooth wireless headphones are both popular with millions of people. The Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 are a bit more expensive than the Jaybird X2, but the price points are similar enough to place them in the same bracket. So the question is – which of these two sets of premium Bluetooth headphones is better?

Not an easy question, as you will see when you read this post!

First off, here is a table comparing key points of the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 vs Jaybird X2 Headphones.

 
Best price on Amazon right now:$121.99$89.99
Compatible with:Fully compatible with with any Bluetooth device, including iPhone (3, 3S, 4, 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6 Plus), Apple Watch, iPod Touch, iPad, iPad mini, the new iPod nano, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Moto Actv wrist-worn sports MP3 players and GPS devices, PC, Mac and gaming deviceFully compatible with iPhones, compatible with Bluetooth, usually compatible with all Windows and Android devices
Ships with:Beautiful hard case, generic micro USB with reasonable length cord, 6 sets of earbuds, 3 sets of "wings" to anchor earbuds in your earsHard, zip-up case, proprietary micro USB with very short cord, 3 sets of earbuds
Communication:A mellow, female voice supplies all kinds of communicationYou just get a musical tone when you switch on, and the same tone when you switch off
Waterproof?Not waterproof; but guaranteed sweatproofNot waterproof; but they are sweatproof
Ear fitComes with three sizes of soft, removable Comply memory foam tips, plus three sizes of silicon tips Comes with three sizes of soft silicone tips
Immersive sound?Yes, they are designed to block out ambient sound and immerse you in your own sound. Yes, they are designed to block out ambient sound and immerse you in your own sound.
Built-in microphone for making phone calls?Yes - works extremely wellYes - works extremely well
Can you work the controls while you are active?Fairly easy to work the controls while you are active, because they are on a little inline section separate from the earpieceFairly easy to work the controls while you are active, because they are on a little inline section separate from the earpiece
Bluetooth pairingEasy and excellent at all timesEasy and excellent at all times
Speaker sensitivity103 +-2dB At 1KHzInformation not available
Audio Format:16-bit StereoInformation not available
CodecShift™ custom SBC implementationInformation not available
Response Bandwidth20-20000HzInformation not available
Bluetooth VersionBluetooth Class 2.1+EDRBluetooth 4.0
Battery play time8 hours6 hours
Standby time250 hoursInformation not available
Charging timeSlightly less than 2.5 hoursClaimed time of 1.5 hours
Battery Type100 mAh Lithium PolymerInformation not available
Weight0.49 oz (14 grams)1 oz (30 grams)
Battery indicatorIcon shows on smart phone to indicate battery level; a voice tells you the level. Plenty of sophisticated electronics to keep you informed about battery level and make sure you are never out of power.Red solid light indicates 1 hour of battery life left; blinking red light indicates only 15 minutes left. However, the reality is that there is no way to see a tiny flashing red light when wearing the headphones - so you will know the battery is exhausted when the headphones stop working!
ColorsBlack, white, grey, green, red, blue10 colors, including black, white, green, red, blue, fluorescent green; and various combinations of these colors
Do they fall out of your ears?The provided "wings" anchor them into your ears and you have a lot of choices to get the size of the earbud right; still, for some people they may sometimes fall outBecause they hook around your ears, they never fall out

What’s in the Box?

Jaybird X2 arrive with a beautiful hard case, a generic micro USB with a reasonable length cord, six sets of earbuds (three are silicone; three are Comply Memory soft foam), and three sets of “wings” to anchor the earbuds in your ears. You are told to push the memory foam earbuds firmly into your ears for several seconds, after which they will mold to form a tight fit in your ears. Jaybird X2 seems to require a tight fit.

Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 arrive with a good-looking, hard-shell, zip-up case, a proprietary micro USB with a very short cord, and three sets of soft rubber earbuds. The proprietary UBS cord looks good, with colors matching the earbuds. But it’s really inconvenient to have to remember to take it to work, because none of your generic USB cords at work will fit.

Sound quality of Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 vs Jaybird X2 Headphones

Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a great test of your headphones’ ability to handle complex, layered music – and the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 passed the test as well as any I have ever tested (that includes wired headphones). I would have to say a bit better than the Jaybird X2. On the other hand, Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and “I’ve Looked at Life from Both Sides Now” are great tests of the ability of headphones to handle vocals and guitar – and also their ability to convey emotional complexity (admittedly, the second is a much more subjective test). The Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 and the Jaybird X2 performed equally awesomely with the vocals and the guitar – but subjectively, I felt the Jaybirds delivered emotional complexity more convincingly. They just felt a little bit warmer to me.

Sound quality of Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2

Nuanced, detailed, superb treble, superb stereo quality, great bass. Some reviewers seem to think that Powerbeats2 are great on treble and light on bass. I beg to differ. Listen to The Knife’s “Silent Shout” to see how awesome the bass is on these tiny headphones. (You can listen to almost anything if you are streaming Apple Music or Spotify.)

The detailed layering of complex music such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” is awesome – and that’s not even “awesome for Bluetooth” – it’s just plain awesome. And the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 headphones are completely immersive and very loud. No matter how loud  you go, the music does NOT distort. Very impressive.

Sound quality of Jaybird X2

Mellow, nuanced, deep, detailed, great stereo quality, deep bass. Performs very well with complex music such as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And the Jaybird X2 headphones are completely immersive, but not super loud.

I preferred “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the Powerbeats2, and I slightly prefer all Joni Mitchell on the Jaybird.

Bluetooth Connectivity with Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 vs Jaybird X2 Headphones

Both of these headphones have perfected Bluetooth connectivity. The initial pairing is effortless and fast, and they both pair up instantly every time you need them.  With both of them, if you lose your Bluetooth connection for some reason, you can just switch the headphones off and on, and they will instantly pair again. Alternately, you can just tap on the device name on your smart phone to restore the connection.

Bluetooth Communication with Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 vs Jaybird X2 Headphones

It is much easier to communicate with Jaybird X2 than with Powerbeats2, because Jaybird X2 communicates with a mellow voice, with phrases that include: “Connected; power on; power off; battery full;  battery low; recharge battery,” etc. With the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats 2, you get a musical tone when they switch on, and the same musical tone when they switch off. Sometimes it is a bit confusing to know whether you have just switched them on or off. So the Jaybird X2 definitely wins this one.

You control the headphones with tiny buttons on an inline controller. You use these controls to do things like starting music, pausing it, advancing tracks and going back tracks – as well as answering and ending phone calls. The Powerbeats2 also have a neat feature where you can “scan” the music – basically putting it on fast forward. These features all work well on both headphones.

Bear in mind however that the Powerbeats2 are made specifically for iPhone – they do not work perfectly with Android devices. On the other hand, Jaybird X2 are completely compatible with any Bluetooth device, including iPhone (3, 3S, 4, 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6 Plus), Apple Watch, iPod Touch, iPad, iPad mini, the new iPod nano, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Moto Actv wrist-worn sports MP3 players and GPS devices, PC, Mac and gaming devices.

A very clear win for Jaybird here. No surprise to find that Apple and Dr. Dre have a business relationship! To use Powerbeats2, you had better belong to the Apple-verse! To be fair, Apple also has a business relationship with Jaybird – you will find Jays in all Apple stores, and also Powerbeats2.

Battery Life of Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 vs Jaybird X2 Headphones

In this one, Jaybird X2 has the edge, with 8 hours of battery life, compared to 6 hours for the Beats by Dr. Dre. This is an important win for Jaybird X2.

To make matters worse for the Powerbeats2, Jaybird X2 communicates battery charge level much better than the Powerbeats2. For most people, this is the most important information at all – are your headphones going to last for your entire workout/commuter, or are they going to die on you?

With the Jaybird X2, an icon shows up on your smart phone to indicate battery level; and a voice tells you the battery charge level. You get warnings for medium level, low level, and recharge battery.

With the Powerbeats2, there are no such high-tech luxuries. Instead, a red solid light indicates 1 hour of battery life left; and a blinking red light indicates only 15 minutes left. However, the reality is that there is no way to see a tiny flashing red light when wearing the headphones – so you will know the battery is exhausted when the headphones stop working!

But wait! It gets worse! The Powerbeats2 do not automatically switch off when disconnected from your device; and they do not hibernate when not in use (while the Jaybird X2 do switch off and also hibernate). This means that if you forget to switch off your Powerbeats2, you may well grab them to do your workout – and get to the gym to find you are packing dead headphones. NOT impressive. For headphones at this price point, this is a STAGGERING fail.

I love the sound quality of Powerbeats2, but  I have to say that I feel a bit insulted that Dr. Dre asks so much money for headphones that do not have the electronic smarts of headphones that go for less than half the price (such as the Plantronics Backbeat Fit, which do not have the same quality of music, but which are whip-smart and advanced when it comes to electronics).

Staying in your Ears: Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 vs Jaybird X2 Headphones

Jaybird has a reputation for staying in your ears much better than most headphones. They achieve this by having a choice of six different earbuds in the box, plus you can use these little wing gadgets to hook them into the crease of your ear.

However, the Beats by Dr. Dre stay in your ears even better. Thanks to the little loops that hook around your ears, it is basically impossible for them to fall out. You could use these while playing basketball, skiing – pretty much anything, and they would not fall out. They are also pretty soft and flexible, so you can mold them to suit your ears. On the other hand, Jaybird X2 earphones do sometimes fall out of my ears.

Manuals for the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 vs Jaybird X2 Headphones

You will need to read the instructions to work both of these headphones, because you have to do a lot of things with just a very few controls. I don’t think most people will be able to figure out all of the many functions intuitively. I definitely could not.

For the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2, you are going to have to go to the online manual (such as it is, and it really is not very impressive, but it suffices). The printed manual that comes with the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats 2 headphones is so utterly useless that words almost fail me. It’s like a team of experts sat down together and came up with a plan to make a manual that absolutely no one on earth would be able to read. Tiny, 2-point type, white on black, glossy paper, tiny symbols with almost no text. The printed manual is just an insulting waste of paper.

I must admit that when I unpacked the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats 2 headphones and looked at the manual, I had a moment of buyer’s panic. The manual just SCREAMS “Style without substance; money without intelligence.” So I was worried that I had bought headphones that looked great but would turn out to be garbage – like the manual. Fortunately, that was NOT the case at all. The Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 look great AND they perform even better. Plus it is kind of nice to have people notice your headphones and say, “Oh, you have Beats – Cool!” Basketball star LeBron James starred in a TV ad that made Beats by Dr Dre much more visible, and invested them with the “cool” factor.

The manual for the Jaybird X2 Headphones is not nearly so bad as the Beats manual, and gives you enough information to use the headphones without going online.

In any case, once you know the control sequences for either of these sets of headphones, and use them a couple of times, they are really easy to use. The controls are tiny, but not too tiny to use. With the Beats by Dr. Dre headphones the controls are on an inline controllers, as is the case with the Jaybird X2.

Bottom Line on Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats 2 vs Jaybird X2 Headphones

This is one of the toughest comparisons I have ever done. These are both awesome Bluetooth wireless headphones, offering great music for active people without the irritation of wires, but without compromising sound. Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats 2 handle complex music, details and layering slightly better than Jaybird X2 Headphones. Both sets are equally immersive, but Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats 2 are louder than Jaybird X2 Headphones. Jaybird X2 are slightly warmer and mellower than Powerbeats 2. Bluetooth connectivity is superlative with both, and phone calls are magic. Connectivity/control of the Jaybird X2 is more intuitive and friendlier, but the controls on the Jaybird X2 are a little smaller than on the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats 2. The Beats by Dr. Dre are irritating in that they have a proprietary micro USB, so you cannot use your other cables with it. I also hate that it is super short. Jaybird X2 has a longer cable and its micro USB is not proprietary.

Personally, I love both of these headphones and would buy them both again. But which pair made me turn off the TV, stream my old favorite songs on Apple Music, close my eyes, and scare my dogs (and possibly my neighbors) by relaxing into the joy of music and singing along raucously? For me, that was the Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats 2, which just transformed my world while I was reviewing them. But I was amazed at how poor the electronics were on the Beats. Really? For this much money, you can’t even add a voice to tell people that power is low?

In the end, as with all things, it will come down to what you like, and what is important to you. However, you cannot really go wrong with either of these premium Bluetooth headphones.

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Filed Under: Beats by Dr. Dre, Bluetooth Headphones, Headphones, Jaybird HeadphonesTagged With: Beats by Dr Dre, Beats by Dr Dre Powerbeats 2, Bluetooth headphones, Earphones, Headphones, In-ear headphones, Jaybird X2, Wearable technology

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