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Jaybird RUN Review: Jaybird’s First Truly Wireless Sports Earphone

Jaybird enters a nascent category in the audio industry with the SGD269 Jaybird RUN: a high-quality true wireless fitness earphone that does without the traditional (irritating) connecting wire between the two earphone channels. With the demise of the 3.5mm audio port on many modern smartphone flagships, Bluetooth earphones have come into their own. While the iconic Apple AirPods have set the standard for true wireless earphones, other options have emerged with different value propositions and sets of features. On the sports front, the Sol Republic Amps Air is a similarly priced option that is optimised for active usage, with features like sweat resistance. Of course, more expensive options like the Jabra Elite Sport feature heart rate monitoring, tap-to-hear street mode, noise cancellation, and other premium offerings for the extra money.

We’re continuing our series of fitness audio reviews with the Jaybird RUN. You can check out our recent in-depth reviews of the Sudio Tre and Jaybird Freedom 2 fitness earbuds, both of which do have a connecting wire and control panel on the wire.

Jaybird Singapore did kindly send in a review unit of the Jaybird Run to VR Zone, so take that for what it’s worth.

Unboxing and First impressions of the Jaybird RUN

The Jaybird Run comes in a premium-feeling packing with a sleeve that slides off to reveal a black box beneath. The charging case is beneath, within which contains the earbuds inside the charging case. In a separate box, a plethora of silicone attachments allow you to get the perfect fit. Three additional pairs of silicone ear fins and ear tip are also provided, along with an additional rubber case and a USB cable.

Just enough accessories if you happen to have four pairs of ears. Image: Jaybird

Right off the bat, and perhaps still suffering from Star Wars Frenzy, I was smitten by the dark, sleek form and feel of the charging-cum-carrying case. Very neat if you ask me, and a little dark-side.

The included charging case offers 8 extra hours on top of the 4 hours of battery life of the Jaybird RUN. Image: Ian Ling

The Jaybird RUN earbuds felt compact in the hand, with a set of five copper interfaces on the inner side that interfaces with the charging case for regular and on-the-go charging. Both the earbuds and the carrying case are heavier than the Apple AirPods. A metal accent ring surrounds the earbud logo plate, doubling up as Bluetooth antennae. With the given set of accessories, it was an exciting unboxing experience.

Ergonomics and build quality

After some adjustments, the Jaybird RUN had an almost-perfect fit. While the stabilising fin helped me achieve a secure fit, I struggled to keep the seal of the earbuds while running, even after trying a wide variety of eartips. I might be spoilt by Comply, triple flange and foam eartips on my universal In-Ear Monitors (IEMs), but I’ve tried plenty of in-ear earphones that have offered ear tips sized and shaped properly to slip into the ear canal.

This, coupled with the significant (understandable) weight of the Jaybird RUN, caused the eartips to slip out slightly during intensive workouts.

Despite this, the units remained firm in my ear despite high-intensity work-outs like sprints. They even remained firm in place when I brusquely removed my sweat-soaked shirt after a gym session.

A single button on either channels allow the user to pause the music (right channel single click), skip to the next track (right channel double click, which issues a notification tone). Users can trigger Siri/OK Google by a single click on the left channel. Double clicking the left channel also advances to the next track, somewhat wasteful of a function if you ask me. These can be modified slightly in the Jaybird MySound app (free, Android / Apple). The app also allows users to toggle between spoken prompts or audio cues, battery status in the notification bar, and to find your earbuds.

You can only change the single-press settings of the Jaybird RUN. Image: Jaybird App

Not reading the instructions, the charging case caused some confusion at the onset – I tried to shove the earbuds into the slots, waiting for an affirmative click. Turns out that one only has to pop them vaguely in place and closing the lid connects the five charging pins in the case with the interface on either earbud. Upon closing, a convenient LED lights up in the middle to confirm receipt of the earbuds, and a smaller one on either side appears after a moment to pulse in sync to confirm connection with each channel. Opening the case is tactile with the raised button, though this caused the charging case to open in my bag (packed very neatly, mind you), which caused them to automatically connect to my phone. While this didn’t affect my commute home, high-usage individuals might have to deal with the earphones draining completely after a long day up and about. It drained from around 90% to 43% in about 4 hours of in-bag, non-audio time (not very sure when exactly the case popped itself open).

The charging case feels sturdy, looks great and works a charm. Image: Ian Ling

Sound Quality

Coming from top-shelf brands like Shure, AKG, and Sennheiser, I’m more picky about how my earphones sound than how they fit. The Jaybird RUN delivers a surprise in this department with its 6mm dynamic driver akin to that found on the Jaybird X3. While they’re not going to blow the socks off any audiophile, the RUN delivers punchy bass with a full-bodied mids and decent highs. For active purposes, most would lean toward a more bass-heavy EQ, which can be customised in the MySound app. Additional presets are included for those who aren’t very sure about how to tweak their sliders, though I suppose that wouldn’t be the case as the interface is very easy to understand, devoid of any jargon. An additional tab in the app grants quick access to Jaybird official Spotify playlists and a couple of community-made ones too, perfect for the busy athlete more intent on gains than their next mixtape.

With enough fiddling, the seal is sufficient for commuting and daily usage. With the lack of on-board active noise cancellation, fit and seal does play a significant role in how good your music sounds.

Call quality was decent, though I only received audio on one channel. I’m still unsure if that’s supposed to be a case. My recipient heard me loud and clear.

Battery Life

The Jaybird RUN, like other true wireless earphones, charge through the included charging-cum-carrying case. Jaybird claims an hour of listening time from 10 minutes of charging, though I couldn’t accurately measure that claim.

With four hours of advertised runtime, with an additional two charges with the charging case, the Jaybird RUN lags behind some of its competitors. My copy ran under the advertised runtime, at about 3 hours plus, which also means that you’d probably do best by avoiding an ultramarathon. Battery life might have been a bit of a miss for me since I listened to them at almost full volume. The right channel, which houses the microphone and other essential functions, drains significantly faster.

Final Words & Recommendations

The Jaybird RUN isn’t the most feature-packed, lacking out on some features that some might consider essential. This includes tap-to-hear and active noise cancellation. They’re also plagued by some issues: while battery life worked decently for me, many athletes have complained about the meagre amount of juice on the RUN. Connectivity also seems to be a major issue for most other users, though I wasn’t sufficiently irked to write a stink piece about it. Just some intermittent stuttering when my phone is out of my hand and in my right rear pocket. In all, I only encountered minor connectivity issues thrice during my week-long use of the RUN. Some have suggested that phone model affects connection strength, but the two phones I had on hand, the LG V10 and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 worked pretty similarly.

I began this review stating the market for true wireless earphones is nascent. It really is. With the unexpected AirPod effect pulling consumers away from wires, many audio companies have been scrambling to offer true wireless earphones – to a large variety of success. The Jaybird RUN isn’t the best fitting or greatest sounding, but they do a great job for what they are advertised for: they’re sweat resistant, sound fantastic, are extremely well built and finished, and fit really securely. At SGD269, they would appeal to early adopters, or perhaps some of you with deeper pockets.

More Specifications

Noise-isolation: Passive
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Speaker sensitivity: 103 +-2dB At 1KHz
Audio Format: 16-bit Stereo
Codec: Bluetooth SBC Implementation
Response Bandwidth: 20Hz – 20kHz
Driver Size: 6 mm
Bluetooth Version: 4.1
Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz
Compatible with any Bluetooth enabled with HFP, HSP and A2DP
Operating temperature: 32º F – 113º F (0º C – 45º C )
Width: 14.3 mm
Height: 19.5 mm
Depth: 19 mm
Weight of a single bud (no fins or tips): 0.24 oz (6.83 g)
Play Time: 4+ Hrs*
Charging Time: 2 Hrs
Quick Charge: 5 min = 1 hour Play Time

Ian Ling
http://uncommontragedy.com
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

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