Jaybird has long been one of the big players in the wireless sports earphone game, known for their solid performance, build quality, and decent sound. Now they have three new earphones for us to put through their paces - - the Tarah ($169.95), X4 ($199.95), and Tarah Pro ($249.95).
At their core, all three earphones are rather similar. They're all IPX7 weather-proof. They all have and in-ear fit, with a wing that affixes into the crook of your ear. Tips are removable and come in a few different sizes, while a cord that joins the earpieces with a three button control panel on the right side.
The in-ear with wing design is relatively common with sports headphones, and feels quite comfortable and secure. I even tested them on someone who typically finds in-ears don't work for them, and they seemed rather happy with the Jaybird fit.
The Tarah and Tarah Pro come with three differently sized silicone tips with wings attached, whilst the X4 offers more versatility with four sets of tips and three sets of separate wings. The tips come in two sizes, with a choice of foam or silicone.
Despite the extra versatility of the X4, I found the fit of the Tarah and Tarah Pro to be more secure and comfortable, and easier to put on - especially one handed. The separate wing was also sometimes difficult to place at the correct angle for the best fit. I did mostly use the foam tips on the X4, as a point of difference to the others, and didn't find it notably more comfy.
The cords across the earphones also differ, with the Tarah and X4 using a flat rubber cable, while the Tarah Pro sports a round braided cable. The latter easily wins out for me, being more flexible and comfortable. It's not a solid reason to get the Pro over the others, but it did make me reach for the Pro almost every time.
The back of the Pro's earbuds are also magnetic, allowing you to securely clip them around your neck. This also automatically pauses your music, and un-sticking them will resume the music after a few seconds. It's a nice touch.
Despite being a largely well-designed set of earphones, I have one gripe that makes it incredibly hard for me to completely be on board: proprietary chargers.
Each earphone is charged by its own individual USB powered cradle, and I hate it. I've misplaced the little stumpy USB cable several times in the depths of my bag, and knowing I can't just do a sneaky charge at the office before my commute home is annoying.
The biggest difference between the three earphones is the battery life. The Tarah has 6 hours of playback time, the X4 offers 8 hours, and the Pro boasts a beefy 14 hours.
In a world where we charge our phones multiple times a day, plugging the Tarah in once every 1-2 days when using it for commutes and runs doesn't feel so bad. Though the luxury of the Pro's 14 hours can certainly be felt.
Sound quality across all three headsets is extremely similar - to the point where it's not worth splitting hairs. They're on the better end of the spectrum for in-ear headphones, and are perfectly enjoyable for a run or commute.
The isolation is quite impressive, too, cutting out almost all ambient noise. This is great for being able to hear your tunes clearly, but does present some safety issues for outdoor running. It's probably the most disappointing thing about these earphones for me. They're comfortable to run in, but I only went a handful of times because they made me so unaware of my surroundings that I didn't feel safe. And being a joined pair of earphones I couldn't just leave one side out without it bouncing around uncomfortably.
You can also EQ the sound in the Jaybird app, though I prefer to listen with flat tuning when reviewing to hear the headphones themselves. The app also gives access to some support material, such as a fit guide, and an array of sports-focused playlists and podcasts to stream.
All in all, these three earphones are extremely similar. The differences between them are subtle, and more about slight refinements. There's nothing about the X4 that makes me choose it over the Tarah, and the $80 price jump for the Pro makes the Tarah the one I'd recommend for most users - even though I do like the Pro more. Once again Jaybird brings a really solid offering for exercise fanatics.
- The main difference between the 3 different price points is battery life - 6, 8, and 14 hours for the Tarah, X4, and Tarah Pro respectively.
- The X4 has separate ear tips and wings, allowing for more versatility, but I found them more uncomfortable than the joined tip and wing of the Tarah and Tarah Pro.
- Tarah Pro has a braided cable and magnetic ear pieces which can clasp around your neck.
- Decent sound and build quality. IPX7 across all three.