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Jaybird Vista truly wireless earbuds review: Running on air

The 'Vista' brand should be beyond repair, damaged by an operating system few miss (and fewer used). So it was surprising that the name's audacious revival should come from none other than Jaybird, whose Run, Tarah and X-series earbuds have been favorites of the running class for many years.

Jaybird's Vista earbuds are truly wireless, which means like the Run and Run XT before it, and popularized by Apple's AirPods, they are not connected by wires. It also means they can be used independently. But unlike the Run series, Vista is incredibly light and conveniently magnetic. And unlike the AirPods, they actually sound great.

At $180, they're not cheap, but they're also pretty compelling for the right kind of person. Are you that person? Let's find out.

The Good

  • Lightweight and super portable
  • Fun, bass-heavy sound with right seal
  • IPX7 waterproof, rare on truly wireless earbuds
  • Decent battery life, plus quick charging via USB-C
  • Easy to clean

The Bad

  • No auto-pause or "hear-through" feature
  • Default sound profile very bass-heavy
  • Expensive
  • Only supports SBC code

Jaybird Vista What sounds good

Where the Jaybird Run and its sequel, Run XT, were bulky and awkward, Vista is light — almost too light — and simple to use. Like all other truly wireless earbuds, they sit comfortably in a charging case that provides additional battery — in this case, an extra 10 hours to augment the six hours built into each bud — and latch closed with a satisfying magnetic snap.

When I say Vista is light, I mean all of it: each bud weighs just six grams, and the case is a svelte 45g. While the case, which charges via USB-C and has an external charging LED and an internal Bluetooth connectivity button and LED, is slightly longer than the AirPods case, the whole kit doesn't feel any less convenient to travel around with. The case I'd been stuffing into my pockets for the past few months, Jabra's Elite 65t, feels almost bulbous in comparison.

Thankfully, Jaybird's employed strong magnets to latch the buds to the case when they're not in use; even a forceful upside-down shake won't dislodge them. Being sports-focused, the earbuds can withstand being completely immersed in water, but the more important metric is that they're not going to wear down from the inevitable prodigious amounts of sweat making contact with the plastic body and silicon ear tips.

There are three tip sizes in the box, but that doesn't really tell the whole story; they are relatively rigid, and wrap round the bud's body like a sheath, snapping into place when correctly installed. The default size, middle number two, were perfect for my ears — in fact, the Vista earbuds are more comfortable than any previous Jaybird headphones I've worn.

They sound pretty good, too. The default profile is very bass-heavy, at least to my bass-friendly ears — think quantity over quality in this regard — but Jaybird's Personal EQ feature, easy to access in the Android or iOS app, tames some of that bloated low-end. Once properly equalized, Vista sounds quite good for a pair of truly wireless earbuds; they're tuned for punchy rock or hip-hop, so don't expect tight treble or a super-wide soundstage, but the sound isn't fatiguing. They sound about on par with the Jaybird X4s, though the company says the 6mm drivers are brand new for this product.

The Jaybird Vistas are comfortable, lightweight and fun to wear, and they sound better than their tiny size would suggest.

With the redesign, Jaybird's also modernizing some of the more finicky aspects of the Run series; there's no longer a master/companion relationship between the two earbuds, so either can be used completely independently. As a result, the single button on each base is by default configured to perform the same things — single press for play/pause, double press for next track, triple press for previous track, and long press for power off. The taps can be reconfigured for Google Assistant or to adjust volume, but you'll need to dig into the app for that.

Graciously, the new platform comes with major improvements to connection quality and latency; unlike with the Run, which I had to shelve almost immediately after my review due to lingering connectivity issues, Vista is just plain solid. No dropouts, no garbling, no latency while watching video. It connects to the previous device every time and stays connected. This is the experience I want from a pair of truly wireless earbuds.

Jaybird advertises six hours of battery life per bud, plus an extra 10 hours from the case. I got close to that twice in my testing, around five hours and 45 minutes the first time and just over five and a half hours the second time. While the case lacks wireless charging, I'm pretty happy with the 16-hour combined uptime and USB C-based fast charging, which offers an hour of listening with a five-minute top-up.

I'm also pretty happy with the fact that, while running, neither Vista earbud budges. They stay put thanks to a thoughtful design that offers decent amounts of passive noise cancelation and an ear fin that keeps the bud in place. That I can simply run the earbud under a stream of water after a workout to clean it, too, is a bonus.

Jaybird Vista What sounds off

Jaybird did a lot of things right with the Vista earbuds, but in its quest to keep size down and complexity low, it eschewed a bunch of features I grew used to on other products like the Jabra Elite 65t. For starters, it doesn't auto-pause when removed from the ear, because there's no proximity sensor on board. That means when you inevitably have to remove one of the buds to talk to someone, you have to remember to pause the music beforehand.

Jaybird decided to forego extra features, like auto-pause or an ambient mode, to keep size and weight down.

And unlike competitors like the Galaxy Buds and aforementioned Jabras, Jaybird didn't include a "hear-through" feature that utilizes the microphone in each ear to pump in outside sound and avoid having the remove the earbud in the first place. Considering the amount of passive isolation these things provide, I'm not happy with these omissions.

Similarly, the headphones only support the legacy SBC Bluetooth audio codec, so forget about higher-bandwidth options like AAC and aptX. This obviously affects sound quality, though perhaps not enough that the average person will notice, especially while listening to low-bandwidth streaming music.

I'm also not enamored of the mediocre microphone quality on the Vista; I wasn't expecting active noise cancelation in a pair of truly wireless earbuds this small, but call recipients complained of distracting amounts of background noise, even when I was in a relatively quiet environment.

Finally, the current firmware has a maximum volume level that's quite a bit lower than most of Vista's competitors. While Jaybird assured me the issue will be corrected in an upcoming software update, I find myself having to maximize the volume on both the phone and the buds just to listen at comfortable levels outdoors. (I made sure the problem wasn't my phone as I got the same result on the Huawei P30 Pro, Pixel 3a, iPhone XS and Galaxy S10.) Update, November 2019: A recent firmware update fixed the low maximum volume issue, so it's mostly fine now, though still a few decibels below what many other earbuds offer. While walking down the street I usually had to crank the volume to 95-100%, which doesn't leave much breathing room for louder environments. Still, a massive improvement over the shipping firmware.

The competition Jaybird Beats Bose

No product in this category sits alone in 2019, so it's worth going over some of Jaybird's competition. While the Run series is being discontinued, Jaybird's other wrap-around headphones offer virtually the same sound quality, comfort and ruggedness at much lower costs; the excellent X4 headphones (opens in new tab) are down to just $100 right now. The more luxurious Tarah Pros (opens in new tab) are even $20 cheaper than the Vista at $160.

Still, nothing beats the actual freedom of truly wireless headphones, which is why it's worth talking about Under Armour's JBL True Wireless Flash headphones (opens in new tab). They're similarly IPX7 rated and, at $170, identically priced, but they're much bigger and heavier, and charge via Micro-USB. Still, they sound fuller and richer than Jaybird's offering, and have bass that's both smoother and more accurate, and they offer ambient passthrough.

I've mentioned Jabra's Elite 65t truly wireless earbuds (opens in new tab) a number of times in this review because until now they've been my go-to choice for city-street listening. With an IP55 rating, they're not as secure against water and sweat as the Vistas, but they can withstand a rainstorm, and I prefer their sound profile. They charge with Micro-USB, though, which is why I made keep using the Jaybirds as my daily drivers for the foreseeable future.

Other competitors in the space that can't be ignored: Bose's well-received but expensive and aging SoundSport Free (opens in new tab). At $200, I wouldn't recommend them anymore; they're heavy and obnoxiously big, and are coming up on two years old so they lack a lot of the amenities that come with newer headphones. I would recommend taking a look at Beats' new PowerBeats Pro (opens in new tab), though: despite costing $250, they have incredible sound, nearly twice the battery life of the Jaybird Vistas, and come with secure earhooks to ensure a good fit. But $250 is $80 more than the Vistas, and I really don't think you're getting that much more in value.

Jaybird Vista Should you buy them?

At $180, Vista is Jaybird's most expensive and most mainstream product. You're getting comfortable, great-sounding earbuds with awesome battery life and solid connectivity that are also waterproof and live in a relatively tiny case. What's missing is annoying more than devastating.

If you can justify the cost, the Vistas are easy to love and even easier to slip in a pocket. You don't have to be a runner to enjoy them, but if you are one they'll probably last you a long time.

Update, November 2019: This review was updated with new information about maximum volume related to a recent firmware update.

Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

18 Comments
  • I was part of the beta test team for these a few months back, and they sound great when using one of the sound profiles via the Jaybird app. I tested them for two weeks and I was impressed by the excellent Bluetooth connection. The connection was stable where other similar products (Earin M2 and Jabra Elite Active 65t) had drops in connection. Out of the box, they don't sound great but there are a lot of sound profiles in the Jaybird app which will improve the sound quality. I did not have an issue with volume level. They are bigger than the Earin M2 but smaller than Jabra Elite Active 65t. Very comfortable during workouts, secure fit while sweating, and great battery life. And for those worrying about the price: Jaybird offers 20% off student discount. I've been waiting for them to be released and I already ordered them this morning.
  • If you can't access the student discount via Unidays, do the following for instant 10% off on the black Vistas: go to Logitech website, click on the Jaybird logo at the top of the page, search for Vista in the newly opened window on Jaybird's website, and you will notice a reduced price by 10%. Logitech acquired Jaybird in 2016.
  • Someone please test these for connectivity and usability with the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music and 645 Music watches. Thanks in advance.
  • I haven't tested these with the Garmins specifically but Jaybird says these will work great with all Bluetooth-connected wearables.
  • Can you comment on pairing the ear buds with a tv and any lag issues.
  • Our new JBS1 technology has completely removed any audio lag!
  • Now that the buds both communicate directly to the paired device, can you confirm they eliminated the 2 second delay in audio? This made the Run series completely useless for watching videos or movies.
  • There's a slight delay but it's significantly improved over the Run series. A few milliseconds at most. But it's definitely not perfect, so if media consumption is your bag you may want to look elsewhere.
  • I was hoping for an alternative to Sennheiser Momentum's, however the sound quality does not sound like a win for me. Granted, when quality is critical I plug in anyways, but it would be nice to have some truly wireless earbuds that at least get me close. My Jaybird X3's sound decent for being wireless, and I do like the app EQ since Power Amp adds noise. The problem with the X3 is they don't stay put, and the pressure from the memory foam tips is annoying after only 15 minutes. The silicone tips do not sound as good.
  • Yeah the sound is definitely not as subtle, nor as flat, as the Momentums. There's a huge bass boost, even when equalized. But these are definitely good all-round truly wireless earbuds.
  • I don't get it, more cons with factors that overshadow the pros... Why even talk up this product... Reading the headline I thought this is the best buds, reading the review it is clear you should kind of stay away. Plus, what kind of earphone, bud review doesn't talk about the drivers, or frequency response or impedance or distortion etc... At least mention these specs so they can be compared to others. The "sounds good to me" line is very grade school.
  • I was so turned off on how bad the runs were, I got the jabra 65t active elite and boy they are bad too. The fit is horrible its too big for my ears, you can only wear the right one independently. Then I bought the galaxy buds and they fit much better the sound is decent (they could be much louder) and the fit it the best. beats pro are ok as well better sound, fits decent although i get ear fatigue after about two hours, they also have a crazy battery life of 9 hours.
  • Wow, wow, the volume can be raised to very high levels if you go to the Jaybird app > button controls >select vol up/down and then press and hold RH bud button to raise vol. you can even go back to the press and holding to power off, high vol levels are retained. Now the buds are almost perfect
  • Out of curiosity, do these (or any buds) interfere with your rook piercing?
  • $180 for the standard SBC codec? I'll pass. But it is heartening to see they changed the connection type to avoid the 2 second delay that ruined the Run series for video of any type.
  • Crazy that you believe they have low maximum volume because mine are incredibly loud. As another commenter said you have to change the settings in the Jaybird app to increase the volume via the actual ear buds. Once the volume is at max you can switch it back and just control it with your phone and have the other control options on the buds back.
  • The earbuds aren't very comfortable but prove nearly impossible to shake out.
  • These are a pass for me because they're more expensive than other options with fewer features. However, the higher liquid resistance is a big plus. If the Galaxy Buds had a higher IP rating, they'd easily be the best alternative to AirPods.