Thursday, 15 March 2012

Jaybird Sportsband 2 Review

Jaybird Sportsband 2 Review

Thanks to Advanced Headphones for the sample (AMP3’s sister site)

First impressions: Wires are for puppets. So says the box anyway and that these are wireless is pretty much their raison d'etre. I’ve used Bluetooth stuff before in the form of a dongle type thing you plug normal headphones into and it I found good, so with this having the new apt-X I’m hoping for much. Looking at them I see I have a white and red one. I know it’s supposed to be red but it looks more like fuchsia to me. Their web site calls it Runners Red. Frankly it looks very girly, still they make a bunch of colours so I’m sure the black one looks much more butch.

Going to charge the things I note that they use a proprietary connector, those who follow me on twitter will know how positively I thought of that. It’s utterly and impossibly stupid. Jaybird why on earth wouldn’t you use micro usb? You know like everything else on the planet and that I have about 300 thousand cables for. Fail.

Source, well paired device anyway, mostly a Galaxy Nexus and a Sensation XE

Lows: Given this is something that is wide open it comes with the usual bass can go to a point then over the cliff it goes. In most music, particularly pop it’s not a problem. Bass there is often more about impact than it is about out limboing a double bass. There is no danger of that here. Punch wise it’s a fair effort but it doesn’t have that slam or agility I’d like to see in cases where you can’t have that smooth and deep expansion. Meh, it’s okay but as bass goes this is more McDonalds than it is steak. It’s adequate and it sort of gets you there and you kinda know what it should be.

Quantity wise it’s a bit elevated, as you would expect is a consumer orientated device. It’s not as thick and over blown as I might have feared. Mind you it is stretching my tolerance to a point I don’t like these. Thick and heavy.

Mids: A little Tori and these have a go but it’s not great. I want to say it’s not terrible but it is not pleasing me. I know thats not the sort of music this is aimed at but still, it’s not really working. Switching to some Scissor Sisters things aren’t so noticeable. You don’t really listen to pop for the vocals. It’s the all round ensemble and the energy. Even there I want to say something grand about these but I’m struggling. I don’t hate them, they are perfectly inoffensive but I can’t say I actually like them. In quantity they are more or less about where the bass is, a touch behind but nothing to worry about.

Highs: Well they are utterly inoffensive. That may be because they are basically absent. Still it’s better to do that than make the forward and have it ravage you ears. That’s sort of praise but somewhat feint and somewhat damming. Sticking on some Owl City it just sounds like half the song is gone. Like I said it is inoffensive so that’s something at least.

Soundstage: Adequate, reasonable fair but I’d expect that from an on rather than in ear.

Comfort: This will always be individual dependant but I had no problems. They do clamp a bit but then how else do you want them to attach to your head? I’m not sure I would maybe want then on me all day long but the idea doesn’t scare me either. Should be easily comfy enough to cope with any gym session that the rest of you can also cope with.

Fit: Super straight forward. Once you get the length right they just go on your head on your done. Cant imagine anyone is likely to have issue here.

Cable: None. I cold stop there but the very lack of a cable is why you may buy this. Now I get that it may sound silly, just how bothersome is a little bit of wire? Once you have tried wireless there is something amazingly freeing about it. If you haven’t tried it then you really have no idea what it is your missing. Like moving from glasses to contacts, you may never have minded the glasses but once they are gone suddenly they seem so intrusive. The no cable is the entire selling point of these things with a clear push to gym and exercise use. As a bit of a lazy chap I outsourced some gym use and their commentary will appear below. However even for me sat a desk, even simple things like getting up for a caffeine refill, so very, very handy not being plugged in. The freedom they give you is just fantastic and they have a range that meant I could get up, wander to the kitchen and it all kept going without skipping a beat. Love it.

Phone Use: Well I found out these have a mic and take calls when my phone rang. Best Bluetooth headset ever! I don’t know how well I came through the other side but my sister didn’t seem to realise I was on a headset. At first it was somewhat surreal but like with music, fantastically freeing. If you are someone who wants a Bluetooth headset but don’t like in ear things maybe this could be just the thing for you? Vocals came through nice and clear, by all accounts I was clearly audible too. Not sure how the mic being so far away would do with being in a noisy environment but seemed good to me. Tbh who actually makes phone calls anyway?

The controls were easy enough to use but the forward and back buttons seemed to work once then not again. I can’t say what the cause of this was so I’ll blame neither them and steer the blame to the more likely android.

Build Quality: Actually it feels okay, it’s a difficult thing to balance between make something super solid and making it light. To me it seems a pretty nice halfway but it may not please everyone. I can’t see any flaws and its looks nicely put together. The band internals are metal so in theory I’d expect it to take the odd collision or two pretty well but I don’t plan on testing it to destruction so it’s all supposition.

Isolation: None. Given these are aimed at sporty activity scenarios that’s probably a very good thing. For yours and everyone else’s safety.

Accessories: You get a few spare ear pads and the stupid proprietary changing cable that you will no doubt loose.

Value: Here I’m a bit conflicted. If we look at these simply from an audio quality perspective then these suck. They are expensive and sound pretty poor. These aren’t ordinary headphones though, that’s probably a big part in why they cost what they do too. These are rather meh sounding but the wireless is amazing in practical use. If you have never used it before then you really won’t grasp how spectacularly freeing that is. I don’t believe you really can get it either until you have tried it. Particularly for things like being in the gym or being all active and sporty it’s much more like having your own speaker system, just for you. Words can’t really express how freeing it is to be free to move with no cables in the way. So when it comes to value how important in that aspect to you?

Conclusion: I don’t know if I like these. I can’t say I like how they sound, looking at their price I can’t help but think hell to the no. For the money as a headphone you can do so much better. It isn’t really just a headphone though. The wireless aspect is great and probably makes the cost worth it if you do any sort of activity with them. It really is just so very freeing and makes it hard to go back to things with a wire. Sporty peeps, or at least people who would like the think they are sporty should love these. If you’re a jogger or whatnot how could you not love the no wires aspect. On AMP3’s website they even did a little video where they have a bunch of ladies doing a silent aerobics routine with a bunch of these. I’d like to see that tried with normal headphones!

These fulfil a role that normal things just can’t quite do and that makes them pretty appealing. Sure I’d like them to sound better and I did have high hopes. The apt-X branding and the quote from their site “The new SB2 Sportsband introduces the option of CD quality music performance over Bluetooth. It comes with apt-X on board, which cleans up, adds depth, bass and treble to your Bluetooth music with technical specifications matching that of CD quality output.” I can say this right now, this is no audiophile product. It’s not even close. Its selling point is that’s wireless, which is why you may buy one of these, nothing else and if I was in a gym or more sporty then I dare say I would have been even more appreciative of that aspect. Wireless as a concept is awesome plain and simple.

This is a sporty product for sporty people to do sporty things. If that sounds like you then they are a really useful way of getting music to your ears and you can take calls too. As a package it’s pretty decent. I wish I could be more praising of its sound quality but I cant, still it’s not like you can use the HD600’s for out jogging though can you?

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