Jaybird Bluebuds X are not sweat proof

I purchased my first set of Jaybird Bluebuds X in June 2014 as the headphones were advertised with a lifetime guarantee against sweat, feature 8 hour battery life and provide a secure fit in both under-ear and over-ear. The wireless bluetooth feature was equally appealing, as I was looking for minimalistic headphones for running.

Before I go into the issues with the Bluebuds, a couple of points to note:

  • The over-ear fit is great, but the ear-buds do not fit well at all. I eventually managed to find Comply S-500 which provided a perfect fit.
  • The bluetooth connectivity was certainly better than the Jaybird Freesprint as I could put my iPod Nano in my running shorts back-pocket and had good reception (the Freesprint failed in this).
  • The battery life is great, and I can not recall ever running out of power.
  • Wireless is great as I hate cables when running

Now back to the problems – the first set (which were white Bluebuds) lasted not more than 2 weeks and suddenly stopped working mid run during a 10km run. On the surface it looked like the device ran out of power and when connecting the USB cable to my MacBook, it charged with the red charging light on, but would not turn on. I returned it, and the sales-rep managed to reset the device, but decided to replace it with a new one.

Jaybird Bluebuds X - quality issues

Jaybird Bluebuds X – quality issues

The 2nd set (also white Bluebuds) lasted another 2 weeks and started failing around 9th August 2014. This set did not want to charge and was outright dead. I returned it and since I was the only one having issues with the white version, the sales rep suggested I should try the black version. I was also told that I am the only customer reporting issues (which is not the sentiment I read on online blogs such as CarltonBale and Amazon).

The 3rd (this time black Bluebuds) lasted until 6th September 2014 and stopped working 20 minutes into a 6km run. After getting home, I connected the USB charging cable and the device started to charge with the red LED on. The device did not complete charging for another 10 hours and I then unplugged it from my MacBook. The Bluebuds red charging light remained on, although it was unplugged and the headphones would not reset or turn off or on. By the following morning, the battery of the headphones ran empty and subsequently plugging into my Mac did not even charge the device (i.e. the red charging light would not even light up).

I personally think that it is very unlikely, that I have managed to get hold of 3 faulty units, and I am starting to think that the Bluebuds are prone to failure when exposed to sweat from even moderate sporting activities. I am not sure why, especially since Jaybird markets the headphones with a life-time sweat guarantee, and considering how many years Jaybird has been around, I would think that such a guarantee was truly based on the quality of the product.

I also doubt that my usage behaviour is unnatural – I run every day for 6-12km and as part of that moderately sweat. Having the dry winter season in South Africa, I was not even exposed to rain during my runs, and just from the current experience, I doubt that Bluebuds would withstand rainfall, considering that the headphones already fail during short runs.

I have not received a formal comment from Jaybird or the local supplier regarding the actual fault, but the feedback from other users seems to strongly suggest that Jaybird Bluebuds will fail when exposed to sweat during sport-activities, which makes expensive headphones like the Bluebuds really a pointless purchase.

For the time being I am running with my old Sennheiser OCX 685i (not a great fit, but with those I ran during heavy rain, without ever having issues) I am now running with Philips ActionFit Sports Earhook Headphones and I am waiting for the FreeWavz from Kickstarter.

Factory reset of Jaybird Bluebuds X

I could never get the Bluebuds to reset as all of the headphones I had pretty much died and the procedure below did not work, but as a last resort, this might be a viable option if you have issues:

  • To perform a factory reset on your headset you will first need to get it into pairing mode by holding down the middle power button for at least 8-10 seconds until you get the alternating flashing RED and GREEN lights.
  • Once in pairing mode, press and hold both the volume + and volume – keys ( for about 8-10 seconds) at the same time until you see an orange flash and a beep.
  • They should power off at this point with no further lights.
  • This will reset them to factory condition wiping out any software issues and allow them to operate normally again.
  • Now that they have been reset, you will now have to delete the profile from your device and re-connect them like new since the reset will delete any info they remembered.

If you are a Bluebuds X user: Please post in the comment section the type activity you do (i.e. daily 10km run at 4:30min/km) and what type of issues (if any) you had with the Jaybird Bluebuds.

Update 2014-09-14: Heard back from my retailer, and they will give me the 4th set of BlueBuds X next week.

Update 2014-10-11: I have received my 4th set of BlueBuds X (this time white edition).

Update 2014-10-17: Headset is still going. Battery life is certainly less than 8 hours. I fully charged on 11th October, did five 30 minute runs and the headset needed to be recharged on 16th October.

Update 2014-11-05: I have been running for the last few weeks without any issues. I did the longest run at 1:59 (half-marathon) over the weekend and the Jaybirds were holding up without any issue. I am now not sure what to think of it. Having 3 sets failing so quickly seems to almost indicate a manufacturing fault or lack of quality control.

Update 2014-11-30: The 4th set has just died. When turning the head-phones on for my morning run, the Jaybirds did not turn on. Despite the device being fully charged, I could not pair it or reset it.

Update 2016-10-26: I am surprised at how many consumers continue to raise the same issues in the comment section. My 2 year old wired Philips Action Fit still work and I wear them daily for my morning run. Those Philips have been through heavy rain and have been soaked several times in the last 700 runs. Just fascinating how Jaybirds X2 show the same problem.

Update 2017-03-23: Today I learned that Jaybird has blocked my access to their Twitter page. This probably happened quite some time ago and speaks volume about Jaybird’s ethics when it comes to critical reviews.

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