Since I started running seriously in 2016 as part of a campaign to lose weight, my sweat has killed more than a dozen discount headphones. And I’ve lost count of how many had died before. There are moss-covered headstones in my personal headphone graveyard.
For me, the high-end headphone option turned out to be the more frugal option. At $20 to $30 a pair, discount headphones would drown in my sweat within two or three weeks. Or something else went wrong with them, whether it was one of the buds dying or the set’s charger deciding it would no longer charge.
Less than a year into that fitness kick, I decided to invest in higher end Jaybird wireless headphones: the X2s . I’d read they were on par with Bose and steadily rising in the wireless realm. They were $130 then. They’re $110 now. I’m barely surprised they’ve held their cost and value for so long.
I ran for many months with the X2s — all over Washington, D.C. — and I always ran out of air before they ran out of juice. That was one of my first favorite features: long battery life. Since I’d commute to the gym, mess around, hop out for a jog around Teddy Roosevelt Island, and then return to the gym for a shower before work, I needed a pair of headphones that would give me Bluetooth connectivity for three or four hours each morning, without needing a charge. The X2s delivered.
I’m not an audiophile but the sound quality was noticeably better, the base deeper and the treble crisper — Jaybird’s proprietory app lets you mess with dozens of equalizers, preset by them or by other users. The company’s Comply foam ear tips also changed the game for me. I no longer dealt with plastic or rubber tips that would slip out of my ear. These held in there, giving me the feel of full audio immersion — and yet with each pair of headphones I got both the Comply tips and the more traditional rubberized ones. The earbud wings enter the grooves of the ear and latch onto it, seamlessly keeping them in place without any discomfort. All around, wearing and running with the Jaybirds finally allowed me to focus on running only.
And then there was the most astounding feature: When my X2s finally died about seven months in, Jaybird gave me a new pair free of charge. That’s the deal you make with Jaybird when you opt in. And it’s the deal I needed. To this day, I sweat more than most people I know and anything I use or wear during my fitness must be able to handle that — whether it’s the shirt on my back or the phone in my hand. That’s why I later graduated to the Jaybird X3s and later to the X4s, which I’m currently wearing as I write this. I’ve killed each pair at least once, and each time have received the replacement without issue.
Will I always stay with Jaybirds? It’s hard to say —nothing’s forever. Whitson Gordon makes a good case for the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones, which I know are very popular and which my partner used to wear regularly. Also, well, Bose. Then of course there are the ubiquitous Powerbeats from Beats, which I see everywhere.
But this isn’t really about Jaybird, Bose, or Beats — it’s about the investment. I know not everyone can invest in headphones as they please (I certainly couldn’t until recently) and I don’t condone spending for the sake of spending. Rather, I think the quality and steadfastness of these higher end models is a result of their competitive standing. If you can shell out the upfront cost, it could end up saving you money in the long run — and allow you to run longer.
Scouted is internet shopping with a pulse. Follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter for even more recommendations and exclusive content. Please note that if you buy something featured in one of our posts, The Daily Beast may collect a share of sales.