If you’re a collector of inspirational memorabilia, you may well have come across the “adventure begins at the end of your comfort zone” phrase, a slight skew on author Neale Donald Walsch’s motivational message. The gist of it is, of course, to encourage the trying of something new in life, but when it comes to headphones designed to accompany you on an athletic adventure, comfort is very much an enabler. Whether you’re trail running, road cycling or hitting your local gym’s weights, you’ll want a pair that will comfortably stay in your ears regardless of movement and sweat. And such focus is what predominantly separates sport models like these Jaybird Vista 2 from the rest of the earbuds market.
Many headphones brands – Bose, Sony and JBL, to name a few – have a fitness-focused pair of true wireless earbuds in their arsenals, and dedicated sport headphones connoisseurs Jaybird, now 15 years old, have unsurprisingly honed in on that burgeoning space.
Its Vista 2 are sequels to the originals we called “an ideal runner’s choice”, and are as dedicated an exercise accessory as the fitness watch you may have on your wrist. That all starts with their physical build.
Jaybird has clearly worked to make the Vista 2’s charging case as easy to transport as possible. The compact and curvaceously rectangular case is the ideal shape and size for shoving into the smallest pockets – whether that be of clothing, bags or running belts or vests. The form factor of the earbuds themselves, which securely nestle inside, has been similarly well considered too. The oval-shaped buds, roughly a finger-width wide, snuggle down into your ears just as easily as they do in the case, without needing much fussy twist-and-lock action, and the discreet wing helps them stay there during inevitable head movement. Three sizes of interchangeable eartips (or ‘Sport Eargels’, as Jaybird calls them) accommodate various ear types, too.
The earbuds’ IP68 rating makes them some of the most resilient to water and dust out there, with the code defined as dust-tight and able to survive being immersed in metre-deep water. We’re pleased that the charging case has a level of protection too: IP54-rated, it should handle exposure to dust and water splashes.
Those worried about dirtying either should perhaps consider the Black or Midnight Blue finishes as opposed to the Nimbus (read: light) grey one (as pictured), considering the outer earbud housing is fabric. This does give them a premium look and tactile feel that helps with on-bud control (more on that later), and Jaybird says this ‘WindDefense’ fabric aids clearer voice pick-up during calls too.
Active noise cancellation (ANC) is increasingly becoming a tick-box feature for true wireless earbuds at this price point, and may be a welcome feature here for those who like to isolate themselves in music during their workouts – not least as it does the job of blocking out sound pretty well. Sensibly for the nature of these headphones, Jaybird’s SurroundSense mode is also present. It’s designed to let noise into the earbuds so that you can be aware of external noises if you wish – handy if you’re, say, cycling through a congested area.
You can cycle through ANC and SurroundSense modes by double-tapping either earbud, and thankfully that’s the only touch-sensitive action. The earbuds’ fabric panel is also a button that you can press once, twice or hold-press to pause, change track or adjust volume – and we find that pressing in a physical button, rather than having to be precise with a touch action, makes them a lot easier to control while exercising. You can assign different button presses on each earbud to different controls in the companion Jaybird app, which is also your go-to for EQ adjustment (there are presets created by athletes or you can create your own), the ‘find your buds’ discovery feature (if you misplace your buds), or simply spying earbud and case battery status.
Speaking of which, the earbuds’ battery life is a very reasonable eight hours (or six when ANC or SurroundSense is activated). The charging case is also able to hold two full charges, too, bringing total battery life to a competitive, industry-par 24 hours. Recharging the case via its USB-C socket takes around two hours (wirelessly charging it through a Qi-compatible charger takes longer), but, playing into the hands of forgetful folk, just a five-minute re-juice can provide an hour of playback.
All this makes for a promising package, and one that thankfully doesn’t let itself down in the sound department. We’re pleased Jaybird has stuck with the original Vista's immediately likeable sonic character, which is clear, upfront, energetic and on the right side of refined. In other words, rightfully geared towards keeping you motivated during your exercise.
Play GUNSHIP’s When You Grow Up, Your Heart Dies – a very 1980s-inspired, synth-soaked hit from the British synthwave band – and the Jaybirds lap up the intention behind the giddy electronica. It comes through clean and direct with plenty of punch, but the presentation has the refinement and depth for it not to sound too in your face. The Vista 2 are pretty well balanced too, with the low-end full and lush but not overbearingly so in their ‘flat’ EQ setting. The mids are equally present and filled out with decent levels of detail, while the treble doesn’t shy away on either front. Those who like bass to carry them through their workouts are catered for with varying EQ presets, such as ‘Bring The Bass’, offered in the app, though we prefer a more neutral balance.
Battery life 24-hours
USB-C charging Yes
Waterproof rating IP68 (buds), IP54 (case)
App support Yes
While the Vista 2 are enjoyable to listen to, we can't help but hanker for greater subtlety from their presentation. It’s what we found with the Bose Sport Earbuds, which tick the boxes when it comes to bass, clarity and zest (and are a little more spacious than the Jaybirds) but could do with more expression – especially in the midrange. The Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 aren’t sport-focused and therefore do not benefit from the extra care Jaybird has taken to make its Vista 2 fitness friendly, but they do offer considerably more insight into a piece of music. Their greater texture and dynamic transparency, coupled with more instrument separation, make for a much more compelling rendition of anything you feed them – synthwave, classical or otherwise.
We don’t expect a sporty pair to be sonically on par with non-sporty class leaders at the same price – that would be like expecting a champion heptathlete to throw just as far as a champion shot-putter – but to truly recommend it we do expect it to get a little closer to that level than the Jaybirds do.
As it stands, the Jaybird Vista 2 are very solid, if not special, entrants into the sport wireless earbuds market, thanks to their dependable, secure and comfortable design, decent noise cancelling and energetic sound. Whether your athletic adventure begins at the beginning, middle or end of your comfort zone, they will make for decent sport (ear) buddies.
- Sound 4
- Features 5
- Build 5
Read our review of the Bose Sport Earbuds
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