Jaybird Run review: Jaybird's AirPods competitor is almost great

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The Good Wireless, sweatproof earphones that fit comfortably, securely and offer good sound quality. Battery life is adequate at 4 hours and you get two extra charges from the included charging case (a 5-minute charge gives you an hour of battery life). A companion app lets you adjust sound settings.

The Bad Some occasional interference issue cause sound glitches. Your ears can get a little itchy during extended periods of use.

The Bottom Line If you can overlook the small interference issues, Jaybird's totally wireless Run earphones offer a great fit and strong sound.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound 8
  • Value 7

Jaybird Run is a set of totally wireless earphones that are Jaybird's sports-oriented answer to Apple's AirPods ($1,985 at Walmart). They retail for $180 (£170, AU$249) -- or $20 more than the AirPods -- and come in white and black.

They're noise-isolating earphones, which means they're designed to fit snugly in your ears and seal out sound. To that end, Jaybird provides a few different sized sports fins and eartips, including two larger-sized tips with an oval shape.

I was able to get a secure, comfortable fit with the largest tips, and the earphones were relatively easy to pair with both an iPhone 6S ($210 at eBay) and a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. Jaybird has done a nice job ensuring that most people will not only be able to get a good seal but have these buds will stay in their ears during rigorous exercise.  

The charging case provides two extra charges.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Each sweatproof bud has a single button that's used to pause, play and skip tracks, answer and end calls and access Siri or Google's Voice assistant. There's also an app you can use to customize those button settings, as well the sound of the headphones (you can adjust bass, treble and midrange settings to your liking or go with the balanced default setting).

You can use a single bud for making calls and runners who want to be able to hear the outside world for safety reasons may also want to keep one ear open and use a single bud for music listening. I thought they performed decently as a headset for making calls.

Interference issue

Over the course of several weeks I tested 4 different pairs of the Jaybird Run. Why four? Well, when I tested an early review sample I encountered occasional Bluetooth hiccups while walking the busy streets of Manhattan. The left earbud would drop out for a second or two and go silent.

When I told Jaybird reps about it, they sent me another pair to test. Then another. And another. And a final pair that had been upgraded with the latest firmware that was supposed to fix the problem (owners of the Run have access to the same firmware upgrades).

Performance has definitely improved, but at certain intersections (28th St. and Madison Avenue and 28th St. and 6th Avenue, for instance), I still experienced little waves of interference. So not everything's perfect, but it has gotten better.

New York has a lot of wireless interference and it's notoriously problematic for wireless earphones. I've had problems with Bragi earphones and others. The AirPods rarely drop, but they aren't infallible. The same is true for Bose's Soundsport Free ($175 at eBay) earphones -- they're mostly glitch free, but once in a while I ran into some interference.