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Jaybird Tarah review: Cheapest Jaybird headphones may have everything you need

Jaybird's entry-level wireless sports headphone has seen some discounts. At its sale price it's a good value.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

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Jaybird's $100 (£90, $AU150) Tarah is the entry-level model in its 2018-2019 line of wireless sports headphones, which also includes the X4 ($130, £90, AU$190) and Tarah Pro ($160, AU$230, no UK pricing yet). 

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7.9

Jaybird Tarah

The Good

The Jaybird Tarah wireless sports headphones fit comfortably and securely, are fully waterproof and sound good. The inline remote is slim and lightweight and the companion app is well designed and allows you to tweak the sound.

The Bad

It has a proprietary charging cable, so if you lose it, you can't charge the headphones. There's no carrying pouch included. Battery life is only average.

The Bottom Line

If you can pick up the nicely designed and good sounding Jaybird Tarah at a little bit of a discount, it'll make up for some of its small shortcomings.

What's a little confusing is the headphones look pretty similar -- and all of them feature Jaybird's new buds and fins that provide a more secure and comfortable fit. However, they do have their differences.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Let's start from the top and work our way down. The higher-end Tarah Pro is supposed to be the best of the bunch, boasting an impressive 14 hours of battery life, magnets in the buds (so they can form a closed "necklace" instead of loosely dangling when not in use) and a "no stick" fabric cord that's reflective in case you happen to be running at night, as well as a couple of other small upgrades. The X4 doesn't have the magnets or the fabric cord, but its battery life is rated at 8 hours -- 2 hours better than the Tarah. The X4, like the Tarah Pro, also comes with a carrying pouch while the Tarah, reviewed here, doesn't.   

Otherwise the Tarah's core specs are similar to its siblings. Not only is the Tarah sweatproof but Jaybird says it's fully water resistant, with an IPX7 rating, meaning it can be fully submersed to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. There's also a fast-charge feature that gives you 1 hour of play time from a 10-minute charge.

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What you get in the box.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With this type of headphone it's important to get a tight seal to maximize sound quality and not lose any bass, and to that end, Jaybird has included new tips and fins that promise a more comfortable, secure fit. While the step-up X4 includes new "exclusive-to-Jaybird" Comply Ultra foam tips, however, they're not included with the Tarah. That's not a huge deal -- I was more disappointed that the Tarah doesn't come with a carrying pouch.

Thankfully Jaybird has a new cord management system called Speed Cinch that makes it easy to adjust the cord length. There's also a new app that allows you to tweak the headphone's sound and set the headphones to automatically turn off after 15 or 60 minutes when not in use (I set it at 60).

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The earphones are firmware upgradeable (I upgraded them once) and I had no problem pairing and repairing them. I thought wireless performance was good and making calls with them worked relatively well, though don't expect a business-class experience.

Like previous Jaybird headphones -- and its other new headphones -- the Tarah comes with a proprietary charging cable. It allows Jaybird's engineers to take some of the electronics out of the inline remote and slim it down, which is a good thing (a lighter remote bothers you less while running). But if you lose the charging cable you can't charge the headphones and you'll have to call Jaybird's customer service to acquire a new one. Also, because this headphone doesn't come with a cheap carrying pouch -- OK, I said it again -- you'll have to come up with your own solution for storing the charging cable with the headphones.

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The proprietary charging cable.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Aside from those small quibbles and the less-than-stellar battery life, the Tarah is a very good wireless sports headphone. While the Tarah Pro may sound slightly richer, I actually got a better fit from the Tarah and liked its sound better as a result (the Tarah Pro's buds are bigger and just didn't fit my ears as well). With decent clarity and meaty enough bass, the Tarah's sound should satisfy most runners and gym users. It works just fine as an everyday headphone.

As I told Jaybird reps when the headphone first launched, the Tarah needed to cost about $20-$30 less to compete with the ever-expanding selection of wireless sports headphones flooding the market. In other words, it's a tad expensive at $100 (and so too are the X4 are Tarah Pro at their respective prices). In recent weeks, I have seen it discounted by $20 and it's easier to fully recommend at that price. Even so, I still think it should come with a carrying pouch.

Jaybird Tarah wireless sports headphones

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Jaybird Tarah specs

  • Sweatproof
  • IPX7 water resistance rating (can be submerged down to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes)
  • New buds and fins provide improved comfort and ergonomics
  • Speed Cinch cord management system
  • 6 hours of battery life
  • Fast charge feature gives you 1 hour of battery life from a 10-minute charge
  • Slim and light weight controller
  • Customize bass and treble settings in Jaybird app

  • Available in three color combinations

jaybird-tarah
7.9

Jaybird Tarah

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 8Value 7
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