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IPX7 and military-grade durability
Sporty design and fit
Well-designed, full-featured app
Sound is nothing special
Somewhat limiting battery life
A little overpriced
These earbuds are for sporty listeners first and foremost, but they won’t win over the audiophiles.
Jaybird provided us with a review unit for one of our writers to test. Read on for their full take.
When Bluetooth earbuds were still largely tethered together with a single wire, Jaybird was one of the top names in the game, especially if you wanted sporty headphones. The Jaybird Vista true wireless earbuds are the company’s first foray into the “no wires” space, and they present an interesting argument to go with them over other premium brands.
In essence, that argument is that these are rugged and sporty, keeping with the Jaybird name. And that’s not just marketing promises—Jaybird has managed to get some serious durability ratings and has built a pair of earbuds that look and feel stable.
Where they lack is in some of the other bells and whistles: there’s no active noise cancellation, the Bluetooth connectivity can be quirky, and even the sound isn’t the best I’ve heard. But for this category, that might not be an issue for you. I got a pair of Vistas in black to see just how well-built these earbuds are.
A few years back, I was able to review Jaybird’s X series of single-wire, Bluetooth earbuds, and I gave them pretty high marks. A big part of that is their look, and the Jaybird Vistas bring that design language very nicely into true wireless earbuds.
At first glance, wth the case closed, the earbuds look like a standard, soft-touch, matte black with a slightly lighter-gray Jaybird logo printed onto the case and the buds. Even the ear wing that hooks these in place is smaller and less spread out than other brands. The chassis is a squared-off, ellipse shape that makes these earbuds look quite a bit different than the often-round buds from competitors. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing—they look unique but are still understated enough to not be obnoxious.
Lifewire / Jason Schneider
They are available in an earthy turquoise color (Jaybird calls it Mineral Blue) that makes a bit more of a statement. The only element of these earbuds that could be considered visually “loud” is the bright pop of yellow you see dominating the inside of the charging case. It’s a fun little surprise when you open it, but I can’t help but wonder why the brand didn’t put a nod to this color on the earbuds themselves. It’s not a big deal, but while these do look sporty from a shape standpoint, the colors aren’t quite as bright as you’d expect from the category.
I’ve written enough true wireless earbud reviews to know pretty well what fit works for my ears. This category can be very subjective, so it’s important to take any diagnosis from a hands-on reviewer (including me) with a grain of salt.
To my ears, the Jaybird Vistas are just too tight. This isn’t an issue of ear tip sizing (there are a few sizes included in the box), but rather with the shape and angle that the ear wings force the earbuds to sit in your ears. Because the enclosures are longer and elliptical in shape (instead of perfectly round), the wings actually push the earbuds pretty far into your ears.
For some, this means stability and really great passive noise cancellation. For me, it just feels too tight to wear them for a long time, casually. On the other hand, they would be perfect if working out is your main focus. I normally like an ear-wing design, because it ensures they won’t fall out of your ear and roll down the street.
It makes sense that Jaybird would put a lot of eggs into this basket—the buds are marketed as sporty and outdoors-friendly headphones. The soft silicon Jaybird uses is also pretty nice on your skin. In short, if a tight fit isn’t offensive to you, these are a solid choice on the comfort front.
With so many true wireless earbuds permeating our market right now, you really have to find a specific category to stand out in. Some brands go all in on sound quality, while others go for extra features like insane battery life or ANC. Jaybird is doubling down on durability with the Vistas.
What’s extra important here is the military standards Jaybird has shelled out for. In average terms, this means the earbuds passed repeated shock, drop, and crush tests.
First up is the water resistance. The official rating the Vistas scored is IPX7, which is the best you can expect from the true wireless category and offers plenty of protection against moisture (even being submerged in a bit of water). For sport-specific earbuds, this is the bare minimum in my book, because you’ll likely be throwing a lot of sweat at the earbuds.
What’s extra important here is the military standards Jaybird has shelled out for (specifically MIL-STD 810G). In average terms, this means the earbuds passed repeated shock, drop, and crush tests, while also withstanding tropical humidity, hurricane-force water conditions, and even sandstorm conditions. This is all covered on Jaybird’s “#earthproof” page, and it bodes very well for the longevity of your purchase here.
Anecdotally, I can say that the earbuds feel rugged. Sure, I didn’t set up a cliff-side tend at 6,000 feet for the night, but I did wear them around in the winter cold (and sleet) for a few walks and they held up great. The earbuds themselves are solid from a build quality perspective, obviously, but the case, while not “cheap” doesn’t feel like it has quite the attention to detail as other premium offerings.
Jaybird has always leaned toward a nuts-and-bolts approach to sound quality, and that is certainly the case with the Jaybird Vistas. That doesn't mean you should count out the Vistas on sound quality alone—I generally really like the measured sound profile you’ll get with the brand.
You aren’t getting any fancy digital signal processing, no big-name audio brand, and certainly no fancy codecs. In practice this makes the earbuds sound a tad flat, though I’m impressed with how much power they provide with only 6mm drivers.
But there’s not a great deal of clarity and soundstage to speak of here. Instead, you’ll get solid-sounding earbuds, with enough bass for top 40 and enough detail for podcasts.
The spec sheet is in keeping with headphones at the price point: about 103dB of sensitivity, 23 ohms of impedance, a frequency response of 20Hz–20kHz, and a reasonably low amount of harmonic distortion. But you aren’t getting any fancy digital signal processing, no big-name audio brand, and certainly no fancy codecs (SBC is the only protocol available here). In practice this makes the earbuds sound a tad flat, though I’m impressed with how much power they provide with only 6mm drivers.
There is a degree of control using the accompanying app, allowing you to customize your EQ settings a bit, and this does help mold things a little better. But don’t buy these earbuds if sound quality is your number one priority.
The Jaybird Vistas offer about 6 hours of playback time, with an additional 10 using the battery case—at least according to their spec sheet. Battery life is another one of those things that really varies based on your usage, but these numbers aren’t the best I’ve seen.
In 2021, you really need at least 20 hours of total time (including the battery case) to make them viable for everyday use. That isn’t to say these headphones have the worst battery life out there, but they don’t provide anywhere near the best either.
The USB-C charging port on the battery case does allow for an hour of playback time with just about 5 minutes on the charger. This is important for the slightly lower battery life of the earbuds because, if they do die on you, they’ll get some juice quickly.
Overall, I’m coming out on the negative side for this category—with a long, rectangular case as big as this one and earbuds that don’t offer ANC anyway, I was really hoping for a bigger battery.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this category is yet another one where Jaybird doesn’t seem to be swinging big. Bluetooth 5.0 is admittedly solid for connectivity, but that’s expected from modern earbuds. The requisite headset profiles are here, and the Class 2 standard range of around 30 feet is good, too.
For the most part, once the earbuds are connected, the connection feels stable and without issue. Where I ran into most of my issues, oddly, was when I connected the earbuds the first time. Unlike most headphones in this category, you have to manually put the earbuds into pairing mode, even the first time you connect.
This seems like a relatively simple process of putting the buds into the case and holding the pairing button. But, because my earbuds didn’t have enough charge, this trapped them in an infinite pairing mode. Plugging them in for 20 minutes and then unplugging them pulled them out of this trance, and then I was able to connect them. However, this isn’t the best experience for headphone users right out of the gate, especially at this price point.
Interestingly, Jaybird has chosen to opt for push-button controls rather than touch options for these earbuds. Each earbud has a large button covering the whole outside of the chassis, and pressing it allows you to access some basic controls like pausing/playing and answering calls. This feels awkward in practice because the buttons are kind of hard to press, meaning you press the earbuds even farther into your ear when using the button.
Control capabilities do extend quite a bit with the app. There are tons of EQ presets, Spotify and music syncing capabilities, a means to locate lost earbuds, and more. It’s nice to see professional care going into an app, especially when the on-board controls are so limited.
One last extra, which is a minor one, is the shoelace-style strap on the case. Many true wireless battery cases don’t provide a means right out of the box to attach the case to a backpack. The Vistas include this feature, which makes sense because they are billed as outdoors-first headphones. It’s a minor addition that really expands the on-the-go functionality.
Control capabilities do extend quite a bit with the app. There are tons of EQ presets, Spotify and music syncing capabilities, a means to locate lost earbuds, and more.
The Jaybird Vistas go for right about $150. This price point isn’t at the top of the market, but it by no means places the Vistas into the “affordable” side of the market. The headphones are probably priced highly due to the manufacturing requirements of all the durability ratings.
So, if durability and ruggedness is your first priority, then the price tag might be worth it. But for the average listener who demands modern features like less lossy codecs, ANC, and really good sound quality, the price might not justify the product here.
The latest sport earbuds from Bose bring a lot of workout-friendly features right along with them—things like sporty colors, IPX4 water resistance, stable fit, and touch controls. In general, you can expect the Bose sound profile to beat the Vistas, but the Vistas have the clear edge with much higher water resistance and durability scores. For around the same price, the tradeoff is up to the buyer, and the choice is clear once you weigh your needs.
Insanely rugged earbuds with barebones specs.
The obvious name of the game with the Jaybird Vistas is durability. Military-grade specifications and IPX7 water resistance means that these headphones shouldn’t fail on you for a long, long time. But does that justify a price point approaching $200? That really depends. You won’t find ANC or the best battery life here, but you will find decent sound, sporty design, and a very stable fit. The decision ultimately comes down to your lifestyle, and if you’re a runner, hiker, or just live in a really rainy area, the Vistas should be on your list for consideration.
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