JBuds Air or Jaybird Tarah – Which $50 Headphone’s Best For Workout? One of the many complaints that people have when exercising is that it’s too boring. Exhausting, sure, but also boring nonetheless. Doing that extra rep or running for another mile is already a draining job. And without some extra stimulation, workouts can feel more like ‘work’ than you’d like.
That’s why many fitness buffs come up with ways to spice up their routines. Some modify their exercise regimes, such as jogging in different routes every day. Others opt to bring along gym buddies to motivate them and to have some conversations during their breaks. In particular, many exercisers seem to favor one method to break the monotony. Listening to music.
An article by physiologists in the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website notes the benefit of exercising to some tunes. They acknowledged that music amped up physical performance and increased one’s endurance. This happened thanks to decreasing the perceived exertion of people who listened to music. In short, you push yourself for longer when you workout with music.
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Of course, having the right tools can make a task much easier. In this case, that means using the right headphones. However, famous brands on Amazon such as Bose Soundsport and Jabra Elite come with hefty price tags. So is it still possible to have quality sounds at an affordable price?
Definitely! There’s plenty of sports headphones for people on a budget. Two of them are prominent enough to feature on lots of recommendation lists. These are the JLab JBuds Air True Wireless and Jaybird Tarah Wireless Sport Headphones. At 50 USD each, both are sure to enhance your workout quality while also not burning your wallet. But figuring out which one to get can be tricky if you’re only hearing about them for the first time. So let’s go through the aspects of each headphone to see which is better!
First thing we have to take a look at is each headphone’s design. This includes their appearance and shape. Do they come built in some sleek look that ties into their function? Will they hold when fitted to your ears or do they slip? Are they comfortable to wear? And what materials are they made of?
Photo Credit by JLAB Store
(Item info reference: TechRadar)
The JLab JBuds Air earbuds are modern in the sense that they’re completely wireless. That means you won’t need to connect a headphone jack to your phone. Although this does mean that you’ll be using your smartphone’s Bluetooth feature to play audio through the JBuds. When fully charged the JBuds Air carries 10 hours of time before they run out of battery life. In contrast, that number plummets down to 3 hours if you use the buds continuously.
The JBuds Air comes packaged in a pill-shaped case which they magnetically snap into when stored. The case also contains a USB charging cable that’s used to charge the JBuds when not in use. The cable can be pushed into a recessed compartment to save space as well. This comes in handy when you have to reload your earphones on the go. But be sure to handle it with care, as the cable is a tad sensitive to being damaged.
Plastic and rubber are the dominant materials used with the JBuds. They’re also light at 6 grams only. Both those traits make the JBuds unlikely to be affected by intense exercise. The drawback there is that these headphones have a tendency to become uncomfortable with prolonged use.
Photo Credit by Jaybird
(Item info reference: CNET)
Similar to JBuds, the Jaybird Tarah Sport is another wireless headset. The stark difference comes in with the Tarah’s built-in remote. It’s lightweight enough to not be a bother, and allows volume adjustment with a quick press of its buttons.
The remote cord could be off putting for some, but the Tarah comes with a feature called the “Speed Cinch”. The Speed Cinch is a part of the wire that allows for manual control over the wire length. With this you’ll never have to worry about trivial annoyances like your earbuds flopping around your back.
Another advantage of the Tarah over its competitors is its comfiness. The Jaybird comes packaged with a set of differently-sized earbud covers which you can swap onto the headphones. These parts will ensure that Tarah’s users won’t have any issues with prolonged use.
And now we come to the downsides. Unlike the JBuds the Jaybird Tarah doesn’t come with its own case. That means purchasing a case separately if you want one. Additionally, it does have a short charging time of 10 minutes plugged in to get an hour of life. But the battery life is also less than stellar, maxing at 6 hours total. Expect to be charging this thing often.
Another important factor is the degree of each headset. Their resistance to sweat or motion is what separates sports headphones from regular headphones. With that in mind, let’s check how resilient the JBuds and JBird are when stacked against each other.
Photo Credit by JLAB Audio
(Item info reference: SoundGuys)
Many Bluetooth headphones are geared towards athletes and fitness fans. In this regard, JLabs stands out from the crowd for being an official partner of Major League Soccer. Their standing commitment of producing headphones for active people shows in the JBuds air as well.
Bainbridge Technologies defines IP rating as a piece of tech’s capability to weather dust and water before losing function. The JBuds Air scores above average on that scale, having an IP55 rating. That translates to these headphones blocking the entry of all but the smallest of dust particles. As for liquids, JBuds are capable of guarding against sweat and low pressure streams of water alike. Despite that they aren’t completely waterproof, so avoid directly dipping them underwater.
Comparatively, the USB charging cable is more fragile than the earbuds themselves. Regardless, Soundguys reports that it’s been tested to bend 10,000 times before it starts to wear down.
Last and most importantly, the JBuds Air True Wireless are designed with exercise in mind. Their large frame and bulb shape are tailor-made to stop your earphones from falling down while moving. Take good care of them and the JBud Air will stay with you for a long time.
Jaybird Tarah Wireless Sport Headphones – Durability
Photo Credit by Imogen Hargreaves
(Item info reference: Best Buy)
Moreover, the Jaybird Tarah also boasts the characteristic sweatproof toughness that other sports headsets flaunt. It has better water proofing than its peers though, thanks to its IPX7 rating.
CoolStuffsHub explained the meaning of replacing a digit in an IP rating with an X. If an X is present, it means that the manufacturer hasn’t tested their product’s durability against solid or liquids. In the case of the Tarah, the first digit’s the one that’s been removed. That means that the Jaybird didn’t subject the Tarah to dust or particle resistance tests.
However that doesn’t necessarily translate to the Jaybird being a flimsy headset. Conversely, it could very well be the opposite. CoolStuffsHub pointed out that a high waterproof rating could translate to a high degree of dust protection as well. That very much applies to the Tarah.
A ‘7’ allows the Jaybird Tarah to survive submersion in water up to one meter deep. This effect applies for 30 minutes before water starts to seep in. However that doesn’t mean you can swim with these earbuds though, because that disrupts the Bluetooth function. On the other hand, jogging in the rain will never be a problem if you have a pair of Tarahs.
The next attribute to consider is sound specs. Familiar lyrics can have a very different feel to them whenever the slightest changes are made. Examples of that are removing any environment noises or cranking up the bass. Ultimately, different headphones change the essence of music depending on their audio quality.
JLab JBuds Air True Wireless – Audio
Photo Credit by Mike Shouts
(Item info reference: PCMag)
SoundGuys defines Equalization or EQ as changing the frequencies of music to different modes to get what you want. JLabs focused on this function so that different users are able to alter their audio to meet their needs. To that extent, these earbuds have 3 different sound settings.
Bass boost mode is the strongest of the three, which muffles instrumentals the most and somewhat distorts the audio. This mode is most appealing for anyone rearing to pump themselves up with loud, forceful music like rock or metal. Secondly, signature mode is good for bringing low to mid sounds to the foreground alongside an artist’s vocals. Finally, the balanced mode crafts a crisp blend of vocals and background music, both not overpowering the other. Shifting between each setting is done by clicking the built-in button on the earbuds 3 times.
Nevertheless, it should be stressed that the JBuds Air are chiefly made for bass-lovers. Bass sounds will always be jacked up no matter which mode you’re on, even on balanced mode. That makes Jbuds impractical for genres like jazz or classical as the bass will drown out any lower register sounds. Still, the JBuds Air remains a good choice for anybody craving powerful beats for their training.
Jaybird Tarah Wireless Sport Headphones – Audio
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The Tarah Sport is relatively similar to the JBuds in the audio department. Songs with precise, multiple levels of music aren’t as rich they could be. In lieu of finesse, the Jaybird Tarah offers striking bass and pronounced highs while snuffing out weaker sounds.
The Jaybird Tarah really sets its audio apart from others through its app, named Jaybird Mysound. Mysound lets you create your own EQ presets and apply them to different Jaybird headsets, including the Tarah. You can customize the settings to be as high, as low or as balanced as you want. You can even check out presets made by other people if you don’t want to make your own!
The versatility of the Jaybird Tarah does have a price though. The audio becomes noticeably clunky when using these earbuds at high volumes, but thankfully that doesn’t apply to medium settings. Feel free to experiment yourself using the app to adjust the Tarah’s output to your liking.
Headphone Extra Features
And now to cover the rest of the stuff we’ve glossed over in the previous sections. What other features do the JBuds and the Jaybird have that make them distinct from one another?
JLab JBuds Air True Wireless – Extra Features
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Setting up the JBuds Air is only a hassle for the first time. After your initial pairing, powering them on is as simple as removing them from their case. Once they’re out, they connect to each other then to your phone in an instant. Shutting them off is done by doing the opposite. Just return them to their case, fitting the R and L earbud to their specified holes. You can take them up to 30 feet away from your phone before losing your connection.
The case also displays how much battery you have left via lights on the outside. You can charge the case itself for 2 hours to use it as a portable charger for 18 hours. Even without a nearby wall socket, the case will let you recharge the JBuds anywhere and anytime.
Now onto the matter of controls. Though lacking an app, the JBuds do have their own controls in the form of one button on each earbud. These let you change the volume and move to another song in a playlist. Reviewers such as Wired do note that the buttons are a bit hard to press though.
The JBuds also allow you to make phone calls or activate voice assistants like Siri. However, the speaker and output audio are only located on the right bud. It’s disorienting, but if you’re able to acclimate then it’ll prove to be a nifty if underdeveloped feature.
If these buds have any redeeming quality, it’s their noise proofing. Their in-ear design blocks sounds from reaching your ears whenever you pop the JBuds on. It’s a big help to prevent distractions while you exercise. You’d also do well to pay attention to your surroundings to avoid any possible accidents.
The JBuds Air comes in black or white colors. Not too much variety there, as the JLabs favored a functional aesthetic for these earbuds.
Jaybird Tarah Wireless Sport Headphones – Extra Features
Photo Credit by CNet
Build-wise, the Jaybird Tarah Sport drew inspiration from the Jaybird X4. The Tarah offers a more fun, playful shape than the modern look of the X4. Their differences are also evident with the shape of the Tarah’s remote. It’s slightly larger and square-shaped than its forerunner cousin, which makes it easier to press the buttons.
Speaking of pushing buttons, the Tarah Sport can do that too! Like any headphone these days, the Tarah’s remote lets you interface with your phone. You can pause tracks, skip to another song or change the volume level. A minor setback does pop up with this headset though. TechSpot noticed that when shifting songs, the Tarah Sport cuts off the initial part of each track. Keep that in mind if the songs you listen to have vocals or important parts in their onset.
The microphone on the remote adds even more functionality to the Tarah. It allows you to receive and answer calls, as well as activate voice assistants in similar fashion with the JBuds. This isn’t really a standout feature though, as the mike doesn’t have the best quality out there. It’s good enough to get the job done, but the Jaybird Tarah is a sport headphone first and foremost.
To iterate a point from earlier, the Tarah Sports Earbuds are ridiculously comfy. The tips of these earbuds are shallow. They don’t enter your ear canal deeply, and yet the attached stability fins keep your Tarah glued to your ears. The compromise here is that the bud covers and fins are combined into one part called “eargels”. This design choice prevents the wider adjustment options a user would have if those parts had been kept separate.
Another neat perk you’d get with the Jaybird is the versatile app. We’ve already mentioned its main function in editing your Tarah’s EQ, but that’s not all it’s capable of. It also has a feature to locate your earbuds in case they go missing. Not only that, but MySound has a Spotify player for premium users. With this app you could also play around with the settings of your Tarah. This includes picking what the main control button does or changing how much time before the earbuds automatically turn off.
Sadly, like the JBuds the Jaybird Tarah is only available in two colors: black and white gray. Each version comes with a differently colored green accent at the top though, which makes their look slightly more appealing.
Which headphone trumps the other?
This is a hard question to answer. Both headsets are on the cheaper end of the spectrum for wireless headphones. Both only sell for $50 on Amazon, so neither of them will significantly dent your finances. That said, both are still quality sports headsets that any physically active person could enjoy. It just so happens that each of them specialize in different things.
JBuds takes the cake design-wise.
It comes with its own case that performs a variety of functions and it isolates noise. Jaybird’s Tarah, while colorful, does not come with its own case and isn’t as good at keeping unwanted sounds away.
JLab’s JBuds Air also reigns supreme in terms of its battery life.
The Tarah Sport caps out at 6 hours. It is true that the JBuds only normally last for 3 hours. However, that only applies for constant usage. JBuds can reach up to 10 hours if you take breaks mid-workout to turn them off.
The JBuds Air True Wireless wins for charge time too.
JLabs and Jaybird made these two headsets to charge fast. To gain 1 hour of life, the Tarah needs 10 minutes of charging. The official JBuds page says that the buds can also last for an hour, albeit with 15 minutes of charging. What makes the JBuds superior is their trademark case. It can carry 18 extra hours of charge. It also displays the charge level of the JBuds whenever the buds are stored inside.
The opposing Jaybird Tarah Sport has better controls and ease of use than the JBuds.
The JBuds have their quick start feature that automatically turns the buds on and pairs them to your phone. That boon hardly matters when you take into account how difficult the controls are. The buttons need to be pressed hard to work, and the controls take time to learn. Meanwhile the Tarah’s buttons are bigger, easily understandable and the main button’s function can be changed using the MySound app.
Tarah also nabs the gold when it comes to comfort.
Many tech sites like SoundGuys and TechRadar said that the buds cause some discomfort before long. On the other hand, Tarah’s eargels have been made with comfort in mind. Their design removes any ear pain you might get from wearing them for long periods. The built-in wire adjuster also helps to avoid any unnecessary cord snagging or flapping.
The Jaybird Tarah is also the undisputed champ of the audio contest.
The Tarah and the JBuds are both bass headsets possessing a unique way to add some zest to their audio. While JBuds have three different modes, Jaybird’s MySound app lets you precisely control how your Tarah sounds. You can’t get more user-friendly than literally letting your users choose how their earphones sound.
For durability, these headphones tie.
The JBuds are proven to withstand dust and water. While the Tarah hasn’t undergone any tests to gauge its dust resistance, it’s more waterproof than the JBuds. The Tarah won’t be destroyed by falling underwater. Their toughness makes them well suited for physical activities like jogging, weightlifting or sports.
A final factor you have to consider is this – what do people who bought them before think about these headphones?
The JBuds had mostly positive reviews across 3 websites. They rated a 4.2 on Amazon and Best Buy, and a 4 at Walmart. Across those three retailer sites, the JBuds’ case was frequently cited to be the best feature. The majority of commenters also agreed that the JBuds’ audio are good enough for the price. Though some did mention how hard the controls were, and how wearing the buds became uncomfortable after an hour.
Conversely, the Jaybird Tarah has mixed reviews. They rank at a 3.8 on Amazon and get a 4.3 on Best Buy. Most buyers from both sites praised the sound quality and the Jaybird app, while also mentioning the comfy fit. Having to lug the charger around because the Tarah didn’t come with a case was a common grievance.
All in all, both the JBuds and the Tarah are good exercise headphones. You just have to know their features to figure out which one fits your needs the best. A travelling salesman who does quick jogs on the side would prefer the longevity of the JBuds Air. Someone who does Zumba would go for the Tarah’s better audio. Weigh the pros and cons. Then you’ll know which one of these will make an awesome accessory for your workout.
Other related topics you might like to read:
- (Time Gideon, 2018). JLab JBuds Air Review. https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/jlab-jbuds-air
- (Séamus Bellamy, 2019). Jaybird Tarah Sports Earbuds review: For the price, the base model is ‘good enough’. https://www.macworld.com/article/3336152/jaybird-tarah-sports-earbuds-review-for-the-price-the-base-model-is-good-enough.html
- (JLab Audio, retrieved in 2020). JBUDS AIR TRUE WIRELESS EARBUDS. https://www.jlabaudio.com/products/jbuds-air-true-wireless-earbuds-charging-case
- (Adrienne So, 2019). Review: JBuds Air True Wireless. https://www.wired.com/review/jlab-audio-jbuds-air-true-wireless/
- (Vafaei, Jakab & Khong, 2020). Jaybird Tarah Wireless Headphones Review. https://www.rtings.com/headphones/reviews/jaybird/tarah-wireless
- (Jaybird, retrieved in 2020). Tarah. https://www.jaybirdsport.com/en-gb/tarah.985-000713.html
- (Gerald Lynch, 2019). JLab JBuds Air True Wireless Earbuds review. https://www.techradar.com/reviews/jlab-jbuds-air-true-wireless-earbuds
- (David Carnoy, 2018). Jaybird Tarah review: Cheapest Jaybird headphones may have everything you need. https://www.cnet.com/reviews/jaybird-tarah-review/
- (Lily Katz, 2020). JLab JBuds Air review. https://www.soundguys.com/jlab-jbuds-air-review-19768/