This might be an unwise confession, but wirefree earbuds are not comfortable to me. Finding the right tips for those noisy little pebbles can be a hassle, and I live in dread of informing a manufacturer that my review unit fell into a noxious puddle while I was out on a 5-mile trail run.
After two or three hours of listening, my poor ear canals usually need a break. Yet, I wore the Jaybird Vistas for five straight hours without a problem. I was startled when I realized how long I had worn them. Jaybird’s latest wireless sport headphones sound fantastic and weigh a minuscule six grams per bud. That’s a third smaller than the Bose SoundSport Frees.
The Vistas are quite comfortable for sport buds. They also have an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning they’re rated for full immersion. Puddles ahoy! If you like to go on long trail runs or hikes, the Vistas are a great pick.
With sport buds, finding the right fit is key. Running and weightlifting are hard enough without the irritation of having to constantly poke an earbud back into your ear. The Vistas come with three sets of silicone gel tips, and the two bigger sizes have fins that fit into the whorls of your ear.
The smallest size don’t have wings, so I went with the medium tips. They fit securely and comfortably, but they also created a soundproof vacuum in my ear. The Vistas aren’t technically noise-canceling buds, but they don’t let in ambient noise at all. They silence so well that you should only wear one bud if you like to run outside.
Also, the fit is so snug that I could hear my heartbeat pounding in my ears when was working hard, providing an off-tempo counterpoint to the Menzingers. (I couldn’t stop listening to this band.)
At first touch, the Vistas don’t feel like a pair of premium buds that weigh in at a moderately pricey $180. They have a nondescript plastic exterior, with one button per bud. The case is absurdly tiny. It’s flat and fits in the stash pocket of my running shorts, which normally only fits a single house key.
But that simple exterior disguises Jaybird’s EarthProof encapsulated construction. Each bud has a plastic bubble within it to protect the components from the elements—you can drop these buds in up to three feet of water and they’ll still work. I didn’t do this out of excessive caution, but I did go trail running in 90-degree weather. I got extremely sweaty and felt like I was close to heat stroke, but the buds were in great shape.
The Vistas also have excellent battery life. They’re rated for six hours of use per bud, but after five hours of straight listening, I had only drained the battery about halfway. Though tiny, the case provides an additional 10 hours of power. I’ve worn them for a few hours a day for four days, and haven’t had to recharge the case.
They also have a sterling Bluetooth 5.0 connection. After some initial fumbles with establishing a connection—you’re supposed to put them in pairing mode while they’re in the case, I learned the hard way—the buds automatically connected to my iPhone 8 when I took them out of the case.
I never experienced dropouts, and there was no noticeable lag time when I watched videos on my phone. And finally, I didn’t have problems making or taking calls.
Button It Up
The Vista’s controls are simple by design, which comes as a relief since I can never, ever remember what the buttons on any wireless buds do. In Jaybird’s app, I designated a single press to play or pause, a double press to go to the next track, and a press-and-hold for volume control.
Jaybird’s app integrates with Spotify. You can select Jaybird playlists, like “Cardio Love,” or play podcast selections from athletes like ultra-runner Rory Bosio.
I understand why a sport headphone company wants to offer its own in-house music selections. Building your own playlist to keep your run cadence at a steady 170 steps per minute for an hour-long run is tedious, and popular apps like Jog.fm already offer a similar music motivational service. However, I’m not a Spotify premium subscriber, so I couldn’t take advantage of their curated playlists, and I didn’t find the podcast selections appealing. I’ll stick to Apple Music for now.
The Vistas have a 6-mm audio driver to improve sound quality, which is pretty great. You can tinker with their EQ settings in the app, or even build your own by marking how well you hear different tones. I found that my personalized EQ mostly correlated with the “warmth” setting. You can also check what EQ athletes like Timothy Olson are using, which is cool, I guess, if you’re the kind of person who also likes to know your favorite athlete’s deodorant or brand of snack bar.
Despite painstakingly crafting my own personalized EQ, I found that I still preferred Jaybird’s signature setting. It’s weighted toward being bass-heavy to keep your heart rate up, and so is my workout playlist. Jessie J’s voice was also sufficiently bright on “Domino,” which I appreciated.
All in all, the Vistas are a worthy follow-up to Jaybird’s Tarah and the X4, both of which I liked enough to recommend on our list of best wireless workout buds. With their durable construction and perfect pocket size, the Vistas are probably the best for anyone who spends a lot of time outside. If you’re in the market for a pair of puddle-proof buds, the Vistas are it.