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Beats Powerbeats 2 vs Jaybird BlueBuds X
UPDATE [January 2022]: The Beats Powerbeats 2 have been discontinued. The closest pair of current Beats headphones is the wireless Beats Powerbeats Pro. You can still find the JayBird BlueBuds X online, though it has had several follow-up models, the latest being the JayBird X4. For more alternatives, review our list of the best earbuds.
In our last comparison, we pitted the Bose SoundLink Mini vs the Beats Pill 2.0. The competition wasn’t exactly one-sided, but the SoundLink Mini still beat the Pill fairly handily. For our next head-to-head, we wanted a closer match.
One of the contenders is, again, made by Beats. Don’t let that fool you though. In our review of the Beats Powerbeats 2, we were actually fairly impressed. That said, the competition is fierce. The JayBird BlueBuds X are some of the most popular Bluetooth earbuds out there, and for good reason.
While one of these pairs of earphones must certainly lose, we all win.
The major difference between the Powerbeats 2 and the BlueBuds X is the method in which they stay attached to your ear. The BlueBuds X use in-ear wings, which make these more visually similar to standard earbuds. The Powerbeats 2, on the other hand, use over-ear hooks. Some (myself included) find these more comfortable than in-ear wings, though this will always be a matter of personal preference.
In terms of build quality, both of these are fairly tough. The Powerbeats 2 are IPX4-certified water resistant. Those used to seeing much higher IPX numbers on Bluetooth speakers are probably wondering what this could possibly protect against, and the answer is simple: sweat. Though JayBird doesn’t put a number on it, the BlueBuds X are also sweat-resistant, and JayBird goes so far as to issue a lifetime warranty against sweat-related damage
The actual IPX4 rating on the Powerbeats 2 gives them a slight edge here, but this was almost too close to call.
Winner: Beats Powerbeats 2
JayBird throws a lot of terms around in its marketing, like “Signal Plus” and “X-Fit.” In the case of “Signal Plus,” this is meant to ensure skip-free music, but I’ve found that the BlueBuds are no more skip-free than most earbuds I’ve tested. The Jenna voice prompts are nice, but in the end, you’ll only really use them when pairing, which — assuming you’re mainly using the BlueBuds with one device — will likely be once or twice a month, if that.
Beats doesn’t offer all the differently-named features, but these never skipped during testing, which is slightly better than the BlueBuds. Pairing is equally easy on both headphones, and the remotes are both fairly usable. The Powerbeats 2 have a slight disadvantage here in that the power button is on top of the left earbud. This leads to fumbling around in search of the power button if you’re trying to turn them on or off while wearing them.
The JayBirds offer more, but don’t quite deliver on the promises they make. Otherwise, functionality is virtually identical between the two.
This category is the only category where picking the winner is a no-brainer. JayBird offers a battery life of up to eight hours of playback time on the BlueBuds. Beats offers up to six hours for the Powerbeats 2.
Considering that charge time is roughly similar and so is the method of charging, the winner is clear. JayBird takes it.
Winner: JayBird BlueBuds X
The Powerbeats 2 are one of the best-sounding Beats products we’ve heard, and the price to performance ratio is — again, for Beats anyway — quite good. There is plenty of bass on display, though it has a booming quality that extends into the lower mids. Mids are cut slightly, and the highs are slightly rolled off at the highest frequencies, though not to the point that detail is sacrificed.
The BlueBuds X also have a decent amount of bass, though the lows are somewhat better defined and the low-mid depth is slightly better. The same dip in the mids as the Powerbeats 2 is present, and highs seem to be similarly rolled off, though the highs seems a little crisper here, with a little more clarity.
The BlueBuds X are meant to isolate noise, and they do a good job of it. The Powerbeats 2, on the other hand, are meant to help runners, cyclists, and others who are exercising outdoors keep an ear out for street noise. Both of these are going to be useful for different individuals, though neither of these can be described as a pro or con. Both pairs of earbuds handle volume fairly well.
This category is closer than you might imagine, but in the end, the JayBird BlueBuds X are slightly better in this department.
Winner: JayBird BlueBuds X
In the end, the decision comes down to what you need. Both pairs fit well and stay put despite movement, but the JayBird BlueBuds X isolate noise while the Beats Powerbeats 2 go out of their way to make sure that you can hear street noise. The fit is another aspect that comes down to personal preference — some prefer the over-ear hooks of the Powerbeats 2 to the in-ear wings of the BlueBuds X.
After the last comparison we did, you might guess that we would pick against Beats in any given comparison, but the Powerbeats 2 really do give the BlueBuds X a run for their money. While in the end, we do have to go for the BlueBuds as the stronger pair of in-ears, this doesn’t carry nearly the same amount of weight as our last comparison. Both of these are worth a look, but chances are that for most people reading this, the JayBirds BlueBuds X are the better pair.
Overall Winner: JayBird BlueBuds X
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