The first time I picked up the Jaybird Vista truly wireless earbuds, a thought started looping through my head: These things are impossibly tiny and light. Even the case is pocket-sized. The sheer portability reminded me of AirPods, but there’s an essential distinction. The new Jaybird earbuds are practically bombproof. You can get them wet or bury them in dirt, and they’ll keep working. Functionally, the Vistas are probably the best fitness-focused earbuds I’ve tested. And did I mention—they’re so light!
The Jaybird Vistas are just the latest in a seemingly never-ending parade of earbuds battling AirPods for your dollars. At $180, they’re about the same price as AirPods and many other competitors.
The Vistas are also dead simple in their design. You take the earbuds out of the case, and they immediately turn on and connect to your phone. Each earbud has one programmable button that lets you do simple things like play or pause music or beckon a voice assistant. You can also use each earbud independently, if you so choose. AirPods essentially work the same way.
But again, what sets the Vistas apart from the AirPods are their durability. The Vistas are waterproof, sweatproof, and dustproof. Apple AirPods are none of those things. Apple does not make any official claims over the waterproofness of the earbuds, but I’ve had more than one friend wear AirPods in the rain, only to see them get fried. Jaybird, a company that prides itself on making headphones for runners, has taken the opposite approach and made the Vistas about as waterproof as you can make a set of earbuds. They’re IPX7 rated, which means they can survive in three feet of water for half an hour.
These specs check out, too. For the past two weeks, I’ve worn the Jaybird Vistas everywhere I go. I’ve worn them at the gym and in the rain and never had a problem. I dropped them on the sidewalk and let them hang out in my dusty pocket, and they still work like new. Being waterproof and durable is not something ultra special about the Jaybird Vistas, though. The excellent Jabra 65t Elite Active earbuds are slightly less waterproof with an IP56 rating, but they’re also a bit bulkier.
The compact new Jaybird earbuds also fit my ears really well. They come with a selection of silicone wings that wrap around half the body of the bud and join up with an oblong silicone tip. When I put them in, the earbuds seem to cling to my ear. The tip forms a seal on my ear canal, and despite how light each of the earbuds are—six grams, by the way—I never worry about them falling out. AirPods are four grams apiece, and because they don’t create a seal in your ear canal or come with little wings, I’m constantly anxious that they’re going to escape my head when I’m wearing them.
This all makes the Jaybird Vistas a joy to use. They plop right into your ear, and you forget that they’re there. And because they’re designed for active lifestyles, the snug fit means you don’t have to worry about them popping out of your head. Meanwhile, the refreshingly simple button isn’t at all confusing. Other earbuds have more complicated button schemes that leave you wondering what might happen when you fiddle with them.
That said, you also shouldn’t expect the Vistas to deliver top-tier audio performance, because they don’t. The earbuds sound good, about as good as a set of AirPods or the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds. The Vistas sound a bit less robust, and they certainly can’t get as loud as the Jabras, though. But if you’re looking for a lightweight set of earbuds to wear on a run, the new Jaybirds are an ideal choice. It almost feels like a bonus that they get six hours of battery life on a single charge. Five minutes in the (very compact) charging case gets you an additional hour.
The Vistas feel like a bit of a triumph for Jaybird. The company has struggled with connectivity problems in the older Run and Run XT models. However, the Vistas feature new Bluetooth technology that allows each earbud to connect to your device independently as soon as they come out of the case. This worked incredibly well for me, though, I did experience some interference in busy airwave areas like Times Square. That’s typically the case with any set of wireless headphones in those zones, though. I also noticed that sometimes only one headphone would connect to my device, but activating the other is as simple as pressing the button on the bud. It does take a few seconds to kick in after that, a wait that seemed annoying at first but inconsequential over time.
One could argue that the Vistas are too simple. There’s not a dedicated volume rocker, which is something I use all the time on my Jabra Elite 65t earbuds. (You can program the right and left Vista earbuds to do volume up and down, but then you can’t program anything else, since each button can only do one thing at a time.) I also miss the sophisticated noise isolation and noise-canceling features you find on the Jabras and the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds. The Jaybirds work best in quiet environments. The on-board microphone is also not great, which makes the Vistas less appealing for phone calls.
Despite the downsides, I can confidently say that the Jaybird Vistas are some of the best earbuds I’ve tested this year. And while they don’t look anything like AirPods, it feels natural for me to compare them to Apple’s famous earbuds. They’re small and light, as is their case. They turn on as soon as you take them out. They’re dependable as hell. But unlike the AirPods, the Jaybird Vistas are very durable. They’re great for sports, and quite frankly, they’re great for life.
- Decent sound quality, emphasis on the word “decent.”
- Pleasure to wear
- Incredibly durable