The true power of the Jaybird Vista 2 wireless earbuds became clear to me on the hill. It’s a roughly 100-foot climb on my usual 4.5-kilometer jogging route in Seattle. It rewards those who make it to the top with idyllic views of Lake Washington, Mercer Island, and the snowy dome of Mount Rainier. But first, you have to get there.
I have an Amazfit Bip U Pro smartwatch, which tracks my runs. I use the paired Zepp app to analyze each run and on the map of my route the hill is always yellow—slow. This is what the Jaybird Vista 2 sports earbuds were made for. I’m a shameless Katy Perry listener when I’m running, and just before the hill I double tapped my right earbud to skip to “Firework.” I clicked one button on the Jaybird app to switch from SurroundSense, which lets in outside sounds for safety, to Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), which shuts out the world. Suddenly, it was just me and Katy, giving that hill everything we had.
When I opened the smartwatch app to view my route after my run, I was delighted to see the hill was a dark mustard shade instead of lemon yellow. They didn’t quite get me to that truly fast deep orange, but it was progress.
The Jaybird Vista 2 earbuds continued to positively color my listening sessions over the course of my week-long trial, whether playing heavy metal or NPR. From the detailed sound control that can be adjusted with a few clicks in the app to the sweat resistance and snug fit that made them comfortable and secure even when lifting weights or rowing, the Jaybird Vista 2s showed a competitive spirt and deserve a spot in the conversation of top true wireless earbuds.
A pleasing (over)view
The Jaybird Vista 2 are wireless earbuds built for athletes who want their audio as customizable as their workouts. The Vista 2 buds offer fine-tuning on the already excellent 2019 Vista, which was Jaybird’s first foray into wireless earbuds. At $199, the Vista 2 buds add $50 to the original Vistas’ price tag. But, that extra cash gets you more ruggedized, longer operating, and—most importantly—active noise-canceling earbuds.
The Jaybird Vista 2’s design
The Jaybird earbuds come in a charging case that looks with a hinged lid that opens much like something for eyeglasses. Only, at 2.9 inches by 1.5 inches by 1 inch, it’s a lot closer to the size of a contact lens case. Inside, the earbuds have plenty of visual appeal. The wireless earbuds have a sleek, oval shape and come with rubbery winglike eargels that help lock them in place. At 0.6-inches wide, similarly wide and not much deeper, weighing 6.7 grams, the Bluetooth earbuds are average height and weight. By comparison, they’re slightly smaller and lighter than Samsung’s similarly equipped Galaxy Pro Wireless earbuds.
Packed in that sturdy plastic housing, about the size of a six-sided die, is a 6mm driver—the same size as the original Vista—kicks out your personalized sound. The buds can either block or amplify environmental sounds depending on whether or not you enable the ANC or the ambient amplification mode Jaybird calls SurroundSense (the company’s name for a transparency feature known to AirPods Pro users, etc.). Overall, these Bluetooth earbuds look as good as they sound.
Setting up the Jaybird Vista 2
I started my Jaybird adventure by taking a photo of the QR code inside the box. Moments later, I had downloaded the Jaybird app to my iPhone SE and then clicked a button in the app to pair the earbuds over Bluetooth 5.0 (supporting SBC and AAC codecs). I was following a baseball game at the time, and the entire process took less than half an inning, resulting in the smooth baritone of the play-by-play announcer humming in my ears.
I switched over to Spotify to try out the controls, which were intuitive, though it helped to read the instructions in the app. One tap of either earbud pauses the music, two taps on the right ’bud skips a track, while two taps on the left repeats a track. Meanwhile, pressing and holding adjusts the volume—use the left to lower and the right to pump it up. You can change these controls in the Jaybird app. The only other setup left to do was to customize the sound settings by using the app (a key selling point of the Vista 2s, which I’ll explore more below).
Key features of the Jaybird Vista 2
The Jaybird Vista 2 earbuds are as comfortable as they are durable when it comes to exercise. With the one-piece silicone ear tip and medium-weight eargel, the Jaybirds practically felt locked in place. I can’t say I forgot I had them in—especially when the ANC muted the world around me—but they were secure enough that I never had to fiddle with their placement. Not when jogging, not when on the rowing machine, and not when lying down to bench press. I even tried turning my head sideways and shaking, and I couldn’t get them to fall out. Of course, everyone’s ears are different. Jaybird includes two additional sets of earpieces: one with a larger eargel and one with no eargel. In my ears, the medium eargel was just right, but it’s entirely possible that you’d find them too tight or too loose.
The 6mm driver delivers beautiful 16-bit stereo sound, which shines when you open the Jaybird app and begin tweaking the tone. When you first sync your earbuds, you can choose to create your customized EQ, which requires about two minutes of raising a volume slider until you hear tones of varying frequencies (I had a harder time hearing bass than higher pitches). The app then analyzes your results to create a sound profile that gets added to your presets. But you are in no way limited to that particular signature.
The app is loaded with countless blends—Jaybird continuously adds presets created by other users. You can try out the mix favored by ultra-runners Timothy Olson or Rory Bosio. Or you can select balances built for different genres. For instance, folk music balances tend to have higher bass and treble outputs and lower midrange outputs, while pop music blends make the bass really pop, even as the treble drops. There are mixes for everything from spoken word to EDM, and listening to a mix is as simple as adding it to your favorites, scrolling to it on your list of presets, and clicking one button.
Noise-canceling and ambient sound
You can also use these Bluetooth earbuds to customize how you hear the sounds around you. By turning on ANC, ambient noise is canceled out by an amplifier generating neutralizing sound waves. This mode is perfect if you want to mute the sounds of a noisy coffee shop, gym, or office. In my case, I was happy to tune out my 3-year-old daughter’s “Bubble Guppies” cartoon.
However, when you’re jogging on busy streets and need to be alert to traffic, or when you’re trail running and don’t want to miss the bird calls whistling from the trees above, you can use the SurroundSense mode. This mode amplifies ambient sound instead of neutralizing it. I found the mode especially useful at times when I suspected my wife was about to call me upstairs to hold the baby.
All that noise-cancellation and transparency is possible because each earbud is equipped with two beamforming microphones, which use a protective mesh fabric covering to reduce wind noise. Those mics also mean that you can take calls, and during the several I answered while testing I wasn’t asked to repeat myself any more than normal. The microphones also offer a clear line to Siri or Google Assistant, so you’ve got a training sidekick no matter where your adventures take you.
Long battery life
The lithium-ion batteries inside these in-ear earbuds can last for a day. You can get up to eight hours of playtime (ANC cuts into this) on a full charge, and the wireless charging case adds an additional 16 hours. If you have no battery life but need the earbuds for a jog right now, just wait five minutes. That’s all it takes to get enough into their battery for a full hour of playtime. A full charge with the USB-C connection takes two hours.
I always stored the Jaybird Vistas in their case—they click in magnetically, so it was honestly just the easiest place to store them—and every time I took the earbuds out a voice told me they were fully charged. You can also monitor your earbuds’ power levels in the Jaybird app.
We’ve certainly gotten our share of rain in Seattle, but that hasn’t bothered the Jaybird earbuds. The IP68 rating (an upgrade from the original Vista’s IPX7) means they can survive being submerged in water up to 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutes, and they are also protected against dust and dirt. In practical terms, that means you could be jogging on the beach, drop them in the sand and shallow waves, rinse them off, and they’d still be good to go. With an IP54 rating, the charging case also protects against rain and grime, but if you drop it in the dirt you’ll want to wipe it down rather than run the faucet over it.
So, who should buy the Jaybird Vista 2?
While the Jaybird Vista 2 wireless earbuds are aimed squarely at athletes and exercise enthusiasts, their appeal goes far beyond the gym. Audio enthusiasts who care about nuanced differences in bass and treble levels—and want to change their EQ from track to track—could have a field day with these noise-canceling earbuds. That active audio in addition to their ability to resist sweat and dirt and stay put during workouts.
It’s possible that people with a lot of bounce in their jogging stride may find an option like the ear hook-equipped $199 Beats Powerbeats Pro more secure, making them the best earbuds for running. Other listeners might prefer the sound quality of the similarly priced Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. Still, Jaybird definitely puts its best foot forward with these true wireless earbuds.