I’ve been in search for a decent pair of stereo bluetooth headsets since A2DP technology was made available to consumers and have been disappointed each time. They usually produced muddled sound, had weak bass, almost AM quality, were uncomfortable, poorly designed… etc. Basically they were just crap. I’ve gone through Motorola ROKRs, Jabras, and so forth and have been disappointed each time. The Jaybird JF3 Bluetooth Headphones was actually an impulse purchase when walking into a Best Buy one hot summer evening and ironically, this has been the most impressive thus far.
This was packaged pretty nicely so the unboxing of this product deserves a little attention! $99 for a pair of headphones is quite a bit so it better come in a nice box!
The JF3 came with the headset itself, a micro USB cable, charger, travel case, and 3 pairs of standard eartips, 3 pairs of GeckoGrip eartips, quick setup guide, and some stickers you can stick on your car next to that apple sticker! Quite an extravagant set and greatly appreciated by the buyer.
Right out of the box, it was easy to figure out how to pair this to my iPhone. Like other bluetooth headsets, just hold the main button down for 10 seconds and wait for the indicator light to change colors and blink. The JF3 can pair to up to 2 devices so I paired this to my iPad 2 as well. Setting up was very straight forward and very easy. Included is a guide but it’s really commonsense stuff in configuring the device.
I like the design of the JF3s. They are stylish, don’t make you look like a cyborg, and they don’t give you a headache while wearing them. It has great build quality, feels sturdy and doesn’t feel cheap. In contrast to the Motorola ROKR, you can easily wear these if you have glasses / sunglasses without the feeling of too much weight in your head. The variety of eartips included gives you a better chance in choosing which is most comfortable to you.
One thing about wearing these is that you have to find the best way how to put this on your own way. I had to find the right eartips, make the right strap adjustment and position these in my ear a certain way for the best sound quality and comfort. You’ll know what I mean when you try these on yourself but once you hit that sweet spot, you’ll get the best experience you can out of these.
The first time I took these out to the gym, it was frustrating to use because it kept coming out of my ear when using the standard eartips. I changed to the GeckoGrip eartips that were also included and had not had a problem since. The GeckoGrips were more comfortable and stayed in place better especially for doing aerobics or cardio. I had these on as long as I could on a weekend with music playing nonstop and it lasted about 5.5-6 hours as advertised. One thing I didn’t like was that I had to press the main button hard to answer phone calls and it’s not a convenient thing to do when driving or using this as a handsfree device.
These are definitely the best sounding bluetooth headsets I’ve used, although that’s not saying much given what’s currently out in the market! I went through a variety of music that I had from Asian Pop, Hard Rock, Alternative, R&B, HipHop, classical, etc and these sounded much better than the white headphones that come with the iPhone. The JF3s sounded clear with no issues of static and stuttering at even the louder volume levels. However, the big issue with this headset is that it sounds flat with weak bass and sometimes too much treble. I played Fear East Movement’s, Like a G6 which you can feel the bass on the cheapest speakers or headphones and even that sounded flat! It’s not that the bass is nonexistent, just weak and I’m sure can be improved if your MP3 device had equalizer settings. Some pop and alternative songs sounded good on the JF3s and the sound quality was mediocre to decent in general. When using this in a loud gym, it did a nice job in drowning out some of the noises which is a definite plus.
When using this as a handsfree device, I could hear people calling me OK, but when I talk, they commented that they can understand me but I sounded a bit muffled and quiet when compared to using other handsfree headsets.
As mentioned earlier, these are the best bluetooth headphones I’ve used. They have good build quality, lightweight and are comfortable to use. It comes with great packaging and the 6 pairs of eartips is a plus. The sound quality is decent but definitely needs stronger bass. If you need really good headphones with strong bass and sound quality, stick with a wired headset. If you are in the market for a good stereo bluetooth headset or need something to take to the gym, this is the best choice right now.
Update July 10, 2011:
Jaybird and other few readers have pointed out that they are offering ear cushions “which are pretty much essential to achieving a good fit with the JF3, even without the Gecko Grips. Freedom owners can sign up at http://www.jaybirdgear.com
I just put in a request for one and will update this review once I get them!
Update July 26, 2011
The ear cushions arrived but I didn’t get a chance to test drive these till this evening. The way this works is that they go into the headset before adding the eartips and these cushions hang onto your ear much better. I was a bit skeptical at first but once I had the headset in my ears, the difference was SIGNIFICANTLY noticeable. It was much more comfortable than the Gecko Grip eartips and these stayed in my ears without falling off or any discomfort for a 90 minute workout session. Another thing that I’ve noticed was that the sound quality was actually BETTER because it positions the eartips in a way where you get optimal sound in your ears. Overall sound quality was at least 30% better and even the weak bass improved as well.
Great job Jaybird!