Weather are nuts these days – mostly muggy mornings, scorching afternoons and wet evenings. I’ve even resorted to putting on a layer of sunscreen before I head out for lunch these days. The adoption of casual wear in the office make things a little easier, at least. T-shirts, jeans/khakis and running shoes certainly beat the typical formal wear. Needless to say, I return from every run dripping in sweat and in order not to leave a trail of sweat in the house as I head to the kitchen to rehydrate and prepare my protein mix, I’ve even resorted to sliding around on a piece of rag. All these perspiration had cost me some money too. Over the past 3 years, I’ve had to replace 3 sports earphones. Touted splash-proof and for sports, they didn’t stand a chance with the “torrential out-pores”. After some research and reading the reviews written by runners, I decided to splash out more money for the then top-of-the-line Jaybird X3.
The X3, which is still on active duty today, is easily one of the best sounding sports earphones out there and they come with long battery life of 8 hours, app support, separate silicon ear tips and hooks, Comply foam tips (if a piece of audio hardware comes bundled with Comply tips, you know the brand puts a little more thought into sound quality), and casing. I’ve had to replace the X3 under warranty after a couple of months’ use due to non-charging, but the replacement unit’s been working well since then. The only issue I’ve had with the X3 is the fit for my right ear, which can be downright painful. As you can see from the photos below, you’ll notice that the section of the earphones that you jam into your ear are not as tapered nor at an angle that’s comfortable for my right ear. No issues with the left, and people are unique that way. I’ve tried the various tips and hooks but they just don’t work, either slipping off when I sweat or just too uncomfortable for extended use – by “extended use” I mean for duration exceeding an hour. That pretty much encompasses all my workouts these days.
My issue with fit has, thankfully, come to an end with the Tarah, one of 3 models released by Jaybird a few months ago, the lowest cost option. The other 2 being the substantially more expensive Tarah Pro and X4. I won’t go into the X4 as the biggest difference they have over the X3 is the IPX7 rated waterproofing. The X4 is, of course, an upgrade of the X3. The Tarah and the Pro version are, however, completely new from Jaybird. To know about each of the differences, check out Jim’s excellent review below.
The Tarah is decidedly a lower spec’d unit than the Pro. It’s almost by default that we expect “lower spec’d” as feeling cheaper, they’re not too shabby in other aspects. Since they don’t have the Pro’s nylon cabling, they’re lighter than the X3. In a nutshell, battery life is still rated at a very decent 6 hours, they’re IPX7 (sweat and waterproof), capable of delivering 1 hour playtime on 10 minutes’ charge, and sound customization via the fantastic Jaybird app. The negatives are the absence of a carrying case, the continued use of an easily misplaced charging cable (as with those used for the X series and Tarah Pro). The Tarah is also non-compliant with Comply tips but instead uses all-in-one ear-gels, which is can still be customised to a degree.
While the earphones are charging up, you should go ahead and download the Jaybird MySound app (iTunes | Google Play). Pairing is expectedly easy and firmware updates delivered quickly once the app is opened. Out of the box, the Tarah’s sound signature is flat so the app is where you head to, to tweak your preferred sound profile, or just use one of several presets offered. You’ll see that Jaybird has signed up ultra-running elites such as Rory Bosio and Tim Olson. In fact, head to YouTube and enjoy their running series. Other than presets, the MySound app also offer podcasts and playlists hosted out of Spotify. Once you’re in Spotify, it’s easy to lose oneself just checking out its voluminous content. Since I don’t run with the phone, my music are all played out of the iPod Nano. If you’ve the latest watches from Garmin such as the music versions of the 245, 645 or 945, you can ditch the iPod or any MP3 player.
The app also allows the user to customise button controls, set the preferred voice prompts as well as battery-saving time window but I’ve found the defaulted settings to be good enough. I’ve not tried the “Find my buds” feature to comment on it.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the issue I have with the X3 is the fit. You can see from the photo below the difference in construction of both models. With the Tarah’s tapered tips, the discomfort is no longer felt. I’ve taken them on several runs ranging from 12 to 27K and have had no issues. The Tarah never lost connection with the iPod and I was able to enjoy the musical distraction over the longer runs. I’ve yet to drain the battery below 50% to validate the claimed 6-hour operational time but I’ve no doubts they’ll be able to deliver on that.
The Jaybird Tarah gets two thumbs up from me. Nailing the fit for my finicky right ear is already a plus. They sound great, after tweaking the sound EQ, have very decent features that are comparable or even surpassing the more expensive options out there.
I purchased the Tarah for RM325 from Lazada and Foto Shangri-La, the seller, even bundled a free Jaybird-UA-Standard Chartered KL Marathon cap. Go try them out!
Word of caution: Regardless of the earphone designs, please be always mindful of traffic and other safety threats. Always use your better judgment and never listen at extreme levels of volume or over prolonged period of time.