Wireless earphones are the ideal choice when it comes to picking a pair for the gym. However, with truly wireless earphones, you stand the chance of losing the earbuds if the fit is not proper. And that's the reason wireless earphones with neckbands like the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 2100 and the JaybirdX4 are considered suitable for the gym.
The best part about these earphones is that they hang around the neck, and you don't have to worry about losing earbuds even if they fall out of your ears. Plus, both the BackBeat FIT 2100 and the X4 are sweatproof and waterproof.
But how do these earphones fare in the long run? Do they deliver as promised or are they just another name among the scores of other audio accessories?
Well, that's what we are going to find out in this comparison between the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 2100 and the Jaybird X4.
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Design & Build
Being sports earphones, the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 2100 features the typical neckband design. However, it doesn't sport just another run-of-the-mill look. Instead, it has a unique look.
The BackBeat FIT 2100 has a flexible rubber cord that connects the two earpieces. The flexible band sits lightly on the back of your head and gives you the freedom to run and workout without worrying about dangling wires or a stiff band hitting your neck when you jump. Also, they will stay attached to your ears regardless of the intensity of your workout — thanks to the ear hooks.
When it comes to the earpieces, they are designed to filter the ambient noises. In short, they do not seal your ear canal. Instead, they sit in the opening of your ear. The BackBeat FIT 2100 doesn't sport a dedicated in-line remote. Instead, there are dedicated buttons on top of the earpieces for track navigation and volume control.
Interestingly, these earphones also bundle a feature named My Tap, which lets you customize and assign different tap actions via the BackBeat app. You can customize it to start a timer, check the battery levels, or wake up your phone's smart assistant.
Unlike the BackBeat FIT 2100, the Jaybird X4 does not have any dedicated ear hooks to keep the earbuds in position. Instead, they feature fins (or ear caps) on top of the buds to help them fit into the cavity of your ear and stay in place. Plus, there's a thin cord connecting the earbuds.
Thanks to this design, the Jaybird X4 earphones are light and are comfortable to wear. After using them, you can just put them back in your pocket.
Furthermore, there's no play of touch-sensitive buttons. Instead, they pack a cool inline remote featuring a three-button control for track navigation, volume control, and voice assist. You can either tuck this remote behind your ear or let it dangle below your ear, whichever way is comfortable for you.
Also, the X4 comes with a clip that helps shorten the extra length of wire so that they do not dangle around during your workout sessions.
The middle one is a multi-functional button and doubles as a power button, and for pairing with new devices.
The X4 earphones have Bluetooth 4.0 support and can pair with two devices at the same time.
Since these earphones made for the gym and outdoor wear, they are water and sweat resistant. While the BackBeat FIT 2100 are IP57-rated, the X4 comes with an IPX7 rating.
They are built to protect against excessive sweating or from splashes of water. Yep, you can go out for a run in light rain without worrying about the damage to your earphones.
Battery & Charging
Battery life is one of the important aspects of any gadget. You wouldn't want an audio accessory that needs to be charged every day. That gets annoying in the long run.
Though the BackBeat FIT 2100 doesn't have a great battery life, it is decent enough to last around seven hours on a single charge. The cherry on top is that you can see the battery status in the BackBeat app. Charging them is easy. Simply remove the cap from under one of the earbuds and hook the charging cable.
When it comes to actual usage, the folks at Wired found the BackBeat FIT 2100 to last around six-seven hours. Unfortunately, some of the user reviews don't paint a pretty picture. Several of them have complained about the earphone's shorter battery life in the long run. In some cases, the battery lasted only about 2-3 hours.
Jaybird promises a battery life of eight hours on the X4. When the folks at SoundGuys tested the X4, they got around 7.5 hours of life on the battery.
When it comes to user reviews, the X4 has better reviews than the BackBeat FIT 2100. Users are satisfied with the battery life. Though it reduces over the long run, it doesn't get as low as 2-3 hours.
However, charging the X4 is not a straightforward affair. It comes with a proprietary USB charging clip. To charge it, you'll have to connect the charging cradle to a power source and then clip it to the earphones
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The BackBeat FIT 2100 comes packed with 13.5-mm drivers. However, they do not do much to amplify sound quality.
The sound quality can be described as decent. However, at higher volumes, the output can get a little muddy. Plus, they do not have noise-canceling features. So, yeah, sound from outside will gently filter into your ears. So yeah, no immersive experience.
When it comes to the Jaybird X4, the sound quality is quite good for the price. As per the folks at SoundGuys, the X4's bass response is good and isn't overpowering. And as far as the user reviews are concerned, a chunk of them are happy with the audio output.
The good thing about the X4 is that the companion app has a built-in equalizer which you can tweak as per your preference, and in the process tailoring it to your needs.
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Verdict: Plantronics BackBeat FIT 2100 or Jaybird X4?
When it comes to choosing earphones for the gym, the priorities are a tad different. The right fit is the top priority. After all, you wouldn't want to adjust the earbuds frequently. Plus, they should be waterproof and sweatproof.
While the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 2100 and the Jaybird X4 fit the above bill, the real-world experience is a tad different.
The Jaybird X4 provides a good fit and sound quality. So, if you are looking for something short-term, these are the perfect ones for you. However, don't expect them to last a lifetime. There have been reports where the earphones died out sooner than anticipated. In other cases, one of the earbuds started to act up, rendering the whole product useless.
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