For the past few decades, portable music players have been one of the primary ways many people listen to music. In the 80s, it was Walkmans. Then in the 90s we had the Discman. Music went digital in the 2000s with the rise of MP3 players and later the iPod.
Then, ten years ago, Apple merged our music players with our phones, and today everyone has their entire music collection right in their pocket.
Of course, no matter which portable music player you’ve used, there’s one required accessory and that’s headphones. Whether you prefer the big over-the-ear cans, smaller ear buds, or even those ubiquitous white Apple Ear Pods, your headphones of choice play a major role in how you enjoy music.
In 2016, Apple shocked the world when they announced the new iPhone 7 would be the first model not to include a standard headphone jack. And although the new phone would include an adaptor that would let you plug traditional headphones into the iPhone’s lightning port instead, the expectation was that the majority of listeners would instead use wireless Bluetooth headphones.
Now, by 2016, millions of people were already using wireless headphones, so for those people, the loss of the headphone port wouldn’t really be that big a deal. I’ve been using wireless headphones since 2013.
Specifically, I’ve been using several models of Jaybird Bluetooth headphones for the past five years, and it’s those headphones that I want to talk about today. Because in those five years, I’ve used six pairs of Jaybird headphones, so I think it’s fair to say I’ve given this brand plenty of opportunities to impress me.
And early on, I definitely was impressed. I got my first pair of Jaybird Freedom headphones as a gift in April 2013. I wore those headphones on my morning runs an average of five days a week for nearly two years. I was pleased with the sound quality, the fit, and the connection. So when those headphones died two years later in July 2015, the Jaybird brand was still near the top of my list for potential replacement. And because I’d been so happy with my original pair, I decided it was worth spending $150 to upgrade to a nicer pair.
So on July 5, 2015, I ordered the Jaybird BlueBuds X. Once again, I was very happy with the sound and the fit. Actually, I was even more happy than I was with my original Jaybirds.
Two months later, though, those expensive new headphones failed. Now, obviously, in such a short period of time a warranty return or exchange should be no problem. And it wasn’t. Jaybird replaced those headphones with minimal hassle. Once again, I was a happy Jaybird user, now on my third pair of Jaybird headphones.
But four months later, THOSE headphones failed.
Now, let me be clear, I’m not unusually hard on my headphones. I actually take really good care of them, careful about how I store them and making sure never to put unnecessary stress on the wires. I do wear them for exercise, so they are exposed to sweat. But part of why I bought Jaybirds is because they were warranted against sweat.
Still, after my second pair of BlueBuds failed, I was reluctant to try them again. So when I found the original model of Jaybird Freedom headphones on sale on Amazon for just thirty dollars in February 2016, I decided to buy them… my fourth pair of Jaybirds. After all, my first pair of Freedom headphones lasted nearly two years, much longer than my much more expensive BlueBuds. How could I lose?
Eight months later… I lost. Those Jaybird Freedom headphones purchased in February failed in October.
Now I was getting upset with this company. At this point, I’d spent enough money on their products that I thought it would not be fair TO ME … the consumer… to just accept that and spend more money on another replacement.
So I contacted Jaybird, and submitted a warranty claim on BOTH pairs of headphones, the BlueBuds and the Freedoms. Because the models I owned were no longer offered, Jaybird replaced my two defective units with two new 2016 Jaybird Freedom headphones. These new models sold for about $150 at the time, so they were a fair trade for one of my sets, and an upgrade for the other. Again, I was pleased to have working headphones again… although puzzled and frustrated by the high failure rate.
So, Jaybirds number five became my running headphones, and Jaybirds number six became my desk/work headphones. And once again, as pleased as I had been with the performance of my previous Jaybird headphones, I was even more pleased with the 2016 Freedoms. These had better sound and fit than anything I’d used before. The battery life wasn’t quite as good, but the clip-on battery booster made up for that. These Jaybirds quickly became my favorite headphones ever.
But, as you probably expected by now… they failed.
In August 2017, after less than a year of use, my running headphones failed and stopped taking a charge. I hated to make another warranty claim, but… come on! These are expensive headphones! They should stand behind them, right? After all, they had before. And honestly, I’m not trying to take advantage of the company. I just want to own a pair of quality headphones that will last a reasonable amount of time… and less than a year is NOT reasonable.
But this time, I reached the end of the road with the Jaybird warranty. They declined my claim, saying that even though the headphones themselves were less than a year old, the warranty was dated back to the original purchase date. Since that had been just over two years, the warranty was no longer in force. The ten month old headphones, my fifth pair of failed Jaybirds, would not be covered by any warranty and would not be replaced.
Now I was down to my sixth and final pair of working Jaybirds. These were the pair I only wore at my desk at work, so they were not being exposed to any adverse conditions or sweat. And like I said, I really like these headphones, so I’m super careful with them! I want them to last. I want them to beat the odds, here.
Alas, the last Jaybird has died. The week after Thanksgiving, my Jaybird Freedom headphones stopped taking a charge. Just like every pair before, I’ve tried all the company recommended remedies. I’ve done the factory resets. Heck, I still have a spare charging cable and battery from dead pair number five. Nothing works.
So after five years and six pairs of headphones, I’m done with Jaybird brand. And that’s a real shame, because when they worked, I liked them a lot! But how can I possibly recommend Jaybird brand headphones to anyone if they just don’t last under either ordinary use or even when simply sitting at my desk? I have to give credit to Jaybird for processing three warranty exchanges for me, but I’m baffled that the company won’t stand behind their replacement products when they’re well within what would have been their standard warranty period had they been purchased outright.
But at this point, why would I want another pair of Jaybirds? Why would anyone want Jaybirds? They simply don’t last. But look, don’t just take my word for it. Google it. As I was searching online for ways I might be able to resurrect my last pair of Jaybirds, I found a bunch of stories just like mine. Apparently, there’s tons of people that have gone through two… three… four pairs of Jaybird headphones… just to see all of them fail.
So I’m shopping for new headphones, and I welcome your recommendations. But from me to you, if you’re looking for quality headphones that last, avoid Jaybird. After six defective pairs, I’m cutting the cord.