Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones and Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones are two of the most popular Bluetooth Headphones for athletes such as cyclists. They are both viewed as premium headphones, although the Bose are usually more expensive. This post compares Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones to help you choose between them. We start off with a chart that you can use to compare the key features of both sets of headphones; then move on to important differences, and videos.
Safety note: I often get emails telling me that headphones are not safe for cyclists. My posts on headphones are not meant as an endorsement – but I also don’t think I have the right to tell other people what they can and cannot do. If you are especially interested in safe cycling, please don’t send me an angry email – instead, please read my very popular post on How to Choose the Safest Headphones for Cycling.
Comparison Chart: Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones
|Lowest Price on Amazon Right Now:||$100.00||$149.00|
|Battery Time:||Battery time is claimed at 8 hours, which I find to be accurate. Also you can get an hours' play time out of 15 minutes charging, which is handy in an earphones emergency!||Claimed battery time is 6 hours; in practice I usually get more than this - about 7 hours of listening|
|Safety while cycling:||These aim to exclude sound. If you are using the Comply ear tips, they do an excellent job of excluding sound. Which is great for some purposes, but not exactly safe if you have to be aware of what is going on around you. When I cycle with these, I only use one of the earbuds. You can also choose to use the supplied silicone ear tips, which do not exclude as much sound (because they do not expand to fill your ear canal)||These fit more externally without completely plugging up your ears, so they are safer than the Jaybirds in terms of being able to hear your surroundings better|
|Bluetooth Connection to your smart device:||Connectivity is excellent, outstanding, and flawless||Connectivity is excellent. Bose also offers NFC pairing. However, there are some serious connectivity problems - see review|
|Low Battery Alert:||A rather lovely, mellow female voice tells you that "Battery is low", and then she keeps quiet. This gives you another 20 minutes of listening time, before she sweetly says "Power off." Also, the Bluebuds X3 have a tiny battery indicator that shows up on your smart device||Every time you wake these headphones up, a measured female voice tells you the level of battery left, rounded off to the nearest 10%. This is enormously helpful. She also gives you low battery warnings|
|Communications:||The Jaybird X3 communicate with you via a pleasant female voice. She tells you "Power on" when you switch on, and then "Headphones Connected" when they're connected, cutting out the guesswork. She also tells you how much battery power you have||The Bose SoundSport communicate via a measured, pleasant female voice. Instead of telling you the power is on, she shows you they are on by telling you the percentage of battery life you have left, and what device the headphones are connected to|
|Price Comparison of Jaybird X3 and Bose SoundSport||Jaybird X3 can sometimes be bought for as little as $100 these days - a lot cheaper than they used to be, and a great price for premium Bluetooth headphones||Bose SoundSports cost anything from about $135 to $170|
|Waterproof?||Not waterproof; but guaranteed sweatproof||Not waterproof; but guaranteed sweatproof|
|Ear fit||Comes with three sizes of Comply memory foam ear tips that are designed to plug up your ears for comfortable noise exclusion. Possibly not the best choice on a bike; great for the gym. However, they also come with 3 sets of silicone tips, which plug up your ears less, and which I find comfortable||Comes with three sizes of soft, removable tips|
|Built-in microphone for making phone calls?||Yes - works very well||Yes - works very well|
|Do they stay in your ears?||They are designed to have a secure fit for athletic use. They come with tiny ear fins, which help them to stay in by hooking into the curve of your ear||They are designed to have a secure fit for athletic use. They come with tiny ear fins, which help them to stay in by hooking into the curve of your ear|
|What powers do you have?||With the Jaybirds X3, you can use the inline controller to turn them on and off, answer calls, skip tracks and go back tracks, switch phone calls, and call up Siri||With the Bose SoundSport, you can use the control on the right earbud to switch them on and off; you can use the inline controller to change volume, skip tracks and take calls|
|Durability/ruggedness||Quite sensitive; need to be handled with care||This is the biggest fail on these - see review for more details|
|App||The Mysound app is an electronic equalizer that enables you to create a personalized sound profile that stays with the earbuds, regardless of which device you are doing. A great app if you enjoy that sort of thing, and definitely lifts the sound quality||The Bose Connect app allows you to do ... virtually nothing. I honestly don't know what the point of this app is. It enables you to switch off audio prompts - I cannot imagine why anyone would want to do that|
|Auto Off?||Yes, the auto off ensures you do not run your batteries down for no good reason||Yes, the auto off ensures you do not run your batteries down for no good reason. It also announces that it is turning off with a melodic chime, which I like|
|Charging time||2.5 hours||2 hours|
|Weight||0.5 oz (14 grams)||0.8 oz (23 grams)|
Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones – Big Picture
These are both premium headphones that will elevate your listening experience to a new high of wireless, Bluetooth convenience and wonderfulness. Thanks to the Bluetooth technology, you do not not have to run wires through your shirt to your phone. They are both quite expensive – but, as I often explain to my wife, not having to deal with wires on my bike or my hike is priceless. Wires have caused me to accidentally break a phone at least once, so I could (and often do) argue that Bluetooth actually SAVES money.
With both of these headphones, the sound quality is equal to or better than most in-ear wired headphones of comparable prices. With both of these headphones, you get to control them without having to take your phone out of your pocket or pannier, which is super convenient. Personally, I HATE having to stop my bike to change a track or change the volume. As you can see in the illustration above, both have an inline controller on the cord that you use for most controls. Also, the Bose has a power switch on the actual earbud. The Jaybirds have more control options on the controller, and the controller has a stronger build quality than the controller on the Bose SoundSport.
With both of them, you can listen to whatever you like, or take calls while cycling – all without ever touching your phone. Very special, and I feel privileged to be able to do that.
Both stay in the ear well, using a similar ear fin device; the Bose SoundSport are slightly bulkier than the Jaybirds X3. I find them both soft and comfortable in my ears, and can wear them for hours.
All that said, there are some key differences between the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones, which I highlight below.
Sound Quality of the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones
Make no mistake, both offer premium listening experiences, making your ears feel like they are wrapped in luxury. I love them, and am completely addicted to this listening experience. I feel like it is a necessity for my mental health, not a luxury (another point that I regularly explain to my wife).
However, if you compare sound quality of the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones, there is no doubt that Bose has the edge. Listening to music on Bose is absolutely splendid to the point of being transporting, thanks to the rich quality of the sound. This is partly because they are Bose, and partly because the earbuds are quite substantially bigger. The Jaybirds 3 also have excellent sound quality, but they are not sublime to the same degree.
Robustness of the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones
Jaybird has always made a surprisingly robust headphone, and they have made the Jaybird X3 even stronger, incorporating some metal into the ear unit.
By contrast, the Bose – OMG! I have only tested one pair, so it is possible I got a lemon. However, this pair is just four months old, and already has lost the plastic covering off both ear buds, plus the controls on the inline controller no longer work. I can still turn them on and off with the power button right on the ear bud, but for everything else, I have to use the controls on my phone. I am currently talking to Bose about this, and will let you know how this turns out. For what I paid for these, this is simply unacceptable. It is like they used second-grade glue, and all the parts are just falling apart. The falling-apart process started at about the three-months point. INSANE at this price point.
Using your headphones with Various Devices: Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones
There is no competition here, as the Jaybirds do this perfectly, while the Bose have a serious flaw.
With both of these headphones, initial pairing is wonderfully easy, and once paired, your phone will hardly ever lose the connection. You will also be able to maintain the connection, even when you leave your phone in a different room. However, if you want to use your headphones with more than one device, there is a major difference between the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones.
Bose will tell you that with the Bose Connect app, controlling and switching between multiple devices is easy. This is just simply NOT TRUE. In fact, this is the biggest complaint I have about my Bose SoundSport headphones.
Picture this: I have had my Bose headphones for a few weeks, and am still high on enjoying the wonderful music I get from them – using them entirely with my phone. Then one night I want to watch a YouTube video on my laptop, but don’t want to disturb my wife, who is watching real estate shows on TV. So I quickly and efficiently pair my laptop with my Bose headphones. Great – I hear my YouTube Videos in glorious stereo, with the sound much improved from what my laptop can achieve on its own!
Then … it is bedtime and I want to listen to my book as I fall asleep – and my phone can no longer find my Bose headphones. It just keeps searching and searching and searching for my laptop, with which it has apparently fallen in love. Furious, I turn Bluetooth OFF on my laptop … which has no effect whatsoever. No matter what I do, the Bose headphones now want nothing to do with my phone, and yearn to communicate ONLY with my laptop. The Bose Connect app is 100% useless, and does NOTHING (it is a very limited app, and I cannot see any point in it all).
For many angry hours, I could not use my Bose headphones at all with my phone. Eventually, I found a post about how to clear the Bose headphones back to factory settings (basically just hold the Power button on the ear bud down for 10 seconds). After I did this, I told my iPhone to Forget the Bose, and then was able to re-pair the Bose headphones with my iPhone.
In the interest of research for this post, I tried this again a few days ago – with exactly the same results. The minute the Bose is paired with my laptop, it forgets my phone, and nothing short of a lobotomy will get it to pair with my phone again. This is completely unacceptable to me. My Jaybirds X3 (and previous generations of Jaybirds that I have owned) have no such problems whatsoever. I just synch them with whichever device I happen to be using, and then switch back when I switch devices. For heaven’s sake – at this price, you should be able to use these headphones with more than one device! This is not rocket science, Bose – this is a pretty basic requirement.
Here is a video that compares Jaybird X3 vs Bose SoundSports. The narrator tends to cover things that I do not, so listen to him if you are still making up your mind. Don’t be put off by the working out at the beginning – at minute 1:08 he starts to say a lot of very useful things.
Size of the Ear Tips
The Jaybird X3 ear tips are quite a bit smaller, and quite a bit less visible than the Bose SoundSport. I have previously written a scathing review about how there was almost no difference between the Jaybird X and the Jaybird X2. However, I must say that there is a noticeable improvement from the Jaybird X2 to the X3 – they have got smaller, stronger, and cheaper. This video shows this more clearly:
On the other hand, some people find the Bose SoundSport ear tips a bit too big and bulky. Well, they are on the large side, for sure. But they are super comfortable, and really, the larger size is part of what creates the awesome sound.
Bottom Line on Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones vs Jaybird X3 Sport Headphones
As you will know if you have read this far: Bose offers better sound, while Jaybirds offers better everything else. Until they make Bose tougher and solve the pairing problem, I will not be buying anything other than Jaybirds in future. But I sure will miss the sound quality of my Bose, when they eventually die (which, based on their track record so far, could be tomorrow).
On the other hand, I am more than pleased with my Jaybirds X3. I have used almost every kind of Jaybird headphones over the years. At times it has been a love-hate relationship, and certainly I was very disappointed by the Jaybirds X to X2 “upgrade.” But I have to say that with the X3, Jaybird has finally hit the sweet spot. Better sound, smaller size, greater comfort, true noise isolation for those who want it, great app, stronger build quality – and then to top it all off, they even dropped the price to a level which seems more than fair (price is another aspect I have complained about in earlier versions of Jaybirds). If you’re looking for premium Bluetooth sports headphones for a great price, you cannot really go wrong with JaybirdX3.
Whichever you end up buying – enjoy!
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