Help me pick my perfect bluetooth earbuds!
June 11, 2019 10:29 AM   Subscribe

I need earbuds that will stand up to my abuse and preferences. Sound quality isn't important to me, but battery life and swapping between devices/modes are critical. Snowflake details inside.

I've been traveling for work for about a year, and I can't seem to find the perfect earbuds.

I need:
- Long-lasting battery (6-8 hours ideally)
- Bluetooth
- Sturdy: lasts and charges consistently for more than a couple of months
- Can be worn while working out
- Can swap between my cell phone and computer with Spotify and VoIP conference calls (though this might be about my computer settings and not the headphones; please tell me how to do this!)

Again, I don't need amazing sound quality. I need to hear people on my conference calls, and they need to hear me. I want to pause Spotify to jump on a conference call and vice versa.

Bonus if it's a Jabra headset - I get a 40% discount through my company.
posted by frizz to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Jaybird X4's, I own the X2 and X3's, they sound great and are really tough, 8 hours battery, very small and designed for working out.
posted by Cosine at 10:34 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

I mean, airpods are superior in call quality, convenience, and with a cool little case. They are more comfortable to me than most (apple headphones either fit your ears or don't) because they also let in outside noise, and they don't plug up your ears.
posted by bbqturtle at 10:46 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

though this might be about my computer settings and not the headphones; please tell me how to do this!

Can you provide a bit more detail here? Is the problem with one of the devices hogging the connection when you start the headphones back up? I found a good way to do that for Macbooks. The search phrase you want in these cases is "promiscuous mode" (I think).
posted by yerfatma at 11:43 AM on June 11

I can't directly recommend a pair but here's some possibly useful comments:

Even though you mentioned sound quality isn't important, you might want to at least quickly google what people have to say about the sound signature. If conference calls are the priority for example you might not want headphones praises for being bass-heavy.

If the 6-8 hours is a *continuous* requirement I think that knocks out all TWSs like airpods. If that's not-plugged-into-a-wall time then you're more than good. Unless there's advantages to using airpods with other Apple products, or you really like how they're not quite in your ear (comfort/background noise), I don't see the need to shell out that much for them. There are way cheaper no-name options that are perfectly serviceable (which is what I have but never used it for calls). Not as thoroughly reviewed as the big brand ones but they're also like 1/4 the price.
posted by ToddBurson at 12:23 PM on June 11

Airpods aren't comfortable for me, and they are super ugly, IMO. Why shell out name brand money for ugly?

RE: computer issue - I have a difficult time switching between headphone mode and headset mode. It worked well for some headphones I've tried, but those headphones had crap battery quality and people couldn't hear me when I spoke.
posted by frizz at 12:46 PM on June 11

I am picky about earbuds and have similar preferences, and I have been very happy for years with the Plantronics Backbeat Fit. I have owned both the version linked and the newer 3100 edition, and slightly prefer the former.
posted by eugenen at 1:00 PM on June 11

Seconding Jaybirds, although I subbed foam buds from a different brand to make them more comfortable.
posted by aw jeez at 1:04 PM on June 11

If your phone and computer are both Apple products, you might consider staying in the ecosystem with BeatsX - I have similar needs and have been very happy with them. I am not gentle - I often put them in my pocket and sit on them, one time I lost them underneath a laundry hamper for a month, etc. and they're still running great.

The bluetooth chip is the same one as airpods, I think ("Apple W1 chip", google tells me), and it's pretty good at seamless transitions between Apple devices (you do have to tell it to switch, but it's quick and reliable.) I've found it consistently more reliable at connecting and staying connected than other bluetooth devices.

(If they're not both apple devices, then BeatsX are still solidly-built earbuds worth considering but probably not quite as special.)
posted by mosst at 3:34 PM on June 11

I adore my Jabra Elite Active 65t's. I've had mine since February and wear them most of the day at work, to the gym, mowing the lawn, etc. I can switch between listening to spotify on my phone, jump into zoom for a conference call on my macbook, and then back out to answer a phone call - seamlessly. It just works.

I keep them in their case when they are not in my ears. That allows them to get a quick charge boost (it takes about 15 minutes for a quick charge). I rarely get the "low battery" reminder, maybe once or twice a month.
posted by wearyaswater at 6:42 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]

I am fond of these new wireless earbuds from Cambridge Audio. Every Cambridge Audio product I have used or heard sounds amazing.
posted by terrapin at 1:52 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]

Amazon says I bought my plantronics backbeat fit headphones on the 13th of November 2014. Pretty much daily use for walking and cycling to work since then and they are still going strong.
posted by adventureloop at 8:16 AM on June 13

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