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Is simple better? A closer look at the Jaybird Vista 2 wireless headphones

Are high-tech headphones better with low-tech sound isolation?

Jaybird Vista 2
(Image: © Josh Ross)

Our Verdict

There are tons of good true wireless earbuds around the same price point as the Jaybird Vista 2. The Vista 2 stands apart by being incredibly secure in the ear and providing help finding a misplaced earbud.

For

  • Super secure fit in the ear
  • Find my Buds will alarm the earbuds to help find them
  • Excellent seal with the ear canal
  • Long battery life
  • cord on charge case makes it easier to secure
  • IP68 water resistance is good enough to rinse the earbuds

Against

  • ANC is barely noticeable
  • Using the winged eargels can leave the ear sore
  • lacks aptX and LDAC

The market for headphones has shifted strongly over the last few years. If you check our list of the best headphones for cycling you will see there are still some options for alternatives like headband or neckband style headphones but not many. At this point almost every new headphone release is for a new pair of true wireless headphones and that's true no matter the user focus. 

In many ways true wireless headphones are perfect for cycling but they do seem to inspire worry. The concern is that a true wireless earbud may fall out and leave an expensive set of headphones unusable. The Jaybird Vista 2 headphones are specifically designed for workouts and as such have some features to help with this. After spending time with them, we are ready to discuss what works and what doesn't in terms of not only security but also all the experience of day-to-day use. If you have been looking for a new pair of headphones to use while riding your bike, keep reading. 

Jaybird Vista 2 in open charging case

The charging case holds the earbuds in shallow, easy to clean, depressions. (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Design and aesthetics 

The aesthetic of the Jaybird Vista 2 is a bit like a hiking boot. There are options for Black, Nimbus Grey, Midnight Blue, and Planetary Green (in some markets) but they are purposeful and they mix a bit of fabric in for a more rugged look. The charging case has a round woven lanyard with a plastic cinch adjuster on it. It's not long enough to loop the whole case through it but it's perfect for using a clip of some kind to keep it safe. Locked in place there's a magnet that keeps it from opening without a purposeful movement. 

If you've ever seen the original Jaybird Vista case the update keeps it almost the same size. Compared to other options out there it's on the larger size but far from an outlier. The Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC case is slightly smaller but the Jaybird Vista 2 makes use of the space to give a total of 16 hours of extra play time promised from the case. That's up two hours from the Adidas case and the earbuds tack on another 8 hours depending on use. As with most other options on the market charging happens via USB-C, Jaybird adds wireless charging as well, and there is fast charging with 5 min adding 1 hour play time. To fully charge the case takes three hours from dead to full, or four if charging wirelessly.

Open up the case and the first thing you'll notice are the status lights; there are three of them that illuminate depending on battery level. They sit just above the charging port and depending on if you are opening the case, closing the case, or pressing the button, they will let you know the ear buds are charging with either a flash or a solid light. You can of course also see battery status via the companion app. 

Jaybird Vista 2 app showing charge state

The app makes it easy to see battery status but it's 8 hours from the earbuds (or 6 with ANC or SurroundSense mode) + two additional charges from the case  (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Nestled into the case next to each other are where you will see the earbuds. The indent for the buds is shallow and easy to clean with a magnetic charging connection. Like the magnet for the case, this has enough resistance that you'll need a purposeful movement to fish the buds out. Once you've extracted them though, you'll find they've added the adventure aesthetic to the earbuds with a "WindDefense" fabric outer. The earbuds do carry an IP68 rating, only IP54 for the case, that makes them washable but the fabric does hold water for a bit.

Behind the WindDefense outer there's one mechanical button and a second accelerometer-based interaction. Open up the app and you can configure a series of pushes, long pushes, double pushes, and taps for interaction with music and calls while your phone stays safely tucked away. There's also auto-pause if you remove an earbud and each earbud connects independently of the other. If you have a preference for using a single ear bud you can pick and choose and swap them when it suits you. 

Performance

In the context of cycling, the Jaybird Vista 2 fits a very distinct niche and does it well. When you put them on, you know that they are not going to fall out. It doesn't matter if the road is bumpy and you are bouncing around, it doesn't matter if you are sweating and shaking your head, they will not come loose. To be clear, most quality true wireless earbuds have solved this challenge by now but Jaybird feels even more secure. 

Often, you'll find that while a pair of headphones aren't going to fall out, they need adjusting. If you are riding inside it might just be a little adjustment after responding to an attack as you race. The Jabra Elite 7 Active is a great example of this. The movement of my jaw from smiling is enough to shift them a little and make them feel like they need some attention. The Vista 2 will never feel like that. 

This solid connection comes from the "eargels" of which there are three options. Pry off the whole outer shell and you can swap for a larger or smaller wing to wedge against the outer part of your ear. It doesn't affect the seal as each of them uses the same size for that piece but, at least for me, that part works perfectly. It's actually enough of a seal that I was able to move to the smallest wing option with no loss of performance. The larger wings give a bit of extra security but it's at the expense a sore ear given enough time.

Once you've got the eargels selected, you'll notice it's this piece that's responsible for not only the security in your ear but the performance overall. The Jaybird ANC is almost impossible to notice. With no music playing there's a slight change but with music, forget it. The "SuroundSense" hear through mode is also pretty subtle but with music off it's a little more noticeable than the ANC. The thing is, Jaybird doesn't need ANC because the seal is so good. For the last couple of years I regularly used the original Jaybird Vista headphones as earplugs when working on the house. The second generation uses the same eargel design.

On the bike, this is even more true. ANC, and hear through modes, from all manufacturers tend to struggle with wind noise. Jaybird is no better in this regard and I often prefer to just turn it all off. You'll get better battery life anyway and the Jaybird approach of physical seal first means you don't need to worry about losing, or adjusting an earbud while riding plus you get good sound without relying on ANC. The downside is that the hear through isn't awesome for hearing traffic but if you want better awareness, a single earbud is a better choice. Most of us don't have headphones only for riding though and there are times when better ANC is helpful. 

On the topic of sound quality in general, the Jaybird Vista 2 technically represents a middle of the range option. They don’t have a wide range of codec support and that leaves some sound quality on the table. There’s plenty of volume and highs, mids, and lows all sound clear although there’s less warmth than something like the Sennheiser Momentum 3 true wireless. Again though, what saves them is the excellent ear seal. These might not be the pinnacle of sound quality, but being immersed goes a long way. There’s also a lot of adjustability in the app to tune the sound to your tastes which is another help. 

The other aspect of the earbuds is the microphone array. There are four mics, along with the WindSense cover, but it's not enough to handle fast riding and a CADEX freehub. What it will handle is drivetrain noise and a fan pointed at your face if you need team communication while racing on Zwift this winter. It’s also more than good enough for chatting while washing dishes, near a road, or other situations where background noise is an issue. 

One other quality of life feature is the excellent "Find my buds" feature. I can't imagine any scenario in which you'd drop an earbud while riding but if you ever did, the app does keep track of each earbud separately. You'd have GPS of where it was last connected. What's more useful though is that there's an option to play a sound. There's no external speaker so it's only through the same speaker as would be in your ear (so it's not super loud) but you can make it scream and if you've lost it on a bed, or couch, it would do the trick. 

Verdict

The Jaybird Vista 2 is an option that falls right in the heart of the most competitive segment for true wireless headphones. The options at this price point are dizzying and Jaybird doesn't compete with the quality of the noise cancellation. Both sound quality and mic quality are good but not standouts. If you are looking for true wireless headphones for cycling though, that's where the Jaybird option might make sense. In those situations, ANC isn't all that useful but never having to worry about losing an earbud is a huge feature. Choose the Jaybird Vista 2 if you've wanted true wireless earbuds but are nervous you might have one fall out while riding. 

Testing scorecard and notes
Sound qualityGood but also very immersive because of the excellent ear seal. Lots of adjustability is a big help also.6/10
ComfortThe wings can make for a sore ear after a few hours. There are options but you may choose security over comfort depending on your level of concern.7/10
Companion AppExcellent and useful.10/10
FeaturesExcellent battery life for true wireless but ANC isn’t very good.7/10
ValueThe most competitive price point and you can get more features at the same price. The reason to choose these is the secure fit. 7/10
Overall74%

Tech Specs: Jaybird Vista 2 

  • Price: £139.99 / $149.99 / €149.99 / AU$349.95
  • Colour options: Black, Nimbus Grey, Midnight Blue, and Planetary Green (in some markets)
  • Play Time: 8 hours (or 6 with ANC & SurroundSense mode) + two additional charges from case
  • Charge Time: Quick charge: 5 min gives you 1 hour of playtime. Earbud time to full charge: 2. Case time to full recharge: 3 hours via USB-C and 4 hours with wireless charging 
  • Touch Response Functions: Control music, ANC control (on, off, SurroundSense mode), Receive / end calls, Volume up and down
  • Wireless Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
  • Water Resistance: Earbuds - IP68 / Case - IP54

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