One of the most common questions we get from readers who live an active lifestyle: whether they are into running or working out they want to know our top recommendation when deciding between three of the best-selling wireless headphones: the Bose Soundsport, the Jaybird X3, and the Powerbeats3.
All three of these sports earbuds are made with athletes in mind and are marketed to runners and gym rats alike. These are three of the best running earbuds on the market and there are several similarities between them – which is why so many people have a hard time choosing between the three.
They are all sweat-resistant and all Bluetooth enabled. Where they differ? The most noticeable feature you’ll see just when first looking at them is the design and style of how they fit on and in your ear.
Here is a list of other main features so you can see side-by-side how these three stack up against each other. Continue below to see our detailed review of each of these earbuds.
Comparison chart of Bose Soundsport Wireless vs. Jaybird X3 vs. Beats Powerbeats3:
|Bose Soundsport Wireless||Jaybird X3||Beats Powerbeats3|
|Accessories||Wingtips||Comply comfort tips||Eartips|
|Secure fit||Wingtips||Over-ear, under ear wear style||Excellent with adjustable hangers|
|Sound Quality||*Overall Winner||Best Sound (MySound app)||Best Bass|
|Sound Isolation||Buds don’t seal the ear canal||Best||Average|
|Battery life||6 hours||8 hours||12 hours (fast-fuel charging)|
|Bluetooth Connectivity||Stable Connection||Occasional problems with streaming||Winner|
Things To Consider:
Apple IOS vs Android:
Powerbeats 3 scores much higher on sound quality when played through Apple devices, while sound degrades somewhat on Android devices., Jaybird X3, on the other hand, sounds better on Android. The sound quality issues are caused by the codecs used on each platform. If you are on the fence between these models, this may be the deciding factor. If you are using your headphones primarily on an iPhone, look at the Powerbeats. In our tests, the Bose came out strong on both platforms for sound quality.
Sweat/Moisture Proof: all three models are resistant to sweat and moisture. They are designed for sports so you would hope they would be able to stand up to moisture. These are all water-resistant so these three models of earbuds should hold up to sweat and running in the rain but are not which are designed for swimming. So if you’re a swimmer or triathlete, you’ll need to look at these waterproof earbuds.
Just to clarify on Waterproof vs. Water Resistant. While shopping for the Jaybird X3, in some marketing materials I saw it was advertised this feature: “the hydrophobic nano-coating makes the whole earbud waterproof,” and I also read a comment online by someone claiming they swim with the Jaybirds.
But while digging deeper I found this clarification from Jaybird on the company’s support forum (click to read the full explanation on their website)
Jaybird products have been carefully engineered to be moisture-resistant, the products are not designed to be submersed in water or liquid of any kind, nor are they designed for water sports or other water-based activities.
So, please keep that in mind -if you need a pair for swimming look elsewhere (our article on waterproof earbuds is a good place to start 🙂 We’d hate for you to ruin an expensive pair of earbuds due to someone misinformed online comment.
Bose has some issues reported by people sweating heavily during hard workouts. This issue was addressed in 2016, Bose made improvements to the Soundsport and we have not heard complaints on the newer units.
Earbud Tips: The SoundSport comes with Bose’s Stay Hear+ tips which are designed to keep the buds in place without being totally jammed up into your ear canal. The X3 uses silicone ear fins that have been patented by Jaybird paired with comfort tips by Comply (one of the most well-known makers of replacement earbud tips on the market) and finally the Beats Powerbeats use eartips that come with four (4) size options to get an ideal fit on your ear shape.
Battery Life: The clear winner here is the PowerBeats3 at 12 hours whereas the Bose SoundSports comes in last place with only 1/2 that. The Jaybird X3 splits the difference and gives its users 8 hours of playing time on a full charge.
Bose SoundSport Review
Bose released its first wireless earbuds aimed at active listeners, the Bose SoundSport, which are Bluetooth enabled and durable for sports.
In the search for the best Bluetooth wireless in-ear headphones, you may end up with several options such as Monster Adidas Sport Adistar and JayBird Freedom. Unfortunately, most Bluetooth headphones don’t sound great. Plus, battery life and size are major issues that Bluetooth headphones makers are still trying to improve. This is where Bose enters the picture.
There are a lot more Bluetooth headphones out there that have many different features and designs. Of course, they don’t all sound, fit or perform the same. It can be difficult to find the perfect pair for you.
Just like every pair of Bluetooth headphones, Bose SoundSport wireless earbuds have a drawback: They look strangely large on the ear. On the bright side, these earbuds are lightweight and extremely comfortable. If you are looking for the best wireless earbuds for sports, this pair will make the top of the list along with other contenders like Beats Powerbeats3, Monster Adidas Sport Adistar, and JayBird X3.
Design and Features
If you are a more visual person, here is a very detailed review of the Bose SoundSport, from Jim’s Review Room:
It is common for Bluetooth earbuds to be charged via micro-USB port and on the earbud. While charging you can’t use the earbuds. Bose took a different approach by installing this port on the inline-remote which is very convenient as the carrying case doubles as a charger when you’re on the go. The portable charging case provides 3 full charges, but unfortunately, this accessory is not included with the purchase of the earbuds.
The cable is rugged and sturdy with an inline-remote. You can’t adjust the length of the cord and because the material used to make the cord is sturdy, it may cause a little noise from cable bouncing as you run.
The Bose Soundsport wireless earbuds fit well, sitting evenly and comfortably in your ear. Wing ear tips keep them in place externally, while the earbuds don’t fit too tightly inside the ear which gives a relaxed fit. This allows some ambient sound to come in keeping you safe and aware of your surroundings.
An inline-remote located near the right earbud allows you to adjust volume, navigate tracks and take calls with ease.
Supported near-field communication (NFC) allows you to quickly pair with the headphones by simply tapping a button. The earbuds maintain a stable connection within 33 feet.
Just like all Bluetooth headphones, Bose SoundSport don’t offer rumbling bass because of their non-sealed design. They also sound less clear and dynamic than other wired models like the SoundTrue Sport wired earbuds which are in the same price range. This is not abnormal for sports headphones, but the treble is held back and they have a natural, warm mid-range.
According to CNET reviews, the headphones perform best outdoors rather than indoors.
Like the wired model, which was rated one of the best sports earbuds over $100 for many years, this Wireless model fits in the ear with a non-sealed design. The Bose StayHear eartips are designed to improve this shortcoming by giving users a snug fit and eliminating external noise.
- exceptionally comfortable
- Great sound for sports headphones
- Automatically turn off
- Large earpieces
- Decent battery
- Microphonic noises
Portable charging station and carrying case (not included with the purchase of earbuds)
Here are some highlights of the SoundSport Wireless Earbuds
Jaybird X3 Review
Jaybird is well-recognized for their Bluebud X line, which is validated by their latest release, the Jaybird X3.
Design and Features
Jaybird’s new X3 earbuds have been redesigned and are more than 30% smaller than the previous model, but I wouldn’t say it is a big revamp that earbud housings come in a shorter and smaller form, and its low-profile contours fit perfectly under helmets.
It features an inline remote control which is easily accessible, the buttons on it are responsive and remember it is always closest to your right ear.
Jaybird didn’t label L or R earbud and by default, the bud with inline remote will be worn on the right. You can also control the settings through the custom app or a smartwatch and leave your phone securely in your car or gym bag.
If you have been fans of Jaybird X2, you will notice that Jaybird did change completely the inline-control of X3 that it appears quite big, but don’t worry it is not heavy enough to tug the buds out of your ears when you move.
You will charge the X3 through the inline via a four-pin clip-on, the charging accessory. According to the company, the in-line control now is more durable since its internals are protected from users’ sweat, but you may lose the clip, keep it safe always plug the micro-cable in and it is not a portable charging case similar to Jaybird Spin Freedom.
A new hydrophobic coating keeps out sweat, rain, mud so there’s no need to worry about your X3 during grueling workouts or rough weather. Its patented, ergonomic wing tips keep them in place throughout the most strenuous activities without sacrificing comfort. No more earbuds popping out just as you turn your head or neck.
The X3’s wingtips can be customized with an under or overfit and each set of earbuds comes with both Memory Foam and silicone tips. The ear tips block noise, improve the fit, and maximize the sound quality (increasing amount bass and warmth) without irritating your ear canals.
The redesigned model comes with reduced-diameter speakers that provide premium sound and now fit your ear canals more comfortably than ever.
Now you have more choices for eartips: foam or silicon. The wingtips, which you only need when working out also give better fit compared ones found on the Jaybird X2. If you don’t like the wingtips, you may want to consider the wireless earbuds that many users find more comfortable. They are bigger in size and less sound isolating.
The cord shortener accessory together with shirt clip keep things neat, depending on your activity level and gear, the X3’s cord hooks keep it either snug or loose around the back of your neck.
Jaybird’s superior Bluetooth antenna engineering creates a skip-free connection with your device so there are no distractions from glitchy playback.
And the X3’s battery lasts up to eight hours between charges. It is built-in with a lithium-ion battery, which is reliable and enables fast charging that it gets 45 minutes of juice just by charging in 15 minutes.
Integrated Bluetooth 4.1, the X3 can pair effortlessly with any devices. Its advanced technology allows two sets of buds to link to one device so your workout buddy can keep pace with you. The features of the X3 are superior to comparable earbuds in the same price range and the quality and materials ensure its durability.
The X3 is built with a 6mm driver inside, the same size as previous models X and X2, and I found no AptX support on its specifications, but as always Jaybird headphones sound good with a balanced sound. But the X3 has a more refined sound and more bass impact. Overall, it plays music with no distortion or harsh sound, though the instruments were not separated well when tested with complicated tracks. MySound app is practically useful when you want to customize the sound, save and pre-set when you connect the earbuds. Check out the app on iTunes or Google Play.
With upgrades in both design and sound, the X3 is one of the best sports in-ear headphones currently available.
When comparing these three models, the Beats definitely take first prize for battery life.
Doubling the Bose charge of 6 hours, the 12-hour battery charge on the Powerbeats3 will give you plenty of autonomy. You can be out and about pretty much from sunrise to sunset without having to recharge. Another major advantage of the Powerbeats3 is the quick charge feature called “Fast Fuel” that will give you an extra boost of 30 mins after just 5 mins of charge time.
While the Powerbeats came out on top for battery life and quick charging, in my opinion for the price they come up short of the others.
Sound Quality. While Beats by Dre has gotten a lot of buzz and their high profile brand gets plenty of love among professional athletes and celebrities. However, known for its rap and hip-hop roots beats tend to favor bass-heavy music. while this is a great plus for bassheads, those of us that listen to a wide variety of music genres that don’t always want or need a lot of bass may find the lows overwhelming and be left with a lack of balance on the mids and highs.
Fit/Comfort: The adjustable ear hooks give enough flexibility to get a decent fit on most user’s ears but long term comfort is lacking. When it comes to wearing these for an extended time, the beats come up short against Bose comfort fit or the patented wings on the Jaybird X3.
Connectivity. The BlueTooth connection on the Powerbeats3 is generally stable and you’ll probably get even better results on an iOS device since bests use the W1 chip from Apple in the Powerbeats3. Actually, back in 2016, the writers at Apple Insider claimed the powerbeats3 were the most stable BlueTooth headphones with Apple to use at the time (again based on the chip)
If you are a fan of the Beats celebrity vibe and listen primarily to booming bass tracks then you may end up loving the powerbeats3, especially if you are an Apple user.
However, based on the price and the other options on the market I personally cannot recommend the Powerbeats over the Bose or the Jaybirds.
- I don’t care about the brand hype so really don’t give Beats any extra points based on which NBA players are seen wearing them.
- I’m an Android user.
- I have had other Bose products before, love the sound quality it delivers.
- I find these earbuds more comfortable to wear over a long period.