Jaybird’s Run headphones aren’t meant for you to stick them in your ears and forget about them. They’re not ear-puters. Like all Jaybird headsets, they’re made for runners, and I guess all exercisers, but mostly runners. They’re designed to stay put in your sweaty ears for a whole trail run, blasting music until you’ve crossed the finish line. For $180, they’d better shave some serious time off your personal best.
The Runs pump out rich, detailed sound, especially punchy in the low end. The EQ seems tuned for a high-speed running playlist, which is perfect for a device like this. With the companion Jaybird app, you can tweak the sound further, or find music to run to. The buds get loud enough to tune out even the crush of other runners. I absolutely, no matter how hard I try, cannot get these things to fall out of my ears. The silicone wrap (and its many customizable tips) can get a little itchy, but the buds stay put no matter what.
You can use only the right bud, or both, depending on how aware you want to be of your surroundings. Each bud has a handy button you can access without slowing down—by default, pressing on your right ear plays and pauses music, and the left invokes Siri or Google Assistant, but you can change that to volume controls if you like. The built-in microphone doesn’t sound amazing, but at least callers could hear me.
The buds sit securely in my ears, but they stick out far enough to look kind of goofy. (Goofier than the AirPods? Probably not. Just different.) They’re also heavy enough that my ears get sore after a couple hours of listening.
Everything about the buds’ connection to your phone and each other feels wonky. When you first pair the headset, you’ll hear “Go to Bluetooth settings and select Jaybird Run” every two seconds until you pair the buds or go loony trying. The right bud connects to your phone, and the left bud connects to the right. But they don’t use near-rock-solid Near-Field Magnetic Induction, just regular Bluetooth, and I’ve had a lot of trouble keeping the two connected and in sync. Even if I’m sitting at my desk, not doing anything, every few minutes the left bud will start to flicker in and out. And if you store your phone in your back-left pocket, forget it.
The Run buds turn on as soon as you open the charging case, and immediately try to connect. That’s fine, except the flimsy case keeps opening in my bag and stealing audio away from whatever I’m actually trying to listen with. Jaybird advertises four hours of battery life, plus another two charges from the case. I’ve been getting more like three hours per charge, which means you better run a damn fast marathon or risk getting to mile 21 and meeting only silence.
5/10: The Runs sound the way exercise headphones should, but bad Bluetooth and battery might keep you from hearing anything at all.