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(This post was updated on 13th May 2013) Ever since I first started jogging seriously back in my high school days (around 1985/86) when I was preparing for a career in the military, I’ve always needed music on my runs. Whenever I’ve had to run/jog without music the experience for me has been less enjoyable. I use music when I’m jogging for motivation, focus, and to relieve the boredom which can sometimes creep in during those long runs when there’s nothing much to see along the track. 
 

Music helps to take my mind off the “hurt” I sometimes feel on those hard jogs when the body is fighting the mind all the way to make me stop and walk. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still probably be running if portable music was never invented but jeez my running days would be a lot more trying.  

running with headset listening to music

Not just a music player

When I first started running with a music player the device was a rectangular tape player, which took a thousand batteries, weighed a ton, and broke easily (especially if it came into contact with sweat or water.

Today, the fast rewind/forward tape button seems like an eternity away and the device I now use weighs less than a deck of cards and it doesn’t just play music anymore either because my “music player” is now a mini PC, heart rate monitor, personal trainer, GPS, safety device, and… Oh yeah, a phone too.  

Goodbye to those tangled earphone cords

Tangled headphones cords are a painThe one main bugbear any music loving jogger has in common is what to do with those annoying earphone cords, which tend to tangle, pull out, and catch on everything during a run. Thankfully, just like the music player, technology over the past few years has evolved for the better and solved the cord problem by the use of wireless, Bluetooth connectivity.

No longer do we sweaty joggers need to untangle cords on the run, or try to replace ear buds which have been accidently torn out from our ears by pumping arms during a critical moment (or fab beat). No more, do we puffing exercise maniacs have to put up with clinging line hugging our perspiring, heaving necks and chests – Hooray to wireless technology!

What qualities to look for in a wireless headset?

Now, not all wireless headsets are good and they are certainly not all created equal – this is what the crux of this article is really about; what wireless headphones should I buy? In my search for a wireless headset, I needed a gadget which I could rely on to not only deliver good sounding tunes but it needed to be robust enough to withstand the rigors of my exercise routine.

The headset I was looking for had to be water proof (or at least very water resistant) not just from rain but from perspiration also. At the same time, this device had to work as it’s amazing how many devices don’t work as they should. The wireless connectivity had to be solid without constant dropouts and the controls needed to be easy to operate whilst on the move.

Also, this wireless headset needed to fit me correctly and not fall out of my ears whilst running or jumping and the ear buds sound quality or stability couldn’t be affected by perspiration either.

What wireless headset/s did I end up purchasing?

In the end, and over a two month period of research, I eventually narrowed my choice down to two headsets and decided to purchase both so I could compare them for myself. These two headsets are the: Motorola HD Stereo Headset; and Jabra Sport Bluetooth Stereo Headset.

Over the past 18 months, I used both headsets extensively and trialled them for many hours through pretty tough conditions. Therefore, the rest of this article (call it a review if you like) details my findings of how both brands and models performed and compared in my humble opinion.  

Motorola S10 Stereo HeadsetMotorola HD Stereo Headset S9/S10

At the time of writing this article I am using the Motorola S9; however, the new model S10 is now on the market. The S11-Flex has been released see my review here. I expect the S10 is an improvement but both the S9 and 10 look very similar on the outside with the S10 having a more streamlined facelift from what I've seen. I don’t think a great deal will have changed from the S9 to the S10 but I hope Motorola has improved the operational buttons, and sound quality. I fear the ear buds are the same as the S9 and that's a shame.

Both Motorola HD Stereo Headsets come with several different sized interchangeable ear bud sets to suit different sized ears; although, as you can deduce from my tone and table below I am not a huge fan of the ear bud attachments.   

Jabra Sport Bluetooth Stereo Headset

Jabra Sport Stereo HeadsetThe Jabra also ships with a variety of different sized ear buds plus an arm-band to hold your mobile phone or music player. The arm-band isn’t just a freebee “if you want to use it” accessory either; it’s actually a necessity for the smooth operation and connectivity between your music device and the Bluetooth receiver in the headset (see the chart below). As an added bonus, the Jabra has an inbuilt FM radio.

Also, Jabra claims their headset is fully compatible with the Endomondo sports training application (for phones) this integration is made possible by installing a separate application on your phone called the Jabra Service which supposedly works with the Endomondo app; however, it doesn’t work for me and feedback generally by others show integration with the Endomondo phone app is a fail (at the moment anyway).  

This assessment should not be seen as a negative for the Endomondo phone app, which is an excellent smart phone app in its own right and one I use all the time.   

My comparison between the Motorola and Jabra headsets

The table below shows a comparison between the Motorola and Jabra headsets from my experience and usage. I have broken the comparison table into two simple areas: main features, which shows the feature most important to me; and Explanation, which gives a quick run-down of what I think of that corresponding feature.

The green star* signifies which headset I believe wins the feature or is the strongest performer out of the two brands. I haven’t taken manufactures specifications into account when compiling this comparison table; therefore, any specs in the table (like power times) are concluded by real-time use and not influenced by the product manuals.  

Main Feature Comparison Table

Motorola HD Stereo Headset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motorola HD Stereo S10 Headset

Jabra Sport Bluetooth Stereo Headset

Jabra sport headset packages wireless

 

Main Features

Motorola

Explanation

Motorola

Main Features

Jabra

Explanation

Jabra

Design

Motorola

Solid plastic ear pieces joined by a solid plastic band which sits behind the head, looks like sunglasses worn backwards and when placed on sits (like a cap) but off the back of the head by about 1 inch – I found it surprisingly comfortable *

Design

Jabra

Solid plastic ear pieces joined by short cord which hangs/sits on the back of the neck. The cord tends to annoy me slightly especially on a hot sweaty run when the cord sticks to my neck.

Controls

Motorola

A little confusing and hard to press at times for skipping songs and powering on/off.

Controls

Jabra

Excellent controls – all on one side and easy to push and feel on the run without looking. Added bonus is an FM radio. *

Ear buds

Motorola

The clear plastic interchangeable ear buds were/are awful. The fit was fine but the plastic domes filled with perspiration on a long hot run and started making “squeaking sounds.” I solved this by swapping the plastic buds with a foam cover (over the solid ear bud piece).

Ear buds

Jabra

The interchangeable ear buds fit snugly and are comfortable.  *

Connectivity

Motorola

Excellent! I could hold my phone in my hand, strap it on my arm, or place it in my backpack and I always had good Bluetooth connection. I sometimes like to hold my phone whilst running to check the GPS or look at a map etc. Other times, I need my phone covered and out of the rain using my DryCase. So, I like flexibility to have my phone positioned where I require.  *

Connectivity

Jabra

Very Good. The phone has to be positioned on the upper arm on the same side of the ear piece with the Bluetooth sender unit otherwise dropouts occur. I can’t wear the arm-band, so I got around this problem by fixing the arm-band pocket onto the top back of my back-pack water pouch (camelbak) connectivity is good-ish but every so often the sound drops out for a split second. I can live with it but connectivity should be better than this. + connectivity has improved dramatically since the original writing of this article due to app updates and a change of phone.  

Sound Quality

Motorola

G̶o̶o̶d̶  Poor

 Sound Quality

Jabra

Very good *

Power

Motorola

I could safely get about three good workouts in without having to recharge the headset – about 4 hours of play time. *

Power

Jabra

I am not confident in getting more than one workout before recharging so I recharge after each exercise session – about 1.5 hours of play time.  

Compatibility

Motorola

Syncs with my android Galaxy Nexus phone no problem. Buttons on the headset control all music aspects like skip to next song etc. Headset buttons controls phone calls.  *

Compatibility

Jabra

Syncs with my android Galaxy Nexus phone no problem. Not all headset buttons work to control music (eg) to skip to next song etc. Headset button operation to accept phone calls and control volume works fine though. New phone works fine (Xperia z)      

Robustness

Motorola

Supposedly rain and sweat resistant but speakers do deteriorate over time (expect about 2-3 years of service). The plastic moulded one-piece build is strong and durable.  (removed star due to my headset losing sound in one speaker).

Robustness

Jabra

Sweat and rain resistant with good quality speakers. Solid plastic ear pieces are well made but the short, thin plastic cord between both ear pieces could easily be kinked or torn with mistreatment or by accident. *

Overall Rating

Motorola

4*

Overall Rating

Jabra

4*

 

Jabra sports armband fixed to rear of CamelBak

Conclusion

Major edit: Unfortunately, over the past few months both my S9 and new S11 Motorola headsets lost speaker volume and become unwearable. The S11 fault is consistant with other reviews I have read so it does seem not to be an isolated fault. The good news is my Jabra (in this review) is still going strong and now (contrary to the following paragraphs) is my recommended product out of the two headsets.

I still use both the Motorola HD Stereo and the Jabra Sports Stereo headsets. If I forget to recharge one headset, I usually have the other charged and ready to grab for a quick run.

Personally, I prefer the Motorola HD Stereo Headset over the Jabra Sports Stereo Headset because I think the fit of the Motorola is slightly better, I’m not a fan of the Jabra Sports cord between the earpieces as it sticks to the back of my neck, and most importantly connectivity of the Motorola headset wins hands down over the Jabra Sports.   

Even so, credit must be given to the Jabra Sports for its great sound quality and the controls being on just one side with an easy press and feel making operation on the move so much easier than any other headset I have used.Jabra Sports wireless headset controls

I expect a lot out of my exercise equipment and this includes entertainment products like music headsets. It’s understood these products may not last as long due to the way I use them compared with a hobby walker or someone who uses Bluetooth headsets for static, non-exercise music listening. Nevertheless, if a manufacturer claims their product has certain values like perspiration/rain resistance, then it had better work as it should for at least a few years.     

In the future, I will likely upgrade to the Motorola S10 HD Stereo Headset; unless, something better emerges on the market. Having said that, the Jabra still does the job better than the standard cord earphones and if I didn’t have a choice between the Motorola HD and the Jabra Sports then I’d be sticking with the Jabra. Who knows, Jabra may see this review and make some improvements to their headset…

Regardless, running with music in my ears will be with me until I can run no more, and I will be keen to keep an “ear” to the ground to hear the word on the street about the latest emerging technology on music headsets for runners/exercise.

For more information the manufactures websites are: Motorola S10 HD Stereo Headset, and Jabra Sports Stereo Headset.

I intend to periodically revisit and update this article accordingly via amendments or links in the future. (see edits in red)

I have created a thread on our forum site Motorola HD Versus Jabra Sport Bluetooth Wireless Headphones Review so feel free to discuss this article over there or leave a comment directly after this article if you prefer.

Apart from that,

Respect your body and keep it healthy through regular exercise

Mark Valencia - Editor SSM

 

Mark Valencia

Mark is the Founder of Self Sufficient Me - you can read more on our About Page and subscribe to his YouTube Channel here.

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