Are you looking for the best workout headphones?
Well, you’re in luck because this guide has everything you need to know about exercise headphones.
After more than 90 hours of research and testing 29 headphones over the past 3 months, we have compiled a list of best headphones for working out.
Best Workout Headphones 2018
Surely, these headphones are not for everyone as some of them carry a hefty price-tag.
With that said, one thing can be said for sure, these workout earbuds are good enough to make it to our list of the best earbuds for working out 2018.
1. Jaybird X3 – Simply the Best headphones for working out
Jaybird X3 is an excellent choice for people looking for headphones for the gym or other sports.
It’s our top pick because it offers the best balance of price, features, and functions.
Jaybird X3 offers extremely versatile and Secure fit and has a great build quality.
It also features a useful companion app to adjust the equalizer so you are in more in control while listening to music or podcasts.
(watch the in-depth video review below)
8 hours of Battery life. 15 mins of charging will give you 60 mins of playback time!
Great for running, and long gym sessions
Features Excellent adaptable sound
Compact & Durable design
Comes with a Useful App (Called MySound app) to personalize your experience. The software works with Android and iOS.
Excellent noise isolation
Proprietary charging accessory. So if you lose the charging dock, you have to purchase a new one.
Average call quality (but not a dealbreaker)
Full In-depth Review of the Jaybird X3
The X3 is the third generation workout and sports headset from Jaybird. It is the successor to the critically acclaimed X2, released in 2015. The Bluetooth-powered X-series headphones are known for their high-quality sound and customization options.
And the X3 doesn’t disappoint, with top notch sound quality, deep booming bass, and excellent clarity. After all, Jaybird has been ranked among premium brands like Beats, Bose, and Sennheiser in the past.
On the design front, the X3 is a Bluetooth wireless headset, with a cable joining the two earbuds. The cable also houses a small three-button remote.
Jaybird has added a lot of customization options with the earbuds to help us find the right fit. The memory foam and silicone tips are a mixed bag really. The foam offers the most secure fit, while the silicone may have a tendency to slip, especially after excessive sweating.
The patented silicone fins are entirely optional, and that is a good thing. Some might find it extremely useful to anchor the buds inside their ears. While for others, they may just be a needless distraction.
Regarding size, the X3 is a good deal smaller than the X2. But with the batteries inside the earbuds, they are still quite large and slightly heavy. But the extra weight was not a major issue for us.
Battery performance is not too shabby, with a total running time of close to 8 hours on a full charge. The charging is not lightning fast, but you can easily get an hours worth of juice in within 15 minutes of charging if you are in a hurry.
The Bad: Phone call reception quality is only average
If you need to answer a lot of calls while working out, you might have some issue with the X3. Don’t get us wrong, the call quality is quite acceptable, but there is some static involved. The whole experience is average. If you want to get a headphone with a better call quality, check out the Bose SoundSport Headphones.
The software features worked quite well. The app has some nifty features involving playlists. And the Android and iOS compatibility is excellent.
The cable is flat and quite tangle free. You get a cord shortening clip mechanism along with it to adjust the length. It doesn’t get in your way when you are running at all.
The earphones are almost waterproof, and we mean almost. They can survive rivers of sweat and the odd accidental splash of water. But they cannot handle showers or actual swimming.
JayBird X3 is this year’s best bluetooth workout earbuds. The manufacturer specializes in producing premium quality sports earphones, and it shows in the way the X3 is designed. If you want to listen to music while breaking into as sweat, either in the gym or outdoors, the X3 is a great choice.
2. Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones – Our 2nd Best Bluetooth Headphones for Gym.
We are pretty sure that Bose does not need any introduction. And yes, quite unsurprisingly the SoundSport also finds a spot on our Editor’s Choice list.
The Bose Soundsport wireless headphones are our runner-up pick. They are the most comfortable in-ear wireless headphones right now.
They are sweat-resistant & offer excellent sound quality with a little bass emphasized sound compared to the X3 reviewed at #1.
According to out test results, the Bose Soundsports has one of the Strongest wireless performance when compared to other earbuds in this price range.
Good call quality
Extremely comfortable to wear
Excellent Wireless Performance
Secure fit due to winged tips
Sweat resistant, ideal for running/jogging
6 hours of battery life which is relatively less than our top pick
Slightly bulkier than other on this list.
Full In-depth Review:
Perfection is a word that one commonly associates with the Bose brand. And they almost managed to pull it off again, with the SoundSport headphones. And we say almost, only because this is the first ever wireless sports headset designed by the company!
Like most of its competition, the SoundSport also features two earbuds connected by a cord. You also get an inline mic and volume controls on the cord. Incidentally, though, there is no cord shortening feature, just a clip on system to keep the cable from moving around.
There is nothing shocking or surprising about the sound quality. This is, after all, a Bose product. It delivers everything you expect from the brand regarding sound quality, period.
But you will be seriously taken aback when you see the earbuds. They are huge, positively massive, and do stick out a fair bit from inside your ears.
But once you get over the initial surprise, the earbuds do feel well designed. The set comes with silicone ear plugs in three different sizes. At least one of them should fit well enough for most people.
Plus, there is also the proprietary StayHear+ design technology that securely anchors these buds in your ear. They work well for the most part. The huge ear buds stay in place surprisingly well, even when one is running full tilt.
There is no noise cancellation option, so be prepared to catch quite a bit of background noise. If your gym music is loud, you might have some trouble with these headsets. But on the whole, they are perfect for the runners and joggers, as you need to be able to hear traffic sounds and all
The call quality is pretty decent, even if the person on the other end will get a lot of background sounds from the inline mic. Overall, the SoundSport can easily handle frequent phone calls when you are on the go.
Those earbuds are massive because of two Li-ion batteries inside, capable of delivering six hours of running time. Charging can be completed within two hours. And you can charge directly from the earbuds, which is a handy feature.
Battery life is decent, not decidedly the best. But Bose provides a way to get around that with a very useful accessory case, available for purchase. The case has a built-in charger that can be used for charging on the go.
SoundSport shines on the connectivity and software front, with NFC, Bluetooth, and the dedicated Bose app. Connecting to, and switching between devices is an absolute breeze. And the Bose app is packed with features like heart rate monitor.
The Bose SoundSport are one of the best bluetooth in-ear workout headphones that very comfortable, sounds great and you can purchase it at a very reasonable price. it does have some chinks in its armor, but they are only minor gripes. Bose has managed to get their fundamentals spot on.
3. Plantronics BackBeat Fit – Best Waterproof Sports Headphones
Did you know that Neil Armstrong was speaking through a Plantronics headset while on the moon? The brand sure has a long and storied history, with experience in both commercial and consumer audio products. The BackBeat Fit is one of the best workout earbuds ever from the Plantronics stable.
BackBeat Fit does not have any messy cable connecting the earbuds. Instead, they have opted for a flexible wire that stays behind your head when you wear the headset. This wire/cord doesn’t touch your neck, which is great.
But on the whole, the fit and finish are quite satisfactory. The entire device is coated with a very soft and malleable rubber finish. The material is sweat and water resistant, which is to be expected from a sports headset.
The earbuds do not plug into the ear canal, so there is no noise cancellation on offer. This makes the BackBeat Fit a good option if you are on a bike, or running outdoors. The ear hooks loop over the top of your ear to keep the buds securely in place.
The design overall is quite comfortable and suited to constant movement. Some people might be bothered by the way the wire/cord keeps bobbing around behind their neck/head.
Buttons are placed on the external surface of the earbuds, controlling volume, calls, connectivity and play/pause. The setup is quite intuitive and easy to master. As long as you don’t mind reaching for your ears to do everything, they work fine.
The Bluetooth range is quite phenomenal at over 100 feet, so you don’t have to carry your phone around. If you must, you can also use the pouch provided, which doubles as an armband with a holster for your cell phone.
When the headset is placed outside the range of any connecting device, it is programmed to enter a battery saving mode automatically. And the battery capacity is also above average, stretching out to nearly eight hours of playback time. Charging can take up to 2 hours, which is quite acceptable.
You may have noticed that we have not mentioned audio quality yet, despite being deep in our review. To be frank, the BackBeat Fit does not have the chops to duke it out with the likes of Bose or JayBird. But it certainly is not the worst out there either.
If you are an audiophile, you may be disappointed by this headset. But for the normal user, Plantronics offers a more than decent listening experience. Sound levels might be too low for those who want high-intensity music to get into the “zone.”
Check Out the Video Review by RIZKNOWS:
The BackBeat Fit is a good product, with enough features to entice outdoor workout enthusiasts more than the gym freaks. The sound quality is acceptable, the build quality is excellent, and the battery life is just outstanding. It has a few flaws, but they are not deal-killers.
Excellent durability and build quality.
Above average battery life
The wireless range is impressive
Ideal for biking and running
Disappointing bass and volume
The cord has an irksome tendency to keep bobbing
4. SENSO ActivBuds S-250 – Bestseller Earbuds for Working Out
It takes a special mix for a product to be popular to a wide section of the populace. Cheap alone does not cut it; you need a balance between affordability and quality. And that is what Senso seems to have nailed on the head, with their Amazon Best Seller sports headphones.
So what makes the Senso one of the best wireless headphones for working out? Yes, it is a budget product, but there is more to it than that. This headphone has a bevy of useful features that make it a worthwhile investment for fitness oriented users.
For starters, the design is quite compact and understated. The two earphones are connected by a tangle free fire that doesn’t get in the way while you are working out. The earpieces have a hook design that securely anchors them in place while you workout.
Amazon’s Best Seller
Good Wireless Performance
8 hours of battery life and upto 240 hrs of standby time.
Excellent customer support
Lots of freebies
Mic quality is average during calls
The ClipSize ConfigurationBluetoothBattery
That hook or clip is made of soft silicone substance. It cannot be molded into shape, but it stays comfortable even without that feature.
Sure, they may not handle the more high-intensity routines, but they are good enough for biking, jogging, and other gym routines.
The earbuds are available in three different size configurations. That is not much compared to some other headphones, but they offer enough customization for the average user. The soft silicone clips offer good comfort and noise cancellation.
The Bluetooth feature works almost flawlessly. The Bluetooth is rated 4.1 and has a range more than 30 feet. There is a slight delay in finding your phone when you turn them on, but that is only a minor issue.
The battery life is better than average and is capable of powering the earphones for almost 8 hours. Recharge times are also very much acceptable, clocking in at around 2 hours.
As for the sound quality, this is one of the highlights of the Senso. Sure, you cannot expect audiophile quality, but that would be madness for a budget sports earphone. Still, the Senso can offer some fight to higher priced brands like Beats in this category.
The bass is high enough for a good workout session. And the sound output is also very loud. The vocals are on the lower end of the spectrum, but you cannot anything more than that.
What truly seals the deal is the number of freebies provided as part of the package. You get two charging cords, including a car charger and a Lightning/micro USB, as well as a carrying case, and replacement buds. This is one of the best gym headphones out there.
The popularity of Senso stems from what it offers on the whole, as a complete package. The earphones punch above their weight regarding audio quality, the manufacturer offers a bunch of useful freebies, and the wireless works fine. If you want a budget all-rounder for your medium intensity workout routines, this is a solid product.
5. Mpow V4.1 – Bluetooth Headphones Wireless Sport Earphones
Not everyone wants audiophile quality sound output from their workout headphones. If “budget” or “best bang for the buck” is what you are looking for, Mpow may have some affordable options with acceptable quality for you. And the V4.1 Sports earphones are just that.
The V4.1 are wireless sports earphones connected by a cable. The design is nothing revolutionary, but what is available is quite functional. The cable also hosts the volume control buttons and a mic for answering phone calls.
Let’s get audio quality out of the way as quickly as possible. You get average quality output that is quite acceptable at a budget price point. The bass is quite loud and adequate for gym settings, but everything else is mediocre.
And there is noise cancellation feature either. But that shouldn’t be too much of a concern since most sport model earphones leave that feature out for extra safety when you are outdoors.
The overall customizability and fit of the earbuds can be a hit or miss situation. The Mpow V4.1 does come with three ear tips of different sizes, as well as six different ear hooks, three for indoor use and three for outdoors.
You will have to spend some time experimenting with the combination of ear tips and hooks to get the best possible combination. Even then, the experience is not likely to be free of hiccups. The earbuds do have a tendency to fall off now and then, both in the gym and outdoors.
The individual earbuds have a metallic exterior, and they can feel quite bulky. The batteries inside offer average to acceptable performance, lasting around 5 hours.
Overall the build quality is quite decent, and the device is rated as sweat-proof and waterproof. But that is not entirely true, as, in some instances, excessive sweating can take out the volume control buttons.
The controls can take some time to get used to, but they are quite easy to learn. The Bluetooth pairing feature works well, and there is no trouble at all in finding the signals. The software end is not the best out there, but that is to be expected for this class of sports earphones.
Longevity is a serious concern for these earphones though. If you want a device that lasts for several years, you may very well have to look elsewhere. The customer care though is top notch, and they do deliver replacements quite quickly.
The Mpow V4.1 exists for a very specific reason, and that can be explained in just a single word: budget. It offers everything you can expect from a budget product, including the flaws. If you can suffer those, this earphone is well worth a look.
Acceptable sound quality
Uses Bluetooth 4.1
Robust metal and rubber construction
Excellent customer service
Great budget optional
Earbuds have a tendency to fall off
Not completely sweat-proof
6. SoundPEATS Wireless Earbuds
Not everyone likes the cables that connect our earphones and headsets. Even wireless earphones usually have a connecting wire between the two earbuds. If you want to go the Apple Air Pod route on a budget, the SoundPeats earbuds are a tantalizing option.
As already mentioned, these are just like Air Pods. They are truly wireless and have nothing linking the two earpieces. But in the looks department, they are nothing like the Apple pods.
The two earpieces have ear hooks to hold them securely in place over your ears. All the controls are placed on the side of the devices, which also feature a USB charging port. The on-board batteries can keep them alive for nearly six hours, which is quite good.
The individual pieces can work separately even at a distance of 10 feet. So if you want to share some music with your gym partner or better half while running, this is a good option.
There are quite a lot of control buttons on these SoundPEATS earphones when compared to some other options in our list. And getting a grip on them all can be a chore, especially since the manual seems to rather poorly written.
The pieces fit quite comfortably in ears. But it has to be said that they do seem to go in deeper than other earbuds. It might feel a bit awkward initially, but that should pass with time. As such, it was not a major inconvenience for us
Those who need some tinkering can try changing the size of the earbuds. The package comes with soft ear buds in three different sizes. You also get a much-needed carrying case when you purchase this set.
The hooks help keep the earpieces in place during workouts and sprints. They may fall off with very rigorous or strenuous workouts involving a lot of movement, but otherwise, they hold on pretty well.
They are rated sweat-proof and work as expected in that regard. Since there is no connecting cable hugging your body, there is no risk of the controls getting wet and malfunctioning.
Since these are two independent pieces, you can use them in single or stereo mode. But the right piece is the main one, and if you lose it, the other one becomes pretty much useless. And it is quite easy to misplace one of these since they are not connected.
The overall sound quality places SoundPeats firmly in the cheap budget segment. It is acceptable for workouts, but do not expect awesome bass or treble levels. If you are an audiophile, this is not the best workout headphones for you, period.
Bluetooth connectivity is not a major issue, but connecting both pieces can be quite confusing. This is especially true for users who are new to wireless headphones.
The SoundPEATS earphones are ideal for those who want a true wireless experience on a budget. They offer decent if not stellar sound quality, and stay firmly in your ears. The battery life is also acceptable, with no major issues elsewhere.
True wireless listening experience
Uses Bluetooth 4.2
Comfortable to use, and stays in ear most of the time
Decent battery life
Can be used separately
Sound quality is not the best.
The individual earpieces occasionally cut out.
7. Shure SE215-K – Best Sound Isolating Earphones
Superb sound quality
Detachable cable, and modular design
Durable build quality
Fits comfortably in the ear
Not a dedicated sports design, might be unsuitable for jogging and running outdoors for some ears.
For audiophiles on a budget, there are some neat options in the market these days. The Shure SE215-K is one of the best among the lot, coming from a known brand steeped in history. Using a unique design, they offer something different from what you see around.
Okay, these are not wireless earphones. Instead, they are wired earphones with a neat twist: removable cable. This means that they will keep working for a lot longer since in most wired earphones, it is the cable that dies first.
While all the earphones we have reviewed so far have been specially designed for sports use, the Shure SE215-K does not have this distinction. It is a high-quality earphone designed for audiophiles who cannot afford the big name brands. It just so happens that you can easily use this at the gym or while running.
The FitThe SoundThe CableBeware!
Fit should not be a major issue since the package comes with six different of soft buds to try out. Once you find the one that fits, you will get an almost perfect noise canceled sound reproduction.
The sound quality is top notch, surprisingly for such a mid-range product. This earphone is not for those who love bass heavy earphones. But if you want high fidelity sound reproduction, and like listening to a wide variety of genres of music, the Shure is a fantastic choice.
The cable is extremely tough and durable and should last a long time. Since this is not a dedicated sports earphone, it has not been rated sweat-proof or waterproof. But as long as you don’t mind the cables connecting the earphones to your phone, this is a more than capable device for use during workouts.
Coming to the sports-oriented features, the earphones are secured by a loop of over the ear cables. This should help them stay in place for all moderately strenuous exercises and runs. But they might fall off during the more strenuous fitness routines.
Beware while using these earphones out on the street. They can shut out external sounds, which is a hazardous thing to do when you are near traffic. From that perspective, these may be better suited for use indoors in your gym, where they can put you in the zone.
The most amazing thing about these Shure earphones is the mind-boggling audio quality you get. Yes, it is not a sports oriented device, and yes it has cables. But the sheer value you get from the whole package does make up for these glaring inadequacies somewhat.
8. Koss KSC32L – Best Lightweight Workout Headphones.
Very comfortable on your ears
Stays in place securely even while running
Sweat proof design
Excellent sound quality
Good choice of colors
No mic provided
It is often gratifying when a manufacturer takes out the time and effort to design and market a product for a demographic that is often overlooked: women. The Koss FitClips were designed for and by women. And it is not just a regular headphone given a pastel paint job!
Women tend to have smaller ears when compared to men, and Koss factored in things like this when designing the FitClip. But that doesn’t mean that this product can be used only by women! Far from it, this is, in fact, a unisex product that should suit men and women equally well.
While these are dedicated sports earphones, they are not wireless. So if you need a wire-free music experience during your workouts, these may not be the best choice out there.
The two earpieces fit snugly into your ear and offer decent noise cancellation. If you want to use them in your gym, they are excellent at blocking out the noise. But when you are out on the streets, you may want to reduce the volume levels, so that you are not entirely cut off from the world.
The DesignThe SoundSwear & Water ResistantLack of Mic!
The overall design is quite simple and elegant. And yes, these headphones do come in five different pastel colors for that extra “feminine” touch!
The earpieces are held securely in place by a soft and flexible ear hook that gently rest around your upper ear. The earbuds are quite small and snugly fit inside. You also get soft cushions in other sizes along with the package, for a better fit.
While this can work for both men and women, it is, after all, a very compact headphone design. If you are a man with larger ears, these may not fit you at all.
The sound quality of the FitClips deserves at least four stars. The bass is great, and the overall quality of sound reproduction is excellent. Everything crystal clear, and loud as well.
This his is a dedicated sports headphone, they have been designed to be resistant to sweat and some water as well. You cannot take a shower or go swimming while wearing these, of course!
And the lack of a mic means that you have to take out your phone to answer any calls. Workaholic types who like attending calls during workouts will, unfortunately, have to steer clear of this headphone, unfortunately.
The compact design does not exactly result in a very durable product though. While it is not extremely fragile, the FitClips cables parts do have a tendency to break with time. But you can always get a replacement, thanks to excellent customer care.
If you can look beyond the overt marketing for women, and if you don’t have really large ears, the Koss FitClips is well worth a look. They offer excellent sound quality and a comfortable fit and are ideal for both men and women.
9. Jabra Elite Sport – Wireless Waterproof Fitness and Running Earbuds.
Best in class for a secure fit
Excellent sound quality
Feature rich fitness tracking
Fully waterproof design
HearThrough mode for better situational awareness
Average battery life
Earphones are rather bulky
This is the second truly wireless sports earphone on our list, with a beefy feature list and formidable reputation. The Elite Sport is a direct rival to the Air Pod and fits into the same premium category. If you want sports earbuds for intense physical activity, the Jabra might be one of the best workout earbuds out there.
Jabra Elite Sport has two independent earbuds that are powered by Bluetooth. They have the capability to work independently of each other.
The buds are rather bulky, but it can be forgiven due to the number of features they hide inside. You get a precision heart monitor and accelerometer to track various health stats. And these stats can be used in either the Jabra app or other major fitness tracker apps.
The bulky earpieces may not work for everybody, but Jabra has provided three foam buds of different sizes to help people find a better fit. There are also three pairs of silicon buds, with fins called “EarWings” by Jabra. Getting the right combination for the perfect fit can take some time, but it is well worth the effort.
When properly fitted, Jabra offers one of the most secure earphone wearing experiences we have ever felt. This device can handle anything you throw it, from fast sprints to high-intensity workouts.
WaterproofSound QualityCall QualityBattery
And needless to say, it has robust protection against sweat and is also totally waterproof. This is one of the best-protected devices we have reviewed so far when it comes to liquids and fluids. The earphones will survive a splash or a shower with ease.
The sound quality is quite decent, for a fitness oriented earphone. The bass effects are very well controlled, and the sound quality is quite rich. This is a pair of earphones that can handle all kinds of music genres with ease.
The call quality is also above average. The mics in the earbuds can deliver excellent voice clarity, because there are two each in each ear bud. Another interesting feature is a setting which allows you to use these mics to capture your ambient noise while running.
The battery life is one of the few weak links in this strong package. It lasts only for 3 hours, which is quite low.
This setting makes the Jabra a great option for runners and joggers since it enhances your situational awareness. For improved situational awareness, you can also use the silicone tips. The foam tips offer improved noise cancellation.
If you are a fitness enthusiast, the Jabra Elite Sport is simply one of the best headphones for working out. Its fitness tracking features are amazing, and it also has got all the fundamentals like comfort and sound quality spot on. If you can afford it and harness all its features, this is a solid earphone to buy.
10. Swimbuds Sports – Best Waterproof headphones for Swimming
Best music output underwater
Fits perfects in the ears
Quite comfortable to wear
Durable and sturdy build quality
Does not work very well out of the water
Only useful for regular swimmers
Not many sports earphones are designed to work with one beloved physical activity: swimming. As the name amply suggests, Swimbuds SPORT is one of the few devices that we have reviewed that can handle itself underwater. This is probably the best headphones for swimming out there.
Many other earphones are mainly designed for land-based activities and come with limited protection against water. Swimbuds SPORT was designed from a different perspective. First and foremost, it is an earphone for use while swimming.
When you want an earphone to work while swimming, the fit is of paramount importance. Swimbuds arrives with four different styles of earbuds to help you choose the one that fits your ears the best. These earbuds all sport a patented waterproof design, ranging from regular round tips to tree tips, fin tips and ergo tips.
These are wired headphones, with a 1.3-foot long cord to connect to your phone or music device. You can opt for an extension cord if you need more length when out of the water.
If you are a swimmer, these are what you need to add music to your swimming experience. They work well, even with long and strenuous swimming sessions. The earbuds stay put and do not fall off, like at all.
Listening to music underwater is different than overland. The Swimbuds offer excellent performance underwater, cutting through other competing sounds with ease. But on dry land, the story is not so good.
The earbuds are designed with smaller than normal openings at their tips. This works wonders underwater. But on dry land, there is very little punch, and the sound just feels very muted and weak. It actually sounds worse than the cheap earphones your cell phone comes bundled with.
So there is no point looking at the merits of the Swimbud SPORT like regular sports earphones. The SPORT is probably the best you can expect for an underwater music experience, period. If you are a keen swimmer, you will enjoy it immensely during all those hours spent in the water. But outside, you are better off with another headphone.
Best Sport Headphones Buyer’s Guide
Headphones have become more than just an accessory. In fact, they have become almost an extension of ourselves. We spend so many hours tethered to our devices on a daily basis doing everything from fielding business calls, listening to music, or even watching a video. With so many styles, options, and emerging technologies available, it can be difficult and overwhelming to find the right pair for your needs. We have designed this guide as a way to streamline the process while aiding you in making the best selection.
Does Size Really Matter?
When you are looking at the different sizing options of headphones, the decision will rely on your lifestyle, what they will be used for, and your budget. Individuals that will use their purchase for activities such as running have different needs than those that prefer to wear theirs during yoga or dance workouts. You may also want to use them for listening to music at work or watching a movie at home.
Smaller Can Be More Portable
While headphones are in and of themselves portable, the smaller versions are easier to tote around. Perhaps you need to leave straight from work to hit the gym. In that case, a small pair that is easily tucked away into your purse or bag may be ideal for your specific needs. It is important to note, however, that sometimes smaller earphones lack the sound quality of their larger counterparts.
Is Bigger Always Better?
Recently more headphones have begun to pop up on the market that are reminiscent of the larger earmuff style from the 1980’s. This style usually consists of two earpieces connected by an adjustable headband. Often, they are hardwired and need to be plugged into a device to play music, which can be cumbersome for working out. However, they typically have better sound and acoustics than their smaller, sleeker cousins. Some models can fold up for easier storage and portability, and wireless versions with Bluetooth are becoming more common.
Different Styles of Headphones
Headphones come in a wide array of styles to suit any lifestyle and preferred activities. The ear coupling design determines how the earphones will fit and what types of exercise they are best suited towards accommodating. You will find the following ear coupling designs as the most common among styles.
This style is designed to fit just inside the opening of the ear. Most models are packaged with several sizes of silicone or foam ear tips. This is helpful since you can choose the set that best fits you. Earphones designed to be worn in the ear will mostly isolate you from hearing outside noises, which will let you focus on the sounds you want to hear rather than the outside world around you.
In ear style headphones offer a snug fit that makes them perfect for situations where being active could normally allow headphones fall off. They are also extremely portable due to being smaller in size. They are ideal for working out, traveling, work, and home use. The downside with this version is that the sound quality usually is not as spectacular as with over the ear or on the ear models.
Over ear style headphones cover your ears completely like the ones worn by djs. They may not be as well suited for activities that involve bouncing motions like running due to the way they are attached to a headband. This model can slip easily or fall off during strenuous exercise. However, they offer the highest level of sound quality.
With the on-ear headphone design the cups sit directly over the ear. This style will vary in size, but they are smaller than traditional over ear models. Many items in this class fold up for better portability and storage. This version is suitable for isolating external sounds, and they are easy to pull down if you need to talk to someone or take a break from listening. This is often a good compromise between over the ear and in ear headphones since they are smaller and more portable, yet they still offer decent sound quality.
All pairs of headphones fall into one of two classes: open-back or closed-back, referring specifically to the style of the ear pieces. Each set of headphones will include one or more drivers that generate the sound. The manufacturer will use one of two methods to create the back side of the system. These two options include open-back and closed-back.
The open back models leave the back open to allow for the driver to interact with the room. Open back versions usually have a better sound quality and often allow a different presentation of the music. Instead of the sound flowing straight into the ear canal, listeners have more of a perception that the sound is coming from the room. For most users, this allows for a more authentic and realistic sound experience, not unlike enjoying live music.
Conversely, open back systems allow the interference of external sounds, meaning you can hear what is happening around you in the environment, which may disrupt the listening experience. This can be good or bad. If you want to concentrate solely on the music, it can be distracting. However, if you are out jogging on a busy street, it will be useful to have an awareness of environmental sounds for safety purposes.
If the manufacturer has chosen a closed back design, the back is sealed off. This style allows for the wearer to seal themselves off from outside noise and interference. This can be beneficial if you are wearing the headphones in an office, while traveling, at the library, in the gym, or any situation where you want to rock out without disturbing others nearby. You also have the benefit of not being disturbed by environmental sounds.
The downside of a closed back system lies in the issue that they offer a smaller soundstage than their open back counterparts. You also run the risk of hearing the sounds vibrate off of the ear cup, although many brands have begun incorporating anti-resonating materials to alleviate this concern. This version is great for allowing you to be isolated from the outside world.
An important consideration in choosing the best set of headphones is how they will connect to your other devices. They will be either wired (cords) or wireless (no cords).
Wireless headphones offer a great freedom to move and be active. There is no cord restricting you or tethering you. Most wireless headphones utilize Bluetooth to transmit sound which works by compressing the audio spectrum. This means that the sound will not be as high quality as if you were listening to a CD for example.
Most wireless units can transmit sounds over distances of up to 30 feet from a smart phone or other portable media player. Newer choices can transmit easily through walls and floors, increasing your mobility and allowing you to be further from your media device. They can experience interference from other devices such as microwaves. You will also be required to charge the headphones and battery life times can vary widely.
Most headphones commonly available will use a cord to connect you to the music. The sound quality will be better than wireless versions. The cord has a better system to alleviate issues like background hissing noises and the dynamic range compression of wireless models which can have a deadening effect on the music. Unfortunately, wires and cords can be a huge hassle when exercising.
The specs of a set of headphones involve understanding their impedance and sensitivity. Impedance refers to the resistance the sound waves face when being pumped through the system and into your ears. Most models with be designed with under 50 ohms impedance. A higher impedance level will allow for more defined bass, cleaner sounds, and a wider soundstage. However, any models featuring ohms above 50 still will not play that loudly as the sound is compressed on portable devices.
Sensitivity is a way to measure the efficiency of the headphones to convert sound from electrical energy. Most of the models on the market will have ranges of sensitivity from 80 to as high as 125. Not all manufacturers will clearly label the sensitivity level, so it can be tricky to ascertain. A set of earphones that have a sensitivity number in the lower 80’s and an impedance of 50 may not be able to play music very loudly on a portable device. This may not be an important issue to everyone, but it’s nice to keep in mind as you shop around.
Other Important Headphone Features to Consider
As you continue to shop for the perfect set of earphones for your needs, you will likely discover that there are a plethora of fancy features and design details available among the most popular headphones currently on the market. Here is a rundown on the more common elements that may be incorporated into the pairs you will see.
Noise Cancelling or Noise Reduction
Headphones that offer noise reduction or are noise canceling can be an excellent option for many buyers. This feature is great for listeners that want to focus solely on the music or sounds without the continual disruption of outside noises. Some versions have been crafted to offer passive noise reduction. This is often seen in closed design over-ear and some earbud style earphones. These styles tend to block out a greater percentage of noise than the open design, on-ear, and most earbud-style headphones.
To further block out undesirable environmental sounds, active noise-canceling models go a step further. These headphones are battery operated, and they use tiny microphones to screen noise frequencies of the outside world. The headphones then produce the same frequencies and feeding them back in reverse, which results in a concerted effort to cancel the outside noises. Typically, earphones designed with both a way to physically block out noises and an active noise-cancellation method work best to isolate you from unwanted sounds.
Some of the models currently available will allow the user to disable the noise reduction function, which can help you to extend the battery life if you start to run low on juice. Other versions will only work while the noise canceling feature is activated, so if the battery dies, you aren’t able to use them. A bonus of this design is that you can use them when you aren’t listening to any music at all so that you can block out any and all sounds around you. This comes in handy when studying, concentrating on work, or perhaps while meditating.
The amount of sound reduction on higher quality noise-canceling headphones is astounding, especially when traveling. If you are a passenger on a plane listening to the engine noise, headphones with noise reduction capabilities can be a perfect solution to offer you peace and quiet. Individuals frequently exposed to loud sounds like a plane engine or other noisy environments could greatly benefit from this technology.
The various styles of headphones offer a multitude of ways to control the volume of the sound. Many noise-canceling and wireless headphone varieties will be crafted with the volume control on the headphones themselves. This feature is convenient and will let the user adjust the volume right on the headphone as opposed to needing to adjust it on the smartphone or the portable media playing device being utilized.
Many of the options currently on the market will be packaged along with a cord that contains a set of small buttons. These buttons are used to control the volume on your device by raising it, lowering it, or by muting the volume, as well as being able to change tracks.
The inclusion of a microphone is a nifty tool to allow you to multitask with your earphones. This feature will let you take phone calls without taking the earphones off. This can be an excellent tool in noisier areas as well.
Some headphone options will include a balance control. This tool lets the wearer regulate the left to right balance of the earphones. This may not seem like an important function to many users, but it can be beneficial for anyone with a hearing deficit in one of their ears.
Adjustability of the Headband
If you decide to purchase on the ear or over the ear headphones they will be connected with a headband. Designers use several methods to allow the headbands to shorten or lengthen to your comfort. They may slide or move by clicking. For exercising purposes, the clicking method usually works best to stay in place,
Headphones Designed with Collars Instead of Bands
While this style may at first look like something that belongs on Star Trek, neckband style or collar earphones are increasing in popularity. They are actually a practical solution. They can be more comfortable while exercising and more stable as well. A big selling point with the collar style earphones is that it eliminates tangling cords or makes the cords retractable. The collar often lighter and thinner as well.
Tangle Free Cords
If you decide to purchase a set of headphones with cables, tangle free cords are an amazing invention. This technology is relatively new, and falls into the “why didn’t I think of that” areas of useful designs. Tangle free cords stay untangled and won’t twist up into t mess of knots. This is a great feature for those that take their headphones everywhere with them and are sick of constantly playing with a tangled mess of cords.
Replaceable Ear Pads, Tips, and Cushions
Most headphones come with the ability to replace the various cushions, ear tips, or ear pads. This is helpful for so many reasons. You may lose an ear tip, or a cushion could get chewed up by a pet dog. You can also replace them with fancier options like ones composed of micro-suede or leather in certain cases.
New Technology in Ear Tips
Comply is a newer material used by some manufacturers of in-ear and earbud style headphones. The ear tips made from comply often fit more securely, offer better sound quality, and offer total isolation to allow for a richer sound. They are also much more comfortable.
Travel Friendly Options
How well a set of headphones can travel is important since you will most likely take them places instead of leaving them at home at all times. Today’s options can fold up into smaller sizes. Many are packaged with a travel case to allow for maximum portability.
Thinking About How You Will Use Your Headphones
Now that we have taken a close look at the many excellent features and specs available in the headphones available to buyers, we need to examine how these elements will mix with your activity levels and overall lifestyle. For instance, if you are an extremely active individual that likes to go running for extended periods of time, you may be better suited for purchasing a wireless in ear option or headphones with a behind the head or collar design. You should also look at models that are sweat and water resistant.
Depending on the type of exercise you most enjoy, headbands may be a hindrance. They can feel clunky. They can get heavy as you work out. They can also get sweaty and become a breeding ground for bacteria. Another issue is that they could fall off or constantly loosen as you move or become slick with sweat.
Wireless options with Bluetooth capability have taken the active world by storm. These devices offer a way to fully participate in your chooses work out while still being able to listen to music without getting tangled up in a cord. However, you must remember to keep the headphones charged, or you will run the risk of them dying during your exercise routine. Another issue could be if any items in your gym or home interfere with the Bluetooth technology, which can be irritating.
Individuals that need to multitask and field calls while listening to music should look for a set that offers a microphone. A hands-free method of answering or a simple push button on the listening device can also be helpful. There are many items available with these features, and more.
You may be interested in using your headphones for work or studying in addition to working out. In this scenario, choosing an option with noise canceling or noise reduction properties can be key. These options can help isolate you from outside disturbances, which can be extremely annoying will trying to concentrate.
In conclusion, when deciding which pair is best for you, it’s imperative to examine the ways you will use them. What activities you’ll be participating in while wearing them can help to point you in the right direction. With manufacturers designing models that are resistant to damage from water and sweat, there are more choices than ever before. You can even find sets that can be rinsed off in water to ensure they stay clean and germ-free.
Choosing the best set of headphones can be a long and arduous process. There are a huge number of different styles and options available in today’s market. There are also many confusing specs. Recent advances in technology have completely changed the way earphones sound, making them a practical solution. Understanding your specific needs when looking at options can help to streamline the process.
Other Workout Headphones We Tested for This Guide
1. The Koss SportaPro Portable Headphones
The SportaPro Portable Headphones by Koss are perfect for wearing at work or during lighter exercise routines. This set offers a portable, flexible headband that can be worn on top of or behind your head. The headband is capable of pivoting backward at the base to allow for maximum comfort while wearing. The SportaPro’s features both 0.125 and 0.25-inch jacks and foam-covered ear cups that allow for ambient environmental sounds to be heard, placing safety first.
This item easily collapses into a streamlined, protected carrying case that is neatly and safely stored in a gym bag, backpack, or briefcase. The SportaPro’s are also desirable due to being an affordable option, and they are also very lightweight at a mere 2.2 ounces. This option has awesome bass, boasts a frequency response of 15 to 25,000 HZ, 60 ohms impedance, and feature less than 0.2 percent distortion and sensitivity of 103 dB SPL.
- Headband pivots allowing them to be worn on top of the head or behind the head
- Foam ear cushions for comfort and sound quality
- Easily collapses into a carrying case that’s included in the packaging
- Great bass and a clean sound
- Allow for environmental ambient sounds, important if running or jogging on busy streets
- Super lightweight, very comfortable to wear for extended periods
2. The JLab Audio Epic2 Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Sport Earbuds
The Epic2 Bluetooth Earbuds by JLab Audio provides an excellent choice for anyone that wants wireless headphones that can stand up to a heavy workout. These Bluetooth workout headphones are sweat proof, skip free, and lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge. Utilizing a Memory Wire design, they offer comfort and are super lightweight.
The Epic2 Sport Earbuds deliver crisp, clear sound with pristine 8mm drivers created for high-performance. They are completely wireless and have a range of up to 30 feet. Best of all, they can be rinsed in water to wash away sweat after a tough workout making them one of the best Bluetooth headphones for running.
- Wireless so you don’t need to worry about becoming tangled up in any cords, battery charge lasts up to 12 hours
- Comfortable Memory Wire design
- Available in several colors
- Water proof, sweat proof Bluetooth headphones, and skip free Beacon Signal technology
- Amazing sound quality and excellent bass sound
- Super lightweight
- Moderate price point
- May require some fine tuning with pliers to achieve a comfortable fit when first purchased
3. The Sennheiser CX 685 Adidas Sport Headphones
The CX 685 Headphones by Sennheiser are an affordable option for those needing a sporty solution to earbud issues. Developed and designed with professional athletes in mind, this option offers an excellent fit, comfort, and acoustics suitable for any workout. The earphones boast natural sound with an acoustically closed design and their rugged, water resistant design will through any exercise.
This item features para-aramid reinforced cables, parts that won’t strain, as well as a slide-to-fit holding instrument to deliver an optimum fit. They are a lightweight and durable choice. The addition of an EarFin holding system offers security against the earbuds from popping out mid run.
- In ear design
- Comfortable to wear
- Perspiration and water resistant to alleviate concerns of damage when working out
- Great for running and jogging
- EarFin holding system to ensure they stay on securely
- Durable and lasting product design
- Affordable price point
- Not completely waterproof, so be careful not to oversaturate them
4. The Monster iSport Freedom Headphones
The iSport Freedom Headphones by Monster are a great wireless option. They are sweat proof, water resistant, and include an antimicrobial cloth for easy cleaning. This item offers amazing sound in a wireless, on-ear option.
With Bluetooth and full frequency response, these headphones are great for working out. This comfortable and reliable choice even has a reflective strip to safeguard against accidents at night. The battery life is great as well.
- Wireless headphones so no worrying about untangling cables
- Can also be used with audio cable
- Bluetooth capability
- Includes antimicrobial cloth, micro USB to USB cable, protective travel pouch
- Water resistant, sweatproof, and easy to clean
- Good battery life
- Affordable pricing
- Heavier and larger than other options which could be annoying to wearers
5. The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones
The Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones are a luxury model from Beats. These superior quality headphones feature a 12-hour life after charging and Fast Fuel which gives users a one-hour life on a five-minute charge. This item is sweat and water resistant to last through tough workouts.
This model is a good choice for runners thanks to the security of the ear hook feature, they will stay in place. They are available in several colors. The downside with the Powerbeats3 Earphones is that they are expensive and tend to not be a long lasting as other similar models.
- Wireless so no cords to mess with and they are Bluetooth capable
- Ear hook keeps them in place while running
- Made by Beats which is a reputable brand well known for excellence
- Superior sound quality
- Available in several colors
- Long battery life
- May not be worth price since they have a tendency to break after several months with heavy use
6. The Skullcandy Grind Headphones
The Grind Headphones by Skullcandy are high-quality without the high price tag. This model is an excellent option for anyone in search of premium earphones with awesome bass, precision highs, and outstanding vocals. This pick from Skullcandy comes in a plethora of fun colors to suit any style.
This item features a more traditional design of a headband with ear cushions for a superior fit and feel. While they aren’t wireless, the sound quality and affordability make up for it. Skullcandy has proven to be a company that manufacturers higher quality products that are still affordable. This is a great option for anyone that doesn’t mind a cord and wants an affordable yet stylish choice in an excellent pair of over ear workout headphones.
- Headband design with comfortable foam ear cushions
- Tap tech allows users to tap a button on the earphone to allow multitasking
- Lots of color and print options
- Great sound quality
- Extremely affordable
- Well-made and very durable
- They are not wireless or Bluetooth capable
7. The 66 Audio Wireless Sports Headphones
The 66 Audio Wireless Sports Headphones offer style, performance, and incredible sound. This is a lightweight, portable option that can fold down to fit compactly in your pocket. This choice is also extremely comfortable making them one of the best earbuds for working out.
Featuring a wireless, Bluetooth enabled design and an extended battery life, these earphones are meant to go the distance. The sound quality is hard to beat with a high bandwidth output capability of 44.1kHz and sound data rates of over 350kbps. The perfect option for anyone that likes to multitask, the Audio Headphones can also work as a hands-free way to answer phone calls.
- Behind the head wear design
- 25-hour battery life
- Wireless, Bluetooth capable
- Easily collapses
- Great all-around sound
- Perfect for multitasking includes microphone element for phone calls
- Super lightweight
- May not be as comfortable for users with larger ears
8. The MEE audio Sport-Fi M6 Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphones with Memory Wire
The Mee audio M6 is crafted to fit securely and comfortably within the ear eliminating the need to fidget with them during workouts constantly. This model features a patented ergonomic housing coupled with an over the ear design. It also is comprised of memory wire which is pliable, conforming comfortably to any ear shape while providing a fit that stays locked in place.
This option is available in a wide array of colors, has six ear tips included along with a carrying case, and is very affordable. The sound quality is on par with luxury brand companies for a fraction of the cost. This item is a perfect choice for anyone that wants to purchase some of the best gym headphones without breaking the bank.
- Secure over the ear design with memory wire
- Comfortable with patented ergonomic earpiece
- Perspiration and water resistant
- Great for running and jogging
- Comes with a carrying case and six sets of ear tips
- Wide variety of colors available
- Not completely waterproof, so take care when sweating profusely and cleaning
9. Matone QY8 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
The Matone Wireless Headphones are a great choice for those wanting wireless Bluetooth headphones at a reasonable price. These earbuds are comfortable and have a great sound. They are also fully sweatproof, so they are excellent for the gym.
The Mantone Headphones are noise canceling which can be great for individuals that are easily distracted. They also offer universal device capability and are great for those that must multitask with phone calls. They are lightweight and durable as well.
- Bluetooth capable
- High-performance battery
- Fully sweat proof
- Universal device compatibility and multitasking
- Noise cancelling
- Super lightweight
- Earlier versions of the product had issues with breaking, so be sure you get the newer model
10. Rovking Sport Headphones
The Rovking Headphones feature a smaller earbud design to accommodate smaller ears. They also have an over the ear hook to ensure they stay in place while working out. This option is perfect for anyone with small to average ear size that has been previously troubled by pain using other, larger earbud products.
Not only will they stay in place safely while exercising, but they deliver excellent bass and can isolate noises. You can utilize the hands-free function to answer calls and control your music, so this is a perfect choice for those needing to multitask. They are comfortable, durable, and affordable.
- Smaller design in ear earbuds with over the ear security hook
- Four ear tips included
- Hands-free music and phone capability
- Great bass sound
- Perfect for small to average ear sizes
- Super lightweight
- They aren’t wireless
- Not Bluetooth capable
- Maybe uncomfortable for larger ears