In this review feature, we take a look at some of the best headphones for working out. Beats are a must have during any treadmill or outdoor running adventure. Sometimes lifters will also rock headphones to get amped up for the next set. The problem with some headphones is that they don’t stay put, you constantly have to readjust them and cram them deep into your ears every other minute. The best workout headphones provide users with a clear sonic experience while remaining stable throughout the bumpiest of rides.
The first stop in this discussion will be our comparison table of the best fitness and gym headphones of 2016. Then we talk about what makes workout headphones different from regular headphones and the benefits of the sport designs. Our selection guide will help you pick the perfect set of headphones for you. In the review section, we take an in-depth look at some of the most popular running and athletic headphones on the market. We’ve included both wired and wireless options and headphones for all budgets.
16 Best Headphones for Working Out of 2016
There are many, many options when it comes to exercise headphones. There were over 145 sport specific headphones released just the year of 2015 alone. Frankly it can feel a little overwhelming, but we got your back, and your ears for that matter.
Pythagorean Health’s Top 7 Sport Headphone Picks
1. JLab Epic Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Sports Earbuds: The Best Sealed Wireless Earbuds
The Epic Bluetooth Sports Earbuds from JLab are a very comfortable option for most users. These are very light weight, only weighing 18 grams. You may forget you even have them on. It is the ultimate kit for workout folks. You get 10 hours of battery life, waterproof and sweat proof (you can even pop these bad boys in the washing machine), Neoprene case for your smartphone, and six sets, you heard right, six sets of extra ear tips to get the exact fit you need for anti fall out heart pounding workouts.
The 10 hours of battery life is about as good as it gets for wireless headphones. It has a countoured ear hook and a wrap around ear design that provides the ultimate stability for runners and lifters. You can be up to 30 feet away from this pair and still make calls and listen to music. There’s a small cable that wraps around your neck and located on that is the volume and phone controls. The 8mm drivers are great for high performance audio and ear drum pounding bass.
2. Plantronics BackBeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones in Blue: The Best Unsealed Wireless Earbuds
You may have seen these bad boys in our section up above. If you kinda want to hear what’s going on around you, maybe your a snowboarder or like to go cycling and what have you, these are the best unsealed option. In most cases, you have to compromise a little bit on audio quality when you go for an unsealed pair. That being said, these sound absolutely lovely. A deep bass and you’ll still be able to hear all the acoustics and sounds just fine. Sure they aren’t going to sound as good as the JLabs by nature of their design, but for the money it is a great offer.
These wireless earbuds feature big play and pause button right on the ear piece, which is easy to find when you’re in motion. The volume and battery level buttons are much smaller, but still pressable on the go. The rubber cable that runs behind your head is pretty nice, and the set itself feels stable at all times. This set also includes a Neoprene case that doubles as an armband for your smartphone, not bad. For the price, nothing comes close to the BackBeat Fits in the unsealed bluetooth wireless earbud category.
3. Sony MDR Active Sports Smartphone Headset: The Best Sealed Wired Earbuds
You probably already know Sony makes some of the best ear wear in the business. These earbuds are pretty cool, they have removable ear hooks for a 2-way wearing style (secure or loose). These are water resistant but don’t go hopping into a pool with them on. You also get a free Smartkey App, carrying pouch, clip, and cable adjustor that comes with these earbuds. They are compatible with both Apple and Android so you’re set there. Probably the best thing about these is their sound, one of the best for their price point for sure.
4. Yurbuds Inspire 200: The Best Unsealed Wired Earbuds
The Yurbuds Inspire 200’s easily make our list of best headphones for working out. Why? If you’re looking for an affordable option, this is the one. Frankly for the cost it is hard to justify buying anything more expensive because the improvement in sound quality isn’t too noticeable. Let’s be real you’re probably not going to notice it that much when your on the 10th mile of your marathon.
Also, workout headphones take a beating, you don’t want to be out $200 bucks when you forgot you put them on that bench and smash them with a 50 pound dumbbell. Besides sounding pretty good, these also have a tangle free magnet to store hassle free. These use a twist and lock design that ensures they stay in place even during the most strenuous exercise regimes.
Other Great Workout Headphone Options:
What Makes a Pair of Headphones Ideal for Working Out? Matters of Design and Quality
Exercise headphones are for those of you who like to run, bike, hike, lift weights, or any other vigorous activity while listening to music, audiobooks (two birds one stone eh guy?), podcasts, or other types of media. Plus, these headphones are always built with durability in mind, they need to withstand a beating. Whether that beating takes the form of sweat, weather, strain, and punishment from being transported all over the place, these headphones are built to last at least a couple years. You can check out a comprehensive list of types of headphones here.
There are a few distinguishing characteristics of the best headphones for working out. The first characteristic is a lightweight design. You don’t want anything bulky that is going to get in the way of working out. Headphones that cover the ear (circumaural headphones) or are worn over ear (supra-aural headphones) are typically out of the question for intense workouts. Neverthless, there are a couple over ear options that provide a secure fit and are decent for working out at the gym with. Furthermore, you want the set to be durable will a small footprint. You’re not going to take a pair of $500 Bose headphones to the gym and risk damaging them. For this reason most headphones built for working out and running sport a lightweight, small footprint design.
The most commonly seen design of headphones are actually “earphones”. For running and working out the most optimal design is the categories of ear buds, inner-ear, and canal earphones. These are designed to rest within the ear canal or sit just outside of it. Ear buds are usually not meant to seal off the ear completely which makes them a semi-open air design whereas inner-ear and canal earphones fit directly into the ear canal. This design seals off background noise and improves audio performance.
Another thing that is helpful about the best workout earbuds is that they usually have in-line control buttons. Say you are pounding out that last mile and you want to turn up the volume for that extra motivational push. This helpful feature let’s do just that with a quick easy tap buttons. This design element is typically seen on wired earbuds, however some wireless headphones have buttons right on the ear piece, such as the BackBeat Fit from plantronics. These buttons let you answer calls, skip songs, adjust the volume on the fly, without ever having to touch your phone.
Within the ear phone category of headphones, there are some helpful additions manufacturers have used in the construction to make sure they stay put in your ears. There is the earhook design, stay put tips, around ear, C-shaped design, headband design, custom ear tips so you can select just the right size for your ear — not all ears are created equally. There are also earbuds with a twist and lock configuration, making sure they never fall out whether you’re using them at the gym or on ski lifts. It is a great idea, that no matter what headphones you choose, to select a pair that comes with custom ear tips. Most of the best headphones for working out will include at least 3 custom ear tip sizes. Since everyone’s ears are different sizes, finding a snug fit is probably the best thing you can do to ensure they stay in the ear during vigorous workouts.
Another important feature is sweat proofing. Nearly all the best wireless exercise headphones (and wired) manufacturers use some form of water proofing for their workout headphone products. The fact of the matter is people work up a sweat pushing their bodies to the limit, and the ear is no stranger to this sweat pouring down the head. An additional benefit is for those of you who like to run outdoors if the weather is storming you can still have your music.
Some workout headphones will come with fun extras like lightweight carrying cases for your keys, cash, and other small accessories so you can keep them safe during your workout. These little storage pouches are very convenient for keeping loose items together during runs and trips to the gym. Others are bundled with armbands that will secure your smartphone during workouts.
Things to Look for When Shopping for the Best Workout Headphones for You
Here are some of the top considerations most gym and fitness enthusiasts say are most important to them when shopping for the right set of headphones and earbuds.
- Price. It is no surprise that most people’s top consideration is the cost of the set. We think many individuals probably have an idea of about how much they would like to spend on a new companion for their ears. $25, $50, $100, $200? In our list, we’ve included a little something for everyone so don’t worry. Keep in mind that many wireless bluetooth headphones are more expensive than their wired counterparts.
- Wired vs. Wireless. Another top consideration is the wired vs. wireless camps. The benefits of staying wired? You don’t have to remember to keep them charged, inline audio and phone controls, and you get the best sound for your dollar as they are less expensive than wireless. Benefits of cutting the cord? You don’t have to run a wire under your workout clothes or worry about keeping it from getting tangled or yanking it out of your ears mid work out (so embarrassing!) and no getting smacked in the face (how rude!) when kicking butt on the treadmill.
- Sealed vs. Unsealed. This may also be known as open air vs closed headphones but for exercise headphones the sealed vs unsealed terminology makes more sense. The basic difference here is that with seal pairs you’re going to block out gym noise and maybe that annoying Zumba class going on next to the weight room. However, you sacrifice a little awareness for this noise cancelling ability. In turn, unsealed earbuds are a little safer because you’ll be able to hear people behind you and other such things when working out in the great outdoors for example.
- Fit and Stability Mechanisms. If you’ve got a large cabesa and some elephant like ears you need to take this into account when shopping for headphones, particularly earbuds. Find a pair with custom tips so you can adjust to the largest tip for bigger ear canals. Also, you want to find a stability mechanism that works for you and doesn’t annoy you during workouts. This will prevent the headphones from falling out mid stride. Look for ear hooks, in ear contoured pieces, around ear grabbers, and other such designs.
- Battery Life. For wireless workout headphones you want to keep an eye on this factor. You don’t want them dying after an hour of working out. If you are a cross country runner or do long cycling trips and stuff like that make sure you find a pair that is going to go the extra mile with you.
- Extras. Custom ear tips, carrying cases and pouches, smartphone clips, water proof or water resistant, warranty details, magnetic anti tangle cords, the sky is the limit with what some manufacturers have packed into these kits for an extra treat.