10 Best Sports Headphones: Klipsch, Jabra, Bragi and More
Silence is Not an Option
Whether you run, bike, lift weights, or engage in some other form of exercise, you probably depend on music to get you through your workout. The beat and the energy serve as great motivation for when you’re trying to push yourself further. Or maybe you prefer a good podcast, with an engaging story about a topic you find fascinating. Whatever you choose to listen to, there’s one piece of equipment you depend on: a good set of headphones.
Any old headphones won’t do, either — they’ve got to be built to withstand a workout. After all, if your headphones won’t stay in when you’re moving, or if a little sweat causes the sound to short out, or if the sound of your cord bouncing is louder than your music, your whole workout experience is disappointing. Let’s not even get into poor bass response.
What are the best sports headphones on the market today? We like these:
1. Best Wired Earbuds
Klipsch AS-5i All Sport Headphones
Klipsch is known for creating high quality audio products, and the AS-5i All Sports are no exception. They make your music sound really present and clear, so you don’t have to compromise performance just because you’re on the go. They’re rugged, and both sweat and water resistant, with a chunky remote on the wire; even if you’re wearing gloves, you’ll still be able to hit the controls with precision.
These earbuds hook onto ears for added security, so even if you’re bouncing around quite a lot, they’ll still stay put. And yes, they’re wired sports headphones, but the cable is solid and tangle-resistant (to the extent that these things can actually be tangle resistant). The AS-5i’s come with a few different size ear tips for the right fit, as well as a small carrying bag. As for price, they’re about mid-range, at $79 USD, or around £52.
2. Best Wired On-Ear Sports Headphones
Koss SportaPro Headphones
These sports headphones may look like a holdover from the 1980s Walkman era, but don’t let the Koss SportaPro’s appearance fool you: they sound like the future. Koss was the first manufacturer to develop stereo hi-fi headphones in the late 1950s, and they’ve been creating outstanding headphones ever since. These offer great audio quality with lots of booming bass.
The SportaPros do cover part of the ear, but they don’t have full ear cups like headphones made for DJs or for gamers. This lessens pressure on the ear, which is actually more comfortable for when you’re active. You can wear them with the band on top of your head or behind your head; they’re secure either way. Because they’re lightweight, they won’t weigh you down at all when you’re moving. At around £25, the SportaPro headphones are surprisingly affordable, especially given the quality.
3. Best Wireless Earbuds
Plantronics BackBeat Fit Sports Headphones
The BlueTooth connectivity is so freeing, but the real appeal of the Plantronics BackBeat Fit is its audio performance: crisp, clear, high-quality stereo sound. They’re not noise cancelling sports headphones, but when you’re exercising outdoors, that’s actually a good thing — you do want to be able to hear a little bit of what’s going on around you.
There’s a cable connecting the two hooked earbuds, but it’s unobtrusive, and the BackBeat Fit are still quite light at just 24g. On the earbuds themselves, you’ll find full controls for your music (play, pause, skip, and so on), and it’s super convenient to use these when you’re exercising rather than pecking around on your smartphone. The battery life is pretty good for wireless headphones, at eight hours for playback, longer in standby or hibernation modes.
It comes with a pouch that can also store your smartphone, plus an armband to connect your phone to your bicep while you’re running, lifting, or whatever. The BackBeat Fit are available in a few different colours, and can be found for around £75.
4. Best Smart Earbuds for Sports
Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds
Again, thanks to BlueTooth, the only wire you’ll find on the Jabra Sport Pulse is the one connecting the two earbuds. These are the exclusively in-ear type, and they fit securely and comfortably, thanks to several ear tips and fins included in the box. The sound quality is very good, with a bit less bass than some other models. There are, however, some smart features that make up for some of the low-end loss.
For example, the Jabra Sport Pulse has a built-in heart rate monitor — an extremely nice touch, especially if you don’t have a fitness tracker (or if your fitness tracker doesn’t track heart rate). There’s also a small remote on the connecting wire that has a microphone, allowing you to take phone calls with these. The Jabra Sport Pulse works with its proprietary app for heart rate data, though it does play nicely with some popular fitness apps like Nike+ and RunKeeper. It’s got about a four and a half hour battery life, so if you’re really good, you can run a marathon before needing to recharge.
At £199.99, they’re not cheap, but you’re paying for both the high-end audio plus the heart rate monitor.
5. Best Wireless On-Ear Sports Headphones
Monster iSport Freedom
If you’re not at all willing to compromise on outstanding audio quality just because you’re out training for your next 10k, then you’d do very well to look at the Monster iSport Freedom. Monster is actually an apt moniker, as this is a large headset! But it’s a monster in another way, because the sound quality is truly amazing: full bass, no distortion, and crisp sound at every point on the spectrum.
Still, they’re rugged, with a design meant to stand up to high impact workouts. They won’t fall off; if anything, they clamp on the head a bit too much, which might get uncomfortable with prolonged use (especially if you’ve got large ears or a big melon). The Monster iSport Freedom is water resistant, sweat proof, and even washable. The only downside? You’ll need some serious cash for these: they retail for a whopping £229.95. Still, as is often the case, you get what you pay for. With the Monster iSport Freedom, you get sports headphones with monster sound.
6. Best Headphones For Running
Beats Powerbeats2 Wireless Sports Headphones
Owned by Apple since 2014, Beats by Dre (as in, Dr. Dre, as in, Straight Outta Compton) is a very popular brand known for high quality and high prices. In keeping with the standard, the Powerbeats2 offer loud, clean sound performance with just the right amount of bass. They’re also priced as a more luxury product, retailing for £169.95. Still, the Powerbeats2 are ideal for running because they’re comfortable, sweat proof, and secure thanks to ear hooks, plus they sound really good.
They come with ear tips in several different sizes to help you find the right balance between a tight fit and enough space to let in the ambient noise — a helpful option if you’re running outdoors. The remote on the connecting cable between the two earbuds allows you to play, pause, and change songs plus take phone calls. You’ll get up to six hours of battery life on the Powerbeats2, and like most other sports headphones, they come with a little carrying case. Overall, these sound great, work well for training, and are perfect for brand-conscious runners.
7. Best Headphones For Swimming
Finis Neptune V2 Sports Headphones
Headphones for swimming? For a long time, it wasn’t even an option. Aside from the fact that you can’t get most sports headphones wet, putting earbuds into sensitive, water-logged ears (or even putting headphones over them) is just laying out the welcome mat for a nasty infection. They don’t call it swimmer’s ear for nothing.
So, what makes the Finis Neptune V2 headphones so cool is that they don’t go anywhere near the ear. Instead, they attach to goggle straps and sit on your cheekbones to transit surprisingly clear sound using bone conduction. It’s a relatively new advancement in audio technology, but it works. And they’re more than headphones — they’re a full-on underwater mp3 player. You can’t bring your smartphone in the pool of course, so the Neptunes have 4GB of storage and can play just about all of the common music formats (mp3, AAC, and so on). There’s even an OLED screen to get things started before you jump in.
The Finis Neptune V2s are waterproof to about three metres, so while they’re good for swimming laps, they’re not recommended for diving. They’ve got an eight hour battery life, and you’ll find them available for $159.99 USD, or about £105.
8. Best Headphones for Cycling
Outdoor Tech Orcas Sports Headphones
With the Outdoor Tech Orcas, you get crisp, full spectrum sound and BlueTooth mobility. For cyclists, this lack of tether is freeing as well as safe: you can keep your phone in your bag, on your arm, or mounted on your handlebars. There’s a remote on the connecting cable for changing tracks or taking phone calls, and the earbuds really do a good job of filling your ear with music and nothing else. In fact, the Orcas may be best suited for trail riding rather than road riding, just from a safety standpoint.
The Orcas fit comfortably, with three ear tips and two fins included in the box; some permutation of these should afford a snug and secure fit. The six hour battery life should be long enough for most riders, though if you really push yourself for an entire day, they may not last long enough. You’ll find them for $99.95 USD, so about £66 — really not a bad price for wireless sports headphones.
9. Best Budget Sports Headphones
MPOW Swift Headphones
Most BlueTooth Sports headphones set you back at least £60. The MPOW Swifts, on the other hand can be found for under £20. They offer surprisingly good sound quality. No, it’s not as bassy or full-range as some more expensive models, but it’s crisp and clear and will keep you motivated during your workout. And again, these cost under £20.
They offer a few niceties, like track controls on the earbuds themselves, as well as different size ear tips and fins for a secure and personalised fit. But really, the MPOW Swifts are just good, comfortable BlueTooth headphones that won’t put too much of a dent in your wallet.
10. Best Sports Headphones of the Future
The Bragi Dash isn’t even out yet (it’s actually more than a year behind schedule), but if these sports headphones are as great as many initial backers think they will be, then the whole sports headphones game is pretty much over. First and foremost, they’re wireless earbuds that just tuck into your ears; there’s not even a cable connecting them together (though you can buy one if you’re worried about losing your earbud). But they’re more than just excellent quality headphones.
Essential Reading: Where’s the Bragi Dash? An Update
The Dash has 4GB of onboard storage, so you can listen to your tunes and still leave your phone at home. Plus, it’s a full-on fitness tracker, with a built-in three-axis accelerometer. It’s also got a heart rate monitor in there, allowing you to set up zone and interval training. Finally, the Dash gives you real time feedback on your performance.
The battery life is adequate at three hours for both playback and tracking (more for just playback, more still for standby). It does come with a charging case to juice up your earbuds when they need it; the case can recharge them up to five times before it needs a re-up itself.
Again, these aren’t even out yet, but when they are, they could change everything. They’re available for pre-order for €299, or about £222, which is definitely on the high end. However, if the Bragi Dash can perform as well as we hope, and if it can really replace several different devices, then it will surely become the pair of sports headphones to own.
Move to the Beat
If you’re still jogging along using the bouncy, slippery white headphones that came with your iPhone, or if you’re cycling or swimming to only the songs you sing to yourself, you may want to consider investing in a pair of sports headphones. They’re more rugged, they’re designed to sound good when you’re moving, and many of them offer sound performance that’s as good, if not better, than less durable models. And, no matter what your sport, you should be able to find a pair to suit your needs.