10 Best Workout Headphones 2017 – Listen While You Sweat
If you’re serious about your exercise and serious about your music, you’ll want a serious pair of workout headphones. For so many people, music is an essential part of any workout. Listening to your own personal soundtrack while you’re running, cycling, or lifting helps to keep you motivated, occupy your mind, and stop you from thinking about how what you’re currently doing may cause you some aches and pains when tomorrow comes.
All smartphones come with a pair of earbuds, and those are OK, but they’re not exactly workout-friendly. They’re usually not very sweatproof, and they can get uncomfortable after long periods of listening, plus the audio quality usually leaves something to be desired. And then there’s the wire, which gets in the way and creates a horrible bounce that you can hear.
Workout Headphones – Hear Every Beat
There’s a pair for every budget, and here are ten of our favourites. We think these are the best workout headphones, from most wallet friendly to most extravagant.
1. Audio-Technica SonicSport
The SonicSports are budget approved at just £45 but comprehensive enough to get you through any workout. These are wired headphones, but they’re suitable for most sports, as the cable’s asymmetrical design helps to keep it out of your way when you’re moving. On the wire, you’ll find a remote for volume and track controls, plus a mic for taking phone calls. As for fit, the SonicSports are earbuds with around the ear hooks for good stability.
The audio quality is pretty good for budget headphones; Audio-Technica is known for making products that deliver excellent sound, and the SonicSports do not disappoint. They come in a few different colours, and they’re highly water resistant — you can even rinse them off if they get really nasty. The SonicSports may not be the best pair of workout headphones on our list, but they’re priced to move, and they’ll help get you moving.
2. Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones
Bose is well regarded for making audio products that sound crisp and clean, and the SoundSport In-Ear Headphones measure up. The audio quality on the SoundSports is good for just about any type of music, with full bass and nice clarity. These aren’t noise-cancelling headphones, so they may not be great at the gym when you’re trying to seal out the clanking of weights and the grunting of meatheads, but they’re perfect for running outdoors, when you actually want the safety of hearing the ambient noise.
The SoundSports are small tip earbuds with ear fins to hold them securely in place, and they’re incredibly comfortable. This is a wired pair of headphones, and there’s both an inline remote and microphone. And we wouldn’t normally mention the carrying case that comes with a pair of sports headphones (almost all of the models mentioned here come with a case or pouch of some sort), but the case that comes with the SoundSports is especially good: durable and stylish.
At £79.95, they’re a relatively affordable option, especially given the price of most Bose products, and they even come in a few colours.
3. Sennheiser OCX 686G/i Sports
These Sennheisers are incredibly comfortable earbuds with over the ear hooks; what makes them fit so well is that everything is very soft and flexible. Plus the ear tips fit snugly, so all you hear is your music coming through. That tight seal is a big part of the high quality sound, too, as it blocks out a lot of outside noise.
These are wired headphones, with a tangle resistant cord and a clip to keep them in place, and there’s an inline remote with a mic for phone calls. However, here’s where the OCX’s letter designations come into play: to ensure full remote functionality, you want to get the OCX-G if you have an Android or Windows device, and the OCX-i if you have an iPhone. It’s a little annoying that you have to pay attention to which pair you’re buying, and it’s also a consideration if you’re thinking about switching phone platforms. In the grand scheme of things, it’s more of a minor concern regarding these otherwise good workout headphones, but it is something to think about.
The Sennheiser OCX workout headphones retail for £79.99. For that, you get a solid piece of workout kit, but you also get a well above average design and a cool, bright neon green colour. If you’re looking at the top end of the budget headphones category, these may be what you’re looking for.
4. Plantronics BackBeat FIT
The wireless BlueTooth connectivity of the Plantronics BackBeat FIT works up to ten metres, giving you a fair amount of freedom in the gym. If you’re off on a run, though, you’ll need to take your phone with you, but that’s no problem since the included carrying case is also a reflective arm band that can hold your phone. It’s a small detail, but a handy one!
The stereo sound on the BackBeat FITs is good, with well defined treble and bass, and there’s also a built in mic. As for control, there’s a play/pause/skip button on one ear and a phone answer button on the other. They’re super lightweight at just 24g, making them comfortable to wear for long workouts, and there’s a flexible band that wraps around your neck to keep them together and in place. However, if you run a lot, you may find the bounce of the band to be somewhat annoying.
With an eight hour battery life and three colours from which to choose, and at £99.99, the BackBeat FITs are probably the best value you’re going to find in a pair of wireless workout headphones. If you’re looking to stay under 100 quid, these are a great pick.
5. Jabra Sport Coach
If you’re looking for workout headphones that do more than just play your music, the Jabra Sport Coach headphones are, as the name implies, a smart fitness coach. It’s able to provide live feedback thanks to its built in TrackFit motion sensor, so whether you’re doing pullups, deadlifts, or anything else, it can guide you toward better form and even walk you through some pre-set exercise routines (with the Jabra Sport app).
The coach’s voice does break in and interrupt your music, which may be annoying to some users, but overall, it’s a useful feature. And yes, in case you’re wondering, the Jabra Sport Coach is also a fully fledged fitness tracker; it’s intended for cross training, but it’s also able to keep tabs on your distance, pace, steps, cadence, and calories.
The dolby sound on these wireless headphones is good — the bass is perhaps a bit lackluster, but overall, the audio quality should please all but the most discerning of audiophiles. The earbuds hold in the ears with fins, and their IP55 rating means they’re sweat proof and weather proof. They’re probably OK to use if you go for a run in the light rain, but they’re definitely not meant for swimming.
Active battery time is about five and a half hours, so the Jabra Sport Coach headphones are not ideal for ultramarathoners. You’ll also want to be prepared to charge these on the regular (using the included micro USB cable).
At £119.99, these aren’t a bad deal given all that they do. The Jabra Sport Coach workout headphones are perfect for anyone who wants wireless workout earbuds and doesn’t already own a tracker.
6. SMS Audio Biosport
These workout headphones by Intel are wired sport earbuds with heart rate monitoring capabilities. They offer adequate audio quality, with enough bass for most listeners, and while they’re not the best sounding workout headphones you can buy, they’re certainly acceptable in that department, especially given their ability to keep track of your heart rate as you exercise.
They’re comfortable to wear, and the cord is tangle resistant with an inline remote and mic for phone calls. One odd glitch, however, is that the heart rate monitoring function drops out when you take a call. This is maybe made up for by the fact that the Biosports have voice activation, so if you need to yell, “Hey Siri,” you can do it via the onboard mic.
Another plus is that the Biosports don’t need charging — the audio jack pulls enough juice from your smartphone to power the heart rate monitor, which is definitely helpful. And while the Biosports work with Runkeeper, they don’t really work with any other fitness apps; more compatibility is forthcoming, though. The Biosports come in three colours and retail for £129.99, and are a good choice if you want to consider heart rate data as part of your training (and you already use Runkeeper or are willing to switch).
7. JayBird X2
Top quality audio is the priority with the JayBird X2s. They provide a totally clean sound, filtering out white noise, giving great range, definition, and bass. In fact, they’re some of the best sounding wireless workout headphones you can buy, but you’ll pay a lot for that privilege: they retail for £149.99.
Aside from the outstanding audio, the X2s are your average, run of the mill wireless BlueTooth headphones. They’re earbuds with fins, and they’re tethered together, though if you don’t like the cord on your neck while you’re exercising, you can adjust the headphones so it’s up a bit. There is a mic to take calls, and the battery should last around eight hours.
The X2s are sweatproof, and this is something that JayBird will stand by as long as you own these headphones — they have a lifetime sweatproof warranty! They also look slick and come in a few different colours. There aren’t really any other features to mention; like we said, these are all about the sound. If you’re not willing to compromise on audio quality, even for workout headphones, the JayBird X2s should work well for you.
8. Powerbeats2 Wireless
Hold up — £169.95 for a pair of workout headphones that don’t have any special or smart features? That’s a lot of money, but when you buy the Powerbeats2 Wireless headphones, you’re paying partially for the quality of sound and partially for the Beats brand (which, incidentally, is now owned by Apple). Brand names are always at a premium, and that little, headphone shaped lowercase B costs extra.
Are they worth it? Well, if you want loud headphones that offer clean sound with great bass that won’t make your ears throb, these are them. They have earhooks for stability, and they’re tethered together with an adjustable cable with a volume control remote on it. There’s also a mic for taking calls, the battery lasts a little more than five hours per charge, and they’re sweatproof but not waterproof.
One minor drawback of the Powerbeats2s is that you need to remember to turn them off when you’re done exercising; they don’t automatically shut off, and if you forget to turn them off, you’ll burn through whatever is left of your battery. They come in an impressive array of colours, but again, there are no mind blowing features or smart capabilities. These are just good, wireless workout headphones with outstanding sound quality. They’re certainly expensive, but high price doesn’t seem to deter a lot of people from buying Beats.
9. Monster iSport Freedom
Wireless headphones? The Monster iSport Freedoms are more like wireless ear cans. These are big, DJ style, on-ear headphones — you won’t find any dainty earbuds here. Yes, they’re totally wireless, though they do come with a cord if you forget to charge them, and yes, they are fairly lightweight, though they do weigh you down after a while.
These are definitely not small, so you’ll need to be comfortable wearing a larger pair of workout headphones. However, the tradeoff is that the sound quality is better than a lot of smaller earbuds, partially because the iSport Freedoms cover your whole ear. They do get a little distorted if you pump up the volume all the way, but they sound great otherwise. There’s full music control on the right earcup, they’re extremely durable, and they offer an impressive ten hours of battery life.
Two drawbacks to be aware of on these: first, a lot of sweat can make them slippery, so if you need headphones for long distance running (or if you just sweat a lot), these may not be a great pick. Also, they’re insanely expensive, at £229.95, so you really need to have clean audio as a top priority on your workout headphones wishlist. If you’re a serious weightlifter who demands big sound, though, the iSport Freedoms are an excellent choice — if your budget can handle it.
10. Bragi Dash
Calling the Bragi Dash a pair of workout headphones feels like an insult. Yes, they’re workout headphones, but they’re so much more than that. First, appearances: the Dash is a set of small, nonconnected earbuds that come with a carrying case that doubles as a charger. Next, the sound: it’s lean and clear, with plenty of low end. And while they can connect via BlueTooth to your phone, they can also store up to 1000 songs thanks to its onboard 4GB of storage space.
However, the Bragi Dash does so much more — it’s a full on fitness tracker, able to measure things like steps, time, and even heart rate. It can also give you real time voice feedback as you work out so you can improve. They’re ideal for running, cycling, and even swimming; the Dash is waterproof up to one metre, so jump (don’t dive) in.
There are a few other useful features to tell you about. With the Dash, you can take phone calls, thanks to a bone conduction mic. All of your audio playback can be controlled via a series of gestures and taps on the sides of the earbuds; it’s a activity that takes some practice and getting used to. There’s also the audio transparency function, which allows you to turn the ambient sound on or off, and the battery should last three or four hours per charge.
Are they expensive? Of course they’re expensive! The Bragi Dash currently retails for €299, or about £260, but they’re so much more than an ordinary pair of headphones. If you’re hoping to land the Cadillac of workout headphones, these are them, a prime specimen of the species. If you’ve got the money to drop on a Bragi Dash, we highly recommend doing so.
The Sound of Fitness
When it comes to the best workout headphones, you’ve got some options. The pair you pick will depend largely on your budget, but also on certain other factors: how much you want smart functionality, how much you prize pristine audio, and what you plan to use them for. These are our ten favourites — did we leave your favourite sports headphones off our list? Leave us a comment and tell us about it.