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June 20, 2022  |  Electronics

Best earbuds for working out

Picking the right earbuds for exercising

Listening to music or podcasts is such a great way to lose yourself in a workout. Wireless earbuds are convenient for everyday life and even more so for exercising. However, they’re not all designed to stay put or handle sweat during strenuous activity.

No matter your budget, though, there are plenty of durable, water-resistant and lightweight earbuds to choose from. Some even offer advanced features like noise canceling and ambient noise pass-through that can either isolate listeners or help them stay in tune with their surroundings.

Important features for workout earbuds

How well the tips fit

The first thing to look into is how sturdily a pair of earbuds will fit. Not only do you need them to stay in your ears, but a snug fit is also necessary for sound quality. One big reason that people sometimes dislike wireless earbuds is that they haven’t found the right tips for their ear shape. Poorly fitting earbuds won’t just fall out when running or lifting;  they’ll also sound tinny with very little bass.

Most earbuds come with three sizes of silicone tips. Some offer memory foam that molds quickly to the contours of the ear canal. Then there are some rare models that provide a custom-molded fit.

Weight and balance

Aside from how securely the tips fit, earbuds need a low weight and the right shape to keep from bouncing around or falling out. Keep in mind that everyone’s ears are different. So, while many people swear by stem-style earbuds (such as the Apple AirPods), they don’t satisfy everyone.

You’ll know a pair of earbuds is designed with exercise in mind if they offer wide, flared tips that stabilize against the outer ear. Some especially sturdy models have ear hooks to help them remain in place for an entire workout.

Water resistance

The ingress protection or IP rating explains exactly how resistant to dust and water an electronic device is. The first number represents dust resistance and the second moisture resistance. You don’t necessarily need completely waterproof earbuds to work out. An IPX4 rating is usually enough to ensure consistent operation, even during perspiration. If you sweat a lot, though, or like to work out in the rain, consider a pair with IPX7 water resistance or better.

Robust wireless connectivity

Cables aren’t just inconvenient, they’re also prone to pulling wired earbuds out of your ears. That’s why true wireless earbuds are the best option for most types of exercise. To ensure a reliable connection, stick with earbuds that have Bluetooth 5.0 or newer. While the standard is version 5.3 as of a year ago, anything with version 5.0 or better will have the most important features for everyday use.

Best high-end earbuds for working out

Jabra Elite 7 Active

Jabra Elite 7 Active

These premium earbuds boast IP57 dust and water resistance in addition to a specially designed compound on the tips that limits movement and ensures a comfortable fit. While not exactly cheap, they cost less than other high-end earbuds with active noise canceling.

Sold by Amazon and Staples

Sony LinkBuds S

Sony LinkBuds S

The latest version of Sony’s most compact in-ear headphones are just about the lightest ANC headphones ever released. Aside from their great sound quality, they offer ambient pass-through mode and have a small opening that helps you stay aware of what’s happening around you.

Sold by Amazon

Jaybird Vista 2

Jaybird Vista 2

These are engineered and tested with extreme durability in mind, which is a rare design feature in wireless headphones. They’re as safe as can be from dust and water damage and they don’t cost a fortune, but the control button isn’t as easy to use as touch controls.

Sold by Amazon

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000XM4

If you want something that’s great for general listening in addition to trips to the gym, Sony’s flagship wireless earbuds are hard to beat. Few competing models compare in terms of sound quality, although these will set you back a decent amount of cash.

Sold by Amazon

Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro

These somewhat polarizing earbuds are fantastic if you use an iPhone, but not quite so much if you own an Android device. Nonetheless, if you’re comfortable with the fit, they’re great for working out and much more.

Sold by Amazon

Ultimate Ears Fits

Ultimate Ears Fits

These stand out due to their custom-moldable tips that promise the best possible fit for most users. For that reason, while they don’t actively reduce external noise, they do block a lot of it passively.

Sold by Amazon

Bose Sport

Bose Sport

From one of the most renowned headphone manufacturers, they combine a light weight with secure tips and good sound quality. Their microphones are also highly effective, in case you need to take any calls while you’re wearing them.

Sold by Amazon and Staples

Best workout earbuds with ear hooks

Tribit MoveBuds

Tribit MoveBuds

Their textured ear hooks keep them in place no matter how intense your workout gets. They’re also some of the few reasonably priced models to support the Qualcomm aptX Bluetooth codec. They even feature powerful waterproofing and an antibacterial surface coating.

Sold by Amazon

Beats PowerBeats Pro

Beats PowerBeats Pro

You’ll love the PowerBeats Pro if high-energy, bass-driven music is what gets going in the gym. Their flexible hooks are about as comfortable as they get, and the overall build quality is second to none.

Sold by Amazon and Staples

Anker Soundcore Spirit X2

Anker Soundcore Spirit X2

Anker is a leader in low-cost yet highly reliable headphones, and this straightforward pair proves why. They’re especially water- and dust-resistant, have an impressive battery life and are great for phone calls.

Sold by Amazon

Best earbuds for working out under $100

JLab Go Air Pop

JLab Go Air Pop

These are about as small, lightweight and affordable as wireless earbuds get. As such, don’t expect them to knock your socks off in terms of audio quality, but they work well and are reasonably durable.

Sold by Amazon

Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2

Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2

They’re named the Dot 2 because they’re Anker’s smallest wireless earbuds yet. They’re among the best budget-friendly options for working out due to their remarkably stable AirWings tips.

Sold by Amazon

Jabra Elite 3

Jabra Elite 3

Jabra makes some of the most successful business headsets, so it’s no surprise that its earbuds have effective microphone arrays for making calls. They don’t feature active noise cancellation but do offer HearThrough technology that lets you take in the sounds around you, instead of isolating yourself.

Sold by Amazon

Best open earbuds for workouts

Transmitting sound using bone conduction rather than typical drivers, open earbuds help you retain your spatial awareness and stay safe when exercising in high-traffic areas.

Acreo OpenBuds

Acreo OpenBuds

They’re not for everyone, but bone conduction earbuds let you listen to podcasts and some types of music safely while riding a bike or running near traffic or crowded pedestrian areas.

Sold by Amazon

Shokz OpenRun Pro

Shokz OpenRun Pro

These aren’t actually earbuds, but instead behind-the-neck bone conduction headphones. If you’ve tried similar earbuds and liked them but they weren’t quite loud enough, these will deliver much stronger audio.

Sold by Amazon

Avantree TW116

Avantree TW116

Most earbuds rest inside your ear, but these hang just outside your ear canal and pump sound in without direct contact. They’re ideal for people who have sensitive ears or exercise near busy roads.

Sold by Amazon

Earbuds for workouts FAQ

Q. Do wireless earbuds work underwater?

H2O Audio Sonar

A. No, Bluetooth and other wireless technologies can’t pass signals through water. If you want to listen to music while swimming, you’ll need a specialized pair of wired swimming earbuds along with a waterproof music player. Some novel options, such as the H2O Audio Sonar, even combine the two.

Q. Which earbuds are best for cycling?

A. It’s extremely dangerous to block your hearing when riding a bike, especially on crowded paths or near traffic. To make cycling as safe as possible while still getting some entertainment, opt for earbuds with active noise canceling that allows for ambient pass-through mode. With this feature, the earbuds’ microphones pick up outside audio and transmit it directly to your ears.

Q. Do bone conduction headphones work?

A. They work great for some people but temper your expectations when it comes to sound quality. Since bone conduction technology doesn’t direct any sound straight into your ears, it’s seriously lacking in bass and not great for many genres of music. On the other hand, bone conduction is good for vocals, and it’s commonly used for listening to podcasts and other spoken word content.

 

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Chris Thomas writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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