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Best earbuds for running
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Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
No matter how much you love it, running is exhausting. The last thing you need is the search for running earbuds to also be exhausting, which is why we compiled this list of the best running earbuds. Sweat-resistance, a comfortable fit, and reliable connection quality are the most important factors to look out for. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Now, lace up those shoes, slather on that deodorant, and get running.
Editor’s note: this list of the best earbuds for running was updated on August 18, 2021, to match style with SoundGuys’ current standards.
Cut the cord with the versatile Jabra Elite Active 75t
Jabra’s Elite Active 75t boasts an IP57 rating that protects the earbuds from complete submersion.
Listeners are afforded around 7 hours, 14 minutes of listening on a single charge and the included USB-C case supplies and additional 2.73 charge cycles. Fast charging is also supported: 15 minutes in the case yields one hour of playback from the earbuds. Its downfall is its sound quality.
The earphones only support one high-quality Bluetooth codec, AAC. This is great for iPhone users but leaves a lot to be desired for us Android fans. Since it is specifically categorized as workout earbuds, we won’t knock the lack of aptX support; no one’s trying to analyze melodic details mid-run. This is further confirmed by the heavily bass-oriented sound. Bass notes are three times louder than mids, which can help keep you focused and motivated.
The earbuds fit really well thanks to the slim design and rubberized coatings. Just as with the previous generation, you can use the Jabra Sound+ app to EQ your music like the Jaybird Vista. One of the most important features for outdoor runners is the ability to adjust how much environmental noise can permeate the earbuds. This allows you to be aware of your surroundings while jogging, making the Jabra Elite 65t one of the best running earbuds. Plus, you can choose your voice assistant and alter how much ambient noise can permeate the earbuds.
What you should know about the best running earbuds
Running earbuds are subjected to a lot more abuse than our beloved desktop setups, so you’re going to need a pair of buds that can withstand a bit of roughhousing. If you have time, make sure to read our in-depth feature on what makes good running headphones and how music can improve workout performance.
If you want the best sound quality and most comfortable experience, a proper fit is crucial. You could have the best earbuds in the world, but if they don’t stay in your ears, they’re worthless. No ear is the same, and if the provided ear tips aren’t working, look into third-party options. Then again, if you’re running outside, be sure to get a pair of earbuds with safety features like Ambient Aware mode or specially designed ear tips that allow the ingress of external noise. While audio quality will be degraded, it’s worth it to remain aware of your surroundings.
What’s an IP rating?
IP ratings indicate how water-resistant a product is, and the “X” in something like IPX4 is just a placeholder for a dust protection rating. If you get something that’s IPX7-certified, it can withstand full submersion for up to 30 minutes. However, this doesn’t automatically make something a pair of swimming earbuds. In order to listen to music underwater, you’ll need a pair of earbuds with on-board storage.
Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
True wireless connection strength is improving
There’s still plenty more room for advancement, though. Compared to its standard wireless alternative, true wireless connectivity still isn’t up to snuff. Although Qualcomm’s TrueWireless Stereo Plus technology has been available for a while, yet its expense has severely limited its implementation. Fortunately, we’ll see some exciting changes in Bluetooth coming down the pipes soon.
If you want heart rate monitor features, you have fewer options
Quantifying one’s life is all the rage, and heart rate monitor earbuds are a niche category with just a handful of viable options. It’s hard to pack in all those sensitive components into earbud housings, and if you’re getting a pair of total wireless heart rate monitor earbuds, they’re bound to be bulky.
That said, Bose has a popular pair: the Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless, which is IPX4-rated and uses the same StayHear+ tips as the other SoundSport models. Battery life is relatively short; you’re afforded just five hours on a single charge, but most of us don’t exceed 60-minute workouts anyway. Firmware updates are available via Bose’s free app.
Adjust the sound with the Jaybird Vista
As with Jaybird’s other earbuds, you can make EQ adjustments to the Vista earbuds via the MySound app. It allows you to save a sound profile directly to the earbuds, so you don’t have to re-create your preferred settings when switching devices. You can also apply other users’ sound profiles, which is a neat way of making an otherwise run-of-the-mill app a social one.
Generally speaking, the Jaybird Vista retains many of our favorite features from the Jaybird Run, including IPX7 certification. These earbuds don’t support any high quality Bluetooth codecs. There is a new and improved JBS1 chipset, which remedies any connection issues that presented themselves with the Run earbuds. We didn’t experience any connectivity drops or stutters within the 10-meter wireless range while testing. Although things can get uncomfortable after prolonged periods of wear, these earbuds offer a stable fit with the pre-installed silicone ear tips. It’s stylish enough that you can even wear it on your morning commute or through the office.
Battery life is fine for true wireless earbuds: we squeezed out 5 hours, 37 minutes from a single charge. Plus, the earbuds and case support quick charging: five minutes of charging grants one hour of listening. No matter where you go, the Vista can accompany you since the case features a braided loop. While it isn’t the most comfortable pair of earbuds, it does have some great features like button reassignment. For ~$160, it’s worth taking out on the trails.
The Bose Sport Earbuds sounds fantastic
The Bose Sport Earbuds is among the best true wireless workout earbuds simply because it’s so comfortable. Bose’s StayHear Max ear tips keep the earbuds in place and place just the right amount of pressure on your ear without causing any discomfort. Unlike the company’s debut totally wireless earbuds, the Sport Earbuds features an official IPX4 rating.
Bose dropped the button controls of the SoundSport Free in favor of precise touch controls. You can use either earbud panel to adjust playback, volume, and control incoming calls. The Bose Music app lets you adjust controls, but its functionality is limited: you can’t EQ the sound, but Bose later added this functionality to its IPX4 Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, so we may see this added to the Sport Earbuds too. Bose’s Active EQ technology effectively adjusts the frequency response in real time to optimize sound quality according to background noise.
You can use the headset in mono mode, but this only works with the right earbud, which leaves out much of the hearing impaired population. The same limitation is found with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds; hopefully the company fixes this with future iterations. Auto play/pause functionality is also limited to the right earbud, but works very well.
Related: Best Bose headphones
The JLab GO Air is a great value
If you only have $30 to spend on workout earbuds, the JLab GO Air is your best bet: this includes a nifty charging case with an integrated USB cable. With the GO Air, you no longer have to keep track of a certain charging cable, just the case. The compact earbuds fit comfortably, even if you have small ears. Despite the economical price, the GO Air features touch controls.
Microphone and sound quality aren’t particularly impressive, but that’s to be expected from a pair of budget earbuds. For most athletes, durability and fit take precedence over sound quality, and the GO Air excels in both of these areas. The earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and reliably auto-connect to the last-used device. They don’t support Bluetooth multipoint, but that’s to be expected from a pair of true wireless earbuds under $50.
JLab made sure its compact, affordable earbuds would withstand all of your workouts as shown by the IP44 dust- and water-resistant rating. These buds are the perfect option for beach runners and rock climbers alike: you don’t have to worry about grains of sand or chalk damaging the internal components.
For the best battery life, snag the Beats Powerbeats Pro
Beats gets a heck of a lot right with its debut true wireless earbuds. It is IPX4 sweat-resistant and features a sleek design. It uses the same H1 chip as the Apple AirPods, so you benefit from greater power efficiency (aka longer battery life) and voice-activated access to Siri. Along with this, it supports the AAC codec. It also makes pairing and auto-connecting to iPhones a breeze.
Many true wireless earbuds suffer from terribly short battery life, but that’s not the case here. No, the Powerbeats Pro defies the rest with its 10-plus hour battery life. The charging case is pretty big and charges via Lightning cable, generally not favorable qualities. However, those are the two biggest drawbacks of the earbuds. Otherwise, the fit is excellent, sound quality is superb for what the buds are, and the official IP rating assuages any potential durability concerns. We have no problem recommending it: it’s that good.
Alternatively, if you want nearly all the same features as the Beat PowerBeats Pro includes for a fraction of the cost, consider the Beats Powerbeats. These workout earbuds are joined by wire, but still use wireless technology. Its rounded cable stays out of the way during your cardio and calisthenic workouts, and hands-free access to Siri is a possibility thanks to the H1 chip.
iPhone users: Save up for the versatile Apple AirPods Pro
Alternatively, if you seldom run but still want a great pair of iPhone earbuds that can withstand your sweaty days, consider the Apple AirPods Pro. This headset is IPX4-rated and securely fits to the ear thanks to the angled nozzles. Battery life isn’t nearly as good as the Powerbeats Pro, a consequence of demanding ANC technology. But it supports Apple’s high quality codec, AAC. Apple kept the H1 chip in the new AirPods Pro and redesigned the on-board touch controls, so now they’re registered by squeezing either stem.
Who should buy the best running earbuds?
Well, if the title of this list weren’t enough of a giveaway, these earbuds are for runners. Whether you’re an ultramarathoner or a couch-to-5K runner, there’s a pick on here for you. But, if you aren’t a runner, stick around a while. Our top five picks are versatile and many use them for daily listening too. Plus, the water-resistance and IP-certifications make these earbuds impervious to splashes and spills. If you want to remain completely aware of your surroundings without toggling through listening modes or dealing with specialized ear tips, bone conduction headphones may be more for you.
Best running earbuds: Notable mentions
- Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo: For less than $50, this is a great pair of general-purpose and athletic earbuds. It’s IPX7-rated and can be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes at a time. The fit is great, and outside noise is effectively blocked out. If you take most of your runs outside, you should listen in mono mode because ambient aware mode isn’t supported.
- Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2: This is a stellar headset with some of the best microphone quality out there. Each earbud takes a stemmed design, echoing that of the AirPods, but these have distinct nozzles that facilitate a good fit. They’re sweat-resistant and easy to use.
- Anker SoundCore Spirit Dot 2: These earbuds have an IPX7 rating and a very stable fit. They’re comfortable and affordable, and they have excellent connectivity.
- Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: These true wireless earbuds have an IPX4 rating and wing tips which ensure a stable fit. They also feature active noise cancelling technology, which is what makes them pricey, and you can set them to transparency mode as well to make sure you’re aware of your surroundings.
- Google Pixel Buds (A-Series): Though the wing tips on these buds are one-size-fits-most, they are lightweight, have an IPX4 rating, and multiple sets of silicone ear tips. If you have an Android phone this headset will integrate with your system really smoothly.
- Jabra Elite Active 45e: These let you hear your surroundings at all times without activating Ambient Aware mode because of how the ear tips are shaped. The ear hooks keep the fit secure despite the bulky housings.
- Jabra Elite 65t: The drivers can’t produce that bump that we’re used to hearing in the low-end, but this is also what makes the Jabra Elite 65t so versatile. Sure, it’s lacking in the bass department, but that makes the earbuds better for everyday listening.
- Jabra Elite 75t: This is the updated version of the Elite 65t and offers better battery life and a higher IP rating.
- Jabra Elite 85t: The Jabra Elite finally has active noise cancelling with these earbuds, and it can be adjusted alongside a HearThru feature. These earbuds also have an IPX4 rating and a stable and comfortable fit.
- Jaybird Tarah: Need the Jaybird X4 but restricted by your budget? Get the Tarah instead; this headset provides nearly all the same functionality of the X4 with the exception of a shorter battery life.
- Jaybird X4: Jaybird makes great running earbuds and the wireless X4 is perfect for accompanying you on the trail or treadmill. The proprietary wing tips comfortably keep the earbuds in place and the IPX7 rating denotes waterproof properties.
- JBL Endurance Peak: If you’ve been wondering what your next pair of workout earbuds should be and don’t want to shell out $200 for Bose’s bulky true wireless solution, the JBL Endurance Peak is a great alternative.
Related: Best true wireless earbuds
How we tested the best running earbuds
We test things like frequency response, isolation, and battery life using an artificial head and high end audio analysis software. If you have the desire and time, you can read more about our testing methodology here. We endeavor to focus our reviews on the key areas of concern for wireless earbud users. Additionally, bear in mind that battery life will fluctuate depending on the volume levels you’re listening at. And, as always, if you need to improve isolation you should invest in third-party ear tips.
Of course, they were also used outside of a lab environment for actual running. I’ve logged miles upon miles in the name of headphone testing for SoundGuys, and each pair of running earbuds listed is durable enough to withstand my obscene perspiration habits. Well, that, and they’re all equipped with a sweat-resistant nano-coating or received an official IP rating.
You may also like: Best Bluetooth workout headphones
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Each writer at SoundGuys has accumulated years of experience reporting on the consumer audio market, and our staff adheres to a strict ethics policy. We never use ads or sponsored content on the website at a time when doing so is the norm. SoundGuys’ survival depends solely on readers enjoying their purchases. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts, while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance. When we do misspeak, we correct and own up to it.
Frequently asked questions about running earbuds
For the budget-minded running enthusiast, take a look at the Creative Outlier One. At less than $30, it boasts a durable IPX4 water-resistant design, great battery life, and surprisingly good sound isolation for its price. If you’re looking to go spend even less, the JBL Endurance Run is a good choice for under $20. It offers an even more water-resistant IPX5 rating, in-line remote controls, and a versatile design that ensures a proper fit during intense workouts.
How comfortable your earbuds feel depend on your specific ear shape as well as the ear tips you have on your ‘buds. Ear hooks and wing tips provide stability, which factors into comfort because it prevents you from having to constantly adjust your earbuds during your workout.
We recommend the Bose SoundSport Free from this list if comfort is your main goal. They are stable with wing tips and won’t give you pain after wearing them for a long time. The only thing to note is that they are bulky, so if you have a lot of ear piercings, you’ll want to go with a sleeker set.