Working out without wires is the default for most athletes, and with the rise of true wireless earbuds, there are plenty of viable options to use during your next weight lifting session. Whether you’re a swimmer, runner, or all-around athlete, this list of the best true wireless workout earbuds is bound to improve your next workout session.
Editor’s note: this list of the best true wireless workout earbuds was updated on September 12, 2021, to include frequency response charts.
For the best all-around pick get the Jabra Elite Active 75t
Listeners who want a pair of true wireless workout earbuds that perform well in every measurable category should get the Jabra Elite Active 75t. The IP57 earbuds are both dust and water-resistant, which means you can take these for a run on the beach without worry. Heck, you can even drop them in the water and they’ll be damage-free.
Jabra Elite Active 75tFull Review
Additionally, if you’re one for taking calls while on the move, the Jabra Elite Active 75t is the best bet. There are four microphones that simultaneously relay your voice while reducing ambient noise. Aside from call quality, these earbuds operate via Bluetooth 5.0 and support AAC for high-quality streaming on iOS devices. Android users can give AAC a shot but may not be met with the same consistency: the Android operating system struggles with AAC streaming.
You may like: Jabra Elite 75t vs. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
What’s more, auto-connect is quick and reliable; by just removing the earbuds from the charging case, they immediately pair to the last source device. You can even pair the Active 75t to two devices at a time, thanks to multipoint functionality. Integrated sensors automatically detect your ear, allowing for auto-play and pause functionality.
Jabra also includes safety features in the way of switchable passthrough listening, which amplifies ambient noise, something we’ve seen in the Galaxy Buds Plus and Sony WF-1000XM4. However, anyone looking for accurate reproduction of sound may want to avoid these earphones; or you can take a few moments to adjust the EQ in Jabra’s MySound+ app. Bass frequencies are heavily emphasized, which make sense in the context of exercise earbuds but can quickly become annoying while casually enjoying music. Although these earphones are expensive, they do everything well and support important things like quick charging.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t, Elite 75t, and Elite 85t support noise cancelling
The Jabra Elite 75t series received free noise cancelling firmware update through the Jabra Sound+ app. This is one of the most noteworthy firmware updates we’ve seen and is on par with the features iOS 14 provides to the Apple AirPods Pro and AirPods. Pre-existing Elite 75t series owners can update the firmware for ANC, and the price remains unchanged for new Elite 75t buyers.
This news accompanied Jabra’s announcement of the Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling true wireless earbuds. It may seem like poor planning for Jabra to release an ANC update alongside a pair of full-fledged noise cancelling earbuds, but the company understands the importance of providing choices to consumers. The Elite 85t has more advanced ANC technology than the other two options as well as HearThru functionality. It also has an IPX4 rating and Bluetooth multipoint.
What you should know about wireless workout earbuds
It can be hard to decode all of the specs that manufacturers use to bolster their headsets. Here’s a brief rundown on everything you should keep in mind when shopping around for true wireless workout earbuds, and if you really don’t know where to begin, peruse our headphone buying guide.
How do you know if a headset fits well?
When it comes to earbuds of any kind, particularly true wireless workout earbuds, getting a good fit is necessary for the best sound quality. If your earbuds don’t fit properly, sound reproduction is subjected to auditory masking. This is when louder noises mask our perception of quieter ones: our brains only have so much bandwidth to work with as they process stimuli. One of the first aspects of sound to degrade upon masking is bass response and overall clarity. If you value either of those things, as most listeners do, you’ll find it worthwhile to take a few moments and find what ear tips fit you best.
How do Bluetooth codecs affect audio quality?
There are a few to be aware of if you want to avoid audio-visual lag. While every wireless product automatically supports SBC, the lowest common denominator of Bluetooth codecs (the piece of technology that transmits audio from its source to your earbuds), aptX cuts audio-visual lag. If you plan to stream videos from the treadmill, definitely keep an eye out for aptX, or AAC if you have an iPhone. You also benefit from high-quality audio from these codecs. Granted, your ability to discern between the codecs, especially while working out, may be limited.
Learn more: Understanding Bluetooth codecs
As Bluetooth LE Audio technology and the LC3 codec populate the consumer market, we’ll see great improvements in efficiency and connection quality. Aside from assisting the deaf and hard-of-hearing, the LC3 codec is designed to handle packet loss and its ensuing latency with fewer abrupt stutters. This means that connection dropouts will be smoother and more controlled, rather than manifesting as syncopated stutters.
What is an IP rating?
One thing all true wireless workout earbuds need is to be water-resistant. At the very least, they should have a water-repellent coating; ideally, lookout for something with an official IP rating for ensured water resistance. The standard for workout specific earbuds trends toward IPX4, which means a product is able to resist virtually any workout except for swimming. If you need your buds to withstand complete submersion, read up on our list of the best waterproof earbuds.
How much does battery life matter, and what is fast charging?
True wireless battery cells are tiny; after all, they have to fit inside minuscule housings, while also leaving room for other components like DSPs and audio drivers. Physical limitations prohibit this breed of headset from having exceptional battery life, but that’s okay because most of us only work out for one, maybe two, hours at a time. It’s more important for us athletes to have earbuds with fast charging, rather than earbuds with good standalone playtime.
Fast charging technology allows you to plop the earbuds into their respective charging case for 5-10 minutes, and in doing so the buds typically top-up to at least one hour of battery life. Not all earbuds have this feature, particularly cheap ones, but most all workout earbuds do. Every headset listed as our top pick features fast charging.
Take the Jaybird Vista 2 from the office to the gym
The Jaybird Vista 2 is a huge improvement over the original Vista true wireless workout earbuds. You get improved IP68 and MIL-STD-810G certifications, active noise cancelling, and a SurroundSense mode to hear your surroundings. A modest concave button wrapped in wind-resistant fabric adorns each earbud, allowing for basic playback and call controls. The softened rectangular shape sits nicely along the ear and avoids that unsightly antennae look that other true wireless earbuds have.
Jaybird Vista 2Full Review
One of the most important features of the earbuds is mono listening. To engage this mode, remove the desired earbud from the case. That’s it. You’re then ready to listen with one ear while remaining vigilant via the other.
While the earbuds don’t support any high-quality codecs, optimal audio quality typically isn’t a priority with true wireless workout earbuds. Safety and fit are paramount, everything else is a welcome frivolity. Jaybird fans will be happy to know, however, that custom EQ settings are preserved with the Jaybird Vista 2. You can save your preset to the earbuds and even test out other athletes’ EQ preferences. It’s a novel way to make an otherwise straightforward function a social one.
Related: Bone conduction headphones
The Bose Sport Earbuds are the most comfortable buds around
The Bose Sport Earbuds is meant for the gym, but can be taken anywhere thanks to the sleek design. These workout earbuds are much more compact than the comically large SoundSport Free, Bose’s first foray into the true wireless space. The Sport Earbuds merits an IPX4 rating, and features some of the most comfortable ear tips around.
Bose Sport EarbudsFull Review
The earbuds support other useful features like fast charging: 15 minutes in the case nets two hours of playtime. We measured over five hours of playback on a single charge, which is more than enough for a single workout.
Microphone quality is good, but not perfect. The four-mic array attenuates low-frequency notes, which can make those with low vocal registers sound unnatural, or otherwise “distant.” It does, however, do a very good job of cancelling out predictable background noises like the hum of a microwave, as heard in the demo below.
The Bose Sport Earbuds is a great option for athletes who don’t want to compromise on sound quality. Sure, you may yearn for the option to create your own EQ presets, but there’s a good chance such a feature will come with a firmware update. Even without that, these are a great pair of earbuds, and among the comfiest around. If you want the same design and durability with active noise cancelling, check out the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds instead.
iPhone users should listen with the Beats Powerbeats Pro
The Beats Powerbeats Pro is a fine example of how true wireless earbuds should fit. The ear hooks keep the housings stable while the nozzles allow for a more ergonomic fit than the AirPods and updated Apple AirPods Pro. Since Beats is an Apple subsidiary, these buds benefit from Apple’s H1 chip and AAC Bluetooth codec support. This means listeners will enjoy longer playback time and greater efficiency than earbuds with identical specs sans-H1 chip.
Beats Powerbeats ProFull Review
The earbuds are IPX4 water-resistant, so you can sweat in them to your heart’s content without worrying about damaging anything. Beats uses a combination of tactile and touch controls. There are identical volume rockers on the earbuds, and holding the “b” symbol lets you deny incoming calls. Since the H1 chip is in use, you can access Siri by saying, “Hey Siri.” Battery life also benefits from the proprietary chip. We were able to squeeze out 10 hours, 52 minutes of playback on a single charge.
If you can afford it, the Beats Powerbeats Pro is the best true wireless workout earbuds for any iPhone user. Otherwise, the Beats Powerbeats is an excellent option for listeners who don’t mind their earbuds being joined by wire. You’re afforded nearly all of the same functionality as the Pro model for $100 less.
Ball out on a budget with the Anker Soundcore Life A1
True wireless workout earbuds tend to be more expensive than traditional wireless options. Fortunately for those of us restricted to stringent budgets, the Anker Soundcore Life A1 exists. The IPX7 earbuds have several sets of ear tips and wing tips so you’ll definitely find a stable fit.
Anker Soundcore Life A1Full Review
The case charges via USB-C, with above average battery life—8 hours and 23 minutes on a single charge. You get excellent Bluetooth connection strength, though with only SBC and AAC support.
For not much scratch the A1 has decent sound quality. If you like bass-heavy music, you’ll enjoy the exaggerated low-end heard here. With additional onboard control buttons you don’t even need to look at your phone. If you’re someone who only cares that your wireless workout earbuds work and don’t care much for frills, these are the smartest, most economical choice.
How we chose the true wireless workout earbuds
As with any and all audio products that come our way, we subjected our picks for the best true wireless workout earbuds to a battery of objective tests to determine battery life, frequency response, and isolation properties. We don’t just rely on objective measurements to inform our review process though, as we use them in the real world by working out with them and using them for general listening. If we happened to miss a possible favorite, be sure to leave a comment below as we regularly update our best lists to adjust for new products.
True wireless workout earbuds: Notable mentions
- 1MORE True Wireless ANC: Listeners who want an IPX5-rated pair of earphones with noise cancelling should really think about getting 1More’s buds. The ANC doesn’t outperform Apple’s or Sony’s technology, but it’s better than nothing. Plus, the O-hooks help maintain a low profile and stable fit.
- Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen): Amazon really prioritized ensuring a good fit with these active noise cancelling buds. the Echo Buds (Gen 2) comes with a selection of silicone ear tips and rubber ear stays that really help keep the buds in your ears. It also has an Ear Tip Fit Test in the accompanying Alexa app that can not only help with the buds’ stability, but also sound quality. The Echo Buds is also IPX4-rated and has comprehensive Alexa integration, so if your hands are too sweaty from exercising you can still access the smart assistant.
- Apple AirPods Pro: The AirPods Pro deviates from the nozzle-less form of the first two AirPods iterations. The dedicated nozzles facilitate noise canceling to quiet the world around you, while the sweat-resistant build lets you exercise without worrying about water damage. They do, however, cost $250 before tax, which is hard for most consumers to justify.
- Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2: If you’re looking for a solid pair of AirPods alternatives that feature an IPX5 certification, stellar microphone quality, and solid battery life, these buds are a great option for less than $100.
- Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2: If for some reason you can’t find the Soundcore Life A1, this is your next best bet. It has IPX7, slightly shorter battery life and is also comfortable.
- Bose Sport Open Earbuds: If the Bose Sport Earbuds intrigue you but you’re interested in bone conduction earbuds, check these out. They’re safer to use when exercising because they allow you to remain aware of your surroundings, and they still have that IPX4 rating.
- Google Pixel Buds A-Series: Though the included wings are one-size-fits-most, this budget headset has an IPX4 rating and is nice and lightweight. Its Android integration also makes it easy to quickly connect to before starting out on a run. Also, while the fact that it doesn’t isolate sound very well may be considered a drawback to many, it can be a good thing for exercising in public so you can remain aware of your surroundings.
- Panasonic RZ-S300W: Its IPX4 rating means this headset can withstand the sweatiest of workouts, so long as it isn’t completely submerged in water. The earbuds are compact and sit comfortably even without wing tips. For essentially the same package but with top-notch noise cancelling, get the Panasonic RZ-S500W.
- Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3200: Anyone who’s drawn to the BackBeat FIT 3100 but wants to be isolated from their surroundings should get these buds. They feature ear tips that seal to the ear canal and significantly better battery life. For an unsealed fit, get the Plantronic BackBeat FIT 3100 instead.
- RHA TrueConnect 2: These true wireless earbuds are IP55-certified and create a strong seal with the ear for enhanced bass and clarity. What’s more, connectivity is stable even in crowded environments like a gym or subway.
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus: If you’re a fan of the original Galaxy Buds, you’ll love the Buds Plus. These earbuds have some of the best battery life of any true wireless buds we’ve tested and they have integrated Spotify support. This is a great way to discover new music a the tap-and-hold of a touch panel. To try Samsung’s direct AirPods competitor, check out the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. These bean-shaped buds actually stay in place.
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Frequently Asked Questions
The reason we did not include the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds is because they do not fulfill some of our criteria, namely affordability, for workout earbuds as well as some of the earbuds on this list. When working out, it's unlikely that someone is going to prioritize the most accurate sound quality, but accurate sound quality is one of the things that makes these earbuds very expensive. That being said, if you want to use them for workouts as well as daily life, they are a fine companion if you're willing to foot the bill. In addition, though they do not have any significant issues with fit, they don't offer any mechanisms for securing themselves in your ears, such as wing tips or ear hooks. Lastly, they only have an IPX4 rating, which makes them sweat resistant, but not as waterproof as some other options.