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 was updated on September 20, 2019, to include the Jaybird Vista as a notable mention.
For the best all-around pick get the Jabra Elite 65t
For listeners who want a pair of true wireless earbuds that perform well enough in every measurable category, the Jabra Elite 65t is the headset to get. The IP55 earbuds are both dust and water-resistant, which means you can take these for a run on the beach without worry.
Jabra Elite 65tFull Review
Additionally, if you’re one for taking calls while on the move, the Jabra Elite 65t ‘buds are the best bet. There are four microphones which simultaneously relay your voice while reducing ambient noise. Aside from call quality, the Elite 65t earbuds operate via Bluetooth 5.0. While it doesn’t quite improve efficiency like Apple’s W1 chip, battery life is bolstered quite a bit. In fact, these offer the best battery life for true wireless earbuds aside from the Bose Sleepbuds, which serve a completely different purpose.
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. The earbuds go a step further, though; by recognizing when they’re removed from the ear so as to automatically pause media playback. Other than the lack of high-quality Bluetooth codec support, there’s little to lament about these earbuds.
What you should know about wireless workout earbuds
When it comes to earbuds of any kind, 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.
Bluetooth codec compatibility and true wireless connection 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, 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. What’s more, 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. Additionally, true wireless connectivity is still unreliable. Even the best earbuds struggle with connection strength because Qualcomm’s True Wireless Stereo is too expensive for many manufacturers to justify.
Look out for IP ratings
One thing all workout earbuds need is to be water-resistant. At the very least, they should have a water-repellent coating; ideally, look out 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.
Bass-lovers should get the JLab JBuds Air Sport
Emphasized bass response is common among workout earbuds; if you want the most skull-shaking sound, the IP66 JLab JBuds Air Sport are the best choice. These aren’t all about that bass though; fit is superb thanks to the array of ear tips paired with the angled nozzles. What’s more, the charging case features an integrated USB cable, so you can charge the earbuds from anywhere.
JLab JBuds Air SportFull Review
One of the most important features of the earbuds is Be Aware mode, which allows outside noise to be amplified through the earbuds. This is especially important for outdoor athletes. Another great feature is the long battery life: these last 4.5 hours on a single charge. If the battery is drained, just pop the earbuds in the case for 15 minutes to get 1.5 hours of playback.
While these don’t support any of Qualcomm’s aptX Bluetooth codecs, AAC is supported. iPhone users will benefit from this more than Android users, but the support is appreciated nonetheless. Connection strength is excellent, especially for a pair of cheap true wireless earbuds. These operate via Class 1, Bluetooth 5.0 which also aids in power efficiency.
Related: Bone conduction headphones
The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 can withstand anything
While the Under Armour True Wireless Flash uses software to facilitate Ambient Aware mode, the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 uses deliberately designed ear tips which constantly allow for the ingress of external noise. Aside from being safe, these are the most durable earbuds on the list and are IP57 dust and water-resistant; the ‘buds can be submerged to depths of one meter for up to 30 minutes before incurring water damage.
Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100Full Review
The flexible ear hook device seems able to withstand any bend or stress thrown at it, which is reassuring. Even the included charging case seems robust down to its smooth zippered design. That said, it isn’t water-resistant, so avoid spills.
Each of the true wireless workout earbuds shines with its holographic flat panels, the left of which is touch capacitive for volume controls. The frequency response chart of the BackBeat Fit 3100 is deceptive since the low-end appears remarkably exaggerated. However, due to the shape of the ear tips and lack of seal, real-world bass response is lessened. This is fine since these are billed as durable, safe earbuds rather than ones with excellent sound quality like the next pick.
iPhone users should listen with the Beats Powerbeats Pro
The Beats Powerbeats Pro are 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. 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. Inside each housing is an array of sensors which notify the Powerbeats Pro of when they’re removed from the ear. The sensors also register when you’re speaking and detect when the earbuds are dormant, forcing them to power off.
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. The case holds an extra 1.5 charge cycles. If you pop the ‘buds in the case for just five minutes, you’re afforded 1.5 hours of battery life.
If you can afford it, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are the best true wireless workout earbuds for any iPhone user.
Ball on a budget with the JLab JBuds Air
Since true wireless workout earbuds tend to be more feature-heavy than traditional wireless options, they also tend to be more expensive. Fortunately for those of us restricted to stringent budgets, the JLab JBuds Air exists. The IP55 earbuds are bulky but stay in the ear due to the included silicone earbud covers.
JLab JBuds AirFull Review
The charging case is unique and houses its charging cable; that way, you never have to go on the hunt for a micro-USB cable. During my trial period with the earbuds, I was concerned about the durability of the cable, but its tested to withstand 10,000 full bends prior to showing signs of wear.
Sound quality is on-par for budget wireless earbuds and is just ok. Undoubtedly the best thing about the JBuds Air is the sub-$50 price and reliable connectivity. 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.
- JLab Epic Air Elite: These earbuds feature a similar ear hook design to the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 and are a bit more expensive, hence why it didn’t make it as a top pick. That said, the design is sleek and both panels are touch-capacitive. What’s more, isolation is excellent which only bolsters the already strong bass response.
- JLab Epic Air Executive: These are a versatile pair of earbuds that can seamlessly go from the office to the gym. The slick charging case has an integrated USB cable like JLab’s other true wireless products for convenient charging from anywhere.
- Anker Soundcore Liberty Air: If you’re looking for a solid pair of AirPods alternatives that feature an IPX5 certification and great battery life, these are a great option for less than $100.
- RHA TrueConnect: These expensive true wireless earbuds are IPX5-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.
- Bose SoundSport Free: These earbuds sound great and fit well despite being large for true wireless earbuds. The proprietary ear tips maintain a stable fit without sacrificing comfort. If you want great sounding earbuds that can be taken to the gym, these are a strong candidate.
- Jaybird Vista: If you plan to hit the gym and need something with a compact charging case, the IPX7 Jaybird Vista earbuds are your best bet. These afford more than five hours of battery on a single charge and support quick charging, in case you forget to top them up before exercising. They stay secure but can cause ear pain before an hour of wear.
See also: Best AirPods alternatives
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