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Best wireless workout earbuds
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Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
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 wireless workout earbuds was updated on May 10, 2022, to add an updated frequency response graph for the Bose Sport Earbuds, and to highlight the Sony LinkBuds.
Why is the Jabra Elite 7 Active the best pair of wireless earbuds?
We like the Jabra Elite 7 Active because it’s a jack-of-all-trades pair of earphones with great features for a reasonable price. The earbuds don’t use wingtips and instead rely on ShakeGrip (a rubberized coating that covers each earbud) to keep the buds in place.
The earbuds sound very good by default, but if you want to make some tweaks, you’re free to do so in the Jabra Sound+ app (iOS and Android). From the app, you can adjust the active noise cancelling (ANC) intensity, toggle HearThru mode, get battery readouts, and more. If you don’t want to create a custom EQ, Jabra will do the heavy lifting with its MySound hearing test. After testing your hearing, the app will create a custom sound profile specifically for you.
Bluetooth 5.2 connects the Elite 7 Active to your smartphone, and you get your choice of SBC or AAC Bluetooth codecs. AAC provides reliable high-quality playback to iPhones but is inconsistent across Android hardware.
The battery life is quite good, lasting just over 7 hours with ANC on. You get great fast charging too: plop the buds in the case for five minutes and enjoy 150 minutes of playback. The case charges wirelessly or via USB-C cable.
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.
One of the most important features of 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.
The Bose Sport Earbuds sounds great and fits comfortably
The Bose Sport Earbuds is meant for the gym, but you can take it anywhere thanks to the compact case (or at least more compact than Bose’s debut true wireless buds). It 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.
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 here.
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 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.
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.
The Beats Fit Pro is a solid option for listeners who want a more compact pair of buds that work as well on Android as it does on iOS. Be aware, however, that Fit Pro owners have reported ANC issues, and we’ve experienced similar problems. You can read all about the pros and cons of the Fit Pro in our full review.
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.
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.
Should you get the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)?
Amazon prioritized a good fit with the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) 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 helps with the buds’ stability and 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.
Hear everything with the Sony LinkBuds
Maybe you want to hear your surroundings without needing a transparency mode. Sony has you covered with the unconventional looking LinkBuds WF-L900. The donut shaped ring sits where you’d normally place ear tips, and that hole means the outside world is bound to reach your ears. Downsides of this approach include the fact you won’t really get the best sound quality, as it will compete with environmental noise. But, not everyone likes noise cancelling, especially if they workout in the outdoors.
At only 4 grams each, you will feel unencumbered by extra weight. If you prefer bass heavy music, skip this one. The IPX4 rating is enough to protect the buds from sweat, but don’t go dropping the LinkBuds into a pool. If you liked going for runs with your AirPods, but notice the fit isn’t secure enough, the LinkBuds stay in much better thanks to its wings. The price is kind of steep, but for the right person it makes sense.
True wireless workout earbuds: Notable mentions
- 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.
- JBL Reflect Flow Pro: Ignore the ANC, because it’s not very good. Do notice the good fit, IP rating, in-app EQ options, and awareness mode. Find it on sale and you’ll feel good going for a run with it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shokz OpenRun: This pair of bone conduction headphones lets you hear your surroundings no matter what because the headset leaves your ear canals completely unoccluded. With this bone conduction headset, you get support for multipoint connectivity and fast charging too.
- Sony WF-C500: This set of buds has an IPX4 rating and comfortable ear tips. We like how small and lightweight the WF-C500 is, from the case to the buds, and the price doesn’t hurt either.
Hold up! Something’s different:
Some of our picks’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this article (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and isolation performance plots. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
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. If you really don’t know where to begin, peruse our headphone buying guide.
A Bluetooth codec dictates how audio data gets transmitted from your source device to your headset. There are a handful of Bluetooth codecs to be aware of, prime among them are SBC, AAC aptX, and LDAC.
SBC is the lowest common denominator of Bluetooth codecs, and every Bluetooth device must support SBC. AAC is a brilliant high-quality codec that works best on iPhones. It works with Android devices, but its streaming rates are inconsistent across various devices. aptX affords greater transfer rates than SBC and is very stable on Android. It is not compatible with iOS. Granted, your ability to discern between the codecs, especially while working out, may be limited.
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 hiccups.
How do you know if a headset fits well?
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. If you don’t get a good fit, external noise will make it hard for your brain to process the sound of your music.
Many earbud manufacturers are including ear tip fit tests in their respective apps to make it easy to find the right fit. If your earbuds don’t have this feature, just know that you should feel some kind of cogent seal from the ear tips. When you get a proper fit, the earbuds should stay in place if you wiggle your ears or move around a bit.
What is an IP rating?
The “IP” in IP ratings stands for ingress protection. You’ll see this rating formatted as IPXX, a common rating is IPX4. The “X” in IPX4 is a placeholder for dust resistance, and the “4” denotes a certain degree of water resistance. All workout earbuds need to be water resistant. At the very least, they should have a water-repellent coating. You can’t submerge a headset unless it has an IPX7 rating or higher. 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.
How we choose the best 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.
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We strive to educate our readers on the perpetually evolving world of consumer audio. When approaching any audio product, we acknowledge that assessing it requires a combination of objective testing and subjective reflection: not everyone wants a studio sound and that’s just fine. At the end of the day, we want you to be happy with your purchase if one is made. Although SoundGuys does use referral links, none of our writers benefit from awarding one product over another.
Frequently asked questions about the best wireless workout earbuds
Yes, the Jabra Elite Active 75t is a great pick for those who want a pair of wireless workout earbuds that perform well in every measurable category. Sure, it’s a few years old, and Jabra has since updated its Elite line of earphones, but the Elite Active 75t is still great. The earbuds merit an IP57 rating, 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.
Additionally, the (slightly cheaper) IP55 rated 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.
The Jabra Elite 85t is a solid set of ANC earbuds that’s on promotion thanks to the advent of the newer Jabra Elite 7 Pro. The Elite 85t has more effective ANC than the Elite 75t series earbuds as well as HearThru functionality. Similar to the Elite 75t series, the Elite 85t has an IPX4 rating and Bluetooth multipoint. So it’s sweatproof, but not as waterproof as the Elite 75t or Elite Active 75t.
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. By all means, find them on sale now that the newer version is out.