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Best wireless workout earbuds
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 July 14, 2022, to include the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC as a Highlight pick. We also added microphone demos when relevant and updated the Alternatives section.
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/Android). From the app, you can adjust the active noise cancelling (ANC) intensity, toggle HearThru mode, get battery readouts, take an ear tip fit test 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.
The microphone is pretty good here and does a decent job of attenuating background noise in our simulated office environment.
Jabra Elite 7 Active microphone demo (Ideal):
Jabra Elite 7 Active microphone demo (Office):
How does the microphone sound to you?
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 Vista 2 microphone does a pretty good job of blocking out predictable humming sounds but doesn’t do as well with things like gusts of wind or incidental, high-pitched sounds.
Jaybird Vista 2 microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
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.
If you want the same design and durability with active noise cancelling, check out the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds instead.
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.
Bose Sport Earbuds microphone demo (Ideal):
Bose Sport Earbuds microphone demo (Wind):
How does the microphone sound to you?
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 microphone quality sounds good in a controlled environment but if there is a lot of background noise, the person on the other end may get distracted.
Beats Powerbeats Pro microphone demo (Ideal):
Beats Powerbeats Pro microphone demo (Office):
Beats Powerbeats Pro microphone demo (Wind):
How do these sound to you?
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 JLab Epic Air Sport ANC
The JLab Epic Air Sport ANC is a solid headset for just $99 USD, and often goes on sale for as little as $79 USD. You may be surprised to learn that the Epic Air Sport ANC has, well, epic noise cancelling performance for the price. The earbuds render frequencies below 100Hz one-quarter to one-eighth as loud as they’d sound without the buds in at all. Of course, this is dependent on a good fit but JLab provides six pairs of mixed material ear tips to ensure a comfortable fit.
Noise cancelling aside, the sound quality is quite good even though it veers a bit off from what our target consumer curve suggests with under-emphasized treble frequencies. You can adjust the sound with JLab’s custom EQ module in the mobile app (iOS/Android) or you can cycle between the built-in EQ presets.
What really makes this a great set of budget workout earbuds are the ear hooks. With these malleable hooks, you can get a uniquely secure fit and the earbuds will stay in place no matter how much you move your head. Oh, battery life is excellent too and the earbuds last 15 hours, 31 minutes with the case providing an extra 55 hours of playtime. Placing the buds in the case for 15 minutes provides 60 minutes of playback and you never need to keep track of a charging cable since a USB-A cable is integrated into the case.
Whether you’re a runner, rock climber, cyclist (yes, you can use either bud in mono mode), or typical gym-goer, the Epic Air ANC is a great deal.
The microphone quality is the headset’s weakest attribute. It can get you through a quick, casual call from your home but the Epic Air ANC isn’t the headset to use for conference calls.
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC microphone demo (Ideal):
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC microphone demo (Street):
JLab Epic Air Sport ANC microphone demo (Wind):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The Anker Soundcore Life A1 exists for those who don’t want to spend more than $50 USD on a pair of workout earbuds These buds aren’t perfect and have a pretty bassy sound but you get plenty of features for the price.
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. You get excellent Bluetooth connection strength, though with only SBC and AAC support.
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. 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.
Anker Soundcore Life A1 microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
If you can’t find the Soundcore Life A1, the Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 is your next best bet. It has an IPX7 rating and is also comfortable.
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. The 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 exercise 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.
The best 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.
- 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.
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: If you’re a fan of the original Galaxy Buds, you’ll love the Buds Pro. These earbuds feature integrated Spotify support and 360 audio with compatible services. It’s Samsung’s direct AirPods competitor and a popular choice among Samsung smartphone owners.
- Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3: Sennheiser adds securing wing tips to its MTW line of earphones, making this a great option for athletes who want excellent sound quality, ANC, and a good fit. You get access to Sennheiser’s mobile app to EQ the sound, which looks similar to the company’s other wireless earbuds.
- Sennheiser Sport True Wireless: This set of wireless earbuds builds off the design of the MOMENTUM TWS 3 but features a sportier look and a more durable IP54 rating. Sennheiser provides two kinds of ear tips, one for blocking background noise and the other for letting background noise in. This can be good if you want to hear what’s going on around you in certain contexts.
- 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.
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 to remember when shopping for 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?
Sound reproduction is subjected to auditory masking if your earbuds don’t fit properly. 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.