Working out is tough but finding earbuds that keep up with you shouldn’t be. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the five best wireless Bluetooth headphones. We hope these will help push you through even the most strenuous workouts.
The best workout earbuds of 2017 are the Jaybird X3
Jaybird has gone through a few versions of their product, and the X3 are the best yet. When the original X was released, I became a daily listener. It’s been great to see the X line mature. The X3 have a slimmer profile than the X2 or X and do a great job staying in your ears during a workout. (Props to the assortment of wing and ear tip combinations provided.) When power the headphones on, you hear a few mysterious bass thumps. Then, a cheery female voice greeting you with a smiling, “power on!” I was so taken aback by the greeting that I audibly laughed.
Jaybird X3Full Review
Also worth noting, the volume control module is freshly redesigned. With the aesthetic change comes a new docked charger. This alteration is annoying and finicky compared to the typical micro-USB charging port, but it looks cool and works.
Unfortunately, Jaybird refrained from improving battery life from the X2 model. It remains at eight hours of playback, which is still solid but nothing to worth effusive praise. However, since these are primarily for workouts, I don’t think battery life is quite as important as general use headphones. I and many others appreciate the ability to change EQ settings via, Jaybird MySound. It’s comprehensive and fun to play around with. Also, you can save your preferred profile to the headphones and apply them to any device that you connect the X3 to. Although they don’t have an official IP rating, Jaybird claims the X3 are sweat-resistant. After being drenched in sweat while using these, I concur; they hold up.
If you need a solid fit, look no further than the Bose SoundSport Free
Bose has hopped on the true wireless train with the SoundSport Free, an update to the SoundSport Wireless. With Bose’s patented StayHear+ ear tips, the bulbous ‘buds remain in your ears during the most vigorous of workouts. Whether running, cycling, or weight lifting, the earbuds are sure to remain planted in your ears, regardless of how active your sweat glands may be. The unusually large housing supplies five hours of battery—I was able to squeeze out five and a half at 50 percent volume—and the matte black case provides an extra 10 hours.
Bose SoundSport Free
Just like their predecessor, the SoundSport Free sound great; though, the low end is under emphasized, especially for sport-oriented earbuds. If you’re looking for something to rattle your bones, check out the Under Armour Sport Flex, also featured on this list. Need to skip to Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass to get you through the rest of your workout? Bose makes sure that athletes retain full control of the music with traditional playback buttons and a multi-function button, allowing users to access their virtual assistant. If an earbud is lost, the Bose Connect app will attempt to locate it.
For the bass head, the Under Armour Sport Flex by JBL are a great choice
Under Armour and JBL have teamed up to produce the Sport Flex Wireless, a pair of neckband-style earphones. Though the earbuds haven’t received an official IPX rating, they feature a water-repellent coating, which does the trick for all workouts, save for aquatics. The earbuds themselves are magnetized, making them less prone to paddle-balling against your chest while moving around. Low-end reproduction is phenomenal for anyone working out. Extreme bass overemphasis means that the JBL Under Armour Sport Flex will keep pace with the intensity of your workout.
Under Armour Sport Wireless Flex by JBLFull Review
Need to call upon Siri or Google Assistant? You’re in luck, because the Sport Flex respond immediately after holding down the multifunction button for a couple of seconds. Neither assistants have trouble picking up on commands with the Sport Flex microphone. Also, if you don’t mind the bouncing betty of a neckband while running, Under Armour includes a one-year premium membership to Map My Run. This allows users to keep tabs on their workouts, from distance, duration, elevation, and so on.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT are ideal for the aquaphilic
IP57 rated, these earbuds can be submerged to depths of one meter for up to 30 minutes. For general moisture, the oleophobic nano-coating wicks away sweat from the silicone housing. Naturally, the dust-resistance and waterproofing make the BackBeat FIT a sturdy earphone, while the flexible design means that they can fit just about anywhere. I did have trouble with the initial fit after unboxing these, but once I was able to angle the ear tips appropriately, it was easy from then on out.
Plantronics BackBeat FIT
They may not provide the best seal, but that’s due to Plantronics’ intentional design of the BackBeat FIT. Allowing ambient noise through helps to ensure safety during a run or as a daily commuter. And, in all fairness, what the FIT lack in booming bass, they makes up for in volume. These can get tremendously loud at a recorded 105 dB. Moreover, their mids and highs are reproduced well, unless the earphones are cranked all the way up. Plantronics supply an armband that can hold your phone, well, some phones. Unfortunately, it was too short to zip over my LG G6, but it was able to fit an old iPhone 4s that we was hiding out in my desk drawer.
They may not provide the best seal but that’s due to Plantronics’ intentional design of the BackBeat FIT. Allowing ambient noise in helps to ensure the safety of the user.
It’s worth noting that a unique selling point of the FIT is the 12 PEAR Personal Coach app along with a six-month membership to PEAR+. With so few options on the market for swimmers, these are a truly exceptional pair of headphones that provide suitable audio performance for athletes’ needs.
For true wireless earbuds there are the JLab Epic Air
The ear-hook design often polarizes users, but they keep JLab Epic Air secure. No amount of shaking, jumping, or whatever kind of cardio is your chosen mode of torture will get these to fly out. While we’re on the positives, let’s stay here for a moment. According to Adam Molina, the touch controls work flawlessly. It’s great to see wireless earbuds implement touch controls well. This in contrast to the Optoma NuForce BeFree8 which, while overall a great product, omits them.
JLab Epic AirFull Review
Now, unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks. For one, the connection may drop more frequently you’d like, especially at this price point. Also the loud bass leaves a lot to be desired. The attempt is understandable since JLab is just following other companies’ successeses with an emphasized low end signature. However, the result is like a child trying to paint American Gothic. The idea is there but the substance is lacking. In all fairness, when working out, it’s difficult for me to pay attention to the quality of the music. Others may be more attune to this during their workouts, though. As a niche pair of true wireless earbuds, I tip my hat to JLab for coming out with a product with a great physical design and well-oiled touch controls.
Like to run? Checkout our Best Bluetooth Earbuds for Running.
We’ll be keeping this list updated as new options come out so feel free to let us know what your favorite headphones are for the gym. If we missed a couple of good ones let us know in the comments. We’ll be sure to add them in the future.
Didn’t find what you were looking for? Checkout these related best lists:
How we chose
Although we’ve reviewed a vast array of products here at Sound Guys, we haven’t gotten around to all of them. Since we’re only human and are inherently subjective no matter how hard we try, each review may not always perfectly reflect your experiences. To counteract that, we do quite a bit of research like reading others’ reviews, visiting discussion forums, and launching vicious internal debates. If a product made one of our best lists, you know it’s survived the ire of an old-school audiophile, and two active twenty-something audio lovers. After the preliminary steps, we picked out which models were in and which were out (cue Heidi Klum).
For this list, I was able to test our curated selection of models. This was great for my physique and motivated me to go to the gym at least five days a week through the September and October. I also used these casually around the house, in the office and generally while out and about (especially while grocery shopping). When testing earbuds for general workout purposes, I do a bit of cardio, mainly biking and running, and do quite a bit of weight lifting/calisthenics. I sweat a lot, and no test products made it to this list that couldn’t handle my workout.
Just like it is with human beings, it’s possible we missed something. However, these best lists are constantly updated as we come across new information, so don’t be surprised to see them change a few times a year. We buy the vast majority of our products for review, partly because we want to make sure that we go through the same experiences you do when you buy.
What you should know
A key aspect of workout headphones is that they’re, at the very least, sweat-resistant. So here’s a quick rundown of Ingress Protection (IP) ratings and fit.
- Here’s the important split seen in the listed headphones:
Water-Resistant Waterproof IPX4 IP67 IPX5 IPX7 IPX6 IPX8
Full charts are available here if you’re so inclined.
- A proper fit is key to excellent workout earbuds. Thankfully, most companies provide you with multiple sizes of ear and wingtips for extra security. For some, ear tips like this can be unwieldy and actually undermine a proper fit. This was an issue for me when I used the original Jaybird X, so I chose to forgo the wing tips and continue to love the earbuds. If your earbuds are falling out too often or hurting your ears, try altering the sizing or ear tip style.
Why you should trust me
Hey, I’m Lily. For three years in college, I worked for the radio station and racked up countless hours with studio-level microphones, headphones, speakers and recording software. All the while, deepening my understanding of the technical side of audio. Prior to that, my audio journey began in 2015 with skeletal YouTube reviews.
I continued to self-produce YouTube videos, reviewing headphones from the Skullcandy 50/50s to the original Sennheiser Momentum. Hi-Fi Heaven reached out for my first collaborative project, and I got down to business. We teamed up to review Bluetooth, exercise and consumer headphones.
During my time with Sound Guys, I’ve been fortunate to review a range of products and pay attention to what consumers look for (in this case, regarding sport-related products). What’s more, I’m a devoted exercise enthusiast. I workout five times a week and have gone through my fair share of earphones to find what works best for me. (For the curious, I reach for the Bose SoundSport when hitting the gym.) However, I understand that there are “different strokes for different folks” and took that into account while compiling this updated list.
Who should buy these?
Okay, alright. You already have headphones, but it’s important to feel that headphones are an investment. They serve as a specialized product for a specific context. In this case? Exercising. Sure, sure. Your current earbuds may be Bluetooth-enabled but are they sweat-resistant? How are the ergonomics? See, by investing in something like the Jaybird X3s you don’t have to question the integrity of the product, because they’re made with us gym rats in mind.
That being said, the listed headphones are intended for people who prioritize exercising. If you’re like me, getting a pair of workout ‘buds should be a no-brainer. Think about it, they’re built for us! How cool is that? If you find yourself at the gym a few times a week, exercise-oriented earbuds will carry you further than run-of-the-mill, average consumer products. Moreover, you could also be an excessive sweater. No shame . I’ll be the first to admit that my pores release a surprising amount of water on the reg. Earnestly speaking, it’s important to make sure that your earphones are water-resistant if this is a concern for you. At the very least, an external oleophobic coating can go a long way.
Sure, sure. Your current earbuds may be Bluetooth-enabled but are they sweat-resistant? How are the ergonomics?
Finally, if you’re just the average consumer looking for your next pair of wireless earbuds, any of these are a great option for you, assuming the wallet allows it. And, they are all so low-impedance that there’s no need for a headphone amp. These could just be an extra durable pair of earbuds to take on your morning commute!
Fallible but not a failure
As with everything in life—the audio world is no exception—each product has its advantages and disadvantages. One flaw worth discussing in our best all around is the battery life of the Jaybird X3. You’d hope that the third iteration of the Jaybird X series would bump up the battery but, like many companies beyond headphones, Jaybird chose to put form before function. Consequently, the battery life suffers because of it. Although, it does claim eight hours of playback, a handful of users have found number to be inaccurate, lasting closer to five hours, or that the ability to hold a charge depletes significantly over a short period of time. This seems to be more of a quality control issue rather than an X3 epidemic, making it a shortcoming instead of an absolute deal breaker.
Models no longer listed
Initially the Sennheiser CX 686G were listed as the best wired earbuds of its class. Unfortunately, they got the boot in favor of the JLab Epic Air True Wireless earbuds. With the increase in popularity of Bluetooth headphones, it seemed appropriate to make the switch. Also, when it comes to working out: most users across the boards (Amazon, Reddit, Head-Fi, that is) tend to prefer wireless options for gym visits.
Another update that’s been made is with the ADV Sound Evo X. These used to hold the title for best sound, and, actually, they still do.Although we generally prioritize sound quality, we’ve decided to highlight the Plantronics BackBeat FIT for their runner friendly features and IP57 waterproof rating. In case you missed it, scroll up to learn more about the Plantronics BackBeat FIT. They’re IP57 rated (dust/water-resistant) and built to last.
Okay, great. What else has been voted off Best Workout ‘Buds Island? Well, Jeff Probst, let me tell you. Our last swap out has the Beats X replacing the CB3 Fit, formerly the best bang for your buck. Since we’re taking these to workout, we made sure to include earbuds that won’t get lost on you, thanks to the magnetic mechanism used in the Beats X.
The Urbanears Hellas are a metropolitan take on the workout headphone. Urbanears’ wireless technology also manages to boast 14 hours of battery life. They also include touch gestures to in lieu of physical buttons to skip/play/pause tracks and adjust volume. As one may expect, the Hellas will drain your audio driver’s battery a bit quicker as it requires 60 ohms to function. Although they don’t explicitly advertise an IP rating, the cloth headband and ear cups are removable to make for easy cleaning.
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