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Best workout earbuds
Exercising is tough, but finding earbuds that keep up with you shouldn’t be. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best workout earbuds money can buy. We hope these push you through even the most strenuous workout regimen. Whether you’re looking for a pair of affordable buds or the best earbuds money can buy, we hope to have you covered with these picks.
- This list of the best workout earbuds was updated on September 15, 2023, to refresh the Notable Mentions section and answer more frequently asked questions.
Best overall: Jabra Elite 7 Active
Jabra has some of the best wireless earbuds on the market, and the Jabra Elite 7 Active builds upon the company’s empire. Like the Jabra Elite 7 Pro ($199 at Amazon), the Elite 7 Active have an IP57 rating, so you don’t have to worry about dust or water damage. Unlike other workout earbuds from Jabra, the Elite 7 Active is wrapped in a ShakeGrip cover to keep the earbuds in place. You don’t get wing tips, but the earbuds fit our reviewer and test head well.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active comes with plenty of features, like active noise canceling, wireless charging, and one of the best mobile headphone apps around. While Jabra’s default sound is a bit bass-heavy, it doesn’t pose an issue because you can just equalize the sound directly in the app. These buds can’t outdo the best noise canceling earbuds, but it’s fine, and the passive isolation outperforms most in-ears.
The microphone sounds pretty good when you speak from ideal, quiet spaces, and it even does a fair job of isolating the speaker’s voice from our simulated office environment. Take a listen below.
Jabra Elite 7 Active microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Jabra Elite 7 Active microphone demo (Office conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
If the Jabra Elite 7 Active appeal to you but seem like a bit too much for your needs, try the Jabra Elite 4 Active ($89.99 at Jabra). They’re essentially a toned-down version of the Jabra Elite 7 Active. Still, the Elite 4 Active delivers where it matters most.
You don’t get any extra frills, but if you’re focused on working out, you may not miss them. The IP57 rating remains, however, so you can go hard for hours and not worry about your buds. And you can use the (somewhat basic) equalizer in these buds’ companion app to customize your tunes beforehand.
At the end of the day, despite the lack of many fancy features, the sound quality, ANC, and durability of the Jabra Elite 4 Active are all elite.
Best budget: Anker Soundcore Life A1
The Anker Soundcore Life A1 doesn’t come with an app or fancy wraparound material to keep the buds in place. Instead, you get a straightforward set of IPX7 water-resistant earphones. Anker provides interchangeable silicone wing tips, ranging from extra-small to extra-large. That way, the Life A1 should comfortably lock onto each listener’s ears.
Anker doesn’t provide app support for the Life A1, but plenty of onboard controls let you adjust volume, skip tracks, and answer calls. The earbuds have three onboard EQ presets (Soundcore Signature, Bass Booster, and Acoustic). When you power the buds on, they revert to the Signature setting.
While the Anker Soundcore Life A1 aren’t audiophile earbuds, they have an appropriate frequency response for exercise. Bass frequencies sound twice as loud as mids, making these a fine pick for bass heads too. When you find the properly sized ear tips, the earbuds will block out plenty of background noise. Low frequencies are cut in half, and high-frequency noise, like rattling weights, is one-eighth as loud with the buds in.
It’s hard to find a better-performing and more comfortable pair of budget earbuds than the Life A1.
The dual microphones capture your voice effectively when there’s no background noise. If you’re in a noisy area, the mics will attempt to suppress background noise and may also cut your voice out.
Anker Soundcore Life A1 microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Best for safety: Shokz OpenRun Pro
Anyone who exercises outdoors knows just how vital vigilance is, and the Shockz OpenRun Pro allows you to keep an ear on your surroundings while listening to your music. Unlike other earbuds that don’t seal to your ear canal, the OpenRun Pro leaves your ears unoccluded.
Two bulb-shaped pieces connect to a band that wraps around the back of your head, which has plenty of flexibility to fit most head shapes. The OpenRun Pro have an IP55 rating against dust and water, making them my go-to recommendation for rock climbers and outdoor cyclists. Unfortunately, the headset charges via a proprietary 2-pin connector rather than USB-C. Considering all the benefits, this is a minor inconvenience.
Sound quality doesn’t knock my socks off, but this is the nature of unsealed earphones — or, in this case, headphones that don’t interact with your ears much at all. That said, these are the best-sounding bone-conduction headphones I’ve reviewed.
The OpenRun Pro put safety and awareness first, which is paramount for outdoor athletes.
The headphones use Shokz’s TurboPitch combined with 9th-generation bone conduction technology. This combination yields louder bass and more consistent audio quality than the competition. With other similar headsets, jaw movements from chewing, drinking water, or yawning displace the ear pieces and dramatically degrade sound quality, but that’s not as noticeable with the OpenRun Pro.
The OpenRun Pro are great for safety and awareness, but they’re not the most versatile option. Check out our next pick for earbuds that you can use anywhere, even on the plane.
Best noise canceling: Beats Fit Pro
The Beats Fit Pro has active noise canceling (ANC) that rivals the AirPods Pro 2. When you’re sick of hearing gymgoers’ grunts and treadmill roars, the ANC will come in handy. Low frequencies, and certain treble frequencies, sound nearly one-sixteenth of their original loudness. The Fit Pro also attenuates midrange frequencies, rendering them one-eighth as loud as they sound without the buds in. This top-notch ANC performance makes the Fit Pro excellent earbuds for flying and commuting.
When you want to hear your surroundings, you can enable Transparency mode. This filters external noise through the earbuds, letting you hear nearby traffic or train platform announcements. I don’t feel Transparency mode sounds as pleasant as Adaptive Transparency on the AirPods Pro 2, but it’s a nice addition.
Although Apple owns Beats, you won’t mistake these winged earphones for AirPods. The signature “b” logo on each earbud makes it clear these are Beats and doubles as a multifunction button. I prefer buttons to touch controls when exercising because they work reliably, even with sweaty hands.
The Fit Pro offers a secure fit, good sound quality, and great noise canceling.
Permanent wings extend from the earbuds, keeping them secure while I run, cycle, and rock climb. Some listeners may find the wings uncomfortable after 90 minutes, as I do, but a quick listening break fixes that.
Although these earbuds house Apple’s H2 chip for exclusive iOS features like personalized Spatial Audio with head tracking and device switching, they also work on Android. The Beats app for Android lets you customize the press-and-hold command, change listening modes, and view the battery life. Like the iOS Settings app, the Beats app hosts an ear tip fit test and lets you toggle automatic ear detection on or off.
I love the Beats Fit Pro for all kinds of exercise. The winged design offers the same degree of security as ear hooks while maintaining a smaller footprint. Although most listeners will like how the earbuds sound, they may not be up to par for audio enthusiasts. The Sennheiser Sport True Wireless might be better if that resonates with you.
The Beats Fit Pro microphone system will make your voice sound clear in quiet spaces. When you take a call outside though, the person on the other end will have trouble hearing you over the noise.
Beats Fit Pro microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Beats Fit Pro microphone demo (Office conditions):
Beats Fit Pro microphone demo (Windy conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Best sound: Sennheiser Sport True Wireless
The Sennheiser Sport True Wireless are the best for athletes who care about sound quality. These earphones closely follow our headphone preference curve and come with a custom EQ in the Sennheiser Smart Control app (Android/iOS). We’re confident most people will enjoy how the Sennheiser Sport True Wireless sounds without any equalization, though.
The headphones also include closed and open ear tips. This lets you choose whether or not you want to block out your surroundings. You can also activate the “Aware” mode on the earbuds, which amplifies environmental noise while also boosting the low-frequency response of the earbuds to avoid some auditory masking of bass.
There’s also a variety of ear wings to ensure you get a secure fit on any adventure. You can attach a lanyard to the case, which makes it easy to hook it onto your bag. Moreover, the IP54 rating protects the earbuds from both dust and water. No matter what, these sporty earbuds from Sennheiser are ready for anything.
You can use the onboard microphones for phone calls, but the microphone quality isn’t as good as some other true wireless earbuds. Listen to the demonstrations below to judge for yourself:
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless microphone demo (Office conditions):
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless microphone demo (Street conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Are the Anker Soundcore Pro 2 good for exercise?
The JBL Endurance Peak 3 are durable wireless earbuds with an IP68 rating. These dust-tight earbuds can withstand complete submersion for 30 minutes as long as they don’t sink deeper than three meters. Aside from that, these buds are affordable and have a stabilizing hook design.
The JBL Endurance Peak 3 supports the JBL Headphones app, which significantly increases the feature set of the earbuds. The app lets you customize on-ear controls, EQ presets (and the ability to make your own), firmware updates, and more. You can also turn on the earbuds’ transparency modes, Ambient Aware (which amplifies all external sounds using the microphone) and TalkThru (which only amplifies the frequencies associated with human speech). However, there’s no ANC, which may make this less ideal in a noisy gym.
The best workout earbuds: Notable mentions
We rounded out our favorite workout earbuds, but if you want to consider all options, check out some other noteworthy candidates.
- Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ($199 at Amazon): Apple’s flagship earbuds have an IPX4 rating and come with XS-L ear tips for a good fit. We love Apple’s onboard controls, Adaptive Transparency mode, and noise cancelation, but they’re not the best value for exercise alone.
- Google Pixel Buds A-Series ($94 at Amazon): Google’s IPX4-rated earbuds have permanent wings that secure them to your ears. The ear tips don’t form an aggressive seal at your ear canals, making for a comfortable fit too.
- Jabra Elite 3 ($59 at Amazon): These are Jabra’s most affordable true wireless earphones to date. The company manages to pack in premium features like an IP55 rating and aptX support.
- Jaybird Vista 2 ($117 at Amazon): These earbuds are nearly indestructible with their IP68 and MIL-STD-810G certifications. Most people will like the consumer-friendly sound, and outdoor exercisers will get a lot of use from the wind filtering feature.
- JBL Tune 230NC TWS ($49.99 at Best Buy): If you want a bass-heavy sound in the form of stemmed earbuds, these come at a reasonable price. We appreciate the IPX4 rating and app support, too.
- JLab Epic Air Sport ANC ($89 at Amazon): These buds are a great value. You get a secure fit thanks to the earbuds’ hooked design, and they’re durable. The battery life lasts 9 hours on a single charge, which is far better than average.
- Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro ($179 at Amazon): These IPX7-rated earbuds are the perfect Samsung Galaxy phone companion. You can say, “Hey, Bixby,” and enjoy 24-bit audio over the Samsung Seamless Codec.
- Sony LinkBuds ($178 at Amazon): These earbuds are good for outdoor athletes because they keep your ears completely open. That way, you can enjoy stereo music playback and naturally hear the world around you. They have an IPX4 rating and are surprisingly comfortable, despite the odd design.
- Sony WF-C500 ($98 at Amazon): This set of earbuds has a standard IPX4 water-resistant build and comes in black or white. With a 10-hour standalone battery life and extra charge from the USB-C case, you’re well-equipped to use this for a couple of weeks without the need to recharge it. You can even use the earbuds with Sony 360 Reality Audio for an immersive listening experience.
What you should know about the best workout earbuds
Workout earbuds can be intimidating. After all, you need them to be durable and comfortable, but it’s hard to know what else matters. Well, if you’ve never bought a pair of workout earbuds before, you may want to study our in-ear buying guide. Those who may not have time to read it can use the table of contents on our site to navigate through the sections below regarding fit, durability, and Bluetooth codecs.
How do you know if your earbuds fit well?
When it comes to earbuds of any kind, particularly wireless workout earbuds, getting a good fit is necessary for the best sound quality.
Auditory masking can negatively affect sound quality 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, you’ll have to find the best tips manually. A good fit requires a 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 are IP ratings?
Additionally, a key aspect of the listed best workout earbuds is that they’re, at the very least, sweat-resistant. So here’s a quick rundown of ingress protection (IP) ratings. The X is just a placeholder for a dust resistance 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. You can’t submerge a headset unless it has an IPX7 rating or higher.
Do Bluetooth codecs matter when picking out workout earbuds?
When looking for workout earbuds, chances are you’re prioritizing durability and fit over sound quality. High-quality Bluetooth codec support matters less with workout earbuds than it does with premium ANC headphones.
Practically speaking, Bluetooth codec support may impact latency when streaming videos from the treadmill or stationary bike. If you have an Android phone, we recommend picking up earbuds with aptX support, like the Jabra Elite 4 ($79 at Amazon). This will ensure high-quality, lag-free audio from your Android device. LDAC can work too, but its Hi-Res claims are dubious. iPhone owners will want to look out for AAC.
What are some good workout headphones?
The workout headphone market is significantly smaller than the workout earbud market. Here are our top headphone recommendations for exercise.
- Fairphone FairBuds XL ($364 at Amazon): These IP54-rated headphones can resist dust and water. While they stand out for their durability, their reparability makes them unique. You can replace the battery without any tools and break the headphones into 11 replaceable modules.
- Jabra Elite 85h ($190.99 at Best Buy): These over-ear headphones have a water-repellant coating that protects the internals from moisture. Jabra’s headphones fit me well whether I wear glasses or not and have great battery life (over 34 hours).
- Plantronics BackBeat FIT 6100 ($69 at Amazon): These headphones are showing their age, but they’ve survived many trips to the gym with me. The IPX5 water resistance is perfect for any excursion, and the battery life will last you some time before eyou need to recharge the FIT 6100.
- Under Armor Project Rock Over-ear Training Headphones by JBL ($298 at Amazon): It’s a real mouthful of a name, but these headphones bring ANC, IPX4 sweat protection, and washable ear pads, in addition to all the features of the JBL Headphones app.
How we choose the best workout earbuds
For this list of the best workout earbuds, our team tested our curated selection of models. Our team has used the candidates casually around the house, in the office, and generally while out and about. When testing earbuds for workout purposes, I do a bit of cardio, mainly biking and running, paired with weight-lifting and calisthenics. All the products listed were able to withstand various workouts.
How we test the best workout earbuds
We subjected the best workout earbuds nominees to our objective testing, which includes isolation, battery life, and frequency response. After we test all the products and score them, we write a review. You can read all about it here, but the truncated version is as follows.
- Each product was subjected to multiple sine sweeps through the headphones, and we recorded the frequency response once we were able to repeat a result that demonstrates the hallmarks of a good seal.
- For battery testing, we used a real-time analyzer to calibrate the necessary setting for 75dB(SPL). We then played an infinitely looped music test track until the battery ran out. This lets us compare each product’s result to the others in a very controlled way.
- With the isolation tests, we used pink noise at 90dB(SPL). We first recorded with the headphones off and then with the headphones on. From there, we just subtract one from the other to get the isolation.
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Frequently asked questions about the best workout earbuds
To make sure your buds stay in your ears, you’ll want to make sure any earbuds you buy have several options for ear tips, such as what the Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 come with. Also, to avoid pain, we’d recommend avoiding non-removable wing tips that work by pressing out against your ear pinnae and instead opting for buds with removable wing tips or over-ear hooks like the Beats Powerbeats Pro.
How comfortable your earbuds feel depends on your specific ear shape as well as the ear tips you have on your buds. Ear hooks and wing tips provide stability, which factors into comfort because it prevents you from constantly adjusting your earbuds during your workout. We recommend the Bose SoundSport Free from this list if comfort is your main goal. They are stable with wing tips and won’t give you pain after wearing them for a long time. The only thing to note is that they are bulky, so if you have a lot of ear piercings, you’ll want to go with a sleeker set.
The JBL Endurance Peak 3 are notable for their durability with an IP68 rating, meaning they can withstand complete submersion for 30 minutes up to three meters deep. This makes them an excellent choice for gym-goers who need robust waterproof earbuds.
There could be a few reasons why your earbuds are cutting in and out at the gym, such as accidentally activating touch controls, a dwindling battery, or just a shaky connection to your mobile device. Always best to keep them charged and ensure a snug fit with your device.
The Shokz OpenRun Pro is our recommendation for joggers. They allow you to remain aware of your surroundings as they don’t seal to your ear canal, leaving your ears unoccluded. This ensures you can hear traffic and other potential hazards while enjoying your music.
The fit of earbuds can vary based on design and individual ear shapes. Many earbuds designed for workouts, like the Jabra Elite 7 Active, come with features such as the ShakeGrip cover to ensure they stay in place during physical activities. It’s crucial to find earbuds that offer a secure fit, and using the right-sized ear tips can also help prevent them from falling out while running.