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Best earbuds for working out
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 earbuds for working out that 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 for every use case, we hope to have you covered with these picks.
- This list of the best earbuds for working out was updated on February 15, 2024, to ensure the timeliness of the information within. For more options, see our list of the best workout headphones.
- Sennheiser announced the MOMENTUM Sport Earbuds at CES 2024, which will include a host of biometric feedback features. However, you will have to wait until April to get them, and they will cost a whopping $329.95.
Best earbuds for working out for most people: Jabra Elite 8 Active
When it comes to workout earbuds that can double as your daily companion, the Jabra Elite 8 Active reigns supreme. These buds have an IP68 rating, offering durable dust and water resistance. You can run in the rain or sweat it out at the gym, and with the rubbery ShakeGrip coating, these buds are sure to stay in place.
As for sound quality, they closely follow our preference curve but for some under-emphasis in the highest frequencies. The active noise cancelation effectively drowns out low-pitched rumbles in your surroundings.
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Battery life is another plus, clocking in at 9 hours and 28 minutes on a single charge. That’s more than enough to get you through more intense workouts or back-to-back meetings. Plus, with fast charging capabilities, you can juice up quickly and be ready for round two.
Best budget: Anker Soundcore Life A1
The Anker Soundcore Life A1 is a straightforward set of IPX7 water-resistant earbuds. They come with interchangeable silicone wing tips, ranging from extra-small to extra-large, to comfortably stay in place while you work out.
There’s no accompanying app, but plenty of onboard controls let you adjust volume, skip tracks, and answer calls. The earbuds also have three onboard EQ presets (Soundcore Signature, Bass Booster, and Acoustic).
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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.
Best for safety and running: 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 seal to your ear canal, these bone conduction headphones leave 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 has an IP55 rating against dust and water, making them my go-to recommendation for rock climbers and outdoor cyclists.
Bets noise canceling: Beats Fit Pro
The Beats Fit Pro has active noise canceling (ANC) that rivals the AirPods Pro 2. 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. When you want to hear your surroundings, you can enable Transparency mode.
The signature “b” logo on each earbud doubles as a multifunction button, which can be preferable to touch controls when exercising because they work reliably, even with sweaty hands. Permanent wings extend from the earbuds, keeping them from falling out while you run, cycle, or rock climb.
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.
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.
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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.
The JBL Endurance Peak 3 are affordable with a ton of fitness features
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.
What about the Shokz OpenFit?
Open ear earbuds often leave you aware of your surroundings at the expense of sound quality. Still, the Shokz OpenFit sound decent and feel comfortable as far as unsealed personal audio products go. They stay in place for various types of exercise, and you get an IPX54 dust- and water-resistant build.
In our testing, the battery life measured seven hours, 21 minutes on a single charge, about two hours longer than average. The case supplies an extra 21 hours of playtime and recharges via USB-C. We also like how the case can fast charge these buds: five minutes yields one hour of listening. They also have surprisingly good microphone quality, making your voice sound good even when speaking in a noisy environment.
The best earbuds for working out: Notable mentions
We rounded out our favorite earbuds for working out, but if you want to consider all options, check out some other noteworthy candidates.
- Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ($239 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.
- Jabra Elite 7 Active ($179 at Amazon): If you’re looking for durable workout earbuds, you should definitely consider the Jabra Elite 7 Active. These earbuds pack in tons of customization options alongside rugged protection, good sound, and solid active noise canceling.
- 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 earbuds for working out 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 earbuds for working out?
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 sometime before you 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.
For those who don’t have a good pair of workout earbuds, headphones can offer better stability, comfort, and better noise isolation. However, over-ear headphones can lead to more heat and sweat built up over longer workouts.
How we choose the best earbuds for working out
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 earbuds for working out
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 demonstrated 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 earbuds for working out
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.
We generally don’t recommend using AirPods for the gym. Apple’s own Beats Fit Pro is a far better option that integrates just as well with iOS. But if you have nothing else, the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) has comparable specs without the secure winged ear tips.
Any of the earbuds highlighted on this list, such as the Jabra Elite 8 Active or the Beats Fit Pro, will suit multiple types of exercise.