Exercising 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 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 money can get we hope to have you covered with these picks.
Editor’s note: this list of the best workout earbuds was updated on February 24, 2021, to address an FAQ about small ears.
The best workout earbuds are the Jaybird X4
The Jaybird X4 are the best workout earbuds for most consumers, despite the availability of the Jaybird Tarah Pro. Though the Jaybird Tarah Pro have a longer battery life and a few more features, their price point is not worth these marginal upgrades.
Jaybird X4Full Review
The X4 are IPX7-rated, last for 7.5 hours, and support fast charging. All you have to do is connect the inline module to the proprietary charging cradle (annoying, we know) for 10 minutes to get one hour of playtime. While battery life isn’t the best, it should cover a week’s worth of workouts for most of us. And after polling Android Authority readers, we found that 61% of voters only listen to music for less than two hours a day anyway.
Music lovers: how long do you listen to your headphones each day?
— Android Authority (@AndroidAuth) August 7, 2018
What the Jaybird X4 lacks in stamina it makes up for in sound customization via EQ settings in the Jaybird MySound app. You can save your preferred profile to the headphones and apply it to any device that the X4 connects to. The X4 earbuds’ price dramatically reduced when the Tarah Pro were released, so we recommend saving a good chunk of change and getting the X4.
Athletes should invest in dedicated workout earbuds
Sure, you may already have Bluetooth earbuds, but if they’re not sweat-resistant, I’d caution against using them during vigorous training sessions. Water damage may void the warranty of your everyday earbuds, but getting something that’s explicitly water-resistant protects you from throwing money down the drain each time a non-water resistant pair short-circuits. Workout earbuds and headphones aren’t just more durable, they’re also specifically designed to be used during vigorous movement. In the case of earphones, this means the fit is made more stable by silicone wing tips, an ear hook design, you name it. Also, on-board controls are formatted so they’re easy to use when exercising: this usually means the buttons are larger, making them easier to operate without looking.
The listed best workout earbuds have all been tested firsthand by various members of the SoundGuys team, and we can attest to each product’s durability. What’s more, if you’re just the average consumer looking for your next pair of wireless earbuds, any of these are a great option. It’s important to make sure that your earphones are water-resistant: accidents happen. At the very least, an oleophobic coating can go a long way.
The Anker SoundCore Spirit Dot 2 are the best workout earbuds for true wireless fans on a budget
If you’re an exercise enthusiast who has tried a few pairs of true wireless buds, you may be familiar with how poor fit and unreliable connection make them a hard sell over traditional Bluetooth earbuds. The Anker SoundCore Spirit Dot 2 are excellent true wireless earbuds to take for a spin. With IPX7 certification, the Spirit Dot 2 are fully waterproof. No matter how hard you sweat, they’ll hold up without a problem. Their durability and affordability are the main reasons they’re some of the best workout earbuds.
Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2Full Review
In addition to the IPX7 rating, you get several options for ear tips and wing tips, so nearly anybody will be able to find a stable fit. While they only support AAC, their connection strength is excellent. Their sound quality isn’t going to amaze anybody, but they’re perfect for workouts because they let in some ambient sound so you can remain aware of your surroundings, and a slight bass boost.
You may like: Best true wireless workout earbuds
Need something tough? Get the Jabra Elite Active 45e
Jabra has some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market and isn’t slacking in the traditional wireless department either. These feature Bluetooth 5.0, an IP67 rating, and quick charging capabilities.
Jabra Elite Active 45eFull Review
While they’re not as versatile as some of the other earbuds listed, the ear tips are designed with safety in mind. You’ll never miss what’s going on around you as the ear tips allow for external noise to be heard at all times. If you like to run outside, these are a smart choice. These Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds include other features too: you can access your virtual assistant, control playback, and take calls all from the earbud housings. While said housings are undeniably bulky, they remain in place due to the stabilizing hooks protruding from the ear tips.
Related: Jabra Elite 65t vs. Jabra Elite 75t
Battery life is on-par for wireless in-ears, clocking in at 9 hours, 1 minute of playback. They also support quick charging: 15 minutes connected to the included microUSB cable grants one hour of playback. A full charge cycle requires two hours, though.
Again, sound quality is lacking, but that’s the sacrifice athletes make for safety. Plus, they still sound better than bone conduction headphones, which have their own niche purpose. If you spend most of your time exercising outside, these are a great deal.
What you should know about the best workout earbuds
Different wing tip shapes and textures make a world of difference when it comes to comfort and stability.
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 solid seal. This was an issue for me when I used the original Jaybird X, so I chose to forgo the wing tips. If your earbuds are falling out too often or hurting your ears, try altering the sizing or ear tip style.
There’s also Bluetooth codec support. If you have no idea what that is, don’t worry we have an entire podcast explaining it. Basically what you need to know is that two devices need to have the same codec in order to transfer information between them. Think of it kind of like a language. If two people speak the same language, information gets passed between them quicker than two people gesturing at each other. The same is true with codecs, and if two devices have the same codec information is passed quicker than two that don’t.
Unfortunately, not all codecs are equal and some are better than others. For example, the AAC codec is best supported by iOS and the aptX codec is best supported by Android. While this isn’t a huge deal for workout earbuds since you probably aren’t going to be doing any critical listening while doing your squats, it’s still something to take note of.
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 and fit. The X is just a placeholder for a dust resistance rating.
|IPX1||✓||Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
|IPX2||✓||Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
|IPX5||✓||Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
|IPX6||✓||Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
The Beats Powerbeats Pro are great for iPhone users
These IPX4 earbuds get a lot of things right. Not to mention they’re entirely wireless, and if you took the Beats Powerbeats and ripped the wires off, you’d get the Powerbeats Pro. Though to be fair, the design on these is definitely sleeker than their wired counterpart. Inside is the new H1 chip from Apple that makes pairing your iOS device with them just as easy as the Airpods Pro, with a small card popping up prompting you to connect. If you’re on Android you won’t get the cool animation, but pairing is similarly easy thanks to a small button on the inside of the case.
Beats Powerbeats ProFull Review
The problem with most true wireless earbuds is, of course, battery life. But that isn’t the case here. Whether you’re rocking an iOS device or an Android device we managed to squeeze out around 10.5 hours of constant playback before these need to be put back in the case which is no small accomplishment.
Still, it comes at a price. The charging case that you’ll eventually need to put back into is huge. Plus, it charges via a Lightning cable which isn’t great for anyone buying devices in 2020 that doesn’t already have an iPhone. Still, when you take into account the sweatproof certification, the hook design that keeps these from falling, and the 10+ hour battery life, we have no problem recommending these. They’re that good.
What about the Beats Powerbeats?
If you want to save some cash, Apple just released the new Powerbeats earbuds that are also really good. You’ll still get Class 1 Bluetooth 5.0 with the H1 chip for easy pairing and a strong connection, and these also support AAC. The earbuds are joined by wire. If you prefer standard wireless headphones then they might be for you, but we find it’s easier to exercise with true wireless earbuds; hence why we left the Powerbeats Pro on this list instead. Still, everyone is different and if you disagree then the new Powerbeats are definitely worth checking out.
iPhone users who want something more versatile should get the Apple AirPods Pro
Apple’s AirPods Pro has been completely redesigned from the AirPods and AirPods (2019); the Pro model has angled nozzles that seal to the ears. This is imperative for its hero feature: noise cancelling. H1 chip integration permits hands-free Siri access and seamless usage across iOS devices. It also benefits power efficiency, a big reason standalone battery life is just over five hours. Unlike the AirPods (2019), the AirPods Pro includes a wireless charging case by default, so you don’t have to shell out more money for that feature. Microphone quality is just as good as before, and the new IPX4 rating means you can sweat in the AirPods Pro to your heart’s content.
The Bose Sport Earbuds are some of the best workout earbuds with excellent sound
Bose takes a second swing at true wireless earphones with its Sport Earbuds, which are much sleeker than the original SoundSport Free earphones. The Sport Earbuds include StayHear Max ear tips, akin to the secret sauce in your Aunt’s best recipe. The StayHear Max ear and wing tip combo keeps the buds in place during all kinds of vigorous movement, and the IPX4 rating means that you can perform almost any kind of exercise without worry.
Bose Sport EarbudsFull Review
Sound quality is very good with the Bose Sport Earbuds, which almost makes up for the complete lack of EQ module in the Bose Music app. Instead, Bose uses its Active EQ technology to adjust the volume output of certain frequencies. Generally speaking, the Bose Sport Earbuds modestly amplify bass notes, and give a good bump to upper-midrange frequencies. Though some people would prefer a heavier bass boost in workout earbuds, this gentle response is pleasing to most all consumers, and the earbuds relay audio clearly.
Microphone quality is good too, but not the best we’ve tested. Things have certainly improved since the SoundSport Free, but where the Sport Earbuds’ four-mic system really shines is how it cancels out predictable background noise. Take a listen to the audio sample below:
Bose Sport Earbuds microphone demo:
If you want to stay within the Bose ecosystem, and are willing to spend some extra cash, get the Bose Sport Earbuds.
Best workout earbuds: notable mentions
- Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2: These true wireless earbuds have an IPX5 rating and excellent isolation. While that does mean you don’t want to wear them if you’re running down city streets, its nice for the gym when you want to ignore the music the gym is paying.
- Anker SoundCore Liberty Neo: These true wireless earbuds are the very best that pedestrian audio products have to offer. They create a cogent seal and block out plenty of background noise, which is great for indoor training. Listeners who plan to take to the streets should listen in mono mode, get something with more specialized ear tips, or ambient passthrough listening.
- Bose SoundSport Wireless: These earbuds are the traditional Bluetooth version of the Bose SoundSport Free. Aside from the varying wireless technology, it’s virtually the same.
- Google Pixel Buds (2020): While these IPX4 water-resistant earbuds won’t make the most sense for everyone, Google nailed it on its debut true wireless earphones. Anyone who uses Google Assistant regularly will appreciate the convenience of hands-free Google Assistant access.
- Jabra Elite 65t: This used to be the best pair of true wireless workout earbuds available until the cheaper JLab JBuds Air entered the market. The earbuds are IP55-rated and feature a 5.85-hour standalone battery life.
- Jabra Elite Active 75t: Workout earbuds are a dime a dozen, and the Elite Active 75t is one of the shiniest dimes around. These IP57 earphones are comfortable, durable, and last for over seven hours on a single charge.
- Jaybird Vista: Jaybird upped its game with from the Run XT earbuds. The Vista are handsomely designed with a reliable fit and IPX7 water-resistant rating. No matter how you move, the Vista will move with you.
- JLab Epic Air Sport: These earbuds reproduce your music with some added low-end emphasis to keep you motivated during your workouts. The Class 1, Bluetooth 5 firmware keeps connection strength reliable while the IP66 rating marks their durability.
- Plantronics Backbeat Fit 3100: For a pair of true wireless buds that can keep up with getting beat down, check these out which really impressed us.
- Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100: You can wear these in the office and quickly transition to the gym without worrying about durability, thanks to the IP54 rating. Integrated sensors facilitate automatic ear detection for auto-play/pause when the earbuds are inserted or removed.
- Sony WF-SP800N: This is the sportier little sibling to the WF-1000XM3, built with a durable IP55 water and dust resistance rating, active noise cancelling, deep integration with the Sony Headphones Connect app, and a long-lasting 9-hour battery life.
- V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless: This neckband-style pair of wireless headphones is outfitted with a sweat-resistant coating and maintains a stable connection for long workouts.
How we chose
We’ve reviewed our share of products at SoundGuys before deciding on the best workout earbuds. Doing so which makes it easier to determine what the best workout earbuds available are. However, we aren’t superhuman and admittedly haven’t reviewed every product out there, but we have done our research and all top five products and notable mentions.
For this list, I was able to test our curated selection of models. I also used these 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 my workouts.
How we tested the best workout earbuds
We subjected the best workout earbuds nominees to our objective testing which includes isolation, battery life, and frequency response. 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 a 75dB(SPL). We then played infinitely looped music until the battery ran out. This lets us compare each product’s readout to the others.
- With the isolation tests, we used pink noise at 90dB(SPL) and set the speaker one meter away from the headphones. 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
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 depend 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 having to constantly adjust 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.