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Most durable earbuds
Let’s face it, earbuds kind of suck when it comes to long-term use. They aren’t the most resilient things in the world, and if they aren’t breaking or fraying, they’re getting tangled. Still, we deal with these issues because if you don’t want to deal with true wireless earbuds, there really is nothing that matches the convenience of a good pair of buds. But if you don’t want to get a pair of buds that are going to need to be replaced often, what options do you have? These are the most durable earbuds you can get.
- This list of the most durable earbuds was updated on August 29, 2023, to include the Jabre Elite 4 Active and Sennheiser Sport True Wireless in our top picks, update formatting, add more products to our notable mentions, and answer more frequently asked questions.
- Be sure to check out our picks for the best running headphones and the best wireless workout headphones for more options.
The most durable earbuds are the Jaybird Vista 2
Jaybird is known for manufacturing durable earbuds, and its products are among the most popular earbuds for workouts. These earbuds are built for runners, climbers, and anyone else who needs something secure but lightweight for their vigorous exercise. What propels the Jaybird Vista 2 on this list is its IP68 waterproof rating and military-level testing, which is as good as it gets for earbuds. The Vista 2 is sealed to withstand water, dust, and sand, though Jaybird says it’s “not designed for swimming, showering, or exposure to pool or ocean water.”
What might let you down is the battery life. At only 5 hours and 20 minutes, our testing revealed a much lower performance than the 8 hours advertised by Jaybird. You could save some juice, however, by turning off the ANC, which also isn’t great.
Fortunately, these earbuds feature a consumer-friendly sound. The SBC and AAC codes provide more than enough fidelity to provide the background music to a run or weight session. These earbuds also have very good isolation, so you shouldn’t be too bothered by the grunts and conversations of other gym-goers.
Although Jaybird shielded the microphones with “WindDefense fabric,” the Vista 2 still picks up background sounds and doesn’t isolate voices from noise.
Jaybird Vista 2 microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does the microphone sound to you?
If you want the best sound, check out the Jabra Elite 4 Active
For those prioritizing both sound quality and durability, the Jabra Elite 4 Active is a top contender.
These earbuds are designed with an impressive IP57 rating, ensuring resilience against water and dust, making them perfect for athletes and active users. Jabra’s commitment to durability is further emphasized with a two-year warranty against these elements. The deep insertion design ensures a secure fit for most users, and the inclusion of three sizes of silicone ear tips guarantees both comfort and effective noise isolation.
The Sound+ app, integral to the Jabra experience, offers customizable EQ settings, allowing users to tailor their listening experience. The Active Noise Canceling (ANC) feature, while not rivaling more premium models, offers commendable noise attenuation, especially in midrange frequencies. Jabra claims that with the combination of a tight seal and ANC, users can achieve significant noise reduction, immersing them fully in their music or podcasts.
When it comes to sound, the Jabra Elite 4 Active delivers a balanced audio profile. The earbuds produce clear lows, mids, and highs, making them versatile for various music genres. However, users might find the button controls a bit forceful, and while the microphone is adequate for calls, it might struggle in noisier environments. Overall, for those seeking a blend of durability, sound quality, and features, the Jabra Elite 4 Active stands out in its price bracket.
Microphone quality on the Jabra Elite 4 Active is adequate for taking calls, though you shouldn’t expect studio mic quality from these affordable earbuds.
Jabra Elite 4 Active microphone demo (Ideal):
Jabra Elite 4 Active microphone demo (Office):
How does the mic sound to you?
For a sleek design that won’t break over time, there’s the RHA S500i
One other pair of earbuds we can’t leave out is the RHA S500i. These are super lightweight yet still made of great materials that can at least withstand your commute if not adventuring in the woods. RHA is more known for its flagship T10 and T20 in-ears with swappable filters, and even though the S500i doesn’t have filters, they still benefit from the knowledge RHA has when it comes to build quality.
The drivers are housed in a durable aluminum alloy that you’re going to have a hard time breaking. Even though the cable isn’t reinforced, it isn’t frail. The bottom of the cable is covered with a flexible braided fabric that improves durability. So even though they may not be able to hold up weights, they’ll definitely live through some regular everyday wear and tear. One other thing to keep in mind is that these aren’t sweatproof. Durable doesn’t mean waterproof, so we wouldn’t recommend wearing them to the gym. These are more for the person who needs a solid pair of everyday headphones without worrying if they’re going to snap in half.
As far as sound, these aren’t going to give you the same quality and accuracy as the higher-end RHA models, but for under $50 earbuds, that shouldn’t be expected. Instead, you’ll get a fairly “fun-sounding” pair of earbuds that are fine for casual listening throughout the day or during a commute. If you’re interested in getting a pair for yourself, make sure to check out the full review for a more in-depth description of the sound.
For the best athletic performance, choose the Sennheiser Sport True Wireless
When it comes to athletic earbuds that combine sound quality with durability, the Sennheiser Sport True Wireless stands out.
Constructed with fitness enthusiasts in mind, these earbuds come with an IP54 dust- and water-resistant rating, ensuring they can withstand both indoor and outdoor challenges. The inclusion of multiple ear tips and wings ensures a snug fit, making them perfect for any rigorous activity. While they lack active noise canceling, their “Aware” mode is a game-changer, amplifying background noises for those who want to stay connected to their surroundings.
Sound-wise, Sennheiser remains consistent with its reputation. The Sport True Wireless offers a sound profile that most listeners will appreciate, with a slight emphasis on the bass. The companion app further enhances the experience, allowing users to customize their listening experience.
For those who prioritize awareness during workouts without compromising on sound quality, the Sennheiser Sport True Wireless is a top contender. Whether you’re jogging, cycling, or hitting the gym, these earbuds promise to deliver on all fronts.
The Shokz OpenRun keeps your ears unplugged
Bone conduction headphones like the Shokz OpenRun wrap around your ear rather than sitting in the ear canal. Not only does this help you stay aware of your environment, but it also reduces the chance of ear infections, and the headphones themselves are more likely to stay clean. The OpenRun features an IP67 rating, meaning you don’t have to worry about dust or water damage.
Runners, climbers, and other athletes will appreciate the OpenRun’s tight yet comfortable fit. However, glasses and other headgear don’t pair well with these headphones. While it sounds reasonably good once fitted correctly, the Shokz OpenRun can’t reproduce sub-bass frequencies, and jaw movements can make the sound quality suffer further.
In a quiet environment, the microphone is good enough. However, the Shokz OpenRun struggles with wind and background noise, which negatively affects the sound quality on the receiving end.
Shokz OpenRun microphone demo (Non-standardized):
How does this microphone sound to you?
The Jaybird Tarah offers premium features at a great price
With the Jaybird Tarah, you’re getting most of the features from the flagship Jaybird X4 earbuds for $30 less. While these may not have fancy all-metal housing, the Jaybird Tarah features an IPX7 waterproof rating, certified to withstand complete submersion at 1 meter for 30 minutes. You shouldn’t go out of your way to take a swim with these buds, but you can take comfort in the fact that they’ll survive despite an accidental dip in the pool or even after a sweat-heavy workout.
In terms of sound quality, these earbuds won’t impress any audiophiles. Lower-end sounds are slightly under-emphasized, though there is a little bump in the mids—ideal for listening to music during workouts. While the Jaybird Tarah won’t blow you away with its sound signature, it will definitely give you peace of mind knowing that these won’t just fall apart, lasting longer than most other earbuds on the market.
Most durable earbuds: notable mentions
- Jabra Elite Active 75t ($149.99 at Verizon): These earbuds are a fantastic value for exercise enthusiasts looking for an all-in-one solution. They feature an IP57 rating and free noise canceling via an update available through the Sound+ app.
- 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear ($68 at Amazon): For under a hundred bucks, these earbuds are an absolute bargain—featuring a solid metal construction and decent sound quality for the price.
- RHA MA750 Wireless ($39 at Amazon): These earbuds are a significant upgrade from the RHA S500i in terms of durability and performance. With aptX support and IPX4 certification, these earbuds deliver amazing sound and are built to last.
- Sennheiser IE 80 S ($150 on Amazon): If you’re willing to pay a premium, these earbuds produce some of the best sound in their class. Built with durability in mind, these earbuds are guaranteed to stand the test of time.
What is an IP rating?
Just because you’re looking at a pair of the most durable earbuds doesn’t automatically mean the buds are water-resistant. For that, you have to go by the IP ratings or Ingress protection. This is a standardized way of testing products to determine how well they can hold up to water damage.
Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
How does frequency response impact sound?
When speaking about audio products, you’ll usually hear terms like “flat” and “under-emphasized” thrown around willy-nilly. If you’ve never heard of these before, it can be hard to know what anyone is talking about. Luckily, this is one of those things that is fairly easy to understand once you get the basics down. We have an entire piece on this explaining the gritty frequency response details, but the short version is that some headphones are tuned to make some notes louder than others.
So if a pair of headphones is described as “bass-heavy” such as with the graph above for the Sony WH-XB900B headphones, it just means that the lower notes (where bass kicks and bass guitars reside) sound louder compared to other instruments. If a pair of headphones are perfectly flat, then everything you hear will be equally loud.
Preserve your hearing
One thing that’s always worth mentioning when discussing earbuds is the possibility of damaging your hearing if you listen to music at high volumes. To understand completely how loud volumes can affect the inner workings of your ear, make sure to read our full noise-induced hearing loss explainer if you’re curious. A good rule of thumb, however, is to keep your audio levels below 95dB, as prolonged exposure to sound at or above that volume has been shown to damage your ability to hear over time.
As long as audio companies keep making earbuds, they’ll keep breaking. We’ll be sure to update this article in the future to shed light on some of the companies that make quality earbuds. Be sure to let us know if we missed a good pair of ‘buds so we can add it to this list.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, there are several durable true wireless earbuds available. Some of the notable ones mentioned in the list include the Jaybird Vista 2, Jabra Elite 4 Active, and the Sennheiser Sport True Wireless. If you want a pair of true wireless earbuds for workouts, check out our best list for the complete rundown!
Topping the list for durability is the Jaybird Vista 2. Its IP68 waterproof rating and military-level testing make it a reliable choice for those seeking resilience.
Generally, headphones tend to be more durable and long-lasting due to their larger size and sturdier construction. However, there are also some exceptionally durable earbuds on the market. It’s all about the build quality and materials used.
The lifespan of earbuds can vary by factors like build quality, usage habits, and exposure to elements. Regular maintenance and careful handling can extend their life.
With proper care, some earbuds can last several years. However, their lifespan varies based on usage and care. Try to follow manufacturer guidelines and store them in a protective case when not in use.
Yes, it’s a wise practice. A case protects your earbuds from potential damage, dust, and tangling, ensuring they stay in top condition