The headphones you take with you to the gym can often make or break a workout. A shrill, tinny track ringing in your ears can be disruptive and agitating when you’re trying to get in the zone, whether on the treadmill or the bench press. Having a reliable pair of headphones that aren’t going to interrupt your flow – whether it’s with terrible sound quality, by getting tangled up with your equipment, or crapping out on you at the first sign of moisture – is essential for the modern athlete in his natural habitat.
Preference on headphones vary from person to person. Some love earbuds, while others find them intrusive and uncomfortable. Some prefer the ear hooks, while to others, anything other than over-the-ear cushioned comfort is pure anathema. While the headphone experience is subjective – and while, admittedly, not everyone is an audiophile – there are certain objective standards when it comes to headphones that everyone can agree on. We have considered those standards as they apply to your gym time, and created a handy guide to help you navigate through the sea of supposed sweat-proof audio technology on the market. In this list, we sound off on the 10 best wireless headphones for your workout.
Levin Bluetooth 4.1
High Note: Budget. The Levin Bluetooth Headphones are affordable and effective. For $30, you’ll get your money’s worth out of this solid pair of workout headphones.
The Lowdown: The lightweight bluetooth “Dylan Linkwitz” headphones from Levin are a great affordable accessory for runners. Bluetooth 4.1 technology is the cutting edge of bluetooth technology, and provides a 33 foot range. With a fairly long battery life – 13 hours of music, or 12.5 talk time – you can take these headphones out for the day, without worrying about running out of juice. A comfortable neck bar provides comfort and added security, so the headphones don’t fall out of your ears. The Levins are foldable and compact, and can fit in your pocket after use.
High Note: Comfort and Security. Skullcandy Method Headphones use DualLock technology to make sure these earbuds don’t fall out of your canals.
The Lowdown: Skull candy is the top of the middle price tier for headphones. They own the space between cheap and steep with trademark style and color. A rainbow splatter design makes these headphones attractive and unique, and their function attempts to match that unique form – and for the most part, succeeds. Though just $60, these headphones are far from brittle. Sonically welded to be resistant against moisture and made from advanced and lightweight materials, these headphones won’t crack or diminish over time. They boast a boosted bass sound and crisp overall audio, and a long battery life of 9 hours. The DualLoch technology and neck collar are comfortable and incredibly secure and eliminates the tug and pool of wires, so that your workout won’t be interrupted by dislodged buds.
Plantronics Backbeat Fit
High Note: Fully water-proof. Plantronics BackBeat FIT wireless headphones are more than sweat-resistant, they can actually be submerged underwater.
The Lowdown: The Plantronics Backbeat FIT headphones offer comfort and flexibility in an wraparound design, something of a rarity, as many over-ear headphones are rigid and uncomfortable on the ear. A custom codec and emphasis on bass offers high sound quality. Not only are the Plantronics covered in a P2i nano-coating to make them resistant to sweat, they also meet the IP57 rating for underwater use (freshwater) and can spend up to 30 minutes submerged in 1 meter of water. Swimming with them isn’t recommended, but the waterproof rating is perfect to run under tap to wash away the sweat after a long workout. While many of the other models on the list require 2.5 hours to charge, quick charge technology provides an hour of listening with just a 15 minute charge.
High Note: Sound customization. A corresponding mobile app connects your smartphones to the Jaybird X3s, allowing you to customize the sound exactly how you want it.
The Lowdown: The Jaybird X3 headphones are designed to be as compact as possible without sacrificing performance. A unique hook design steadies the earbuds in your canal. The smallest Jaybird headphones yet, their compactness intends to make your headphones experience – which can often be uncomfortable, and canal-stretching – painless. They’re so scaled down that they can be worn easily under a bike helmet or motorcycle helmet. A hydrophobic nano-coating prevents damage from sweat, pretty much par from the course on this list. But a distinguishing feature in these Jaybird Headphones is their corresponding smartphone app, MySound, which allows the wearer to tweak and tailor the sound to his or her specific preference. If you like a lot of bass, or prefer all treble, you can adjust these headphones accordingly using the MySound app – a functionality that other headphones can’t offer.
High Note: Comfort. The over-the-ear design are cushy and comfortable, while remaining sweat resistant.
The Lowdown: If you sweat a lot and can’t stand the intrusion of earbuds, the Urbanears Hellas headphones are the pair for you. Comfy and cordless, the Hellas are guaranteed to stay in place better than most over-the-ear headphones. Urbanears recommends doing an upside down sit-up to prove it. The headphone cushions are sweat resistant, and if they start to become slightly stained from your hard work, you can remove the mesh cushions and throw them in the wash. With a superior 14-hour battery life, these headphones can go for over a week’s worth of workouts without a charge. A fun and functional swipe interface keeps your runs fluid, as you adjust the volume or switch songs with a simple finger swipe.
Bose Soundsport Wireless
High Note: Reliability. The Bose name provides an all-around excellent experience, guaranteed.
The Lowdown: These sports ear have everything an athlete needs to ensure a perfect workout. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides 6 hours of life. An effective in-line mic control system allows you to shuffle through playlists with ease. Redesigned StayHear+ sport tips have a unique umbrella shape to lock comfortably in your ear canals and keep your earbuds comfortably in place. When you take a phone call, the microphone adeptly filters out ambient noise and focuses on your voice, so that the person on the other end doesn’t hear the clanking metal and manly grunts that fill most gyms. With the Bose trademark astonishing sound quality you can’t go wrong.
High Note: Tech. Using bone-conducting technology, these headphones keep your ear canals completely open for ambient sounds, so you can stay alert.
The Lowdown: It might sound fishy or strange, but the Trekz Air Headphones don’t actually go inside your ears. Instead, they use what is called “bone conduction” to play through your cheekbones, leaving your ears open to outside noises, so that you can stay aware of your surroundings. This makes the Trekz Air headphones perfect for outdoor runners who are constantly circumventing obstacles. PremiumPitch audio provides a wide dynamic range and rich bass, and LeakSlayer stifles sound leakage, so, despite their not being deeply lodged in your ears, you won’t have to be self-conscious about your loud music disturbing others. Bone conduction technology ensures that you can tune in and tune out as the situation requires – you’ll even be able to hold a conversation with these headphones playing at full blast.
Bose Soundsport Free Wireless
High Note: True Wireless. These headphones are Bose’s true wireless model, with no cumbersome wires at all.
The Lowdown: Bose’s first true wireless headphones are engineered to keep excellent sound quality in your ears. With nary a wire in sight, these headphones are designed to feel innocuous in your ears. A newly designed StayHear+ nozzle is outfitted to press gently against the walls of your ear canal to sturdy itself, and the upper fin forms elastically around the upper ridge of your ear for dual security. With a tweaked antenna position, the Soundsport Free Wireless will never lose bluetooth signal. Audio features like volume-optimizing EQ – to keep the sound balanced and rich at any decibel level – and Bose digital signal processing provide a rich and enveloping sound that audiophiles will adore.
Jabra Elite Sport
High Note: True Wireless and App Integration. Jabra’s true wireless sports headphones have a corresponding mobile app to optimize your workout.
The Lowdown: General quality is presumable at this price level – but with the Jabra Elite Sport headphones, it is guaranteed. In-Ear precision heart rate monitor and fitness analysis provides you with the data to make your workout great – and even provides coaching to count your reps and keep you motivated. Excellent sound quality and a super high water-proof rating of IP67 make the Elites indispensable. The headphone design is durable and comfortable, and clings to your ear – in spite of any perspirant lubrication it faces. The Elite Sports come with three different sizes of EarWings, for canals of all shapes and sizes. Plus, Jabra includes a three year warranty for sweat damage.
High Note: Bass. The Powerbeats3 bring the noise, with the trademark Beats Bass.
The Lowdown: With remarkable sweat-resistance, and a battery life of 12 hours thanks to the new Apple W1 chip, the Powerbeats3 are built to last. If you find yourself running low and in a rush to get to the gym, Fast Fuel technology will deliver an hour’s worth of battery life with just a five minute charge. Dual-driver acoustics and an improved design brings the sound quality to a level higher than its predecessors. Powerbeats3 boast dynamic highs and the powerful lows characteristic of Beats headphones, in a revamped and more ergonomic design for hard working headphone users.
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Make your workout as comfortable as possible. After the headphones, take a look at this list of the best men’s shoes for every workout and upgrade your fitness footwear.
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