Whether you’re a casual jogger or a marathon veteran, music can be the perfect companion for your workouts and a good beat can help you push yourself to the limits. The best headphones for running and working out should have great stability and not fall off your ears. Sports headphones should also be comfortable, easy-to-use, and compact enough to carry on your person when you take them to the gym or hit the road on a bike.
So far, we've reviewed 281 earphones and below are our recommendations for the best sports headphones you can buy in 2019. Check also our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones for working out, and the best wireless earbuds for running.
The best headphones for working out and running that we’ve reviewed so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They’re well-made with a comfortable, stable fit. They have a braided cable and magnetic earbuds that snap together for easier cable management. They also have an IPX7 rating, so they should be waterproof, but we don’t have a test to confirm this yet.
The Tarah Pro are similar to the regular Tarah, but with a significant improvement to their battery. The battery life of the Jaybird Tarah Pro is over 13 hours, which is more than double that of the Tarah. Overall, they sound pretty similar, but the Tarah Pro have better treble, which is great if you like to listen to more vocal-centric pop or rock music while working out. The Tarah Pro lend well to a variety of genres. Their compatibility with the Jaybird MySound app makes them even more versatile, since you can EQ their sound any way you want.
Unfortunately, the Jaybird Tarah Pro can’t connect to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously like the Tarah can. They also have a proprietary charging cradle, which is a bit restrictive. Thankfully, they have better latency performance, so they shouldn’t be too bad if you like to watch videos on the treadmill. Overall, the Jaybird Tarah Pro are very good sports headphones, but some may find them a bit expensive. If you don’t mind the difference in battery, then it’s worth checking out the regular Tarah as well.
If you find the Jaybird Tarah Pro too expensive, then consider the JBL Reflect Mini 2. They’re around the same price as the regular Jaybird Tarah and, although they don’t have the build quality and customization options of the Tarah series, they use a regular micro-USB cable to charge, which is more convenient. The Reflect Mini have a stable, comfortable fit and they sound decent too. They have pretty good audio reproduction, which makes them well-suited for a range of music genres, like hip-hop, rock or even audiobooks or podcasts.
Unfortunately, the JBL Reflect Mini 2 do not have a companion app, so you can’t EQ their sound if you prefer a different sound profile. They’re also only rated IPX5, which suggests they’re not as waterproof as the Tarah Pro. That said, they have much better noise isolation than the Tarah Pro and their battery lasts longer than the regular Tarah, so they’re worth considering, especially if you don’t want to spend over $100 on sports headphones.
If you do not like the fit of in-ears and prefer over-ear headphones for the gym, then we recommend the Beats Studio3 Wireless. They're one of the best headphones for working out we've tested. They will not be as portable or as breathable as the Samsung Gear IconX and the Jaybird X3. They're also a bit less stable for more strenuous workout routines. However, they have a comfortable over-ear fit that's tight enough on the head for running, a great battery life, and an above-average sound quality that packs a good bass. The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless and the cheaper Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC have more features and a customizable options thanks to their app support, but they're not as comfortable and the excellent quick charge feature of the Beats is a lifesaver if you're about to hit the gym and forgot to charge them overnight.
If you prefer truly wireless earbuds for running and working out, get the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They are very portable and have a matte blue finish which gives them a high-end, premium feel. They’re rated IP56, so they should be more sweat resistant than the non-active Elite 65t model, but we don’t yet have a test to confirm this.
They have a fairly stable in-ear fit, so they shouldn’t pop out of your ears during your workout. They have good audio reproduction to keep you going during a run and are also compatible with the Jabra Sound+ mobile app, which gives you access to an EQ and pre-sets to customize the sound to your liking. They’re also a great option to use inside a crowded gym since they block a lot of noise.
Unfortunately, they aren’t the most comfortable in-ears because of their bulkier design. On the upside, they have a 5-hour battery life that should last your whole workout, the provided case gives you two additional charges, and they have some fun sports-oriented features in the app.
If the Jabra Elite Active 65t are out of your price range, take a look at the SoundPeats TrueFree. They’re obviously not as well-built as the Jabra Elite Active 65t, but they still have very good build quality, especially considering their cost. They’re actually more comfortable than the Elite Active 65t and have an even more stable fit.
Unfortunately, their sound is rather mediocre, especially in the treble range. While their bass-heavy sound may be great for fans of house and EDM, they’re not well-suited for more vocal-centric music, especially since you can’t EQ their sound like you can with the Jabra Sound+. Their battery also doesn’t last as long, but they’re also a fraction of the price of the Elite Active 65t. They’re worth considering if you like their sound profile and don’t want to drop big bucks on sports headphones.
If you find the Samsung Gear IconX or the Jaybird X3 a bit too expensive, then consider the Anker SoundBuds Curve instead. They're the best sports headphones we've tested so far in the budget category. They are not truly wireless like the more expensive Gear IconX, and their build quality, although decent, doesn't feel as durable as the Jaybird X3 or even the Jaybird Freedom 2.
On the upside, they sound better and have a longer battery life and range than most of the other wireless in-ears at their price point. They're also stable enough for most exercises, thanks to their ear-hook design. They're comfortable, lightweight, breathable, and portable, which makes them a great choice for the gym and most physical activities.
The tips may slip out of your ears from time to time during more intense workout routines, but overall, very few wireless in-ears can compete with the Anker SoundBuds Curve at this price range.
If you like the ear-hook design of the Anker SoundBuds Curve but want a better sounding headset at a budget price, then get JBL Endurance Sprint. The Sprint do not have a 12-hour battery life like the Anker Curve. They also have a worse latency performance, and they're less comfortable for most listeners since they have a more typical in-ear fit. But on the upside, they have a more premium design and build quality.
They also have a better-balanced sound and a touch-sensitive control scheme that some users may prefer over physical buttons. Unfortunately, although a touch-sensitive control scheme is a nice addition considering their budget price, it's not as precise as physical controls.
If you do not like the fit of in-ears, and over-ears are just a bit too bulky, then consider the JBL E45BT. These on-ears won't be as portable or as stable as the Anker SoundBuds Curve. On the upside, they're a budget and decently versatile headset with a tight enough fit to be stable for running. They're also a lot more compact than typical over-ears, although they may still be a bit too cumbersome for more intense exercises.
They have a decent sound, good battery life and wireless range, and they're sufficiently well-rounded to be suitable for most use cases. The Skullcandy Grind are slightly cheaper, better sounding, and a more comfortable on-ear option than the JBL, but they're not as tight on the head so they will more easily slide off your ears when working out.
If you mostly run outdoors and need to be aware of traffic, then get the AfterShokz Trekz Air. These are not your typical wireless sports headphones; they sit on your temples and use bone conduction to send vibrations, so you feel the bass instead of hearing it. It's also the reason why they sound better than what we measured, due to this feature. They do not sound quite as good as regular wireless earbuds but should be good enough to get you pumped when running and for listening to podcasts and audiobooks.
They are great for running outdoors since your ears are wide open and nothing blocks ambient noise. Runners or cyclists can be aware of everything surrounding them while having a background track at the same time. They are very comfortable, since they don’t enter your ear canal, and they have a lightweight design.
Unfortunately, they aren’t the most portable headphones because of their odd shape that doesn't fold. The headband is flexible and might fit in large sports shorts, but you can't cram them into your jean pockets like you could with the BeatsX or the Plantronics BackBeat Fit. On the upside, they are stable enough for running and are fairly rubberized, but technically not waterproof.
If you like the around-the-head band design of the AfterShokz Trekz Air, but don’t care much for bone conduction and would prefer better sound instead, get the Plantronics BackBeat Fit. You won’t be able to monitor everything surrounding you like the AfterShokz, but they still have a semi-open design that doesn’t isolate much noise. These are more typical in-ear headphones, but their design is more flexible and more portable, on top of being very stable for sports.
However, the in-ear fit might not be as comfortable for everyone, and some reports show that even if they are made to be sweat and water resistant, the headphones can be damaged by sweat alone. Nevertheless, the BackBeat Fit are decent sports-oriented headphones that can be a good option for outdoor use.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones for running and working out to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for sports/fitness headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and where you use the headphones will matter more in your selection.