Updated

The 6 Best Running Headphones - Spring 2018
Reviews

Best Sports Headphones

239 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

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 187 earphones and below are our recommendations for the best sports headphones you can buy in the spring of 2018.

Best Sports Headphones: Samsung Gear IconX

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
8.2
Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Truly Wireless
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

Of the 187 headphones we've tested so far, the best wireless running earbuds are the Samsung Gear IconX. They're portable and well-designed truly wireless in-ears that you can easily fit in your pockets and have on you at all times. Their lightweight in-ear fit is also stable enough to run with and suitable even for more strenuous exercises.  

They have an above-average sound quality, a decent battery life, and they block a lot of noise passively. This makes them versatile enough for most uses cases in your daily routine including. They're more feature-packed than the Jaybird Run with multiple sensors and trackers to keep you updated on your workout progress, but they're a bit limited to Android devices. 

See our review

Cheaper Alternative: Jaybird X3

Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

If you want something a bit cheaper but still as versatile as the Samsung Gear IconX, get the Jaybird X3 instead. They're stable enough for most physical activities and come with a few different stability and in-ear tips to help you find the right fit. They isolate well in loud environments, they have a decent build and sound quality, and you can use them for longer continuous listening sessions, unlike the Gear IconX and the Jaybird Freedom

They also have a better suite of features for both Android and iOS users, which makes them slightly more versatile than the BeatsX, and the MySound app lets you customize their sound profile to match your preference and taste.

They're a bit pricier than the Freedoms but are a great option if you're looking for a compact, sturdy and stable headphone for casual use and sports.

See our review

Over-Ear Alternative: Beats Studio3 Wireless

Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

If you do not like the fit of in-ears, then we recommend the Beats Studio3 Wireless instead. They have a comfortable over-ear fit, a great battery life and an above-average sound quality that packs a lot of bass. 

They have an excellent wireless range in case you're using a fixed Bluetooth source or don't want to keep your phone in your pockets, and they're stable enough to run with. However, since they are over-ears, they may hinder your movements depending on the exercise, and they're not the most breathable headphones, so they will make your ears fairly warm when working out.

The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless are a comfortable over-ear alternative, stable enough for sports, with more customizable options than the Beats Studio 3. However, they do not have the quick charge feature of Studio3s, which gives more than an hour's worth of playback form a 10-minute charge. It's a great feature, especially if you're about to hit the gym and forgot to charge your headphones.

See our review

Best Budget Sports Headphones: Jaybird Freedom

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
Show Help

Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
8.1
Sports/Fitness
Show Help
What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Balanced Armature

The best budget headphones we recommend for running and working out are the Jaybird Freedoms. They are thinner and lighter than the Jaybird X3 or the X2, and they're portable enough to carry on your person at all times. They're also a bit more comfortable than the rest of the Jaybird X series and benefit from the Jaybird My sound app, so you can customize the sound with an equalizer to better suit your taste and preferences. Unfortunately, they have a slightly bulky and cumbersome charging clip that limits the use of the headphones while charging. 

There are more expensive options available that do well for sports like the Bose SoundSport Wireless or the Bose QuietComfort 30, but they do not outperform the Freedom.

See our review

Cheaper Alternative: Anker SoundBuds Curve

Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

If you need a cheap pair of headphones primarily for sports and working out, then the Anker Soundbuds Curve are a good choice. They sound better and have a longer battery life and range than the Soundpeats Q9A and Anker SoundBuds Sport

They're also stable enough for most exercises thanks to their ear-hook design, and they're lightweight and portable so you can easily fit them in your pockets. However, their tips may slip out of your ear from time to time but they're better built than some of the budget options on this list.

See our review

On-Ear Alternative: JBL E45BT

Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

If you're not a big fan of in-ears but still need a budget headset for the gym, then we recommend the JBL E45BT. They're a versatile on-ear with an above-average sound and a simple easy-to-use design that's stable enough to run with. 

They have a good battery life and wireless range, and they're good enough for most use cases so you can use them casually outside of the gym. The Skullcandy Grind are slightly cheaper, have a better sound quality and a more comfortable on-ear fit, but they're not as tight on the head so they will more easily slide off your ears when working out. If you do not like the fit of on-ear in general, then get the JBL E55BT. They're an over-ear variant of the E45BT but they're more expensive.

See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Beats BeatsX. Versatile wireless running headphones with a good sound and flexible around the neck design. A bit limited for Android users. See our review
  • Jaybird X2. The older iteration of the Jaybird X3. These wireless workout headphones are cheaper and perform better overall but do not benefit from the MySound customization options. See our review
  • Bose SoundSport Wireless. Stable wireless design and a comfortable earbud fit. Hard to use control scheme and prone to sweat damage. See our review
  • Beats Solo3 Wireless. An on-ear fit for those who do not like in-ears. Great sound and build quality but a bit tight and they get a bit warm when running. See our review
  • Bose SoundSport In-Ear. Stable headphones for runners. Good sound and an open fit to monitor your environment. See our review
  • 1More Triple Driver In-Ear. Great sound in a simple and straightforward in-ear design. Lacks a few features and stability tips for sports and workouts.  See our review
  • Bose QuietControl 30. A versatile sports headset with excellent noise canceling, a balanced sound and a stable and comfortable earbud fit. A bit too pricey for sports use. See our review
  • Mpow Jaws. A budget alternative to the Anker Soundbuds Curve but with a worse sound and a bit less stable, which is not ideal for sports. See our review
  • MEE audio M9B. An affordable and portable wireless in-ear. Good headphones for working out but the bulky controls and average sound will not be for everyone. See our review
  • Beoplay E8. Good sports earbuds but the Samsung Gear IconX perform better for half the price. See our review
  • Jaybird Run. Good truly wireless headphones for sport, but the Samsung Gear IconX are a better pick. See our review
  • Sennheiser PXC 550. Over-ear headphones with a good, customizable sound. A good alternative to the Beats Studio3. See our review
  • Anker Soundbuds Sport. Good in-ears but the Anker Sounbuds Curve are better. See our review
  • Fitbit Flyer. Good sports headphones with very low leakage; mediocre battery life and more expensive than the Jaybird X3. See our review
  • Skullcandy Grind. Decent and comfortable on-ear headphones but not as good as the JBL E45BT for sports. See our review

All Reviews

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.

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Questions & Answers

5 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
1
When will you be reviewing the new Apple AirPods?
We have already tested the Airpods and will post the review in the coming weeks.
1
Hey, any chance you could do a comparison between the Apple AirPods and the jaybird run earbuds? Please include microphone quality in the review. Also I'm sure it's on the horizon, but any word from bose of a similar product (completely wireless Bluetooth earbuds)?
We are not aware of a truly wireless headphone from Bose yet, but we are planning on reviewing the Run soon after they become available. The review will include a section for microphones as well.
1
I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW if their is any on or over eat headphones your would recommend for the gym?
We would recommend the Beats Solo3 wireless, Studio3 wireless or the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They are all decently stable enough to run with, although, they won't be ideal for more intensive sports, due to comfort or breathability concerns. The older versions of both Beats headphones should be suitable as well. For more options we suggest adding the stability test to the best for sports/fitness table and sorting them by over and on-ears.
0
Will you please consider testing quality DACs? For example the Oppo HA-2SE, or RHA Dacamp L1.
At the moment we are focused on reviewing headphones and there's still a lot left to add/improve in our reviews. However, we are open to reviewing other products once our headphones reviews have become more solid and complete.
0
Have you reviewed any Fitness earphones that have heart rate monitor and/or other workout data collecting ones?
Not at the moment. We will be reviewing some wireless fitness headphones in the near future, but we won't be reviewing the data collecting features though.
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