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The 6 Best Over-Ear Headphones For Working Out - December 2018
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Best Over-Ear Headphones for Working out
288 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
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  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

Most listeners prefer the fit of over-ears to in-ears and earbuds for most use cases and even for working out. However, over-ears do have quite a few inconveniences that make them less than ideal for sports. They're bulky, typically not water or sweat resistant and they're not as stable, or as breathable as in-ears and earbuds. However, they are more comfortable on average, have better battery lives, and are easier to use with better control schemes.

We've tested 144 over-ear headphones so far and below are our recommendations for the best over ear headphones for working out. See also our recommendations for the best headphones for running.

  1. Best Over Ear Headphones For Working Out: Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    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 : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best over-ear headphones for working out that we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They’re more of a commuting and general-purpose headset, with decent noise canceling, great customization options, and a good well-balanced sound that you can really personalize/EQ via the Sennheiser CapTune app. But even better, they also have a tight, yet comfortable over-ear fit that makes them surprisingly stable for most physical activities and exercises.

    Granted, they will still make your ears quite warm while working out, like most of the other closed back over-ears on this list. They're also a little bulky. However, their well-padded ear cups, coupled with their lightweight and sturdy build quality, as well as their relatively easy-to-use control scheme and great battery life, make them one of the stand-out over-ear options for the gym or for running and working out.

    Unfortunately, they are a little pricey, which may not be the best value for some; in this case, consider the slightly less feature-packed Sennheiser HD 4.50. They also have a touch-sensitive control scheme which won’t be as precise as that of the Beats Studio3 Wireless with physical buttons. On the upside, they do everything else a little better, so they won’t just be a good option for working out, they’re also a solid choice for pretty much all use cases and you can use them wired if the battery runs out, which is great.

    See our review

  2. More user-friendly alternative: Beats Studio3 Wireless

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

    If you want a more fashion-forward headset for the gym and prefer physical buttons to a touch-sensitive controls scheme, then get the Beats Studio3 Wireless instead. They’re not as customizable or as feature-packed as the Sennheisers since they do not come with EQ or an actual app for noise-canceling options. The Beats also do not have passive playback, so once their battery runs out, you won’t be able to use them to listen to music anymore.

    On the upside, they have a more comfortable fit than the PXC 550 Wireless. Their design and build are a lot more appealing for a wider variety of users, and they’re easier to use thanks to the very responsive physical controls. They have an excellent wireless range, great battery life, and charge rather quickly, which is great if you forgot to charge them overnight and need a quick refill before heading out to the gym. They also sound decent, although the adaptive sound and noise cancellation can be a bit inconsistent at times. However, for working out, it won’t matter as much and they're a good choice for most use cases, especially if you’re an iOS user.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Over Ear Headphones For Working Out: Skullcandy Hesh 3

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.9
    Sports/Fitness
    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 : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you prefer a bass-heavy headset to get you pumped when you’re working out, and also don’t want to spend too much on a decent over-ear, then get the Skullcandy Hesh 3; they're the best over-ear headphones for the gym in the mid-range category and they're often on sale. The Hesh 3 are not as well built as the Beats Studio3 Wireless or the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They’re also not noise-canceling so they won’t fare as well in loud, noisy environments. But on the upside, the Hesh have a lightweight over-ear design that’s tight on the head and stable enough for most activities, even running.

    They also have a great battery life of 19 hours with a phenomenally quick charge time of just above 1 hour. This means you can easily get more than 4 hours of listening time from a 5-10-minute charge. You can also use them passively when the battery dies with the provided audio cable, so you will always have music. Sound-wise, they deliver a deep and powerful low end that will get you pumped if you're a fan of bass-heavy genres when working out, but their bass is not overdone so you can still pay attention to the vocals and instruments.

    Unfortunately, their build quality feels plasticky and cheap. In this case, maybe consider the Skullcandy Crusher Wireless, which have a similar design but a much more premium build, but they won’t be as good a value as the Hesh 3. You can also consider the Skullcandy venue if you need a bit more isolation for a noisy gym environment but they're also more expensive then the Hesh.

    See our review

  4. More comfortable alternative: JBL E55BT

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

    If you need a more comfortable alternative to the Skullcandy Hesh 3, then consider the JBL E55BT. They won't be as stable as the Skullcandy due to their slightly looser fit on the head. They also do not have an as good battery performance since they take a little longer to charge. But on the upside, their over-ear fit is more comfortable. They also sound better balanced with a good satisfying bass range that doesn't feel as overemphasized as that of the Hesh 3. They're still stable enough for running and jogging thanks to their relatively lightweight frame and they have a slightly better design that looks and feels a bit more durable. 

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Over Ear Headphones For Working Out: Plantronics BackBeat Go 600

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.8
    Sports/Fitness
    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 : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If our top picks are too expensive, the best gym over-ear headphones in the budget category are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600. Their build quality feels a lot cheaper than most of the headphones on this list. They also do not have many active features, like noise canceling or an app to EQ their sound quality. But on the upside, they’re a pretty good value for your money and deliver a comfortable design, easy-to-use controls, and a decent sound quality that packs enough bass to get you pumped while working out. They’re also very lightweight, decently breathable for an over-ear, and have a good wireless range and battery life that makes them a good option for most use cases.

    Unfortunately, they do not fold like some of the other headphones on this list, so they won't be the most portable option to carry around in your gym bag, but on the upside, they come with a decent pouch, they’re super easy to use and can pair to two devices. They also last up 17 hours on a single charge and only take 1.5 hours for a full charge, which is pretty convenient.

    See our review

  6. Even cheaper alternative: Mpow H5

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

    If you want an even cheaper over-ear for the gym, then consider the Mpow H5. They are not as lightweight, stable or as comfortable as the Plantronics BackBeat Go 600. They're also not as easy to use overall, but on the upside, they have a slightly sturdier design that feels capable of handling more physical stress than the Go 600. They have a foldable design and come with a sturdy hard case that makes them a lot easier to carry around in your gym bag than the Plantronics. They have a good sound with a lot of bass to get you pumped when working out and they have a good 12-hour battery life that should be enough for a workdays' use and still have enough battery to hit the gym when you leave the office.

    Unfortunately, they do look and feel a little cheap even if they are quite well made for their price range. Their noise canceling is also mediocre at best, good enough to remove the buzzing sound of the AC unit but unable to cut out all the chatter and ambient noise in a busy gym-like environment. On the other hand, the Mpow H5 are decently versatile over-ears, good enough for the occasional jog and workout session which may be worth it for some especially considering their budget price.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Sony WH-1000XM3. Best over-ear for noise isolation with a sturdy and decently stable design for most use cases. A bit too bulky for sports. See our review
  • Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Great over-ears for commuting with a good sound and easy to use controls. Not tight enough for sports. See our review
  • Beats Studio Wireless. A  cheaper alternative to the Studio3 Wireless if you like the Beats design. Not as many features and shorter battery life.  See our review
  • Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II. A good wireless option for most use cases with a well-balanced sound. Not stable enough for running and working out. See our review
  • JBL Everest Elite 700. A good all-around over-ear headset with a lot of customization options. Somewhat bulky and uncomfortably tight for some. See our review
  • Mpow 059. A good budget alternative for sports and most use cases. Easy to use controls and decent battery life but not the most stable for sports. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best over ear headphones for 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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