There are as many brands and styles of headphones for gym-goers as there are workout routines. Denon Exercise Freak AH-W150 headphones, introduced in 2012, are designed for exercise fanatics who need their headphones to stay comfortably in place while running or doing other arduous exercise routines. As wireless Bluetooth headphones, they also give a sense of freedom because there aren’t any cords to interfere with working out. Denon AH-WI50 headphones are available in blue, bright yellow and black/gray–proving that workout gear can have stylishness with durability. The headphones are available from $90 to $130 (at this writing) on Amazon.
- Stereo Bluetooth wireless connectivity, for mobility and freedom of movement.
- Controls and microphone built into the earpieces, for convenience. Listen to music from a smartphone or watch TV on a mobile, then push a button on the earpiece and switch from headphones to mobile phone use during a call.
- Integrated amplifier that accentuates the bass quality, for heart-pumping, motivating workouts.
- Rechargeable battery with almost 7 hours of use, for long workouts.
- Sweat-resistant earpieces with built-in air cushion, for comfort and ventilation.
- Antimicrobial silicon ear tips for protection, in different sizes (XS, S, M, L) for comfort fit.
- Reflective back-of-neck band, for added safety during nighttime workouts.
- Mesh carrying case and USB micro cable for charging the battery.
- Smartphone app for iOS or Android phones.
Denon Exercise Freak headphones have a form factor that optimizes the best features of the three popular styles of workout headphones: in-ear, ear hook and neckband.
These headphones may appeal to anyone who likes in-ear headphones, but doesn’t want to do battle with a long cable. Workout enthusiasts who prefer curved ear hooks, which may feel more secure when there’s active head movement, might also like these headphones. If the Exercise Freak’s earpieces look a little like hearing aids, it is by deliberate design: Denon worked with hearing aid company Starkey to improve wearability of the in-ear headphones by shaping them to fit nearly perfectly. The earbuds themselves come in different sizes and can be adjusted up and down slightly for the best possible fit, while the controls are built into the over-ear hooks. The right earpiece has the microphone and a button for operating Bluetooth-compatible devices (one long push of the button for Bluetooth on/off pairing with the headphones) and for controlling volume and play/pause (short push on the button). The call button on the left earpiece is for answering/hanging up calls. There’s a little learning curve to master these controls, but most reviewers say the design works, making it easy to cleanly switch between playing music and taking calls.
The earpieces are connected in the back by a neckband, which makes the headphones lighter and less cumbersome than models worn over-the-head, especially when running, jogging, biking or lifting weights. Denon has added a reflective strip to the back band, for visibility if worn outdoors during an evening workout.
The audio quality is considered good, with powerful bass and volume. However, to get the best sound quality, the earbuds have to be tucked firmly in the ear rather than worn looser (i.e., just sitting in the ear canal and held in place by the ear hooks). As a practical matter, though, if wearing them when running or cycling, someone is probably going to want to hear traffic and some ambient sound, but the trade-off will be lesser audio clarity and music quality.
The over-the-ear style may be bulky for anyone who wears glasses or may not seem compact enough for someone who just wants wireless earbuds. Though battery life is rated good, some users report problems in accessing the USB port at the back of the right earpiece and fitting the recharging cable.
The Bluetooth connection can be unreliable. Bluetooth is supposed to have a 25-35 feet range, but even Denon advises that to get the best performance and reception from its headphones, users should wear their smartphone close, in an armband, rather than in a pocket.
Denon AH-W150 headphones may be a good choice for someone who wants a set of headphones dedicated to one purpose—the workout. They could be an especially good choice for anyone who just can’t abide the wires of traditional earphones anymore when trying to enjoy and engage in sports.
For exercisers who must have wireless headphones to add to their gym bag and are willing to invest $100 or more, there are comparably priced wireless sports headphones from Jabra, Jaybird and Platonics, among a few others. The difference between them may come down to what a person can tolerate in terms of sound excellence vs. wearability, comfort and fit. Denon headphones may offer superior fit because of their interesting form factor; if the workout takes precedence over music quality, they are worth a look.
If one’s criteria is decent to excellent sound quality at much more affordable prices, there are many available sports headphones from many other vendors, but most of them are not wireless.
Denon Exercise Freak AH-W150 Video Review