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Best Workout Headphones of 2017: Comparison and Reviews

By Tory Reiss / July 26, 2014
Best Headphones for Running

Best Headphones for RunningWant to build your home gym but not sure where to start? Try our Home Gym equipment guideIf you ask dedicated runners what gets them through a long, tough workout, many will say that listening to their favorite playlist is essential for motivation. Music helps many runners from beginners to advanced athletes stay motivated to finish even the most strenuous routines. Because of this, it is imperative that runners invest in a good set of running headphones. Headphones that are designed specifically for runners provide many advantages that traditional headphones do not. The purpose of this article is to outline some important considerations before purchasing running headphones and also to evaluate different products on the market today.

Compare: Top 10 Best Headphones for Running of 2016

Running HeadphonesFull ReviewTanglefreeExtra Ear TipsSweat ResistantIn-line Mic/Volume ControlComes /w CasePriceRating
Dr. Dre Powerbeats
Dr. Dre Powerbeats

Read Full Review
YesYesYesMic + VolumeYes$$$$4.2 / 5
JLab FIT
JLab FIT

Read Full Review
YesYesYesMic + VolumeNo$3.8 / 5
Sony XBA-S65
Sony XBA-S65

Read Full Review
NoNoYesNoneYes$$3.9 / 5
Monster iSport Intensity
Monster iSport Intensity

Read Full Review
NoYesYesMic + VolumeYes$$$4.7/ 5
Klipsch Image S4i Rugged
Klipsch Image S4i Rugged

Read Full Review
NoYesYesMic + VolumeYes$$4.8 / 5
Plantronics BackBeat GO 2
Plantronics BackBeat GO 2

Read Full Review
WirelessYesYesMic + VolumeOptional$$$4.6 / 5
Bose SIE2i Sport
Bose SIE2i Sport

Read Full Review
NoYesYesMic + VolumeYes$$$$4.1/ 5
Jaybird Freedom
Jaybird Freedom

Read Full Review
WirelessYesYesMic + VolumeYes$$$4.6 / 5
Sennheiser PMX 685i
Sennheiser PMX 685i

Read Full Review
YesYesYesMic + VolumeYes$$4.7/ 5
Polk Audio UltraFit 3000
Polk Audio UltraFit 3000

Read Full Review
YesYesYesMic + VolumeYes$$4.3/ 5

How to Choose a Pair of Running Headphones

Make a List: To start your journey of choosing the perfect pair of running headphones, make a list of the qualities that are essential for you to have in a set. Think about whether or not you want ear buds, wireless, waterproof, or sweat proof varieties. Along with making a list of what you do want, also research what your budget is and write that at the top of the page. It is very important that you don’t go over budget and purchase a set of headphones that you cannot afford. After you have made your list, you can begin your research.

Research on the Internet: After you have made your wish list of requirements for your running headphones, head to the internet to look for a brand that fits all of your needs. By reading articles, such as this one, you will get a comprehensive review of the positive and negative traits of the most popular sets of running headphones. Well informed articles or blogs will help you make an educated decision about the type of headphone that will work best for you.

Man running with EarbudsAsk Family and Friends: If you have friends or family who run, it would be a good idea to ask them for a recommendation of headphones before making your final purchase. Researching the Internet is a great way to get informed, but there is nothing like a true testimonial as to the quality of the product that you are intending to purchase. Ask your family or friend whether they like their headphones, what the best qualities are, and what any negative characteristics are so that you have the full picture before deciding on a pair for yourself.

Try Them Out: Finally, in order to choose the best pair of running headphones, you must try out a few pairs yourself. Make sure that the business from which you purchase your headphones has a solid return policy so that you can try them on a few runs before making your final decision. Purchase the pair that you are most confident in, but give them two weeks of use before committing to keeping them. This way, you will have had plenty of time to observe their positive and negative qualities and determine whether or not they are right for you.

Why They Are a Good Investment

Workout headphones are a great investment for several reasons. First, they are an essential way to stay motivated while running. Creating an energetic playlist of your favorite tunes will get you through a long, tough run. There are many studies that indicate an individual is much more likely to keep running longer if he or she is listening to music as opposed to someone who is running in silence. By investing in a set of running headphones you are increasing the likelihood that you will stick with your workout routine to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

Secondly, by investing in a pair of headphones designed for running you will be less likely to have to replace them as frequently. There are generic headphones on the market that sell for significantly less money than running headphones, but the likelihood of you having to replace them often is much greater. By investing a little more money up front you will have a high quality pair of headphones that will last for many of your toughest runs.

Types to Consider

There are several types of running headphones that you can purchase. The three broad categories of headphones are neckband, clips, or ear bud varieties. Within each of these categories, however, there are sub-categories such as on-ear, wireless, and canal-phones.

Neckband HeadphonesNeckband: This category of running headphones features two ear pieces connected by a plastic strip that is placed around the back of your neck. With this type of headphone you have the choice of on-ear, in-ear, or Bluetooth varieties of headphones. Bluetooth headphones are wireless and offer the advantage of not having wires or cords to get in your way while you run. On the downside, however, these models are heavier than other categories of headphones and may be less comfortable for daily use.

Ear Clip HeadphonesClips: Running headphones that fall into the clips category contain clips or hooks that connect each earphone to the ear separately. There are then two wires that come down and connect together before being connected to your music device. These are much lighter than neckband varieties; however clips can fit unevenly providing an uneven sound.

Running EarbudsBuds: The final category of running headphones are buds. Headphones that fit into this category are earphones that push inside the ear canal with foam or silicone to hold them in place. The benefits of these types of earphones are that they block out external noise better than other types and are much more lightweight. On the other hand, they can be difficult to fit an individual’s specific ear size and can fall out if the cord is gently tugged.

Popular Running Headphone Brands

There are several brands of headphones that are the most popular among the running community. Beats, Bose, Denon, Jaybird, JLab, Klipsch, Monster, Plantronics, Polk, Sennheiser, and Sony all offer different features and different price points. Make sure to research all brands thoroughly before making your final purchase decision.

Beats, Bose, and Denon

Beats, Bose, and Denon LogoThe Beats by Dre offers both over the ear headphones and in-ear earphones for your listening pleasure. This brand was established in 2008 and offers high quality headphones and earphones for a variety of uses. The downside to them, however, is their price, with most of the headphones being priced over $200. Bose also is a company that offers in-ear or on-ear headphone varieties to its customers to enhance their workout routines. This company was created in 1950 with the intention of providing superior sound quality to headphones. Similar to Beats, these devices do provide a superior listening experience but are quite expensive ranging between $200-$300 for most models. Denon offers a more affordable version of headphones starting at approximately $100 and increasing depending on the features that you desire.

Jaybird, JLab, Klipsch, and Monster

Jaybird, JLAB, Klipsch, and Monster Audio LogosJaybird is a brand that offers wireless and Bluetooth enabled headphones to individuals looking to be unencumbered by wires on their run. With a lifetime warranty and endorsements by many USA Triathlon members, these headphones come with strong testimonials. JLab offers both wired and wireless headphone varieties and also allows you to customize the design of your earphones to match your personality. Klipsch is a company that has been around since 1946 and has been creating solid speaker systems ever since. Finally, Monster headphones are created by the same sound engineer as Beats by Dre, but are priced more affordably than their expensive cousins.

Plantronics, Polk, Sennheiser, and Sony

Polk, Plantronics, Sennheiser, and Sony LogosPlantronics is a brand that was created with the aviation industry in mind but has adapted the technology to athletic headphones and other speaker systems. This company offers many wireless earphone varieties at a reasonable price point. Polk headphones are designed specifically with athletes in mind and offer an UltraFit series that are constructed to withstand even the toughest of workouts. Sennheiser is a German audio company that specializes in a wide range of headphones. Their athletic headphones are water and sweat resistant, durable, and tested by Adidas sponsored athletes for their construction and sound quality. Finally, Sony is a brand that is very recognizable and has been around for many decades. The headphones that this company offers include wireless varieties, noise cancelling technology, and even an in-line microphone system.

Pre-Purchase Considerations: What to Look For

There are many things that you should consider before purchasing a pair of running headphones. Cost, size, sound quality, cord length, and whether or not they are water and sweat proof are just a few of these considerations. It is important to do thorough research on the right type of headphone for you so that you invest your money into a product that you know you will use for a long time.

Cost

One of the most important items to consider when purchasing a pair of running headphones is the overall cost of the product. Decide what your budget is and make sure to stick with it when you are looking because many headphones vary greatly in terms of their price. You can purchase a very affordable set of headphones for $10-$25, but just be aware that the sound quality will not be as good and they may not last as long as more expensive varieties. Also keep in mind that you could pay $200-$300 for a pair of headphones that might have a ton of features you wouldn’t use. Find the list of qualities and price point that you are most comfortable with and find a pair of headphones that most closely aligns with those characteristics.

Size/Fit/Comfort

It is very important that you decide on the fit that is most comfortable before you purchase your first pair of running headphones. Do you prefer headphones that are on-ear or in-ear? You should also make sure that if you choose an in-ear variety of headphones that they fit comfortably into your ear canal. If they are too small or too big they will uncomfortable enough that you won’t use them like you intend.

Sound Quality

Having a set of headphones that has a high sound quality is crucial to enjoying your workouts. Make sure that you consider whether you want to invest in noise cancelling technology as this will make your listening experience more enjoyable but will likely raise the price of your investment. Remember, the more you invest in a pair of headphones the more likely you are to get a high quality of sound.

Cord Length

There is nothing worse than being halfway through your run and losing your music because you accidentally tugged the cumbersome cord that attaches your headphones to your listening device. Consider the length of the headphone’s cord before you make your final purchase. If a cord is too short it will be more likely for your earphones to become dislodged if you move suddenly. You may also want to consider investing in a wireless version of headphones to eliminate the hassle of a cord all together.

Bluetooth/Wireless

Consider whether you are willing to invest more money into a wireless or Bluetooth enabled set of running headphones. Though you will pay more money for this variety of listening device, you will not have cumbersome wires to deal with in the middle of your workout. Before you purchase a wireless set of headphones, however, make sure that your listening device is Bluetooth enabled. If it is not, you may have to invest in an additional attachment to make your wireless headphones work properly.

Sweat proof / Washable

It is important to consider whether your headphones can withstand the elements throughout your workout. Waterproof and sweat proof headphones will allow you to run in all weather conditions without fear of malfunction. Washable headphones will reduce the risk of infection and will keep you safe from diseases that could spread as a result of warm, damp environments.

Gold Plated Contacts

Having headphones with gold plated contacts will allow your music quality to be the best it can be. These contacts connect the headphone with the music device and allow for a secure signal transition to your ears. Purchasing a set of headphones with gold plated contacts might be more expensive than the alternatives, however, so make sure that you are ready to invest in this type of product before you make your final purchase.

Warranty

If you are going to invest a considerable amount of money into a pair of running headphones, it is important to determine whether or not the device you are going to purchase comes with a reliable warranty. Though it may cost you more money to purchase an additional warranty from the manufacturer, it might save you money in the long run if your product malfunctions. Consider a warranty if you are investing a large sum of money into your headphones so that you can be assured that they will last for years to come.

Our Top Picks

Once you have thought through all of the pre-purchase considerations, it is time to choose the best pair of running headphones for your purposes. There are many brands of headphones on the market and it is important to read extensive reviews in order to fully understand the pros and cons of each item. You will then be able to make an informed decision on the product and will purchase a pair of headphones that you are bound to use for years to come.

Bose SEI2i

Bose SEI2i ReviewThe Pros: The Bose SEI2i sport headphones are made with an intense workout in mind. They are sweat proof, comfortable, and come with an adjustable armband for your listening device. They also include an in-line remote which allows you to easily change songs, press pause, or stop your music with the touch of a button. Gone are the days when you have to fumble around by pulling your listening device out of your arm band while in the middle of your workout. With your purchase you will also receive three sizes of comfort tips so that your buds are bound to stay in place. Finally, these ear buds come with an optional microphone feature so that you are able to take calls easily while you run if needed.

The Cons: Though there are many features involved with this set of running headphones, there are a few drawbacks. The first downside of these headphones is their expensive price tag. Priced at $149, this is a significant investment for a pair of running headphones. Make sure that you are committed to using them before you make this purchase. Additionally, there have been a few complaints about the remote control being ineffective. Some individuals made mention that the buttons lost their sensitivity quickly and therefore forced users to switch songs on their actual device as opposed to using the remote control.

The Verdict: Overall, the Bose SEI2i earphones are a substantial pair of running headphones that will offer you many features to enhance your workout. With an in-line remote, optional microphone system, fantastic sound quality, and multiple sizes of fittings, these headphones will accommodate you for any type of workout you choose. Make sure you consider the price when making this investment, however, as it is a significant amount of money to spend on a pair of headphones. Also be sure to check for warranty information so that you can address any problems that may occur with the remote control.

Click Here to Read Our Full Bose SEI2i Review

JLab Fit

Jlab Fit ReviewThe Pros: One of the major advantages of the JLab Fit running headphones is their price point. While other headphones can sell for between $100-$200, JLab features an extremely affordable cost of just $12.99. These headphones are sweat proof and splash-proof and are also compatible with a wide variety of devices. With gold plated jacks the sound quality that you will receive with these affordable earphones is comparable to much more expensive brands.

The Cons: The most common complaint with the JLab earphones is that individuals said that they had a hard time getting them to stay in their ears. In addition there have been a few complaints about the durability of the product. Through consistent, daily use it is more likely that these headphones will need maintenance than a more expensive brand. Make sure that you consult the warranty information before making your final purchase.

The Verdict: For a very affordable price tag the JLab Fit earphones will offer you a reliable sound and the convenience that you crave in a tough workout. The sweat proof, splash-proof, and washable nature of this product makes it the perfect addition to your workout, whatever the elements are outside. Make sure that you test the fit of the product before you make your final purchase decision, however, to ensure that they fit properly in your ear. Also keep in mind that the affordable price tag means that these ear buds may not be as durable as more expensive varieties. You should consult the warranty for specific repair or replacement information before going forward.

Click Here to Read Our Full JLab Fit Review

Klipsch Image S4i Rugged

Klipsch Image S4i Rugged ReviewThe Pros: The rugged nature of the Klipsch Image S4i headphones will allow you to listen to your favorite tunes in the midst of the most challenging all-terrain workout. They have an all-weather design that is guaranteed to last throughout the most difficult elements. In addition, these headphones offer a large remote for easy song changing and also come with a microphone that allows you to take a call with the touch of a button. Priced affordably at $40, this investment will not break the bank and will allow you to spend your resources on other items to further enhance your outdoor running adventures.

The Cons: Though these headphones offer a lot of features for an affordable price, there were some customers issues with the product that are worth mentioning. Some individuals made mention that these headphones did not have the sound quality that they expected while others commented that the headphones weren’t very durable. Keep in mind that for the best sound quality and durability you may have to expand your budget to consider more upscale brands. In addition, a few individuals mentioned that they had trouble getting the ear buds to stay in their ear canal. It is important to try out the headphones before you make your final purchase so that you can be sure they fit properly.

The Verdict: In conclusion, the Klipsch Image S4i Rugged headphones are an affordable addition to your workout routine. They are designed to withstand the toughest weather conditions and include both an in-line remote and microphone for your convenience. Keep in mind that they are not going to offer as high of sound quality or durability as more expensive models and make sure that you test out the fit of the ear buds before making your final purchase decision.

Click Here to Read Our Full Klipsch Image S4i Rugged Review

Monster iSport Intensity

Monster iSport Intensity ReviewThe Pros: There are many advantages to the Monster iSport Intensity earphones. First, they come with a unique swivel design that enables them to stay put in your ears throughout even your toughest workout. Additionally, these earphones are both sweat proof and washable so that you can rest assured that they will function properly no matter if you are running indoors or outside in the elements. Finally, the Monster iSport Intensity earphones offer an in-line remote and microphone to allow you to communicate seamlessly with your Smartphone or other listening device when you need to change a song or take a call.

The Cons: One of the drawbacks to this brand of headphones is the fact that they are more expensive than average. Though they are not at the top of the price list for running headphones, their price tag of $94 makes them a higher end brand that you might have to consider whether or not it’s in your budget to purchase. There have also been a few complaints of the sound quality of this product. Users expected a clearer sound due to the higher cost of the headphones. As always, it is important to try out all of the features of the headphones before committing to them in order to ensure you are purchasing the right product for your needs.

The Verdict: The Monster iSport Intensity headphones will be a durable and comfortable addition to your workout routine. They offer features such as an in-line remote and microphone so that you can easily stay connected during your run. In addition, their sweat proof and washable nature mans that you will be able to care for them properly in order to maintain their durability. Keep in mind that the price of this product is higher than average and, for some, that meant a disappointment in the quality of sound.

Click Here to Read Our Full Monster iSport Intensity Review

Denon Exercise Freak AH-W150

Denon Exercise Freak AH-W150BK ReviewThe Pros: One of the unique advantages to the Denon Exercise Freak AH-W150 headphones is their Bluetooth and Wireless capabilities. By investing in these $90 earphones you will no longer have to worry about the hassle of long, cumbersome cords interrupting your workout. They also have a 7 hour batter life so that you can be confident that they will last for the entirety of your routine. In addition, these earphones include a variety of ear tip sizes for comfortable use and a reflective black neck band so that you can be seen easily during night runs.

The Cons: The major disadvantage to this brand of headphones is that several consumers have mentioned that the charging capabilities die after a period of heavy use. Also, as with any wireless device, some customers mentioned that there were connectivity issues during specific points in their workouts. It is always a good idea to check into the warranty before purchasing a product such as this so that you know you are covered if a malfunction does occur.

The Verdict: In conclusion, the Denon earphones offer an incredibly convenient way to enjoy your favorite playlist while participating in your daily workout. They are designed with exercise in mind and are sweat proof and washable. The wireless capabilities eliminate the hassle of a cord to get in your way and the easy to use remote control keeps your playlist going at the touch of a button. Keep in mind that as with many wireless devices connectivity may be an issue at times during your workout. Always consult the warranty so that you can be sure you are covered in case any issue arises.

Click Here to Read Our Full Denon Exercise Freak AH-W150 Review

JayBird BlueBuds X

Jaybird Bluebuds X ReviewThe Pros: JayBird offers some of the premier wireless earphones available on the market. While some brands stipulate where your music device has to be located for the earphones to work, JayBird prides itself on having a wireless product that works no matter where your listening device is located. Also, with an 8 hour battery life your music is bound to last for even the longest, toughest workout. JayBird also boasts some of the best sound quality in its wireless headphones. You will be sure to get a clear, crisp sound with minimal background noise when using this product. Also included with this product is a lifetime warranty against any damage that may be done due to sweat. You can be sure that your headphones will withstand the most grueling workout or they will be repaired or replaced for free.

The Cons: Though there is a reliable warranty, there have been some customers who have mentioned that they have had to use it more than once to receive a pair of JayBird’s that works consistently. In addition, some users have mentioned that the ear tips are uncomfortable and aren’t customized to fit nicely in your ears. Keep in mind that these earphones do have an expensive price of $150. It is important to make sure that they fit within your budget before making your purchase.

The Verdict: JayBird offers a set of wireless headphones that combines premium sound quality with the convenience of a Bluetooth device. The long battery life will allow these headphones to last on many workouts before needing recharged and you will also never need to worry about the product being replaced if damaged by sweat due to the airtight warranty. These headphones are pricey so be sure you are ready and able to invest the amount of money needed to make this purchase. Overall you are likely to have a very positive experience with this product that will enhance your running workouts and help motivate you to reach new fitness goals.

Click Here to Read Our Full JayBird BlueBuds X Review

Conclusion

In conclusion, investing in a good pair of workout headphones is beneficial if you plan to use them on a consistent basis. Though you can purchase an inexpensive pair to get you through, why not invest in a more durable, substantial pair that you will enjoy wearing? Decide what type of earphone will work best for you, whether it is an in-ear or on-ear variety, and keep in mind the various brands that are available for you to choose. Ask family and friends for their advice on brands they like and do some research on your own before making your final choice.

When doing your research keep in mind items such as the size, comfort, Bluetooth capabilities, and overall cost of the product. It is important to make a list of qualities that are must-haves and also of qualities that you do not want in a set of headphones. This will allow you to make the most educated decision possible. Once you have fully considered all of these items, it is time to pick a brand of headphones. Review the six brands listed above to find the best set of running headphones for your purposes.

About the author

Tory Reiss

Hi! I'm Tory Reiss. I built this blog to share my fitness quest and provide informative reviews of fitness equipment, gadgets, and supplements that you can use to help reach your health goals. Hope you enjoy it!