You can’t deny that listening to a great song while attempting to beat your personal record in the gym is a powerful motivation. Working out to your favorite album in the background inspires you to push for that extra mile and that extra last rep.
Probably the biggest complaint athletes have is that headphones in all their variations—earbuds, in-ears, over-the-ears—often get in the way of their workout. For the long distance runner, that earphone cord bouncing against their neck and arms is an annoying distraction.
How many times have you worked out in the gym and had to constantly readjust your headphone cable so that they don’t get tangled with the weights? What about earbuds that don’t fit securely in your ears and keep falling out?
Whether you’re an athlete, gym rat, or a casual weekend runner, you need a proper pair of workout headphones. In fact, I strongly recommend wireless headphones for their practicality.
In this extensive review, we’ll look at a variety of wireless headphones for running and working out. We’ve got your back even if you prefer working out in the gym.
We’ll also look at bone conduction headphones—an exciting new technology in sports wearables that’s bound to pique your interest. We’ll cover more on this towards the end of our review.
Let’s get on with it, shall we?
7 of the Best Wireless Headphones for Running
These are the top-rated and reviewed wireless headphones for working out and feature a range of designs—from headphones to earbuds and even bone conduction.
Powerbeats 3 Wireless In-Ear Headphones
The Powerbeats 3 by Beats is an extremely popular headphone that was designed specifically for working out. Inspired by James LeBron, the Powerbeats 3’s earhook design is meant to fit securely around your ears, allowing you to engage in any activity or sport without worrying about them coming loose or falling out.
The Powerbeats 3 is sweat and water resistant, and comes with an in-line RemoteTalk control for easy music adjustment. You can also make hands-free calls via the RemoteTalk control. Its dual-driver acoustics enhances audio quality and bass response to power you through rigorous workouts.
What I like about the Powerbeats 3 is that the entire earbud is sweat resistant, including the tangle-free wrap-around cable and the remote. This makes changing tracks or volume easy, especially when your hands are sweaty.
The rechargeable battery comes with up to 12 hours of playback and the 5-minute “Fast Fuel” quick recharge function delivers an extra hour of audio whenever you need it. The Powerbeats 3 comes with 4 pairs of eartips and a hard shell case for easy storage and is recommended as the best wireless earbuds for working out.
SoundPEATS Wireless Earbuds
The SoundPEATS comes in an assortment of 6 colors to suit your individual style. But beyond design, the SoundPEATS offers function in an affordable package. It has been reviewed and rated extensively and is popular because it gets the job done without blowing a hole in your wallet.
The SoundPEATS is rated IPX6 sweat-proof and features a wrap-around band and earhooks for a comfortable and secure fit. It features up to 8 hours of playtime and can be fast-charged when needed. It also comes with a built-in microphone for handsfree communication.
Fully compatible with iOS, Android and Windows devices, the SoundPEATS wireless earbuds comes with 3 pairs of normal eartips and 2 additional sizes.
In addition, the SoundPEATS comes with noise-cancelling technology and a great bass and treble range. All these features makes the SoundPEATS one of the best wireless earbuds for running.
Bluedio R+ Legend Wireless Headphones
At the top of our list is the Bluedio R+ Legend featuring an over-the-ear design and wireless bluetooth connectivity. The Bluedio comes with 8 drivers to deliver deep and powerful bass for intense workout sessions, and can last up to 25 hours on a full charge.
What I like about the Bluedio R+ is that it comes with an included auxiliary cable. So even if the battery runs out, you’ll be able to continue listening to your music. Let’s say you’re on the way to work, you can choose to use your headphones with the attached cable, saving the internal battery for your run after work.
The Bluedio R+ comes with another interesting feature—Micro SD card support. This allows you to play your music on your Bluedio directly off the SD card without having to pair it with a phone. Think of it as one less item to carry with you on your run.
The Bluedio R+ Legend has a frequency response of 5Hz-25kHz, and has a wireless operating distance of up to 10m. You can let it standby for up to 1,300 hours (around 50 days) and it takes around 3 to 5 hours for a full charge.
Photive PH-BTE50 Wireless Headphones
The Photive PH-BTE50 is another affordable headphones in this list. Featuring a wrap-around band like the Powerbeats and Soundpeats, the Photive is sweat resistant and has a 7-hour battery life.
It comes with a built-in microphone and on-board controls that lets you answer calls and control your music. The Photive’s lithium battery lets you charge quickly when needed.
The Photive PH-BTE50’s drivers deliver crips highs and deep bass across a wide range of music genres. Its CSR audio enhancement technology enhances the sound quality for a better listening experience.
Anker SoundBuds In-Ear Earbuds
The Anker SoundBuds features an in-ear and wrap-around design for a comfortable fit. It comes with built-in CVC 6.0 noise-cancellation to block out ambient noise.
The Anker is IPX4-rated splash-proof and can withstand sweat and rain. Its Bluetooth 4.0 technology lets you enjoy skip-free audio from up to 66 feet away.
It comes with 3 earhook sizes (S/M/L) and 3 eartips (S/M/L). The Anker SoundBuds has up to 8 hours of battery life and comes with a built-in microphone for handsfree calls.
AFTERSHOKZ Bluez 2 Limited Edition Wireless Headphones
The AFTERSHOKZ Bluez 2 is a good looking and great sounding pair of bone conduction headphones. What exactly is bone conduction? It is the conduction of sound through the bones of the skull via your inner ears.
Originally conceived as an idea for the hearing impaired, bone conduction eventually found its way into lifestyle devices such as the Google Glass wearable. It was also used by scuba divers as a communication tool, strapped behind their ears in the form of a dome shaped protrusion.
It was only a matter of time before manufacturers realized that combining bone conduction and Bluetooth made for a perfect workout headphones.
That is what AFTERSHOKZ did with their Bluez series. It emphasizes comfort and safety in a durable design. It features patented dual suspension transducers for enhanced audio and dual microphones for crystal clear communication.
The AFTERSHOKZ Bluez 2 is treated with Nanotechnology to repel sweat during intense workout sessions, and comes with custom equalization control for added tone control. The Bluez 2 runs on six hours per charge.
Being able to listen to music in a lightweight device that allows maximum situational awareness—especially when you’re outdoors—makes the Bluez 2 a great wireless headphones for running.
Bluephonic Wireless Sport Headphones
The Bluephonic’s design is somewhat similar to the Powerbeats 2, except that it costs less and offers almost the same range of features.
It comes with a built-in microphone, CVC 6.0 noise-cancelling technology, and up to 8 hours of battery life. The Bluephonic has a standby time of up 240 hours, so you’re always ready for your next run.
The Bluephonic’s earhooks secure the headphones comfortably in your ears. For once, you can concentrate on your workout without having to constantly adjust an earphones’ fit in your ears. It comes with 3 eartip sizes (S/M/L) and a universal micro USB charger.
7 Recommended Wireless Headphones for Running
These headphones below are great for running and working out, and should be considered as alternatives to our top 7 headphones above.
PLAY X STORE Wireless Earbuds
These earbuds feature an earhook design and adjustable cord that secures the earbuds in your ears for a perfect fit. The design is somewhat similar to Apple’s Earpods. They have a built-in microphone and a battery playback of up to 8 hours.
Mixcder Over-Ear Headphones
The Mixcder is a CNET pick that has a stylish and sporty design. It has an impressive 20-hour playback and 300-hour standby time, and comes with a built-in noise-cancelling microphone. The Mixcder’s 40mm dynamic drivers has plenty of bass and is perfect for working out.
TaoTronics Wireless In-Ear Earbuds
The TaoTronics is lightweight and great for those who prefer an earbud-design headphone for working out. It also comes with earhooks for a secure fit and is sweat-proof and weather-proof. The TaoTronics has a battery life of up to 9 hours and a standby time of 80 hours.
Bluedio A (Air) Wireless Headphones
Not to be confused with the Bluedio R+ Legend, the Air is a stylish headphone for someone who prefers a distinct look. A unique feature is its twistable headband that is extremely flexible and reduces wearing pressure (typical of headphones).
The Bluedio Air comes with 3D Sound for an immersive soundstage and up to 20 hours of Bluetooth playback. It has a frequency response of 15Hz-25kHz and up to 10m of operating range. The standby time is up to 1000 hours (41 days), which is more than sufficient for anyone. The Bluedio Air takes around 2.5 hours for a full charge.
BlueAnt Pump Zone
The BlueAnt has up to 30 hours of playback on a single charge. The Pump Zone switches off automatically when not connected to your phone or media player to save battery. It comes with a built-in microphone and Siri/Google Now integrations.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO+ Wireless Headphone
The Plantronics BackBeat is the priciest headphones in this review, and for a few good reasons. It features noise-cancelling technology, is able to sync to multiple devices, is compatible with iOS and Android OS, and has up to 24 hours of battery life. The BackBeat PRO+ also offers 330 feet of Bluetooth range for extended connectivity and comes with dual microphones for enhanced call quality.
Brainwavz BLU-200 Bluetooth Earphones
The Brainwavz BLU-200 is another wireless earbud with an earhook design, and is made from matte CNC aluminum for a sleek and lightweight design. It comes with a set of Comply foam eartips and silicone eartips so you can get a perfect seal. The BLU-200 has up to 4 hours of continuous playback.
4 Alternative Bone Conduction Headphones
If you’re keen on bone conduction headphones, but don’t wish to spend $99 on a pair of AFTERSHOKZ, then consider these 4 cheaper alternatives.
KSCAT NICE5T Bone Conduction Headphones
The KSCAT features a IPX6-certified waterproof design that lets you workout in the harshest conditions—even in heavy rain. The KSCAT is made from memory titanium and has a battery life of up to 7 hours. It has a frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz.
Coolplay Foldable Bone Conduction Headphones
The Coolplay is another waterproof headphones designed for heavy use. Unlike the AFTERSHOKZ, it only has one built-in microphone. It has a battery life of up to 6 hours and a frequency range of 100Hz-15kHz. The Coolplay can also be folded for easy storage.
Uniway VP1 Bone Conduction Headphones
The Uniway VP1 is the cheapest bone conduction headphones in our review and has a less stylish design compared to the AFTERSHOKZ and VSport. But, it features a nanotechnology sweat resistant design and a battery life of up to 6 hours. The Uniway VP1 might suit you better if you prefer a less sporty and more discrete design.
Horizon Bone Conduction Headphones
The Horizon has a slightly different design compared to the rest. From far, they look like behind-the-ear headphones. Inside, they feature the same bone conduction technology and a battery life of up to 8 hours. The Horizon has a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz.
How Does Bone Conduction Work?
Bone conduction is a natural part of our hearing process. You see, sound travels through our eardrums and bones (in our skull) simultaneously. By using transducers to create mini vibrations, sound is passed through your cheekbones and travels directly to your inner ears. It’s that simple!
Every athletic has his or her own preferences when it comes to selecting a pair of workout headphones. Some prefer style over functionality, while others focus on sound quality or price. Whatever your choice may be, we’ve compiled a list of quick-tips for choosing the best wireless headphones for working out.
Color and style may be important, but we want to focus on overall functionality. In this list, we’ve covered different headphone shapes such as over-the-ear, clip-ons, earbuds with earhooks, in-ears, and the revolutionary behind-the-ear bone conduction technology.
No particular design is better than the other. It really depends on your individual preference. Having said that, there are practical ways to select an appropriate design to suit an activity.
If you plan on running in the city, then you might want to consider bone conduction headphones since their design allows you to be aware of your surroundings. Also, it’s less bulkier and heavier than traditional headphones.
If you workout in the gym, over-the-ear headphones might be suitable for lifting weights since they don’t have cables dangling around your neck and arms. They also provide the added benefit of telling others that you don’t want to be disturbed (if that is your intention).
Earbuds offer the best of both worlds. Their lightweight design makes them suitable for a wide range of activities.
Some of the headphones in this list come with built-in microphones for handsfree control. The question is whether you want to answer calls during your workout. For some, going on a run is a way to destress and get away from work. If you’re the sort who doesn’t like to be disturbed while exercising, then consider a pair of headphones that doesn’t come with a microphone.
On one hand, we have the very affordable Brainwavz BLU-200 and on the other hand, we have the pricey Plantronics BackBeat PRO+. If you’re deciding on a pair of wireless earphones for running, how do you decide how much to spend?
Rather than start with price, I encourage you to consider your workout type. If you enjoy running, then the AFTERSHOKZ Bluez 2 or Powerbeats 3 might be more suitable for you. If you’re thinking of trying out bone conduction technology, but want to stay within a budget, then consider the Uniway VP1 which is the cheapest bone conduction headphones in this review.
Start with your needs first, then work your way down the headphones in this review and decide on what’s appropriate for you.
Of course sound quality is an important factor. This is after all an audiophile site. But I’d like to remind you that these headphones are rated based on function first, sound quality second. In exchange for audiophile-grade sound, we have headphones that feature cutting edge design such as bone conduction technology.
I’m not saying that these headphones don’t sound great, I’m just stating for a fact that you shouldn’t expect them to sound like a pair of Grados, just like you wouldn’t take a Grado SR80 with you on your run in the rain.
These headphones are meant to inspire and assist you in your workout, so expect plenty of bass and a V-shaped EQ signature for an energetic tone.
Congratulations for making it to the end! If you’re still confused about which wireless headphones to get, imagine what it’d be like if you never came across this review.
I’d like to give you a tip: Always consider your type of sport. That will make your choice easier. For example, stick with earphones or earbuds if you’re a runner. Then, decide on what kind of features you require—microphone or bone conduction technology. Lastly, ask yourself how much you are willing to spend.
If you start off with a budget first, you’ll end up with a variety of headphones with different features all around, which makes deciding much more difficult for you.
If you work out regularly and music is an important part of your routine, then it makes sense to invest in a good pair of wireless headphones for running. It doesn’t have to cost as much as the Plantronics, but make sure it has all the features you need to power you through your next epic workout.
This is Part 4 of a series of curated lists for headphones. For Part 5, check out 8 of the Best Bass Earphones for 2016.