Greatest exercise headphones in 2020: Apple, Beats, Sony, Bose and extra in contrast


After testing loads of sports activities headphones and wi-fi headphones over time, some fashions have emerged as much better fitted to exercises than others. The perfect exercise headphones needs to be wi-fi — and ideally, true wi-fi earbuds — to keep away from wired headphones getting in the best way of your stride.

Secondly, and extra importantly, they need to offer you a cushty and safe match, whether or not they’re over-ear headphones with a squishy ear cup or wi-fi in-ear buds. That is particularly essential as a result of dropping one earbud in your run could be the worst. First rate sound high quality can also be a necessity, as are battery life, sturdiness, dependable efficiency (with minimal dropouts), and noise cancellation (in addition to hear-through or transparency modes). And lastly, they should be sweat resistant, if not absolutely waterproof headphones, for apparent causes. That is why the in any other case superior Sony WF-1000XM3
is not on this listing of finest working headphones. Whereas Apple doesn’t declare water resistance for the usual AirPods, that exact ear bud makes the listing as a result of we have discovered them to deal with sweat fairly nicely.

After many out of doors runs and health club periods, I’ve fashioned sturdy opinions on that are the perfect exercise headphones. To share my hard-earned information of headphones with nice sound, I’ve put collectively a choice of wi-fi health club headphones I’ve examined that I feel are well-suited to grow to be your go-to train headphones. I will replace this listing as I assessment extra of them.

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WaterproofSure (IPX7 score — absolutely waterproof and sweat-proof).

Jaybird received off to a bumpy begin on the planet of true wi-fi — that is “AirPods-style headphones” — when it launched its Jaybird Run wi-fi exercise headphones again in October 2017. That mannequin, up to date to the wi-fi in-ear Jaybird Run XT in early 2019, was well-designed however had some small sound efficiency points that held the wi-fi earbuds again from being nice. However its wi-fi earphones successor, the Jaybird Vista (cue the Home windows Vista jokes), contains design, battery life and audio high quality efficiency enhancements that make it the product I would hoped the Jaybird Run could be. This wi-fi earbud set will enchantment to these searching for a extra discreet set of completely wi-fi working headphones which might be absolutely water resistant.

Learn our Jaybird Vista assessment.

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WaterproofSure (IP67 score — can stand up to immersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes).

The AfterShokz bone conduction wi-fi headphone delivers sound to your ear by means of your cheekbones. The large good thing about this know-how is that, due to its open design, you may hear what is going on on round you whereas listening to music or having a telephone dialog by means of the wi-fi headphones. That openness permits runners to listen to site visitors sound, an essential security characteristic for sport headphones. Additionally, some race coordinators do not permit runners to put on something of their ears, which is the place over-ear headphones like this come in useful, significantly for individuals who must hearken to music whereas they run.

Aeropex ($160) over-ear headphones, which AfterShokz describes as its “lightest, highest-quality headphones but,” had been launched in 2019. From my preliminary testing, sound high quality on this pair of headphones is unquestionably higher than the corporate’s earlier flagship mannequin, the Trekz Air — or the Air, because it’s now known as. It is also barely extra comfy to put on with a cushty match. Nevertheless, whereas AfterShokz continues to make small enhancements to efficiency with every new iteration of its wi-fi headphones, the sound high quality nonetheless cannot match that of a standard headphone.

Learn our AfterShokz Aeropex first take.

David Carnoy/CNET

WaterproofSure (IP55 splashproof).

Sony’s WF-1000XM3 is taken into account among the finest set of true wi-fi noise-canceling earbuds. However to the dismay of some individuals, it lacked any form of water resistance, making it unsuitable for sports activities. It took some time, however now we lastly have a brand new true wi-fi noise-canceling sports activities mannequin from Sony: the WF-SP800N.

This is not fairly the WF-1000XM3 with a water resistant physique. It is lacking Sony’s QN1e processor, however there’s nonetheless rather a lot to love about it, together with excellent sound, strong noise canceling and good name high quality. It is undoubtedly a pleasant improve over the WF-SP700N, which got here out in 2018, and its “arcs” (sports activities fins) lock the buds in your ears. Simply be sure you get a decent seal from one of many included ear suggestions or else each the sound and noise-canceling can be lackluster.

Learn our Sony WF-SP800N assessment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

WaterproofSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

Sure, the Beats Powerbeats Professional’s jumbo charging case is a notable downside. However the mixture of incorporating all of the options that make Apple’s AirPods nice whereas delivering richer sound high quality and higher battery life in a wi-fi exercise earbuds design that will not fall out of your ear (significantly, ear hooks for the win!) in the end is a successful proposition for earbuds for working. Simply be sure you purchase these working earbuds someplace that has a superb return coverage in case you are within the small minority that has ears that are not fairly a match for the buds. Observe that these headphones are often diminished from $250 to $200 — do not pay greater than that in case you’re shopping for them.

Learn our Beats Powerbeats Professional assessment.

Angela Lang/CNET

WaterproofSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

Even when they do not sound fairly as magical as you’d hope a $249 mannequin would, the AirPods Professional nonetheless handle to be a terrific pair of actually wi-fi headphones for working. That is largely because of their successful design and match, improved bass efficiency, efficient noise cancellation and wonderful name high quality. Whereas I can not run with the usual AirPods (these in-ear headphones do not match my ears securely), I had no bother working with the AirPods Professional, which have a noise-isolating design with a silicone tip that sits snugly in your ear.

For runners, it is price noting that there is a transparency mode that enables sound to leak in. You may nonetheless must decrease the quantity of your music to listen to the sound of site visitors noise. The AirPods Professional are additionally formally rated as being sweat-resistant.

Learn our Apple AirPods Professional assessment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

WaterproofSure (IPX55 score — can stand up to heavy sprays of water)

Some individuals, significantly weightlifters, wish to work out in full-size headphones, and the BackBeat Match 6100 over-the-ear wi-fi headphones are a really strong selection for each the health club and on a regular basis use. The adjustable sport-fit headband has an IPX5-rated water resistant and sweat-proof design, 40mm angled drivers and noise-isolating earcups with an “Consciousness” mode. Battery life is rated at 24 hours. They sound fairly good and actually keep in your head securely (you may regulate the strain within the headband, which is modern and very best for train headphones). 

They’re costly at their listing value of $180, however Amazon has them for $90, which makes them much more enticing. They’re accessible in black, camo and grey.

Sarah Tew/CNET

WaterproofSure (IP55 score — can stand up to heavy sprays of water).

At first look, the Elite 75t appears extra like an evolutionary improve from the extremely rated Elite 65t. However the updates to those bluetooth headphones turn into a bit of extra substantial than I first thought. The Elite 75t’s smaller dimension will permit extra individuals to get a cushty, safe match, and its boosted battery life and USB-C charging are vital upgrades. After which there are the smaller modifications, like the brand new charging case design with magnets inside it that make it simpler to open and shut and to maintain the buds inside. 

Whereas the Elite 75t is not fairly as comfy to put on because the AirPods Professional and does not have energetic noise-canceling options, it does sound higher. It has clearer general sound and higher bass definition, as long as you get a decent seal. There is a HearThru setting within the app that enables some ambient noise in, however even with it on, you do must decrease the quantity of your music to listen to site visitors noise. The Lively, which affords barely higher sweat resistance, got here out in February however will set you again $50 extra.

Learn our Jabra Elite 75t assessment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

WaterproofSure (IPX5 score — can stand up to heavy sprays of water).

If the AirPods do not suit your ears securely for working, the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 in-ear buds are a superb different that value a lot lower than the AirPods Professional however have an analogous noise-isolating design in a “pipe” form. These earphones sound pretty much as good, if not higher, than the AirPods, and so they match my ear higher and extra securely, making them wonderful working earbuds. They’re additionally sweat-resistant and are wonderful for making calls — simply do not make these calls when you’re on the health club! Briefly, so long as you are OK with a noise isolating design, the Anker Liberty Air 2 true wi-fi earbuds are a wonderful AirPod different that occur to value round $100. They’re accessible in black or white.

Learn our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 assessment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

WaterproofSure (IP55 score — can stand up to heavy sprays of water).

For those who do not wish to shell out $160 for AfterShokz’s new Aeropex bone-conduction wi-fi headphone, the Trekz Air — or Air, because it’s now known as — retails for about $50 much less. This pair of around-the-neck headphones does have some design and efficiency upgrades, however the sound from the AfterShokz Trekz Air continues to be good for a bone-conduction headphone (once more, beware that the sound does not measure as much as that of a standard headphone). 

Learn our AfterShokz Trekz Air assessment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

WaterproofSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

Bose’s completely wi-fi earphones, the SoundSport Free (the true wi-fi earbuds model of the SoundSport Pulse), are comfy to put on and ship wonderful sound for true wi-fi. These SoundSport wi-fi headphones have just a few small downsides (each the wi-fi earbuds and carrying case are a bit large), however they’ve a safe match, work reliably, and are water resistant. Observe that Bose can be bringing out its next-generation true wi-fi headphones — the Earbuds 500 — in early 2020.

Learn our Bose SoundSport Free assessment.

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WaterproofSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

Firms like Underneath Armour (with the assistance of JBL) have launched sporty on-ear fashions designed for individuals who need that sort of secure-fit exercise headphone that covers their ears. I personally choose the over-ear Plantronics BackBeat Match 6100 and this Adidas RPT-01, which I feel appears and suits higher than the Underneath Armour headphones. 

I discovered them comfy for on-ear headphones (which have a tendency not be as comfy as over-ear headphones), however these with bigger heads could really feel they clamp down a bit of too snugly on each your head and your ears. This set of headphones is sweat-resistant with an IPX4 certification. Additionally, the ear cushions and inside headband are detachable and washable (there are directions for how-to do that, however Adidas ought to do a how-to video). So far as I am involved, the extra methods to fight sweat smells, the higher, on the subject of train headphones.

These had been designed by the identical Swedish firm that makes Urbanears headphones, and so they sound fairly respectable, with well-balanced sound that does not push the bass an excessive amount of. They’re a bit of costly at $170, however the UA headphones value the identical or extra.    

Sarah Tew/CNET

WaterproofNo (Apple doesn’t declare water resistance, however they deal with sweat fairly nicely)

In the event that they suit your ears securely, Apple’s AirPods are literally nice exercise headphones as a result of the earbuds are so mild and now have an open design, which lets you hear the sound of site visitors noise. Alas, I can not run with the usual AirPods (they fall out of my ears), solely the costlier AirPods Professional, however many individuals can. You should purchase third-party wings (ear hooks) to make them match securely, however it’s a must to take the wings off each time you set the buds again of their charging case. That is a ache.

Observe that Apple doesn’t provide a water-resistance score for the usual AirPods. They appear to face up to mild sweat simply positive — and loads of individuals use them on the health club and for working — however it’s unclear how a lot moisture they will stand up to. 

You’ll be able to pay further for the mannequin with the wi-fi charging case, however it’s probably not price it — spend up for the Professional fashions as a substitute. In any other case, the baseline 2019 mannequin lists for $159, however it’s typically offered for as little as $129. Do not pay greater than $144, which is the traditional avenue value.

Learn the AirPods (2019) assessment.

Sarah Tew/CNET

WaterproofSure (IPX7 score — absolutely waterproof)

What’s most spectacular concerning the EarFun Free is the options: Bluetooth 5.0, each USB-C and wi-fi charging and absolutely waterproof (IPX7), in keeping with their specs. Do they sound implausible? No, however they sound fairly good. They do not have the sound readability of higher-end true wi-fi earbuds that value $150 or extra, however they do have plump bass and sufficient element to keep away from sounding uninteresting. They’re additionally fairly strong for making calls. A wonderful worth at lower than $50, they could not match all people’s ears equally nicely (they’re barely cumbersome so they could not work for these with smaller ears). Nevertheless, they’re comparatively light-weight and so they match my ears securely sufficient to run with them.   

Sarah Tew/CNET

WaterproofNo (Bose doesn’t declare water resistance)

Bose’s Frames audio sun shades are surprisingly good wi-fi working headphones, with respectable sound high quality from their embedded micro audio system. What’s additionally good about them is that since there’s nothing in your ear, you may hear site visitors sound and have a dialog whereas sporting them. Whereas the arms are barely cumbersome, the sun shades do not feel heavy in your head and are comfy to put on. In addition they work nicely for making calls. 

If it is actually windy, the audio high quality will not be nice. The wind issue additionally makes them much less appropriate for biking. They’re accessible in two variations — Alto and a smaller Rondo fashion — for $200 and assist Bose’s AR (augmented actuality) audio platform. Extra lenses can be found for $20 to $30, and Glassesusa.com sells discounted prescription lenses for them.  

Learn full assessment of Bose Frames.

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