When looking for the best sports headphones or for gym, professional unbiased guidance is recommended versus to when you're searching out the best headphones for casual listening. So without further ado, let's check out the best headphones for running, the gym and general exercise to enter 2019.
Last updated on August 17th, 2018 at 01:07 am
- 1 Best Running Headphones for Gym Exercise, Running and Sports – 2019 Buyers Guide
Best Running Headphones for Gym Exercise, Running and Sports – 2019 Buyers Guide
When looking for the best sports headphones or for gym, professional unbiased guidance is recommended versus to when you’re searching out the best headphones for casual listening.
Headphones for exercise need to be comfortable and secure fitting as well as being sweat resistant. This is important as sweat is really bad for electronics. That means the best sports earphones are the ones that will stay in your ears, are lightweight and are comfortable to wear when you’re a sweaty mess pounding your feet against tarmac.
It also helps a lot if there’s plenty of bass pumping to keep you driving on. So without further ado, let’s check out the best headphones for running, the gym and general exercise to enter 2019.
The FX-Sport VRX wireless sport headphones with customizable personal trainer, are a purpose made, premium “on the ear” style of headphone with some unique functionality for your training. An 8GB mp3 player is integrated, so there is no need for your phone and no chance of signal drop out with Bluetooth.
The unique aspect is that the headphones arrive preloaded with hundreds of workouts in many fitness categories and for different levels of fitness. Full multi-week running programmes from couch to 5k and upwards are included, as well as many workouts voiced by world class personal trainers. You can also create workouts in your own words using FX-Sport’s simple software. Workout messages play over your own music, so you can switch tracks around without affecting the workout timings.
Specific measures have been taken to make the VRX sweatproof, rainproof and humidity proof. A coating on the electronics resists humidity corrosion and a special mesh over the speakers blocks water droplets but allows air through to allow the production of bass. A silicone skin accessory can be bought separately which works very well for swimming.
A secure but comfortable fit:
Being “on the ear” the VRX feels super comfortable with their soft earpads. The design hooks over the ears with enough tension and curl to also feel secure.
The sound quality is very good. Great bass with highs and mids that are clear and crisp. An extra amplifier has been built in to provide a more powerful sound so a good volume can be achieved without sound distortion.
The VRX excels here. The “on ear” design allows ambient noise to filter through well, so whilst out running, environmental sound/traffic can be heard, something “in ear” designs can block out. There is easily enough power with the VRX however, to drown out gym music if you wish and still maintain a quality sound. We feel it gives the best of both worlds.
We really liked the Bose SoundSport Wireless headphones that we reviewed last year – and that model is still available at the lower price of £130/$150 if you don’t mind putting up with their little neckband cable – but this year’s SoundSport Free earbuds go the whole hog and ditch the wires altogether.
They might not be the most elegant earbuds we’ve seen – they look like some sort of valve that a plumber might use to fix your boiler – but they’re actually quite comfortable to wear and they sound terrific.
Like most in-ear headphones, the SoundSport Free includes three sets of ear-tips in small, medium and large. However, Bose’s ‘StayHear’ design gives the tips a conical shape that allows them to rest comfortably in your ears without having to jam them in like a cork on a bottle.
The conical design also helps to form a good seal and maintain sound quality – and that’s where the SportSound Free really justify their high price tag. With the earbuds resting lightly inside the ear they still manage to produce a really rich, detailed sound, with a clean, crisp bite to the percussion and attractively firm bass.
They earn their keep in other ways too. One of the problems with completely wireless earbuds is that it’s easy to lose them if they accidentally fall out while you’re charging along at full tilt. However, the Bose Connect app has a ‘Find My Earbuds’ feature – just like Apple’s Find My iPhone – that uses the Bluetooth connection to help you locate the headphones when you need to. They’re also sweat- and water-proof, and the chunky design does at least mean that they’re sturdy enough to cope with life in the great outdoors.
Battery life is around five hours, and the tough little charging case can fully charge the headphones two more times if you want to listen to music at other times when you’re not working out.
The Jaybird X3 is one of the easiest pairs of earphones to recommend for sports use. There’s no ear hook, but the in-ear fins come in different sizes, and offer a much less cumbersome fit that’s just as secure. What’s more, they ship with multiple different size/material tips and are very lightweight and durable. As a bonus, you can attach the fins in two ways to allow you to wear them with the cable feeding over or under your ear, with an adjuster to make it as snug as you like.
As for audio, this again is versatile thanks to the superb bespoke app which lets you create your own sound profiles or use those shared by other users in the Jaybird community. It lacks some of the clarity and ring of higher-end earphones, but they’re bassy, loud and great fun. They only cost £90 and offer eight hours of battery life too, which is a major plus point.
Anyone who’s tried to get fit in the modern era has probably used an app of some kind, with pre-recorded audio or video tips built in. The problem with those, however, is that they don’t really know you or your fitness level. With Lifebeam Vi you get a pair of headphones full of the necessary sensors to measure your performance, and then uses that information to get to know you, then build coaching tips specifically for you.
They’re comfortable to wear, sound loud and bassy, and stay securely, snugly inside your ears. What’s more, during your running sessions you can ask for updates at any time by tapping the right ear bud and asking “how am I doing?”.
You can buy the Vi earphones for £179 in the UK, which – considering the tech inside – isn’t bad value at all. If you want a smart earphone, the Vi is an ideal running coach.
What to look for in a Sports’s Headphone
Fit: Your headphones are going to be jolted and bounced around more than in civilian life, so the fit needs to be spot on. Headphones with multiple sizes of bud are a good idea. In case the headphones do get jogged out of your ears, some kind of neck attachment may be useful, or the ability to survive a drop. Which leads us to…
Build quality: You’re looking for something robust and light. And also reasonably water-resistant, to account for sweat and rain.
This is probably less of a priority than when selecting headphones for home listening pleasure: the sound of traffic may drown out much of the musical nuance in any case. Talking of which, if you’re going to be cycling, or running across roads, consider your safety. Noise cancellation may be a dangerous option if it prevents you hearing approaching dangers.
Wired or wireless?
Most of the models we’ve picked in this roundup are wireless because, when running, wires are a pain. It also means you can play music from your Apple Watch, which is a plus for fitness activities. But going for Bluetooth does increase the price tag, and those who go out running in all weathers may prefer a cheaper option – don’t rule out wired headphones entirely. (Or Lightning headphones, for that matter.)