The 12 Best Workout Headphones of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Bose’s Sport Earbuds are comfortable and reliable with outstanding sound quality

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Best Workout Headphones of 2023

Verywell Fit / Brian Kopinski

For working out, not just any old pair of headphones will do, says John Honerkamp, RRCA, USATF, certified running coach, and founder and chief executive officer of Run Kamp. “Everyday headphones are basic and work fine for commuting or easy walking, but once you start exercising and sweating there are many other concerns,” he says. “Being the founder of Runner Safety Awareness Week, my number one concern is safety. Comfort, sweat management, Bluetooth, and ease of use are the other most important things to look for.”  

Tested & Approved

With powerful sound and a secure, comfortable fit, Bose’s Sport Earbuds are our number one overall choice for working out. We also love JLab Audio’s Air Pro Wireless Earbuds, which are a great bang for your buck in terms of features, comfort, and reliability.

Whether you’re an audiophile or just want a reliable pair of headphones to amp up your playlist, your workout headphones should fit comfortably, have a great quality of sound that’s safe for your eardrums, and ensure you can still hear your surroundings. They should be made to last, with durable materials and some level of water and sweat resistance, depending on the activity. Your headphones should also be convenient and uncomplicated to use, plus have a battery life that charges fast and will last over multiple workouts.

To find the best headphones for working out, we spent several weeks performing treadmill, HIIT, CrossFit, and various studio and strength training workouts with each set. Each pair was tested during 30-60 minute gym workouts. Then, we evaluated each set of headphones on a scale of 1 (would not recommend) to 5 (highly recommend) for six key attributes: ease of use, sound quality, comfort, durability, battery life, safety, and value.

Best Overall

Bose Sport Earbuds

4.9
Bose Sport Earbuds

Bose

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4.5/5
  • Battery Life
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Comfortable

  • Earbud location feature

  • Durable and water-resistant

Cons
  • Initial sound on calls unclear 

  • Not noise-canceling

These Bose earbuds are our top pick for their clear and powerful sound that lasts for up to five hours on a single charge and an additional 10 hours when resting in the accompanying charging case. Our tester appreciated that they came almost fully charged and they charged quickly, too, when needed. Plus, she liked that you could clearly see how much juice each had left before charging again. While they looked a little large at first glance, she was pleased with how the uniquely oblong StayHear+ ear tips and wings keep the buds comfortably in her ears throughout even the most vigorous of workouts, thus earning them a 5 out of 5 for comfort and fit.

We found the app easy to install and navigate, and the touch controls, which are customizable, were handy. The set’s in-app sound equalizer (EQ) lets you adjust high- and low-end sounds in your music to your tastes, and packs some punch with bass and treble boosts–which can also be reduced for hearing health and safety. The earbuds themselves are intuitive, with a sensor that pauses audio when one of the pairs is taken out. The integrated microphone allows you to use them during calls when synced with your smartphone. We gave the sound quality a 4.5 out of 5 because of a couple of clarity issues during a call, a minor tick against the otherwise excellent sound quality.

They don’t have ambient sound technology, like noise canceling, but this didn’t bother our tester since their sound and design are so great she felt safe manually adjusting them. She rated them a 4.5 out of 5 for safety.

If a bud happens to fall out while you’re running or cycling, Bose’s “Find My Buds” feature of the app can help track it. They held up well to our sweat and durability tests, too, thanks to their Ipx4 rating. And the case felt well-made compared to most, locking shut for secure, safe storage. Overall, these are a solid pair, a great value, and offer reliable performance for any activity.

Price at time of publication: $149

Dimensions: 0.74 x 1.05  x 0.83 inches (each earbud), 1.18 x 3.6 x 1.63 inches (case) | Weight: 0.48 ounces (pair) | Colors Available: 3 (black, white, blue) | Waterproof Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 5 hours (earbuds), 15 hours (case) | Noise-Canceling: No | Safety Feature: None | App: Yes | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet

What Our Testers Say

“These earbuds are a solid and reliable pair with awesome audio and features. At first glance, I was worried they might feel bulky, but once in, they were super comfortable and secure, and I essentially forgot I was wearing them.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Budget

JLab JBuds Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds

4.7
JLab JBuds Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds

JLab

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4.5/5
  • Comfort
    4/5
  • Sound Quality
    4.5/5
  • Battery Life
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Great battery life

  • Ambient sound safety feature

  • Built-in charging cord

Cons
  • Slightly uncomfortable for smaller ears

  • Not noise-canceling

If on a budget, we recommend these reliable and affordable earbuds, which hit at about half the average price of most. The official audio partner of Major League Soccer (MLS), JLab has some eyebrow-raising earbuds that give expensive top players a run for their money. When we tested the Air Pro, we were impressed by the quality of the hardware, from the tightly magnetic sturdy case to the streamlined buds. The package presentation is nice and includes multiple ear tip sizes and, instead of wing tips, two thicknesses of grip rings for a secure fit. 

They came fully charged and were quick to recharge with the built-in USB charger, which made scrambling for a cord a nonissue. The Bluetooth was easy and fast to connect, and after a brief software update, the earbuds were ready to use. There is a JLab app, even though it isn’t mentioned on the package or instructions. Luckily our tester found it and after installation, she was able to customize her EQ, see the charge of each bud, and even customize earbud touch controls.

As far as audio, these sound great, even amidst traffic noise, earning a 4.5 out of 5 rating for sound quality. They aren’t noise-canceling, but our tester appreciated the “Be Aware” safety function that lets you increase ambient sound through music, and rated it a 5 out of 5 for safety. The app’s “Tile” feature helps you find your lost earbuds, much like the pricier top picks on our list.

The autoplay/pause sensors can be turned off, another nice customization for such a thrifty pair. Its battery also lasts way longer than others. Our tester noted that while they would be comfortable for most, they may feel a bit bulky for smaller ears, which earned them a 4 out of 5 for comfort. Considering all the ease of use, great sound, and app features, these are a great value buy.

Price at time of publication: $60

Dimensions: 0.88 x 1.03 x 1.20 inches (each earbud), 2.87 x 1.48 x 1.55 inches (case) | Weight: 1.34 ounces (pair and case) | Colors Available: 1 (black) | Waterproof Rating: IP55 | Battery Life: 9 hours (buds), 27 hours (case) | Noise-Canceling: No | Safety Feature: Adjustable “Be Aware” ambient sound | App: Yes | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet

What Our Testers Say

“These are an impressive buy for the money. They have a ton of features that others twice as expensive have without having to break the bank. I’d definitely recommend these to anyone on a budget or new to workout headphones.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Budget Runner-Up

TRANYA Upgraded T10 Wireless Earbuds

4.4
TRANYA Upgraded T10 Wireless Earbuds

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4/5
  • Comfort
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Battery Life
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Very budget-friendly

  • Straightforward setup

  • Charge quickly

Cons
  • No app

  • Cannot customize EQ

For another wallet-friendly option, we like these more basic, but affordable, earbuds that have a considerably powerful sound, a high waterproof rating, and a comfortable fit. With a straightforward design and simple functions, the earbuds are quick to connect to your device’s Bluetooth and don’t require an app for quick play. In fact, there is no app, little customization, fancy sounds, or location features, but here’s where our tester points out that sometimes less is more. Without the distraction of setup, app issues, registration, or customization, she hit the pavement almost immediately after connection, and on to her workout quicker than any others she tested, rating the pair a 4 out of 5 for ease of use.

Despite their simple design, these earned a 5 out of 5 for comfort, fitting snugly into ears without any pain after bouts of time and staying put through a run and some HIIT workouts. They only popped out once during a burpee, which our tester remedied by replacing the tip with a better size. Though they have few customizations, they are easy to control with a light touch, feel safe enough to use outdoors, and have clear, quality sound, which includes a bass boost, earning a 4 out of 5 in sound quality.

Another upside to fewer features is longer-lasting battery life and super quick charge—the case can even charge wirelessly. The headphones come in six colors, from neutrals to pastels, making this a great fitness gift for the whole family.

Price at time of publication: $36

Dimensions: 0.88 x 0.63 x 1 inch (each earbud), 2.5 x 1.75 x 1.25 inches (case) | Weight: 2.08 ounces (earbuds and case) | Colors Available: 6 (black, gray, green, pink, white, bisque) | Waterproof Rating: IPX7 | Battery Life: 8 hours (earbuds), 24 hours (case) | Noise-Canceling: No | Safety Feature: None | App: No | Adjustable EQ: Bass boost only | Bluetooth Range: Not listed

What Our Testers Say

“If you don’t need a ton of bells and whistles with your pair, you can’t go wrong opting for these. They’re waterproof, comfortable, and have good sound—generally all you need for workout headphones. You can pump up the bass with the bass boost for an extra kick and control ambient sound manually with the seal.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Investment

Apple Airpods Pro (2nd Generation)

4.7
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Apple

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Comfort
    4.5/5
  • Sound Quality
    5/5
  • Battery Life
    4/5
  • Value
    4.5/5
Pros
  • Great noise cancellation

  • Excellent sound clarity

  • Case now has a speaker and location feature

Cons
  • Waterproof rating could be higher

  • Case has weak battery life

  • Expensive

If you’re already an Apple fan who has the cash, it makes sense to invest in these AirPods that seamlessly integrate with all your other devices. They have outstanding sound quality, fit comfortably in the ears thanks to four ear tip sizes, are lightweight, and are very simple to set up and use in only a few minutes.

These earbuds feature impressive Active Noise Cancellation, one of the best we tested, even blocking out the sound of a loud plane overhead. Our tester was easily able to listen to a podcast clearly in an otherwise loud gym. The optional Adaptive Transparency Mode is adjustable in the iOS settings for background noise, protecting hearing by detecting and automatically scaling back loud noises. Our tester noted that this was especially helpful when running in an urban setting with traffic or fellow commuters, scoring it a 5 out of 5 for safety.

For the audiophiles out there, the additional Personalized Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking is a cool feature to customize the authentic listening experience and replicate where you “feel” the music coming from. Think “concert vibes” vs. surround sound. Above that, you’ve got exhaustive EQ customizability, excellent call clarity, and a device ear scan check to optimize fit and sound. All in all, it’s no wonder our tester scored these a perfect 5 out of 5 in sound quality, ease of use, and comfort.

Other handy features of the Pro’s Second Generation are optional, hands-free text notifications read aloud, song sharing between two sets of AirPods, and a built-in speaker and lanyard loop within the case. When it comes to battery life, it isn’t surprising it’s not the best charge of all our options considering it has many features and running functions, and the case charge didn’t seem to last as long in between charges either. The Airpods themselves lasted the claimed eight hours. 

Finally, for such a spendy item, we would have expected a higher waterproof rating than IPX4, but it does strike a good middle ground for a variety of listening situations, whether in the office or at the gym. Plus the case is water-resistant, as well, which comes in handy for particularly sweaty workouts.

Price at time of publication: $239

Dimensions: 1.22 x 0.86 x 0.94 inches (each AirPod), 2.39 x1.78 x 0.85 inches (case) | Weight: 0.38 ounces (earbuds) | Colors Available: 1 (white) | Waterproof Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 8 hours (earbuds), 30 hours (case) | Noise-Canceling: Active Noise Canceling | Safety Feature: Automatically adjustable Adaptive Transparency Mode | App: No—integrates into iOS system | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 30+ feet

What Our Testers Say

“The AirPod Pros definitely lived up to their hype in terms of sound quality, noise canceling, and safety features, and I was pleasantly surprised by their secure fit. If you’re an Apple user and can treat yourself to these, I’d go for it, since they’re so versatile and easily sync with your other devices.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best In-Ear

Jabra Elite 7 Active in-Ear Bluetooth Earbuds

4.8
Jabra Elite 7 Active in-Ear Bluetooth Earbuds

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4.5/5
  • Comfort
    4.5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4.5/5
  • Battery Life
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Discrete and comfortable size

  • Noise-canceling, yet safe

  • Dust and waterproof

Cons
  • Secure fit causes pressurized feeling over time

  • App options unnecessary for some

These earbuds are our top pick for anyone wanting in-ear, super-secure headphones. These buds are excellent for cardio and can withstand a lot of shaking thanks to great durability and a noise-isolating seal fit, which keeps these babies in. Our tester experienced zero slipping or sound leaks, and in fact, it did a little too good a job sealing, giving a slight plugged ear feeling despite the buds’ pressure vent holes. But a bit of manual adjustment easily fixed this issue.

Jabra’s Sound+ app took our tester about five minutes to personalize and set up but was optional and easy to navigate. Like the AirPods, you can check the fit and positioning of the earbuds, select a preset from the EQ or create your own, customize controls, opt for it to sync with audio apps to optimize your audio experience, and more. It even has relaxing white noise and nature soundscapes for those times when you just need a little zen focus. During our test, we liked that there was an automatic pause feature when one earbud was out, that the mic took vocal assistant commands easily, and that phone calls were clear.

Like with the AirPods, Active Noise Cancellation cancels out background noise and the HearThrough function uses the microphones in the earbuds to amplify sounds around you to help keep you safe. You can even use the in-app hearing assessment to adjust and customize the sound. Unique to this Jabra set is that you can switch between the two modes with a simple press of the button on the left earbud.

We love that there’s a wind noise reduction subfeature of the ANC, which our tester found especially helpful during outdoor activities, scoring both the safety features and sound quality a 5 out of 5. If this seems overly comprehensive, don’t worry—the app explains all optional variations so it’s easy to understand for tailored listening.

One of the fastest charging and longest-playing pairs we tested, you can get an hour of juice from just five minutes of charging, which means they’re almost halfway charged after just half an hour. You can also connect to up to eight devices for multiple uses, and you can even personalize the case on the Jabra website.

Price at time of publication: $180

Dimensions: 0.768 x 0.642 x 0.709 inches (each earbud), 1 x 2.75 x 1.5 inches (case) | Weight: 0.2 ounces (earbuds) | Colors Available: 6 (mint, black, navy, gold beige, titanium black, grey) | Waterproof Rating: IP57 | Battery Life: 8 hours (earbuds), 30 hours (case) | Noise-Canceling: Active Noise Canceling | Safety Feature: Adjustable HearThrough technology | App: Yes | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 33 feet

What Our Testers Say

“The Jabras Elites are some of my all-time favorites as a runner. They fit snugly and have great safety options for outside, yet cancel noise effectively for focus when used for work. I love the colors and soft touch, and the EQ options are easy to customize.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Over-Ear

Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones

4.4
Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones

Under Armour

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4/5
  • Comfort
    4.5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4/5
  • Battery Life
    5/5
  • Value
    4/5
Pros
  • Washable ear cushions

  • Long battery life

  • TalkThru feature for hearing gym partners

Cons
  • Not as compatible with i0S as expected

  • Ear pads can get hot

  • Expensive

The incredibly durable, over-ear headphones are a well-rounded powerhouse of comfort, style, and intuitive function—the kind of top performance we’d expect from a partnership with Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock. We love these headphones for their flexible and adjustable band and sweat-proof cushions, which proved to be comfortable, breathable, and grippy. The over-ear headphones easily stayed put during lifts and light cardio, but our tester found they get a bit heavy during more intense cardio, and will jostle. We especially like the removable ear pads, which easily twist off to wash when they get a little too grimy.

Pump iron with The Rock’s custom in-app EQ setting or tweak it as your own. We like that the quality JBL sound in these headphones is bass-forward but balanced and crisp. Their TalkThru function lowers music and amps up speech so you can have conversations between sets. Plus, the Ambient Aware feature adds noise from surroundings for safety outdoors, helping it earn a 4.5 out of 5 for our safety attribute. We only docked half a point because they are bulkier than earbuds, which might make them less safe to use outdoors in some instances.

We wish the app offered more functionality, and while it will work with Siri, it’s most compatible with Amazon Alexa, Hey Google, and Ring voice assistants. Regardless of the interface, it still allows for hands-free voice capabilities like texting or calls, playlists, turning on the Adaptive Noise Canceling function, and more. They auto-pause when removed to chat with a workout buddy and will resume when back on.

One of the fastest and longest-lasting batteries on our list, Project Rock’s speed-charge battery powers up with two hours of play in just five minutes for up to 45 hours of listening. Our tester liked the power-down function to preserve power when not in use and the ventilated carrying case. Overall, we think this makes an excellent gym set or gift, especially since it includes a 12-Month Premium Membership to UA’s MapMyFitness.

Price at time of publication: $300

Dimensions: 7 x 6 x 2.5 inches (headphones), 7 x 6.5 x 2 inches (case) | Weight: 0.65 ounces (headphones) | Colors Available: 2 (black, white) | Waterproof Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 45 hours | Noise-Canceling: Adaptive Noise Canceling | Safety Feature: Ambient Aware and TalkThru features | App: Yes | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 33 feet

What Our Testers Say

“I was worried that these might be bulky or too large for my petite noggin’, but they were so comfortable and stayed on surprisingly well, even during light cardio. They’d be a versatile pair regardless of your size or fitness style, though I’d opt for an in-ear alternative for intense cardio.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Ear Hook Style

Beats Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earbuds

4.6
Beats Powerbeats Pro Totally Wireless Earphones

Beats

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4.5/5
  • Sound Quality
    4.5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Durability
    4.5/5
  • Battery Life
    5/5
Pros
  • Clear sound

  • Stay in thanks to ear hooks

  • Easy setup and customization

Cons
  • Case quite bulky for pockets

  • No noise cancellation or safety features

  • Expensive

These top-of-the-line Powerbeats are a fitness favorite for good reason. The adjustable yet secure fit of the ear hooks with multiple ear tip shapes to choose from provides the ultimate comfort and stability, especially if you’re prone to earbuds falling out. Our tester found the earbuds simple to set up on any Android or Apple device, with a smooth, animated tutorial to get them configured to your device and liking. Physical buttons located on each earbud make it easy to change tracks or adjust the volume, so sweeping your hair or workout moves don’t accidentally do it for you.

While they don’t have noise cancelation, they do offer excellent sound quality with just the right amount of noise isolation to keep you focused and motivated. They also have a similar spatial audio feature that brings next-level listening stereo or surround sound experience comparable to the iPods. For these reasons, they earned a 4.5 out of 5 rating for both ease of use and sound quality.

The headphones hold up against the sweatiest workouts, contributing to their durability score of 4.5 out of 5. Tests also found the battery allows for up to nine consistent hours of listening time without the charging case and the Fast Fuel feature gives the headphones 1.5 hours of life after just five minutes of charging. This earned the set a 5 out of 5 for battery life. The extended range of their Bluetooth connectivity prevents dropouts and disconnects from the playlist on your smartphone.

Considering the durability, ease of use, and secure fit, we think this reliable pair is worth the investment.

Price at time of publication: $250

Dimensions: 0.9 x 2.3 x 1.5 inches (each earbud), 1.7 x 3 x 3 inches (case) | Weight: 0.38 ounces (earbuds), 2.82 (case) | Colors Available: 3 (black, ivory, navy) | Waterproof Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 9 hours (earbuds), 24 hours (case) | Noise-Canceling: None | Safety Feature: None | App: No—integrates into iOS or Android system | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 33 feet

What Our Testers Say

“The Beats Powerbeats Pros are worth the premium if you want an excellent sound experience, top quality durability, and the comfort of knowing your earbuds won’t fall out. Even in the highest intensity activities, they don’t fall out! These would be especially great for anyone with small ears since they don't have to sit uncomfortably in the canal to stay in.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Bone Conduction

Shokz OpenRun Pro Bone Conduction Headphones

4.7
Shokz OpenRun Pro Bone Conduction Headphones

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    3/5
  • Battery Life
    5/5
  • Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Safe design for situational awareness

  • Very durable

  • Extremely lightweight

Cons
  • Somewhat tinny sound

Bone conduction headphones are an excellent choice for fitness buffs who want to enjoy quality sound and a strong sense of spatial awareness simultaneously. This pair by Shokz (previously AfterShokz) is the updated version of the brand’s Aero & OpenRun and is a top recommendation by Honerkamp, who says safety is the number one concern for runners and walkers using headphones. Since they don’t plug the ears, we rated this pair a 5 out of 5 for safety, since they allow you to hear your surroundings, whether you’re cruising alongside traffic or in nature.

Our tester, a regular runner, was shocked at the comfort of this pair because they are supremely lightweight—weighing less than 1 ounce—and flexible enough to shape to your head. They are easy to set up, control, and stay put when on, which earned them a perfect score of 5 out of 5 for comfort and ease of use. Their sound has a bit of tinniness to it, something to expect from open headphones, but we were otherwise impressed by the high-quality, bass-boosted sound.

Their dual noise-canceling microphone impressed our tester when she took a call during a run and the other line could hear her clearly. They go strong for 10 hours in between quick charges, too, earning a 5 out of 5 for battery life. They did an excellent job in our weatherproofing and drop tests, too, earning a 5 out of 5 for durability. The headphones are made with recycled materials and store neatly in their carrying case with a bonus nonslip headband, both included.

Price at time of publication: $180

Dimensions: 5.5 x 4.75 x 2 inches (headphones), 2.5 x 5 x 6 inches (case) | Weight: 1 ounce (headphones), 4.2 ounces (in case) | Colors Available: 4 (black, blue, pink, beige) | Waterproof Rating: IP55 | Battery Life: 10 hours (earbuds) | Noise-Canceling: None | Safety Feature: Open headphone design | App: Yes | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 33 feet

What Our Testers Say

“These open-ear headphones were so impressive! They are so light and comfortable that I practically forgot I was wearing anything and gave a surreal ‘soundtrack to my run’ sensation as I safely traversed the streets of Los Angeles on my daily run. I’d recommend these to any runner or person who exercises outdoors and needs to be aware of their surroundings.” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Noise-Canceling

Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbud Headphones

4.6
Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbud Headphones

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4/5
  • Comfort
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    5/5
  • Battery Life
    4/5
  • Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Very discrete earbuds and compact case

  • Excellent noise cancellation

  • Lots of app features

Cons
  • No location feature

  • Battery could last longer

If you’re looking for a pair of noise-canceling headphones to keep you focused and distraction-free, this pair is a great fit. These discrete earbuds are light and comfortable, with the aid of tight-sealing ear tips to help with outside noises. The pair’s noise cancellation technology and superb sound, which we rated 5 out of 5 for quality, is where this set shines. The pair features active noise canceling technology, which, like a vacuum, isolates sounds to target the best balance. The adjustable environmental noise control, like with the Airpods Pro and Jabras, allows ambient noise to come through while in a workout environment, earning it a 5 out of 5 for safety. This feature allows you to set the headphones to take in voices while suppressing other noise, which is great when you still want to hear people at the gym, home, or office.

Our tester also loved the speak-to-chat feature, which detects your voice to pause music so you can say hi to your neighbor or talk to your workout partner. Calls were clear during tests with a monitor-like feature to allow your voice in as you talk, which is super helpful if calling from busy areas. The microphones have a special mesh covering that helps cut down on wind noise during calls, too.

The app, which is optional, has a ton of extra features. These could get a little overwhelming for someone non-techy, but for the audiophile, it’s heaven. Like the AirPods and Beats PowerBeats, the Links let you set up spatial audio and detailed EQ customization, update earbud software, earn listening badges (for some reason), and run an earbud fit test. It has a cool “DSEE Extreme” AI technology setting for upscaling poor quality, compressed songs and you can allow the app to record your listening activity trends for safety level and amount of use.

The pocket-sized, compact case feels well-made, and though it doesn’t have wireless charging like many in this price range, it charges quickly. The set uses newer Bluetooth 5.2, which pairs faster and is supposed to offer longer battery life, but these buds only last 6 hours. Unfortunately, they also can’t pair to more than one device at a time, like your computer and your smartphone, and they don’t have a location function. Despite this, we think the overall quality and vast function of these earbuds outweigh the negatives.

Price at time of publication: $200

Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 0.62 inch (each earbud), 2.25 x 1.75 x 1 inch (case) | Weight: 0.35 ounces (earbuds), 1.48 ounces (case) | Colors Available: 4 (black, desert sand, white, earth blue) | Waterproof Rating: IPX4 | Battery Life: 6 hours (earbuds), 14 (case) | Noise-Canceling: Active noise canceling | Safety Feature: Adjustable ambient sound feature | App: Yes | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 33+ feet

What Our Testers Say

“Sound aside, I loved how compact this pair is. They are discrete and secure, achieving a great seal. Their noise cancellation is impressive and I love the ambient sound feature. Calls were clear and seamless, too!” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Waterproof

Zygo Solo Headset

4.2
Zygo Solo Headset

Zygo

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    3/5
  • Battery Life
    3.5/5
  • Value
    3.5/5
Pros
  • Soft, comfortable fit

  • Impressive sound underwater

  • App includes coaching tips and workouts

Cons
  • Very expensive

  • Connection is lost under 2 feet

  • No playback buttons on headset

If swimming is your go-to cardio, these headphones might be worth your next investment. Different from bone conduction or waterproof headphones—many of which only play MP3s—Zygo’s Solo headphones are one of a kind because they can stream from a smartphone using a water-penetrable FM transmitter. With its IP68-rated waterproof headset and an IP67-rated (waterproof for 30 minutes) FM transmitter, you’re able to swim laps streaming podcasts, audiobooks, music, or whatever you want, from your phone. Along with the transmitter, the set comes with a pair of earplugs, a microfiber cloth, a case, and a transmitter stand to conveniently bring the kit along on swim day.

The whole system is super easy to set up poolside, as is downloading the app, which includes coaching tips and workouts for swimmers. Our tester noted you can set the FM transmitter in the stand included, or hang it on a piece of gear near the pool using the rubber ring design. Its transmission has reached the length of an Olympic size pool and is best used at a depth no deeper than 2 feet. Our tester found it starts to lose connection as you dive deeper than lap-swimming. The transmitter can also connect to several headsets and be used as a walkie-talkie, which we did not test.

Our tester also found that the soft, rubber design of the Zygo Solo headset stays comfortably in place during underwater movements and works best when used with the earplugs, rating it a 5 out of 5 for comfort. The audio is impressive, beating other underwater systems, but if too far or submerged too deep it can kind of sound like a crackling radio in between towers, which is why we only gave these a 3 out of 5 for sound quality (which is still saying a lot for waterproof headphones).

With the headset only lasting three hours, we do wish the case had charging capabilities. Great if you swim shallow laps and can have your stuff poolside, this is a good option for avid swimmers.

Price at time of publication: $299

Dimensions: 6 x 5 x 1.5 inches (standard size headset) | Weight: 2.32 ounces (headset) | Colors Available: 1 (blue) | Waterproof Rating: IP68 (headphones), IP67 (transmitter) | Battery Life: 3 hours (headphones) | Noise-Canceling: None | Safety Feature: None | App: Yes | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 165 feet

What Our Testers Say

“I’ve never tried anything like the Zygo Solo, it’s truly a unique technology that I’m excited to see evolve. The Zygo Solo headset was so fun to use, from swimming laps to wading on my back enjoying zen time with the clouds. I was so impressed by the sound quality and range. Any age or skill set would enjoy this set!” —Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Most Durable

Jaybird Vista 2 True Wireless Sport Headphones

4.6
Jaybird Vista 2 True Wireless Sport Headphones

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4.5/5
  • Comfort
    4.5/5
  • Sound Quality
    5/5
  • Battery Life
    4.5/5
  • Value
    4.5/5
Pros
  • Made with military-grade materials

  • Tight magnetized case with lanyard

  • Wireless, fast charging

Cons
  • Battery could last longer

  • ANC not as high-performing as others

If your ideal pair needs to withstand a major beating, our experts recommend these earbuds made with military-grade materials and an ultra-destruction-proof design. With a durability rating of IP68 they are dust, sweat, and waterproof—the highest protection of any on our list not meant for the pool. Our tester found this rating to be accurate in drop and waterproof tests, rating it a 5 out of 5 for durability.

These are also a favorite among avid runners because of their snug fit and the soft, rubber design of their all-in-one wing-tip gel tip earbuds. Testing them out, we found them comfortable for long bouts of exercise, though we could see the cube-like design potentially hurting smaller ears. The sound is great, too—with active noise cancellation and SurroundSense, Jaybird’s ambient sound transparency feature that allows outside noise into the earbuds for safe workouts. This feature performed great, leading our tester to rate these earbuds a 4.5 out of 5 for safety. 

Our tester found the app fun for customizing features and discovering new EQ mixes saved by pro athletes. It also has an earbud location feature, very handy for rugged activities. She did run out of power shy of the eight-hour mark, so she rated it a 4.5 out of 5 for battery life.

Lastly, our tester noted the high-quality, compact case that “pulls” the earbuds in and locks super tight using its strong magnets. It also has a small reflective lanyard for attaching to keys or a bag on the go.

Price at time of publication: $150

Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.6 x 0.8 inches (each earbud), 2.9 x 1.5 x 1 inch (case) | Weight: 0.23 ounces (earbuds), 1.5 ounces (case) | Colors Available: 3 (black, midnight blue, nimbus gray) | Waterproof Rating: IP68 (earbuds), IP54 (case) | Battery Life: 8+ hours (earbuds), 16 hours (case) | Noise-Canceling: Active Noise Canceling | Safety Feature: SurroundSense ambient sound feature | App: Yes | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 33 feet

What Our Testers Say

“The Jaybirds are heavy duty but so pleasant to use. They are comfortable and have a great app that is inspiring through pro trainer presets and other custom features to help you get the most out of your pump-up jams.” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

Best Audio

Beats Fit Pro Noise Canceling Earbuds

4.6
Beats Fit Pro Noise Canceling Earbuds

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Ease of Use
    4.5/5
  • Comfort
    5/5
  • Sound Quality
    5/5
  • Battery Life
    4/5
  • Value
    4/5
Pros
  • Superb sound quality

  • Very comfortable

  • Read-aloud text ability

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Case feels a bit flimsy

  • Slightly better experience if an iOS user

If crystal clear calls and overall sound quality are vital to you, we recommend investing in this outstanding pair of earbuds. Our tester gave these a perfect score of 5 out of 5 for sound quality thanks to their customizable audio options meant to optimize the user’s sound experience.

For the coveted “best audio” pick, our tester aimed to test every aspect of sound with this set by Beats, and they didn’t disappoint. From the first setup to the last call, we found the pair to have extremely dynamic sound thanks to powerful in-ear speakers. The customizable EQ took it to another level using device settings. The Bluetooth connection was always stable for our tester, with clean-sounding music, podcasts, and calls on a run. Customizable, physical button controls on the earbuds are simple to use and hard to mess up, unlike some touch varieties. Our tester liked the text read-aloud function which she tested while on a run. She rated the earbuds a 4.5 out of 5 for ease of use and a 5 out of 5 for safety.

These do have similar functions to the Beats PowerBeats and AirPods Pro but have better noise cancellation and ambient sound adjustment than the PowerBeats, and a more attractive, more streamlined look, too. We’ll admit, iOS users will likely get a bit more out of the Beats’ functions, with features exclusive to Apple, like using Find my iPhone to locate the buds if misplaced or seamless use between devices. But they are still great for Android users, too.

The battery on these buds lasts a decent amount of time, though not as long as others similarly priced headphones, likely due to its multiple functions aimed at top-notch sound and safety. The case feels a tad flimsy, which hurts the pair’s durability score by a half point. But besides this, the pair is well made, has built-in wing tips, and is very durable. 

Overall, the Beats Fit Pro earned our top recommendations for great sound quality with excellent accompanying features to make the steep price worth it. 

Price at time of publication: $200

Dimensions: 0.75 x 1.18 x 0.94 inches (earbud), 1.12. x 2.44. x 2.44 inches (charging case) | Weight: 0.2 ounces (earbuds), 1.94 ounces (charging case) | Colors Available: 4 (Black, Sage Gray, Stone Purple, and White) | Waterproof Rating: IPXX | Battery Life: 7 hours (earbuds), 30 hours (case) | Noise-Canceling: Yes | Safety Feature: Adjustable Be Aware ambient sound feature | App: Yes | Adjustable EQ: Yes | Bluetooth Range: 33 feet

What Our Testers Say

“I love the Beats Fit Pro for their superior sound. It’s balanced and clear, and customizable too. I also really loved using them for calls and hands-free text notifications—it accurately reads the messages to you while you’re on a run so you don’t have to take your phone out of your pocket. Very cool!” Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT and CNC, Verywell Fit commerce writer and product tester

How We Rated the Workout Headphones

  • 4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best workout headphones we tested. We recommend them without reservation.
  • 4.5 to 4.7 stars: These workout headphones are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.
  • 4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great workout headphones, but others are better.
  • 3.5 to 3.9 stars: These workout headphones are just average.
  • 3.4 and below: We don’t recommend workout headphones with this rating; you won’t find any on our list.

We Also Tested

  • Adidas RPT-01 Sport On-Ear Headphones: While these high-quality headphones are durable and have washable ear cushions, the small pads don’t cover the entire ear, making them tight-fitting and painful after just a short time of wear. They do have great sound and are easy to set up and operate, but we found the app’s features lacking and the set not worth the high price.
  • Sony WI-C100 Wireless In-ear Headphones: There wasn’t much technically wrong with this pair of great-sounding, minimalist buds, but we felt the long cord and weighty control bars on each side were more of a nuisance and safety issue during workouts than they were worth. If you insist on having a corded option and don’t mind a cord resting on your shoulders or threaded through your top layer, then maybe these will work fine for you.

How We Selected and Tested the Best Workout Headphones

To make our list of the best workout headphones, our expert—a certified personal trainer—spent several weeks researching dozens of workout headphones from the top, trusted brands on the market. She then tested each headphone set during cardio and gym workouts of varying training intensities, such as walking, running, HIIT workouts, and lifting weights. If the pair was designed for a specific sport, such as running or swimming, she tested and evaluated its performance considering that particular modality’s demands.

Our tester noted her initial impression of comfort, fit, and quality of sound, and how the specific activities affected her rating while wearing the headphones over time. She scrupulously recorded each set’s performance in key areas of safety, durability, water resistance, battery life, ease of use, and convenience, plus overall value.

We also spoke with Honerkamp and Ellyn Ferriter, MPH, CPT, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor at Lifetime in Des Moines, Iowa, to get their advice on key features to look for in workout headphones. To be selected as our top pick in each category, each pair had to perform according to high standards of technical specifications and expert insight for the best workout headphones.

Since many headphones go through technology updates, and new studies on the safety and benefits of in-ear audio during exercise are done over time, we will continue to update our recommendations based on new research, expert insights, and updated models.

What to Look for in Workout Headphones

Fit

Workout headphones need to fit securely and comfortably in, on, or around your ears, without causing head, ear, or neck pain. Often workout headphones feature fitness-oriented earpiece designs that prevent them from falling out of your ears as you sweat and move. Whether you prefer in-ear, around-the-ear, or over-ear headphones, they should stay put and essentially unnoticed so you can focus on your task at hand. Try to choose your headphone styles based on the activity demands.

“Different workouts and activities can affect the fit and feel of the headphone style,” says Ferriter, who suggests deciding what will feel most comfortable to you while moving.

For runners, Ferriter suggests an untethered pair, like Bluetooth earbuds or bone-conduction headsets that rest over the ears and balance on areas of the head. Aim for bounce-free, secure movement while you run. “The worst is trying to run with your corded headphones smacking your arm or getting caught,” she says. If opting for the earbud style, look for ones that have various earpiece “fin” sizes to achieve a secure but painless fit. Select an over-the-ear hook style if the former feels a little too loosey-goosey for your peace of mind.

Other earbuds feature adjustable lanyard cords which rest on the nape of the neck and are great for less bouncy activities, like weightlifting. Over-the-ear, cordless headphones are also great for lifting and light cardio and should fit snugly without feeling pain or falling off during exercises. Be careful that any corded headphones aren’t in the pathway of moving body parts or equipment.

Note: If worn for extra long periods, most headphones may make your ears ache a bit, which is normal, but ensuring a proper fit will prevent most discomfort.

Safety

Perhaps the most important thing that workout headphones should be is safe. Consider whether you’ll be wearing your set outdoors or mostly indoors. “You need to be able to hear what is going on around you,” says Honerkamp, especially when outdoors. “You have to be able to hear car horns and other sounds that might help you avoid harm or danger.” Luckily, many headphones now have ambient noise features that allow you to hear bikes, cars, or people around you. We love that many of our top picks, like Sony’s LinkBuds S Noise Canceling Earbuds, offer this feature.

Even better, “the safest for anyone running or walking by themselves are the open-ear headphones,” says Honerkamp. He suggests bone conduction headsets like Shokz OpenRun Pro Wireless Headphones, which use the ear’s bone to resonate sound through vibrations on the bones of the head and jaw while still allowing other sounds to be heard. It doesn’t make for the cleanest, best sound, but it is the safest.

Plus your sound level can also present a safety concern for your hearing. “As with any loud noises or music, try to keep the volume at about 60 percent or lower,” Ferriter says. You might opt for a pair with volume decibel levels or presets, which help prevent things from getting too loud. And lastly, if using corded headphones, be sure to use care when doing cardio or using equipment, which can lead to accidental tangling or choking if they get caught or yanked off.

Sound Quality and Noise Cancellation

Your carefully curated music playlist won’t successfully motivate you throughout your workout if your headphones’ lack of quality muffles your favorite songs. An ideal pair of sports headphones delivers clear sound and simultaneously blocks out a significant amount of ambient noise.

Many sets have a built-in equalizer (EQ) that either simply boosts the bass and treble, or one that is more sophisticated, like in-app customizations that allow you to choose standard presets (such as rock, jazz, or concert). Some allow you to manually adjust the EQ sound levels (like a concert sound mixing board) and even save and name your personal EQ.

Along with EQ, “you may consider a pair of noise-canceling headphones if you’re going to be listening to music in a loud environment,” Ferriter says. This allows you to listen to your music or podcasts at a normal volume rather than cranking it up to drown out the noise, which is better for ear health.

Three main types of noise-canceling features in headphones you might look for are:

  • Passive noise cancellation has design features, like the shape or padding, that physically block noise from interfering with your music. They might cover your ears completely to drown out outside sound or have a great in-ear seal.
  • Active noise cancellation uses the physical design of the headphones plus a built-in audio processor to detect noise to mirror and cancel sound patterns out for a cleaner sound. Excellent for low-range noises, like traffic. These are usually heavier and more expensive because of a separate battery powering the ANC.
  • Adaptive noise cancellation is active noise cancellation, but more intuitive, and adjusts its level of canceling strength depending on the loudness of the background. You can usually customize the settings or it automatically adjusts based on the ambient sound around you. This is great for tuning out unwanted noise while still being able to hear voices, like people passing you on a walk or partners at the gym when they need to get your attention. Headphones with this function are usually more expensive and can drain a battery faster, but the feature can be turned off.

Durability

When exercising, the floor mat isn’t the only thing collecting the beads of sweat pouring off your face. Whether you’re weightlifting or working on your cardio, your headphones are absorbing a surprising amount of perspiration, oil, dirt, and dust, not to mention getting dropped, stuffed in a pocket, and getting gunk stuck in tiny crevices. Such wear and tear necessitate a resilient pair to ensure that your most active moments remain uninterrupted. Look for products that mention an IPXX (Ingress Protection) rating for dust and water resistance, where the first “X” indicates strength against dust and particles, and the second “X” represents the waterproofing level, according to the International Electrotechnical Commission. The higher the number of each, the stronger the device’s protection against those substances.

If in doubt, be sure to choose workout headphones from a reputable brand, made with high-quality materials, and backed by some level of reasonable warranty to protect your investment.

Water Resistance

Workout headphones are put to the test when it comes to exposure to sweat (and sometimes wet weather elements if you prefer to take your sessions outside). If you want your investment in a solid pair of headphones to last as long as possible, be sure to check their water resistance rating. The higher the IPX rating, the more waterproof the device, and the safer to use in sweaty or rainy conditions. If you plan to take your headphones for a swim, for instance, it’s important to only dunk a set specially designed for such depths (rated IPX7 or IPX8), since you can easily destroy an inferior pair and even shock yourself.

Battery Life

We all know the inconvenient annoyance of low battery life, so it’s important to make sure your headphone set can charge quickly and then hold a charge over multiple workouts. This is also a matter of safety since headphones are often used for hands-free communication. Most wireless headphones charge with the help of a USB or USB-C cord, and many have portable charging cases, which need to be charged and can then juice up your buds from anywhere when they’re cradled in the case. If powering up fast is a concern of yours, look into headphones with a quick-charge feature.

Another cool new feature where battery life is crucial is earbud location for lost headphones. With an app, these fancy (and usually more expensive) earbuds can be located when one or both are dropped or misplaced out of their case. However, the function only works when they are charged.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you clean your headphones and how often should you clean them?

    If your headphones are looking gnarly, it’s probably about time to attend to them. It’s a good idea to clean your headphones at least once a week to prevent the gross-looking build-up of bacteria-laden earwax, sweat and oils from our skin, and debris from workout environments. If you can swing it, use an alcohol wipe on your headphones after every workout, but otherwise, attend to them as often as you can to maintain the condition of the device and your hygiene.

    For cleaning earbuds, Ferriter suggests a cotton swab or toothpick for getting into small areas where there’s gunk. “If your ears are particularly prone to wax, try to clean the headphones after every few uses,” she says. “If you’re not, once a week or so would be OK if you’re using them frequently.” For over-the-ear headphones, sanitize with a wipe or hand wash according to device directions.

  • Are there benefits to working out while listening to music with headphones?

    Not only can music put us in a state of mind to get after a workout but it’s also been shown to help our endurance and distract us from the discomfort of a killer session, too.

    “Music can make or break a workout. There’s nothing worse than trying to grind through a hard set in silence,” Ferriter says. “Another major benefit, of course, is that you can choose your music, particularly if you’re in a gym that has its overhead music playing.”

    Motivating music has also been known to help runners find and maintain a rhythm, and even improve their performance without feeling like they tried as hard. Plus, you might just find yourself running that extra mile or doing that extra rep or two thanks to your personal soundtrack.

  • Do you need specific headphones for working out?

    “You don’t necessarily need a specific pair of workout headphones,” Ferriter says. “However, those that are designed for workouts have a few additional features that come in handy. Headphones that protect against sweat, while not necessary, are a great choice to protect the electronic features within the headphone itself. Additionally, headphones that wrap around the ear are more secure than those that don’t for higher impact workouts.”

    Honerkamp agrees. “I think you can have one pair for exercising unless you need swimming headphones,” he says. Whatever pair you wear, make sure they are safe to wear and easy to use. Because the last thing anyone wants is to interrupt their routine and waste valuable exercise time pairing or repositioning earbuds.

  • How do you keep your headphones in your ears while working out?

    “Tip number one is to make sure the silicone bud that goes in your ear fits properly,” says Ferriter, addressing those notoriously finicky earbuds. “Usually headphone manufacturers provide multiple buds of different sizes. It should fit snugly and not move once resting inside your ear.”

    Earbuds will also often have a set of silicone “fins” of various sizes to help each bud stay in place better, depending on the size of your ear. And other headphones might have earpieces that wrap around the ear or the back of the neck. You might even opt for corded headphones threaded through your clothing or gear to prevent catching yourself on the cord.

    Figure out what will work best for your activity and go with what will stay the most secure while you move.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

A lifelong athlete, avid runner, and certified personal trainer, Jessica Murtaugh, NASM-CPT, keeps her soundtrack fresh, knowing the value of a great pair of reliable headphones for workouts. Owning several workout headphones over the years, from her first flimsy foam, Discman cans (yes, she’s that old) to many intuitive, sound-canceling earbuds since, she was thrilled to test out some of the newest and best on the market.

She particularly loves her Beats Fit Pro True Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds for their comfort, long-lasting battery, long range, and streamlined tech features like text dictation alerts, among others. For this guide, she prioritized trustworthy brands that aim to accommodate various listening preferences during a wide range of workout styles.

Additional reporting by Alena Hall

As a former personal trainer, seasoned health writer, and avid exerciser, Alena Hall understands how important it is to pick the right workout accessories for you. She is always exploring the latest and greatest wellness tools, machines, and gadgets. But more importantly, Alena carefully considers the quality and various features that make these fitness products worthwhile investments.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. The Best Workout Headphones And Earbuds To Amp You Up All Day Long. Forbes.

  3. Clark, Jamie C.1; Baghurst, Timothy2; Redus, Brady S.1. Self-Selected Motivational Music on the Performance and Perceived Exertion of Runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 35(6):p 1656-1661, June 2021. | DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002984

  4. Thakare AE, Mehrotra R, Singh A. Effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate among young adults. Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 2017;9(2):35-39.