Fitmodo: The Best Headphones For Running

The right music doesn't soothe the savage beast, it makes the beast more savage. When you're going for a long run, that's exactly what you want. The pulse of thumping beats can make you feel superhuman. It certainly beats the sound of your own laboured breathing.

But all earbuds are not created equal. Some refuse to stay in your ears. Some have no dynamic range. Some are like small torture devices. So we took five of the best workout earbuds and put them to the test. Meet the new king of your sweaty ear canals.

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Testing methodology: In order to be considered, the products had to be earbuds, not headphones. Sure, you get better audio fidelity with larger, over-the-ear phones, but they're heavier, bulkier, hotter and just not practical for working out. They also had to be tough. Sweat-proof, water-resistant and build quality were taken into account. Last, they had to cost under $US100. There are plenty of better, pricier earbuds out there, but these things are going to be banged around at the gym, soaked in sweat, dropped, lost and maybe stolen.

Each earbud was worn on a medium distance run that covered park and street conditions. We also wore them doing push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks and using a punching bag. Then we just shook our heads around, trying to dislodge them. Each was also tested on a wide range of music in a quiet room — you know, for yoga poses. Comfort, stability, durability, volume and sound isolation played key roles, in addition to straight-up sound quality.

5th Place: Sony Active Sport In-Ear Headphones XBA-S65

The Sonys were the lightest of the headphones we tested and arguably the most comfortable. The cord loops back over your ears and then tightens to keep them from falling off. They are sweat-proof and water resistant — you can even rinse them off after each workout. They are designed to block external noise, which is nice for creating a little bubble of sound, but you lose some situational awareness, so there may be some safety issues.

Unfortunately, there is a fatal design flaw. While the looping design keeps the buds from falling off your ears altogether, they do nothing to help keep the bud actually in your earholes. While running, the buds would work their way out of the ears every minute or so and would have to be poked back in. Basically it's up to the little rubber nubbin to keep it in, but the cord actually seems to be pulling it out. Very frustrating. They sport Sony's new Balance Armature Drivers, and they have a pretty decent dynamic range, but they were quiet, pretty muddy, and the bass is thinner than we would like.

Sony XBA-S65 Specs • Weight: 15.8g • Sweat/water resistant: Yes • Cord length: 1.3m • Hands-free: No • Price: $US90 / $129.95 RRP in Australia

4th Place: AfterShokz Mobile

The AfterShokz use a different technology from the others: bone conduction. This means that your ears are left completely uncovered, and sound is actually pumped in through your cheekbones. This gives you a ton of situational awareness. Running down the street you can hear your music clearly while still being able to hear people talking at a normal volume (not to mention cars trying to run you over). The behind-the-neck design keeps the AfterShokz firmly in place no matter how much bouncing we did. Plus, they feel cool and futuristic.

The biggest downside is lack of audio fidelity, and this is more or less true for all headphones that use bone conduction. The sound really penetrates, but the treble is intense and at times grating, and there is almost zero bass to speak of. If you are trying to run to a beat, you want to be able to hear that beat. Another strike: these were the only headphones that have to be charged — bone conduction takes power, and that means they have a little onboard battery dangling on the wire. If you don't clip that wire (or if it comes unclipped), the battery's weight will pull them off your head. This makes them feel bulky. Also, the behind the neck design is great for running, but if you do anything lying on your back (crunches, bench press, etc.) they will get pushed out of place. Finally, after about 20 minutes they start to get uncomfortable on your cheekbones.

AfterShokz Mobile Specs • Weight: 45g • Sweat/water resistant: Yes • Cord length: 1.3m • Hands-free: Start/stop + mic only • Price: $US70 RRP.

3rd Place: Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Pro

The Yurbuds, with their Twistlock design, stay in your ears like nothing else. You could headbang your face off, but they won't fall out, and they're actually pretty comfortable. They're very lightweight, and their unique shape actually lets in a fair amount of ambient noise, which may help you avoid hazards. Sweat-proof and water resistant, and they feature a mic with three buttons for taking calls, skipping tracks and adjusting audio, which is handy.

Unfortunately, the audio quality is not up to snuff. Not even a little. Sound is just very muddy, almost staticky at times. They're louder than the Sonys, but there's still very little bass. Also, the mic setup adds some weight, so you'll really want to use the included clip to keep it from bouncing around. This one will be a non-starter for audiophiles. For runners who just want to hear the music, you could do a lot worse for the money.

Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Pro Specs • Weight: 15.9g • Sweat/water resistant: Yes • Cord length: 1.2m • Hands-free: Yes • Price: $US60 RRP.

2nd Place: Shure SE215

The Shure SE215 has been the budget pick for many an audiophile. Indeed they have the highest quality, most balanced sound of any of the buds we tested. Highs and mids were clean and distinctive and there was an acceptable amount of bass for our hip-hop. Now, these aren't created to be sports earbuds, however, because of the unique shape of the drivers and the way the cables loop behind your ears, they stay in very securely. Most earbuds just have silicone tips, but these are silicone filled with foam, and they provide more sound isolation than any of the others (which is good for aeroplanes, but bad for street-running safely). If you're an audiophile athlete, these are your pick.

That said, they're not perfect. First off, they're kind of a pain to get into your ears, and if one does fall out while you're running, you're going to have to stop. Because they're really not built for running, they're a bit on the heavy side. The cable is long and thick (don't say it) and it easily gets snagged on things. Very occasionally the cable would come off our ears, and it could be a nuisance. You can buy a replacement cable that will add a mic and iPhone/iPod controls, but that'll run you an additional $US50. Also, there have been many reports of audio cutting out due to a connection problem with the replaceable cable, and the exposed metal there certainly isn't sweat or water proof, which could lead to shorts. It's the best overall headphone here, but this is for workout music, and you very well may want more bass than these provide. Plus, these are they may be more than you want to spend on something that's going to get tossed in your gym bag.

Shure SE215 Specs • Weight: 32g • Sweat/water resistant: No • Cord length: 1.6m • Hands-free: No • Price: $US99 RRP, $US99 at Amazon.

BESTMODO: Sennheiser PMX 680i Sports

The 680 Sports series from Sennheiser/Adidas simply give you the most boom for your buck, and by boom I mean bass. These pack some of the heaviest bass I've heard on earbuds, and they're loud, too. I was able to turn the volume down several notches compared to the others. The neckband design means that they didn't budge even slightly when running or doing jumping jacks. They're light and they have a built-in mic with start/stop and volume controls. They're sweat-proof, water-resistant and rinseable. They let in a bit of ambient noise, but because they can go so loud it's easy to overwhelm it. While it isn't the cleanest sound, the 14mm drivers have enough bass to give it a full sound. If you're trying to run to a beat, these are the ones.

On the downside, the highs and mids are definitely a bit muddy, muffled even. Audio purists will probably be happier with the Shures. While the neckband gives them great stability, it also makes them unadjustable and makes them no good for crunches or anything where your back is on a bench. If you do a lot of that kind of stuff, you should probably go with the OMX 680i Sports, which have the same killer drivers and look very stable, but lose the behind the neck thing and are a bit more versatile. The other major problem with these is wind. When you're running outdoors on you can really hear the wind rushing in, and it's enough to be distracting. Other than that, though, these are very solid.

Sennheiser PMX 680i Sports Specs • Weight: 24g • Sweat/water resistant: Yes • Cord length: 1.2m • Hands-free: Yes • Price: $US70 RRP / $129.95 RRP in Australia.


Comments

    id recommended Nokia BH-505 Bluetooth headphones. Light weight they don't mind a bit of rain. the sound is good but the battery and range on there is phenomenal

    For those on a real budget try, http://dicksmith.com.au/product/A2081/dick-smith-neckband-headphones for$19.98 it's good value, but the bass is way average, for sound the Sennheiser PMX 680i Sports are massively superior , but the durability, sucks, ( others may disagree and in all fairness I do put my headphones through hell). I can't comment on the others, I've never used them.

      Agreed on the Sennheisers durability, though I have the CX 680i model. The rubber ear loops are worn and the plastic connection between the cord and bud has broken on both sides (hard to explain). Anyways, I'm up for a new pair of [something] so will keep watching this thread. It would be nice if they weren't so yellow, I don't like having two pairs of buds (for gym and commuting), it doesn't really match my suits

    The Jaybird Freedom JF3 have been my favourite gym headphones for the last 6 months - great volume and with the Comply Foam tips (T-400 fit the JayBird JF3's) I get extra base boast and comfy fit. A single charge lasts about 3 sessions worth. Best thing - no headband so they don't get bumped off when I'm on the weights bench.

    I use Bluetooth headphones. Best bought overseas though as local prices for bluetooth headphones are insane.

    I like my Jabra Sports. Sound is certainly not amazing, but I have audiophile buds & cans for that. These are for when I go running, so not too phased with the less than perfect sound.

    Bluetooth. Military grade shock, dust, shower proof. Microphone and phone answering. Built in FM radio to boot. Approx $100-110 delivered off eBay.

    My recommendation is probably the Motorolla S9's easily the least intrusive head phones I have owned for jogging.

    Pretty sure he isnt wearing the sennheiser's properly :P The ears are meant to be in front of the neck band.

    I have them and the would be great for someone with a big head. If you have a small head (like me) they are a bit big. They also have pretty bad noise isolation, but if you want to be able to hear cars, theyre great.

    I've been using the sennheisers, had the previous incarnation (the acid green ones), they're great. All other head phones could never stay put.
    If you having a mic is not critical, I highly recommend the PMX680 sports (note no 'i'), which actually has a shorter cable to go directly to your iphone/device, without having to worry about access cable. It then comes with an extension which allows you to use the headphones under normal circumstances (eg ipod in your pocket.

    Bowers & Wilkins C5?

    Monster iSport - so tough you can wash them in the washing machine!!

    I've had mine a while and they have been properly abused, these bad boys are virtually indestructible. Sound is excellent, you get loads of different sized ear buds which take some time to work out which fit best but when you have sorted that, you will be very please you bought them.

    http://www.monstercable.com/productdisplay.asp?pin=6403

    You didn't want to consider the marshall in ear headphones? The placement system means they stay in my ear without causing undue noise every time you step (like ones with an airtight seal), and they don't have an annoying over ear or around the back of your head piece of plastic...
    http://www.marshallheadphones.com/product/minor

    I tried a whole bunch of headphones to find comfortable headphones for sports. And I can say with confidence, the best sport headphones - Bose IE2 or MIE2i (with remote control on the wire for the production of Apple). Truth at Bose recently released another new model of headphones specifically for the sport, but I have not tried it.
    In any case do not take for sports intracanal headphones that are inserted directly into the ear canal! During exercise when you change the pressure and you will have to lay the ears causing discomfort and is simply very bad for the ears, so you can not bring the pressure back to normal.
    Headphones with earhook I did not like, because they can not wear a hat. A headset with occipital arc, except that they can not wear a hat, is not allowed to wear a jacket with a hood or a collar.
    Specifically Sennheiser PMX 680i Sports - I had. The sound is very bad. The songs lisp on the letter "s".

    Jaybird BlueBud X are easily the best headphones I've used for sport... and that they're Bluetooth!

    My recommendation is The Soundot . it is moderately priced, clear good sound.
    I think it is the best choice. if you want to have many selection. I will show you the web with very useful.

    http://www.thebestearbuds.com/best-bluetooth-headphones-for-running/

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