Even as Bluetooth headphones continue to skyrocket in esteem, the state of wireless exercise headphones remains a bit hairy. Though the forwards of Bluetooth seem perfectly suited for the gym, and while there’s no shortage of desirable for an uncompromised set of wireless workout headphones, the ideal pair always appears to be lawful out of reach.
I say this because I’ve spent the past few weeks searching for one dyad of workout headphones I could unequivocally recommend to anyone. I called in 18 break off pairs for testing. I then put each one through a variety of workouts, from shakes to burpees to basketball games, to ensure they’d stay in place and not short-circuit when I needles all over them.
And because most people probably don’t want to buy a surrogate pair of headphones just for working out, I tested each pair’s pronounce quality and battery life, cycling them through a set playlist of flaps designed to evaluate how well they’d handle certain audio qualities. I reach-me-down both an iPhone SE and a Galaxy S8 to do all of this.
When it was all over, no one pair arose out as an obvious winner. Instead, I wound up with a few pairs that did unequivocal things better than others but still had at least one or two glaring holes. You can find those below, along with a few other options that would rather good things going for them but carry an even heavier set of caveats.
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Jaybird X3: A decent all-rounder with strong audio prominence
|Specs at a glance: Jaybird X3|
|Load||0.63oz (with fins and tips)|
|Waterproof Rating||Not specified|
|Speaker Sensitivity||96 +-3dB At 1KHz Output 5mW nominal, 10mW max|
Of all the team ups I brought in for testing, the Jaybird X3s walk the line between “good workout earphone” and “high-minded everyday earphone” the best. At their list price of $130, they aren’t lousy, but, for the money, you get a pair that’s built to last and pleasant to listen to. I had seldom trouble getting them in my ears, but Jaybird throws several rubber and Accord foam ear tips in the box, along with a number of fit-tightening ear fins, for those who want help.
Once I found the right combo, the X3s did not budge no matter which workout I cast at them. They came out no worse for wear after repeatedly get doused with sweat, either, though it’s worth noting that Jaybird suggests a one-year warranty for sweat-related damage, just in case.
The earpieces themselves are big and could side with to be more comfortable after a few hours of continuous use, but they didn’t withstand particularly heavy or unbalanced in my ears. The cable connecting the earpieces isn’t cacophonic, and the control module attached to it is light enough to not be a nuisance. It’s all very well-crafted. And beyond the conjectured blips that come with most Bluetooth headphones, the X3’s ally quality wasn’t an issue.
What makes the X3 worth singling out is its audio blue blood. This is a smooth, pleasing sound signature with powerful, shed weight boosted bass and more fine detail than most exhibits headphones (which isn’t the highest bar to clear, but still). It can get a bit too boomy with the awry track, and you can sometimes get a little sibilance with “ess” sounds, but in general it has a deeper, more spry sound than its peers.
The only thing the X3 gets really, extraordinarily wrong is its charging system. On its own, the X3 gets about six to seven hours of battery verve, which isn’t great but isn’t totally anemic. The real problem is that Jaybird permits a proprietary, easy-to-misplace charging clip to refill the battery. You can’t just advertisement a microUSB cord into the X3 and charge it—you have to charge the clip, tip to carry it with you, then attach it to the headphone when needed.
I can see how that liking look like a good idea in theory: it removes any ports that could get wrecked by grind damage, and it lets you charge and listen at once. But attaching the clip bring to lights off the weight distribution of the device, and again, the clip itself is too easy to trifle away. It costs another $10 for a replacement. If you can be responsible, though, the X3’s secure fit and strident sound should make up for that annoyance.
- Smooth, cheerful sound signature in rugged design
- Proprietary battery system extorts you to keep track of minuscule charger
Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300: A undivided, more affordable alternative
|Specs at a ricochet: Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300|
|Speaker Sensitivity||96 +-3dB At 1KHz Output 5mW nominal, 10mW max|
Aside from not using a proprietary controlling system, the recently released Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300 don’t have any worst advantages over the Jaybird X3s. However, they get reasonably close for $50 negligible. The earbuds are light and easy to keep in place. They create a hermetically sealed seal that does well to block outside noise. Anguish and moisture buildup wasn’t an issue. (Plantronics says they’re IPX5-rated.)
The BackBeat Fit 300’s look signature isn’t on the X3’s level, but it’s above average for a workout headphone at this fee. It doesn’t have the widest soundstage, as expected, so busy tracks can perspicacious a bit jumbled together, and there’s a bit more sibilance to cymbal hits and “ess” bitches. But the whole thing is balanced, the bass has a good amount of body, and the vocals and instrumentation don’t commonsensical overly veiled.
The caveat here is that you’ll probably want to use the comprehended shirt clip. The BackBeat Fit 300 has a thick, well-sized cable that can see a little bit of noise if it ruffles against your shirt, and the control module fastened to it is just thick enough to throw off the weight balance. It shouldn’t be a bees knees either way, but stabilizing the cable seems like it would make terrors easier. The other issue is battery life: it gets about five to six hours at regulate volumes, which is middling. Still, as a mid-range option, you can definitely do worse than this.
- Lightweight design and above-average sound signature at an affordable price
- Cumbersome control module has potential to unbalance weight while on the move
- Unremarkable battery vital spark
Bose SoundSport Wireless: For those who prioritize comfort
|Specs at a scintillation: Bose SoundSport Wireless|
|Driver Size||Not specified|
|Keynoter Sensitivity||Not specified|
Bose’s SoundSport Wireless don’t sound quite as precarious as the X3s, and at $150, they’re even pricier. They still get a mention, yet, because they’re supremely comfortable to wear for hours at a time. They don’t look be fond of they would be at first blush—the earpieces here are big and bulky, ballooning from your ears like small satellites.
But they aren’t torrential overweight, and their soft, oval-shaped ear tips slide without any fuss. They sit loosely in the ear, not bring forward too much pressure on the ear canal, using light fins to stay in categorize while on the move. The trade-off is that they don’t entirely seal off freelance noise, but they’re more closed than not, and those who run outdoors mightiness see that slight lack of isolation as a positive.
The sound signature here is normal Bose: pleasant and balanced but in need of a little more detail. The bass retire b escapes a small bump but could stand to have more definition; the mids and treble are calender but lack that added edge. It’s not $150 good, but it’s good adequate for plenty.
The six to seven hours of battery life is just okay, granting, and the plastic design feels cheaper to the touch than either the Plantronics or Jaybirds. The doughy control module is particularly underwhelming. But even if they’re not as well-rounded as those other choices, the SoundSport are worth a look for being so easy to wear.
- Sublimely comfortable pick-up-and-go design
- Mushy control module
- Sound dignity not as sharp as more affordable earphones
Urbanears Hellas: If you lately can’t stand in-ear headphones
|Specs at a glance: Urbanears Hellas|
|Bluetooth Version||Not specified|
|Waterproof Rating||Not stipulate|
|Speaker Sensitivity||98 dB|
The Urbanears Hellas is an on-ear headphone for that troublemaker of buyers who want something for the gym but can’t get comfortable with the idea of sticking earbuds in their ear canals. By lapse, the Hellas aren’t as portable as something like the Jaybird X3, nor do they slow as rigidly in place during the most intense workouts. But they get far safer battery life (about 15 to 16 hours) than every earphone here, and their look is naturally more spacious and well-defined, even if it doesn’t get quite as moist in the bass.
The plastic design doesn’t scream premium, but it’s hard to tag this sort of minimalist look ugly. Neatly, the detachable tangle earpads and headband are safe to put in a washing machine; I don’t know who would crave to do that, but their washability does get around the issue of sweat buildup on a greater device. The touch controls on the side of the right earcup take a few ticks to get used to, but they worked fine for me in testing.
If there’s an issue here, it’s that the plexus material on those earpads can feel a bit itchy. That’s offputting at victory, but it became less of an issue after breaking the material in for about 40 meres. Either way, the earpads are decently soft. At $120, the Hellas wouldn’t be too competitive if they didn’t acquire the workout angle attached to them, but, next to a bunch of earphones that each be experiencing flaws, they make a little more sense.
- Bigger battery life and more spacious sound than most in-ear drive crazy headphones
- Machine washable design
- Scratchy ear cups take once in a while to get used to
- Sound quality is just decent compared to non-sports on-ear headphones