Best Wireless Workout Headphones

In this post, I’ll review the best workout headphones for exercise and running — focusing on wireless (Bluetooth) options (because I don’t like to deal with wires while working out).

I’m excluding on-ear headphones and over-ear headphones (also known as over-the-ear headphones) because I find them to be uncomfortable when I’m hot and sweaty.

In 2016, I compared the Bose SoundSport vs. the Plantronics BackBeat Fit to identify which was the best option for running. Some time has passed since then, and there are now many more options available.

So, I figured I would do another review and bring more wireless in-ear headphones into the mix.

All the exercise headphones I tested performed well and stayed securely in place in my ears while working out. With that said, finding the pair of headphones that works best for you ultimately depends on your personal preferences regarding design, playback control, battery life, and other features.

Top 5 True Wireless Workout Headphones

You may notice that in the comparison table below, there’s a row I called “wire-free.” By that I’m indicating that there’s no physical cable connection between the two wireless earbuds. That’s what I consider true wireless headphones.

Technologically, that’s difficult to achieve because each earbud has to independently communicate with the paired device (i.e., your phone) and has to keep the sound signal perfectly synchronized.

ModelRating
Apple AirPods Pro★★★★★
Bose SoundSport Free★★★★☆
Jabra Elite Active 65t★★★★★
Jaybird RUN★★★★☆
Rowkin Surge Charge★★★★☆

Top 5 Wireless Workout Headphones Under $100

ModelRating
Anker SoundBuds Sport NB10★★★★★
Jabra Sport Pace★★★★★
Jaybird Freedom 2★★★★★
Plantronics Backbeat Fit 300★★★★☆
Rowkin Surge★★★★☆

Top 5 Water-Resistant Workout Headphones

ModelRating
Jabra Elite Sport★★★★★
Plantronics Backbeat Fit★★★★★
Tribit XSport Fly★★★★☆
xFyro ARIA★★★★☆
xFyro xS2★★★★☆

Top 5 Noise-Canceling Workout Headphones

ModelRating
Apple AirPods Pro★★★★★
Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless★★★☆☆
Jabra Sport Pulse★★★☆☆
Jaybird X3★★★☆☆
Rowkin Pulse★★★☆☆

All Reviewed Wireless Workout Headphones

Here’s an alphabetically-sorted list of all the wireless Bluetooth headphones I’ve tested for this review. The list below covers more brands and models than I could fit in the rating tables above.

Alpha & Delta Jaap

Alpha & Delta Jaap workout headphones
Alpha & Delta Jaap.
Highlights
  • No wires between left and right earbud
  • Balanced and crisp sound
  • Included headband with battery increases life by 14 hours
Specifications
Ear-tip designHook
Water-resistance ratingIPX5
Battery life6 to 7 hours
Bluetooth4.2
Device memory2
Driver11mm
Noise-isolatingNo
Playback controlsYes, via physical buttons
Siri supportNo
MicrophoneYes
Warranty12 months
ExtrasNeckband with battery, extra ear-tips

Alpha & Delta’s Jaap are among the few genuinely wireless and cable-free headphones I have tested, and they’re incredibly comfortable to wear. They feel like they hug your ears while you’re wearing them.

Also, in addition to the regular and already-comfortable ear-tips, the Jaap come with what Alpha & Delta describe as SpinFit silicone ear-tips. Those are 360-degree-rotating ear-tips that further improve your comfort as they can go deeper into the ear canal.

The Jaap headphones are not dustproof, but they feature an IPX5 waterproof rating. That means that not only will they stand up to the rain, you can even take them into the shower. I have never considered doing so, but you could theoretically go for a run and jump right into the shower without even taking your headphones off.

Alpha & Delta Portable Charger
Alpha & Delta Portable Charger.

Alpha & Delta’s exercise headphones produce a rich and well-balanced sound, and I enjoyed listening to music with them. While the Jaap headphones don’t offer support for Siri, they provide playback controls via a multi-functional button, including:

  • Play and pause
  • Skip to the next song

Alpha & Delta promises six hours of music playback and seven hours of talk time. Additionally, you can connect the two earbuds using a so-called portable charger. By using the charging cable, you get an additional 14 hours of playback or 15 hours of talk time.

From a connectivity perspective, you can pair the Jaap headphones with up to two devices at the same time. Also, Alpha & Delta includes a hard case for its headphones, a portable charger, a USB charging cable and extra ear tips.

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Anker SoundBuds Sport NB10

Anker SoundBuds Sport NB10
Anker SoundBuds Sport NB10
Highlights
  • Highly-rated by Anker customers
  • Reasonably priced
  • Large, 12mm driver
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear and hook
Water-resistance ratingIPX5
Battery life6 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory8
Driver12mm
Noise-isolatingNo
Playback controlsYes, via physical buttons
Siri supportNo
MicrophoneNoise-cancelling
Warranty18 months
ExtrasExtra ear-tips, FitClips, travel pouch, micro-USB cable

The Anker SoundBuds Sport NB10 are basic and reasonably-priced sports headphones that offer excellent value. Anker includes a relatively large (12mm) driver for incredibly clear audio, an IPX5 water-resistance rating, and six hours of battery life. Additionally, Anker backs up their offering with an 18-month warranty.

Anker SoundBuds Sport NB10 playback controls
Anker SoundBuds Sport NB10 playback controls.

Despite its eight-device memory, you can only pair the SoundBuds Sport NB10 to a single device at a time. That means you can’t switch back and forth between your iPhone and Apple Watch without unpairing from one of those two devices.

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Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro wireless workout headphones
Apple AirPods Pro are water-resistant and offer active noise-cancellation.
Highlights
  • No cables or wires
  • Excellent sound
  • Automatic ear detection
  • Active noise-cancellation and transparency mode
  • Motion-detecting accelerometer
  • Dual beam-forming microphones
  • Speech-detecting accelerometer
Specifications
Ear-tip designEarbuds
Water-resistance ratingIPX4
Battery life4.5 hours
Bluetooth5.0
Device memoryMultiple
DriverUnknown
Noise-isolatingActive, including transparency mode
Playback controlsForce sensor on both earbuds
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneDual-beamforming
Warranty12 months, or 24 months with AppleCare+
ExtrasWireless charging case

Besides the iPhone 11 Pro, Apple’s AirPods Pro are the best product Apple has made in the past few years. The AirPods Pro are genuinely wireless, they integrate seamlessly with the iPhone and Apple Watch, and they produce a rich and well-balanced sound.

The AirPods Pro are also among the most comfortable earbuds I have used so far, thanks to the soft silicone tips that come in three different sizes.

What’s new with the AirPods Pro — in comparison to the regular AirPods — is that the AirPods Pro are both water and sweat resistant and they offer active noise cancellation. Additionally, they also come with transparency mode, which amplifies ambient noise. That’s useful if you run on the street and want to keep an ear on the surrounding traffic.

Apple has also improved playback controls in the AirPods Pro by replacing the tap gesture with force sensors. By doing that, Apple added additional playback controls (so you don’t have to rely on Siri).

Speaking of playback control, the AirPods Pro are the only wireless sports headphones I have tested that don’t suffer from lag.

For example, turning the crown on the Apple Watch Series 5 to change the volume works lag-free. With all other headphones, there is a minor lag or delay that’s not bothersome but noticeable. I assume Apple’s custom W2 chip is responsible for that.

Apple offers up to 4.5 hours of battery life on a single charge with noise-cancellation or transparency mode enabled. That’s less than competing headphones offer, but still incredible considering the tiny form factor of the product.

Also, the AirPods Pro’s case doubles as a charger and can extend their battery life to up to 24 hours. Charging the AirPods Pro in their case for only five minutes gives you another hour of battery life.

The AirPods Pro can connect simultaneously to your iPhone and Apple Watch. But you can also pair them with additional devices, such as your Mac, iPad, or Apple TV. They come with a wireless charging case and Lightning cable (which can be used to charge the case if you don’t have a wireless charging dock).

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Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless

Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless workout headphones
Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless.
Highlights
  • Apple W1 wireless chip
  • Excellent, bass-heavy sound
  • 12-hour battery life
  • Available in various colors
Specifications
Ear-tip designHook
Water-resistance ratingSweat and water
Battery life12 hours
Bluetooth4.2
Device memoryMultiple
DriverUnknown
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneYes
Warranty12 months, or 24 months with AppleCare+
ExtrasExtra ear-tips, carrying case, charging cable

The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless headphones have the same Apple W1 chip as Apple’s original AirPods and thus offer an incredibly stable and responsive Bluetooth connection that supports multiple devices simultaneously. As you would expect from Beats, the sound is relatively bass-heavy, which many users appreciate.

Beats PowerBeats3 Wireless up close
Beats PowerBeats3 Wireless up close.

What makes the Powerbeats3 Wireless headphones stand out is their amazing 12-hour battery life, which should comfortably get you through a week’s worth of workouts before you have to recharge them.

When it comes to water resistance, Beats doesn’t provide an IP rating — the company just claims that the Powerbeats3 are sweat and water resistant.

Similar to other Beats products, some users have complained about quality issues that may result in parts of the product showing premature signs of use.

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Bose SoundSport

Bose SoundSport - Wireless workout headphones
Bose SoundSport
Highlights
  • Excellent sound
  • Comfortable to wear
  • A flexible neckband that doesn’t get in the way
  • Conveniently-located playback controls
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIPX4
Battery life6 hours
Bluetooth4.0
Device memory2
DriverUnknown
Noise-isolatingNo
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneYes
Warranty24 months
ExtrasSoft case, extra ear-tips, USB charging cable

As you would expect from Bose, the audio quality of the SoundSport is excellent. However, the headphones utilize passive noise cancellation by sealing off the ear cancel (similarly to how earplugs work).

Since there’s no transparency mode (like with the AirPods Pro), that means it’s hard to hear what’s going on around you when you’re listening to loud music. While that’s great in the gym, it’s less than ideal when you go running on a street with traffic around you.

As a result, the Bose may not be the best running headphones in the mix.

The Bose fitness headphones are super comfortable to wear, thanks to the lack of ear-hooks and a thin cable connecting the two earbuds. Bose’s special ear-tips make the headphones stay in place securely most of the time, but I did have to reseat them occasionally while running.

The Bose earbuds are only sweat-resistant at a rating of IPX4. That means they’re not dust-proof and you cannot submerge them in water. Still, they withstand most rain and snow.

Bose built the volume control buttons into the cable, which makes them easy to manipulate. Additionally, the SoundSport fully supports Siri by long-pressing the play button.

Bose promises up to six hours of listening time and up to six hours of talk time. Charging time is two hours, but a quick 15-minute charge gives you another hour of listening.

The Bose workout headphones come with a soft case, a USB charging cable and extra ear tips.

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Bose SoundSport Free

Bose SoundSport Free
Bose SoundSport Free.
Highlights
  • Excellent sound
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Truly wireless
  • Charging case extends battery life up to 10 additional hours
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIPX4
Battery life5 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory2
DriverUnknown
Noise-isolatingNo
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneWideband-enabled
Warranty12 months
ExtrasCharging case, extra ear-tips, USB charging cable

The Bose SoundSport Free are relatively similar to the SoundSport, with one major difference: they don’t have any wires. They also feature Bluetooth version 4.1, and they come with a case that can recharge the earbuds twice, thus extending their battery life to up to 10 additional hours.

The case is also magnetic, which reduces the chance of misplacing an earbud. If you do, you can use the “Find My Buds” feature of the Bose app to locate it.

The audio quality is excellent, as you would expect from Bose, and in line with their wired cousin. Unfortunately, the SoundSport Free shares another (unpopular) attribute with the SoundSport: they stick out quite far from your ears, and you may end up looking like Frankenstein.

Bose SoundSport Free Charging Case
Bose SoundSport Free charging case.

What’s nice about the SoundSport Free is that you can use one earbud only. That said, it has to be the right one — which becomes the “master” after pairing the earbuds with your phone or smartwatch.

Overall, the SoundSport Free offers premium sound, a decent water-resistance rating and a battery life that’s in-line with other wire-free sports headphones.

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Jabra Elite Active 65t

Jabra Elite Active 65t
Jabra Elite Active 65t.
Highlights
  • Truly wireless
  • Integrated motion sensor to track workouts
  • Four microphones for crystal-clear audio calls
  • App to customize equalizer to your music taste
  • 24-month warranty against sweat damage
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIP56
Battery life5 hours
Bluetooth5.0
Device memory8
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneFour microphones with noise-cancellation
Warranty12 months + 24 months against sweat damage
ExtrasCharging case, extra ear-tips, USB charging cable

The Jabra Elite Active 65t were one of the first Bluetooth 5.0-enabled wireless sports headphones on the market. By using the latest Bluetooth technology, Jabra improved wireless stability and reduced the risk of call or music dropouts.

To help track workout performance, Jabra added an accelerometer or motion sensor, and with the Jabra Sound+ app you even customize the equalizer to match your music taste.

Jabra Elite Active 65t charging case for two recharges on the go
The Jabra Elite Active 65t case recharges on the go.

What I like about the Elite Active 65t earbuds is that Jabra allows you to block or let in ambient noise, depending on your needs. Additionally, Jabra added four microphones to these headphones to dramatically improve call quality (and to improve responsiveness when summoning Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant).

Also worth noting is the incredibly small form factor of these earbuds; they don’t stick out nearly as much as the Bose SoundSport Free.

The only downside of the Elite Active 65t sports headphones is the relatively short battery life of five hours, although it is in-line with the other truly wireless headphones I have reviewed.

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Jabra Elite Sport

Jabra Elite Sport
Jabra Elite Sport
Highlights
  • Truly wireless
  • Built-in heart rate monitor
  • Four microphones for crystal-clear audio calls
  • App to customize equalizer to your music taste
  • In-ear audio coaching
  • 36-month warranty against sweat damage
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIP67
Battery life4.5 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory8
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportNo
Microphone4 microphones with noise-cancellation
Warranty12 months + 36 months against sweat damage
ExtrasCharging case, extra ear-tips/ear-wings, USB charging cable

The Jabra Elite Sport headphones are similar to the newer Elite Active 65t, but they lack support for Siri and other voice-activated assistants. Instead, these earbuds feature a built-in heart rate monitor, in-ear audio coaching, and 36 months of warranty against sweat damage.

One neat feature of the Elite Sport headphones is what Jabra calls “Hear Through,” which allows you to control how much ambient noise the earbuds let into your ear canal. (It’s the spiritual predecessor to the AirPods Pro’s transparency mode.) If you’re jogging on a busy street, you can turn on “hear through” to stay aware of what’s going on around you.

Jabra Elite Sport charging case and app
Jabra Elite Sport charging case and app.

If you don’t own a smartwatch with a heart rate monitor, such as an Apple Watch, you’ll appreciate that the Elite Sport earbuds have one built-in. Unfortunately, you lose 30 minutes of battery life for that feature. Should you run out of battery, you can recharge the earbuds two times using the charging case they come in.

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Jabra Sport Coach

Jabra Sport Coach
Jabra Sport Coach.
Highlights
  • In-ear coaching for personalized workouts
  • Integrated motion sensor to track steps and reps
  • 36-month warranty against sweat damage
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIP55
Battery life5.5 hours
Bluetooth4.0
Device memory8
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportNo
MicrophoneYes
Warranty12 months + 36 months against sweat damage
ExtrasProtective bag, extra ear-tips, EarGels, USB charging cable

The Jabra Sport Coach is ideal for folks who want to take their workout game to the next level by keeping track of basic metrics, such as steps or repetitions, while enjoying personalized in-ear coaching and guidance.

Thanks to its passive noise cancellation feature, the Jabra Sport Coach blocks out most ambient noise while providing decent audio with noticeable bass.

Jabra Sport Coach up close
Jabra Sport Coach up close

Like most of Jabra’s workout headphones, the Sport Coach earbuds don’t support activating Siri or other digital assistants. But in return, you get 36 months of warranty against sweat damage.

The Jaba Sport Coach earbuds feature a standard microphone, so don’t expect outstanding call quality when making phone calls. The battery life is OK, but at 5.5 hours it comes in as slightly above average — an achievement, considering that the built-in motion sensor and in-ear coaching are battery life eaters.

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Jabra Sport Pace

Jabra Sport Pace
Jabra Sport Pace.
Highlights
  • In-ear pace guidance
  • 15-minute quick-charge for an additional hour of battery
  • 36-month warranty against sweat damage
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear and hook
Water-resistance ratingIP54
Battery life5 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory8
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportNo
MicrophoneYes
Warranty12 months + 36 months against sweat damage
ExtrasExtra EarGels, 1 FitClip, USB charging cable

Jabra’s Sport Pace wireless headphones are similar to the Sport Coach earbuds with a few minor differences, including pace guidance instead of a step/rep counter, 30 minutes less battery life, and a hook-design to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.

Jabra Sport Pace accessories
Jabra Sport Pace accessories.

While the battery life is only five hours, a 15-minute charge adds another hour of battery life. On the bright side, the Jabra Pace headphones are the least expensive wireless sports headphones from Jabra in this review.

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Jabra Sport Pulse

Jabra Sport Pulse
Jabra Sport Pulse.
Highlights
  • Built-in heart rate monitor
  • Automatic VO2 Max tracking
  • Race predictor and recovery advisor via Jabra Sport Life app
  • 36-month warranty against sweat damage
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIP55
Battery life5 hours
Bluetooth4.0
Device memory8
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportNo
MicrophoneYes
Warranty12 months + 36 months against sweat damage
ExtrasProtective case, extra ear-tips, EarGels, USB charging cable

Similar to Jabra’s truly wireless Elite Sport headphones, the Sport Pulse earbuds have a built-in heart rate monitor and connect to the Jabra Sport Life app, which makes these headphones ideal for runners.

Jabra Sport Pulse accessories
Jabra Sport Pulse accessories.

In addition to keeping track of your heart rate, the Jabra Sport Pulse can automatically track your VO2 Max, which measures your cardiovascular system and your body’s ability to absorb oxygen. By knowing your VO2, the Jabra app can determine your fitness level and recovery times.

The battery life is in-line with all of the other Jabra workout earbuds in this review and maxes out at about 5 hours.

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Jaybird RUN

Jaybird RUN
Jaybird RUN
Highlights
  • Truly wireless
  • App lets you customize equalizer and find missing earbuds
  • Omnidirectional microphone for enhanced audio calls
  • Charging case provides an additional eight hours of battery
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingSweat and water
Battery life4 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory4
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneOmnidirectional
Warranty12 months
ExtrasCharging case, carrying pouch, extra ear-tips/fins, USB charging cable

With the RUN, Jaybird delivers truly wireless workout headphones that offer a secure fit and customizable sound via the Jaybird app. Where I think Jaybird has some room for improvement is in the below-average battery life and the single microphone.

The latter is good enough for the occasional phone call, but not in the same league, for example, as the four-microphone array built into the Jabra Elite Active 65t.

Despite the relatively low battery life, Jaybird offers a five-minute fast charge option, which adds another hour of battery.

Jaybird does not provide a water resistance rating, but I talked to their support engineers and they confirmed that the RUN, Freedom 2, and X3 headphones are sweat and water-resistant. Unless you submerge the headphones in water, Jaybird will cover them if you experience any water damage.

Hands-On Test

I had the opportunity to test the Jaybird RUN over the past few weeks and was impressed by the customizable sound using the excellent Jaybird mobile app. Honestly, I didn’t think I would ever customize the sound of my headphones, but as it turned out, being able to make my headphones sound precisely the way I want has tremendous value.

Using the mobile app, you can either customize the sound profile by tweaking the lows, mids and highs, or you can select from a variety of presets.

During my tests, I could also confirm that Jaybird’s wireless headphones offer a secure fit, even while performing high-intensity workouts such as CrossFit.

During my first workout, the right earbud actually fell out while I was jumping rope, but replacing the wing-tip with a larger one resolved the problem and the earbuds remained in my ears during subsequent workouts.

Overall, I have truly enjoyed using the Jaybird RUN. But with that said, I would offer the following feedback to Jaybird’s product management team.

The button to open the charging case is too sensitive and easy to manipulate, which could lead to the earbuds falling out while carrying them in a backpack. This problem could be resolved by adding magnets to keep the earbuds attached to the case (even if the case does open accidentally).

I have also noticed that the earbuds automatically turn on when you open the case. That’s great, but not if you only want to use one of them — for example, for making a call.

The problem is that if you leave the left earbud in the case, the right one starts beeping to remind you that the other earbud is turned on as well. To make the right earbud stop beeping, you have to take the left earbud out of its case and put it right back in, thus turning it off.

Instead of turning both earbuds on when I open the case, I would rather have only the earbud I take out turn on automatically.

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Jaybird Freedom 2

Jaybird Freedom 2
Jaybird Freedom 2.
Highlights
  • SpeedFit ensures a tight and secure fit of the neckband
  • Omnidirectional microphone for enhanced audio calls
  • App to customize equalizer to your music taste
  • Tough, all-metal design
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingSweat and water
Battery life4 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory8
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportNo
MicrophoneOmnidirectional, ultra-low power
Warranty12 months
ExtrasCarrying pouch, charging clip, shirt clip, extra ear-tips and fins, USB charging cable

Jaybird claims that the Freedom 2 are the smallest sports headphones on the market, and if true, it’s a reasonable excuse for delivering only four hours of battery life.

Jaybird does include a tiny charging clip that practically doubles the headphone’s battery life to a total of eight hours. One could argue that Jaybird should have added the extra weight of the charging clip directly to the headphones to provide eight hours out of the box, but I prefer Jaybird’s approach.

For most workouts, you won’t need more than four hours of battery life. In such cases, I appreciate how light and comfortable the Freedom 2 workout headphones are.

SpeedFit cable management of the Freedom 2
SpeedFit cable management of the Freedom 2.

What I like most about these headphones is the integrated cable management Jaybird calls SpeedFit. It gets the cable out of the way while providing a secure and tight fit around the back of your head.

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Jaybird X3

Jaybird X3
Jaybird X3.
Highlights
  • Incredibly small and light
  • Omnidirectional microphone for enhanced audio calls
  • App to customize equalizer to your music taste
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingSweat and water
Battery life8 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory8
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportNo
MicrophoneOmnidirectional, ultra-low power
Warranty12 months
ExtrasCarrying pouch, shirt clip, extra ear-tips/fins, USB charging cable

The Jaybird X3 may not be the smallest workout headphones on the market, but they are still incredibly light while delivering a solid eight hours of battery life. Unlike the Freedom 2, the X3 don’t have an integrated cable management system, but Jaybird includes super-ergo fins and “Comply” tips for a solid fit.

Jaybird X3 app
Jaybird X3 app.

What’s cool about the Jaybird app is that it allows you to share one device with two headphones. So if you and your running partner have the same taste in music, you can stream the audio from your smartphone to both headphones at the same time.

In conclusion, if you don’t use your wireless workout headphones for making phone calls or using Siri, the Jaybird X3 are a solid choice and provide excellent value.

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Olala SG1

Olala SG1
Olala SG1.
Highlights
  • Crisp sound
  • Built-in magnets to wear them around your neck
  • Long battery life
  • Passive noise-cancellation
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIPX4
Battery life8 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory2
Driver9.2mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophonecVc 6.0 noise-cancellation
Warranty12 months
ExtrasLeather pouch, extra ear-tips, USB charging cable

I enjoyed the sound of the SG1 because it was crisp and clear. That’s great for many types of music. But if you’re used to Beats headphones and their massive bass, you may not enjoy the SG1.

Like all of the other headphones I reviewed for this article, the SG1 felt comfortable to wear, even though I could “feel” them a bit more in my ear canal than some of the other earbuds I tested. Keep in mind that Olala puts ear-tips of various sizes into the box, so you can find the size that fits best for your ear canal.

Olala SG1 Magnets
Olala SG1 magnets.

The SG1 have a water-resistance rating of IPX4, which means they are sweat resistant but not dustproof, and you cannot submerge them in water.

The SG1 feature a complete set of playback controls, including:

  • Invoke Siri
  • Play and pause
  • Skip track
  • Volume up and down

Olala promises up to eight hours of battery life and you can quickly re-charge them in only 1.5 hours. The earbuds come with a leather pouch, a charging cable, and extra ear tips.

Additionally, I should mention that the SG1 earbuds are magnetic. So when you don’t use them, you can hang them around your neck like a necklace. That’s a practical and well-thought-out feature that I think you’ll appreciate.

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Plantronics BackBeat Fit

Plantronics BackBeat Fit
Plantronics BackBeat Fit.
Highlights
  • Balanced sound
  • Hook design ensures a secure fit
  • Pair with up to eight devices
Specifications
Ear-tip designHook
Water-resistance ratingIP57
Battery life6 to 8 hours
Bluetooth3.0
Device memory8
Driver13mm
Noise-isolatingNo
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneDigital signal processing (DSP), Full duplex echo cancellation
Warranty12 months
ExtrasSoft case, USB charging cable

The Plantronics headphones produced a balanced sound in my tests. They’re not noise-canceling or noise-isolating. When designing the BackBeat Fit, Plantronics made sure that you can still hear what’s going on around you. From a safety perspective, I consider that a good thing and it makes them one of the best running headphones in this review.

During my early tests, I noticed that the audio signal was cutting out on occasion. The problem was likely a combination of old firmware and my Generation 1 Apple Watch. But it could also be related to the relatively old Bluetooth 3.0 standard they use.

I consider the Plantronics BackBeat Fit solid wireless sports headphones that are comfortable to wear, even in combination with sunglasses. Thanks to the over-the-ear hook, they stay put, regardless of how you move your head.

Plantronics’ workout earphones feature a water and dust-resistance rating of IP57. That means they’re dust-proof and you can submerge them in water at a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. They won’t withstand water jets, so don’t take them with you into the shower.

Plantronics BackBeat Fit Playback Controls
Plantronics BackBeat Fit playback controls.

What I didn’t like about the BackBeat Fit was the playback control, because there’s no substantial difference between the controls on either side of the headphones. So, I always had to guess what side the play/pause button and volume controls were on.

Maybe that’s just a sign that I didn’t use them often enough, but I wish I could more easily “feel” what button to push. Beyond the tactile issues, the BackBeat Fit offer full playback controls, including access to Siri.

Plantronics promises up to eight hours of listening time and up to six hours of talk time, and the headphones support up to eight devices that you can cycle through. So if you have a phone and a smartwatch, you can pair the headphones with both at the same time.

Plantronics ships its headphones in a soft case with a USB charging cable.

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Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300
Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300.
Highlights
  • Balanced sound
  • Passive noise reduction
  • Wideband-enabled microphone
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIPX5
Battery life6 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory2
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneWideband-enabled
Warranty12 months
ExtrasQuick-drying mesh storage pouch, extra ear-tips, USB charging cable

The BackBeat Fit 300 Series headphones are Plantronics’ newest wireless sports earbuds and feature similar sound characteristics to the BackBeat Fit, while also offering an updated Bluetooth chip and passive noise-cancellation.

Instead of an earbud design, Plantronics chose ear-tips to seal your ear canal and thus provide effective passive noise-cancellation. The change in design also means that Plantronics had to reduce the driver size from 13mm to 6mm. Despite the reduced driver size, the headphones sound incredibly good and have sufficient bass to please most users.

I prefer the 300 Series headphones over the original BackBeat Fit, because the braided neckband is more flexible and thus more comfortable.

In my tests, I noticed that the braided band makes a huge difference compared to rubber-coated bands because it prevents the cable from getting tangled up. Plus, Plantronics moved the playback controls from the earbuds to the cable, which makes it easier to operate them (also thanks to the oversized pause/play button).

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300 accessories
Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300 accessories.

The water-resistance rating has also changed from the previous IP57 to IPX5. That means the BackBeat Fit 300 are no longer dust-proof and you can’t immerse them in water. On the bright side, they can now withstand water jets, so you could theoretically take them into the shower.

The other thing I like about Plantronics’ ultra-light headphones is their comfortable and secure fit, thanks to the flexible ear-wings.

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Rowkin Surge Charge

Rowkin Surge Charge
Rowkin Surge Charge.
Highlights
  • Excellent sound
  • In-ear and hook design ensures a secure fit
  • Includes a battery-powered charging case
  • Passive noise reduction
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear and hook
Water-resistance ratingIPX5
Battery life5 hours
Bluetooth4.2
Device memory2
Driver14mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneEcho-cancellation, noise-reduction
Warranty12 months
ExtrasBattery-powered charging case, extra ear-tips, USB charging cable

The Surge Charge wireless workout headphones produce excellent sound with heavy bass, similar to what one may expect from Beats by Dr. Dre. I feel the bass is a bit overwhelming, but that’s likely due to the type of music I listen to while working out.

The combination of ear-hooks and comfortable silicone ear tips ensure a secure fit while reducing ambient noise. Practically, when you play loud music, the Surge Charge’s noise reduction is almost identical to the noise-canceling capabilities of other headphones.

Rowkin offers an IPX5 waterproof-rating for its headphones, which means that while you should not submerge them in water, rain or sweat won’t damage them. The playback controls are relatively small but tactile enough to operate, even while running or jogging.

Rowkin portable battery case
Rowkin portable battery case.

What’s great about the Rowkin Surge Charge is the carrying case they come in, because it contains a rechargeable battery that can juice up the headphones while you’re on the go. Even better, the quick charge feature gives you another hour of battery life in only 10 minutes.

I’ve used the Surge Charge headphones a couple of times while biking to my CrossFit box and they flawlessly streamed music from my Apple Watch Series 3. Like all headphones in the test, except for Apple’s AirPods Pro, there’s a slight delay or lag when using the playback controls on the Apple Watch (such as when changing the volume, for example).

Besides the portable charging case, Rowkin includes a USB charging cable and extra ear tips with its workout headphones.

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Rowkin Surge

Rowkin Surge
Rowkin Surge
Highlights
  • Excellent sound
  • In-ear and hook design ensures a secure fit
  • Large 14mm driver for excellent sound
  • Passive noise reduction
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear and hook
Water-resistance ratingIPX5
Battery life5 hours
Bluetooth4.2
Device memory2
Driver14mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneEcho-cancellation, noise-reduction
Warranty12 months
ExtrasExtra ear-tips, dual-USB charging cable

The Rowkin Surge wireless headphones are pretty much identical to the Surge Charge I tested, but instead of a charging case you get a dual USB charging cable. As a result, you get the same excellent earbuds at a lower price, without sacrificing audio quality.

Rowkin Surge Battery Life
Rowkin Surge battery life.

For less than $100, the Rowkin Surge sports headphones deliver truly wireless headphones at an exceptional value.

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Rowkin Pulse

Rowkin Pulse
Rowkin Pulse.
Highlights
  • Great value
  • Tangle-free cord
  • Available in different colors
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIPX5
Battery life4 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory2
Driver12mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneEcho-cancellation, noise-reduction
Warranty6 months
ExtrasExtra ear-tips/hooks, USB charging cable

The Rowkin Pulse offer outstanding audio quality at an incredible price while sharing the same water-resistance rating, support for Siri, and type of microphone as their more expensive siblings. The only downside of these headphones is the below-average battery life of only four hours and the short six-month warranty.

Rowkin Pulse Tangle-free Cord
Rowkin Pulse tangle-free cord.

On the plus side, Rowkin designed a tangle-free cord for the Pulse headphones, so you don’t have to worry about cable management as much as with other headphones.

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Tribit XSport Fly

Tribit XSport Fly
Tribit XSport Fly.
Highlights
  • Balanced sound
  • 8-hour battery life
  • In-ear hook design for a secure fit
  • Passive noise reduction
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear and hook
Water-resistance ratingIPX7
Battery life8 hours
Bluetooth4.1
Device memory2
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportNo
MicrophoneNoise-cancellation
Warranty18 months
ExtrasHard case, extra ear-tips, USB charging cable

What I like most about the XSport Fly is their secure and comfortable fit, thanks to the combination of in-ear tips and over-the-ear hooks. Additionally, they produce a crisp and balanced sound with decent bass.

Like all of the other headphones in this review, the XSport Fly’s in-ear tips felt incredibly comfortable to wear. The additional (soft) over-the-ear hook ensures that the earbuds don’t fall out while exercising. The only downside of those flexible hooks is that it takes some practice to wrap them around your ears with one hand. I had to use both hands when I first put the headphones on.

The XSport Fly headphones offer a water resistance rating of IPX7, and they feature a complete set of playback controls including:

  • Invoke Siri
  • Play and pause
  • Skip track (back and forth)
  • Volume up and down
  • Hands-free calling

Tribit promises up to eight hours of battery life and you can re-charge them in two hours. Tribit also offers a 10-minute quick-charge, which will give you another hour of playback time.

The XSport Fly headphones come in a hard case that also contains extra ear tips, a manual, and a USB charging cable.

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xFyro ARIA

xFyro ARIA wireless headphones
xFyro ARIA wireless headphones
Highlights
  • No cables or wires
  • Excellent sound
  • 8-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth 5 technology
  • Large, 16mm driver
  • Dual-beamforming microphones
  • Includes a battery-powered charging tube
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIP67
Battery life8 hours
Bluetooth5.0
Device memoryMultiple
Driver16mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsTap controls
Siri supportYes
MicrophoneDual-beamforming, cVc 6.0 noise-cancellation
Warranty12 months
ExtrasMagnetic charging case with battery, USB charging cable

xFyro launched an Indiegogo campaign to develop the successor to the excellent xS2 wireless headphones — the xFyro ARIA. Check out my in-depth review of the xFyro ARIA here.

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xFyro xS2

xFyro xS2
xFyro xS2.
Highlights
  • No cables or wires
  • Excellent sound
  • Multi-device support
  • Passive noise reduction
  • Beautiful design
  • Small profile
  • Includes a battery-powered charging tube
Specifications
Ear-tip designIn-ear
Water-resistance ratingIP67
Battery life5 hours
Bluetooth4.2
Device memoryMultiple
Driver6mm
Noise-isolatingPassive
Playback controlsPhysical buttons
Siri supportNo
MicrophonecVc 6.0 noise-cancellation
Warranty12 months
ExtrasCharging tube with battery, USB charging cable

If you’re looking for entirely wireless sports headphones to take to the gym or on the trail, xFyro offers an excellent option with its xS2 earbuds. I had the opportunity to thoroughly test the xS2 during two recent business trips, and I was impressed by the rich and well-balanced sound they produced.

I also noticed how well the noise-cancellation worked, even in environments with a lot of background noise (such as aboard an airplane). As I mentioned above, noise-suppression is excellent in the gym but may pose a safety risk if you work out near areas that have a lot of traffic.

Similar to Apple’s AirPods Pro, the xS2 never fell out during my tests — not even while jumping rope. But I had to push them back in a few times when I felt like they weren’t seated properly anymore.

For testing, I paired the xFyro xS2 with both my iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 3, but while working out in various hotel gyms, I only used them together with the Apple Watch.

A few times, the Bluetooth connection cut out for a split second (which could have been caused by either the Apple Watch or the headphones). It didn’t bother me, but I wanted to mention it. I also noticed a slight delay when using the playback controls on the Apple Watch, much like with all other third-party wireless sports headphones.

xFyro xS2 charging case is available in different colors
xFyro xS2 charging case is available in different colors

From a water-resistance perspective, xFyro rates the xS2 at IP67. That means the headphones are dust-tight and you can submerge them in water. However, they may not withstand water jets, so don’t take them into the shower with you.

Additionally, xFyro also recommends not going swimming with them, because the force of the water may penetrate and damage the earbuds. That’s contrary to xFyro’s marketing language, which suggests you can take them for a swim or into the shower.

What’s great about the xS2 is the portable charging tube the headphones come with. Not only can the battery in the tube charge the headphones in just two hours, but it extends the battery life of the headphones to 20 to 30 hours.

The only downside of the xFyro xS2 is that while they feature a full set of playback controls for listening to music or making phone calls, they don’t support Siri.

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Comparison Table Download

Excerpt of workout headphones comparison table
Excerpt of workout headphones comparison table.

Given the size of the table and the available screen space, especially on mobile devices, I decided to create a more detailed PDF that you can request via email using the form below.

Technical Information

Below is some technical information that will help you understand how I tested and conducted this review.

Wired vs. Wireless Sports Headphones

Best Workout Headphones for Exercise and Running
Unlike me, this woman doesn’t seem to be bothered by wires.

I bought my first pair of wireless sports headphones in 2016. Before that, I used regular (wired) headphones, and I often struggled with the cable that would constantly get in the way.

Getting rid of that cable significantly improved my workout experience and there is no way I would go back to wired headphones. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you should invest in wireless sports headphones, I hope this article helped you with the decision-making process.

A Note on Sound Quality

I don’t have the expertise to rate sound quality objectively. As a result, the ratings I offer here are purely based on my perception and don’t reflect an objective analysis. So keep that in mind as your mileage may vary.

Bluetooth (BT) Versions

Bluetooth

As you can see in the comparison matrix above, the products I tested support Bluetooth versions ranging from 3.0 to 5.0. For wireless headphones connected to a single device, the difference in version does not make much of a practical difference. Newer versions of Bluetooth usually increase the transmission bandwidth, offer more reliable multi-point connections, are more secure, support longer ranges, and consume less power.

Bandwidth and Range

Bandwidth and range are usually not a problem while jogging, but if you have your phone in a bag while roaming around the gym, a longer range may be beneficial. For such cases, the 33 feet or 10 meters that Bluetooth 3.0 supports may not be enough.

Security

While I’m not too concerned about someone listening in on my Reggaetón playlist, I don’t want anyone hijacking my BT connection when I’m making a phone call. So depending on your use case, you may want to take potential vulnerabilities of older BT versions into account.

Reliability

I have not experienced reliability issues with any of the headphones I tested — with one exception. That one exception was the Plantronics BackBeat Fit before they released a firmware update. With the older firmware, I had the music cut out a few times while I was running.

In conclusion, you should be fine with any of the Bluetooth standards supported by the manufacturers of the headphones I reviewed. But I would like to see Plantronics release updated hardware that supports at least BT 4.0.

What Does Water-Resistant Mean?

Water resistant

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has defined so-called Ingress Protection (IP) ratings, to help consumers better understand just how water-proof and dust-proof a device is, among other things.

The first digit represents the dust protection or ingress of solid foreign objects. For sports headphones, the levels five and six are usually relevant, and here is what they mean:

RatingDescription
XVendor does not provide a dust-proof rating
5Dust protected — some dust may still get into the device, but not enough to cause issues.
6Dust-tight — no dust at all can get into the device.

If you see an X in the place of the first digit, instead of a number between 1 and 6, it means that the manufacturer does not provide a dust-protection rating. Among the headphones I tested, only a few offer a dust protection rating of 5 or 6.

The second digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against harmful ingress of water. The ratings for water ingress are not cumulative beyond IPX6. A device which is compliant with IPX7, covering immersion in water, need not be compliant with IPX5 or IPX6, covering exposure to water jets. A device which meets both tests is indicated by listing both tests separated by a slash, e.g. IPX5/IPX7.

The above statement is important to understand because it means that you can take IPX5-rated headphones into the shower, but doing the same with IP57-rated headphones could damage them.

For wireless sports headphones, the levels 4, 5, 6, and 7 usually apply.

RatingDescription
4Splashing of water — you can splash water on the device from any direction without causing harm. Practically, that means you can expose the headphones to sweat or light rain.
5Water jets — water projected from a nozzle against the device from any direction doesn’t cause harm (for example, heavy rainfall or a shower).
6Powerful water jets — water projected in powerful jets against the device from any direction doesn’t cause harm. Practically, that means you could be riding a jet ski and the force of the water won’t damage your earbuds.
7Immersion of up to 1 meter — you can submerge the device in water at a depth of up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes without causing harm. That means you can take the headphones for a swim.

Drivers and Audio Quality

The tiny speakers in headphones are called drivers, and manufacturers offer them in various sizes (diameters), depending on the type and style of the earbuds. While a larger driver often produces a more powerful output and bass, it doesn’t mean the quality of the sound is better or that they are louder.

Often, the type of the headphones determines the driver size. For example, in-ear headphones typically use a smaller driver because of the limited available space.

In case you’re wondering, the quality of the components and the digital signal processing is what determines audio quality — not the driver size. You can learn more about headphone driver units here.

Active vs. Passive Noise-Canceling Headphones

Some readers have asked me what the difference is between active and passive noise cancellation.

  • Passive noise cancellation works by sealing the ear canal to reduce the amount of sound that can enter. It’s like when you cover your ears with your hands. By doing so, you’re reducing ambient noise. It doesn’t cancel noise — it just reduces the amount that can enter your ears. In-ear headphones achieve passive noise-cancellation by creating a tight seal between the ear-tips and your ear canal.
  • Active noise cancellation uses technology to produce sound frequencies that cancel out the frequencies of ambient noise. True active noise cancellation requires additional electronics and, so far, only the Apple AirPods Pro have it.
  • Qualcomm cVc 6.0 noise cancellation technology is also a form of active noise cancellation, but it’s geared towards improving phone calls and the functionality of microphones. This technology won’t add active noise-cancellation while listening to music, for example.

Review of the Best Workout Headphones

As is so often the case, your requirements and budget will determine what the best workout headphones are. All of the ones I have reviewed in this article offer unique features that may be appealing to you.

My favorite workout headphones are the Apple AirPods Pro. That said, since I started doing CrossFit, I have not worn headphones for working out. That’s because CrossFit workouts are coach-led group sessions and I need to be able to listen to the instructor.

I hope the list above helps you to find the best workout headphones for your needs. If you have any questions about the headphones I tested, please don’t hesitate to reach out via email.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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