Whether you like to get outdoors for your exercise or you workout in the gym, being able to listen to your own music can help keep you motivated and working at your full potential. Maybe you prefer to listen to heavy metal while you lift, but your gym is always playing top 40. Several of the models listed below are wireless, which means that you don’t have to worry about any cords getting snagged on equipment and pulling the buds out of your ear, or yanking them out by accident while you are on the treadmill (something that I used to struggle with a lot!) If you are a swimmer or like to run or cycle outdoors no matter what the weather is like, then you make sure you get a pair that is water resistant.
#1 Jaybird X2 (wireless)
When exercising you need earbuds with a long-lasting battery, smooth audio reproduction, and a low-profile design. The Jaybird X2 earbuds meet all of those requirements, which is why they made the top of this list. Foam ear tips combined with the silicone ear fins make these earbuds very comfortable and stable during high-activity usage.
While the Jaybird X2 won’t give you a strong, exaggerated bass response like some other brands can do, the overall sound quality is even and pleasing. Moisture resistance is good, and Jaybird is one of the few companies providing a lifetime warranty against sweat. One downside is the Bluetooth control and connectivity issues with certain Samsung devices. Additionally, there have been reports of counterfeit devices being sold, so be on the lookout for those and buy from reputable sources.
- 8-hour battery life
- low profile design
- great sound quality
- good moisture resistance
- Bluetooth connectivity issues with Samsung devices
- inferior counterfeit products may be on the market
- lower bass response than some earbud brands
#2 Shure SE215 (wired)
If you have a critical ear for music, then the Shure SE215 wired earbuds are the only headphones on this list worth considering. The sound quality of these headphones is hard to beat, with even highs and mids, and deep bass tones. If music is your priority on a workout, these will deliver great performance.
There is no built-in mic or volume controls, and the larger size of these earbuds can be tricky to make fit for some users, but the formable memory wire works great for keeping the earbuds in place during exercise. The 37 dB in noise isolation is great for loud environments and the construction of these headphones beats just about every other brand in durability.
- great sound quality
- extremely durable construction
- detachable earbud wires
- high level of noise isolation
- larger than many other earbud brands
- initial positioning and fitting can take some time to get used to
- no volume control or talkback microphone option
#3 Plantronics BackBeat Fit (wireless)
These are the only earbuds on the list that are billed as waterproof and sweatproof. The Plantronics BackBeat Fit headset earbuds feature a behind-the-head type of design, making them great for staying in place for your workout. The durable rubberized coating holds up well in harsh environments, and the 8+ hour battery life is a great feature.
The BackBeat Fit earbuds/headset come with a free mobile app for monitoring battery life and firmware update notifications, and a smartphone armband is included in most retail packages. Playback sound quality is good, but not anything to brag about, and the control buttons on the end of each earbud allow for fast and convenient operation.
- 8-hour battery life
- no loose cables
- good Bluetooth range
- convenient control buttons on the end of each earbud
- may not fit will for users wearing a hat
- lower volume output than some
- other earbud brands
- not as comfortable when wearing eye glasses
- sound is good but tends to exaggerate higher frequencies
#4 Bose Soundsport (wireless)
Bose Soundsport wireless earbuds provide great sounding audio with their Active EQ technology. The free mobile app is a handy tool for customizing the listening experience and monitoring other headphone functions. Another premium feature are the three sizes of Stay Hear+ ear tips, which provide a reliable fit and good wearing comfort.
Some early models of the Soundsport were prone to damage by moisture, humidity, and sweat, but Bose has worked to resolve those issues. These earbuds certainly aren’t the smallest that you’ll see, but the sound quality and comfort make up for the larger size.
- easy Bluetooth pairing with NFC
- Active EQ and mobile app for enhanced sound quality
- 6-hour battery life
- three sizes of Stay Hear+ ear tips
- 15-minute charge provides 1 hour of playback
- larger than many other earbuds
- much higher price point than models with similar features
- early models are susceptible to damage by moisture, humidity, and sweat
#5 Sennheiser CX 685 Adidas Sports (wired)
Sennheiser headphones have a history of delivering quality audio, and the CX 685 Adidas Sports wired earbuds are no exception. The 10mm transducer produces consistently good quality sound, though it may seem light on the bass tones for some users. The EarFin holding system provides a comfortable and secure fit, and the noise isolation is very effective.
One of the few downsides of the CX 685 is that there is a fair amount of cord noise that can be heard if the cable is not secured very well. This model does not offer a talkback microphone or volume controls that work with a smartphone, so you’ll need to upgrade to another model for those features. Overall, the durability and quality of these earbuds are dependable, making them well worth your consideration for a wired workout set of headphones.
- comfortable and secure
- larger 10mm transducer for good sound quality
- 2-year warranty
- good noise isolation
- no volume control or talkback mic option
- cord noise can be an issue
- bass tones can seem too quiet for some user preferences
#6 MEElectronics Sport-Fi M6 (wired)
The MEE Sport-Fi M6 wired earbuds might just deliver the best value out of all other workout headphones on this list. You can generally pick these up for less than $20, there are lots of color options to choose from, they are available with and without a talkback microphone, and the sound quality is very reasonable for such a low-cost set of earbuds.
The around-the-ear memory wire and six sets of ear tip sizes provide a versatile, comfortable, and stable fit for active workouts. The audio cable is stiffer than most other models on this list, but that might be worth dealing with in exchange for the reliable performance and lower cost. While the Sport-Fi M6 is water resistant, high levels of moisture can cause trouble for some users.
- good performance at a reasonable price
- lots of color options
- comfortable and secure to wear
- available with and without talkback microphone
- good noise isolation
- audio cable is a little stiff
- durability can be an issue with high moisture exposure and heavy use
#7 Sennheiser PMX 686 Sports (wired) (PMX 680 is discontinued)
With a low-profile wrap-around headband and tight fit, the Sennheser PMX 686 Sports earbud headset is well suited for active sports and exercise. Sound quality is good, and the earbuds rest on the ear so there is no problem with too much noise isolation when situational awareness is important.
In-line volume controls and a talkback mic are available, and there are two models available depending on the Apple or Android device compatibility you need. The headband is not very comfortable when wearing glasses, and larger heads may feel a tight clamping from the headband. Purchasing additional foam pads can make these headphones more comfortable for long term wearing.
- very stable design
- good sound quality
- water and moisture resistant
- in-line controls and microphone
- great talkback mic quality
- clamps down tightly on larger head sizes
- foam pads are available but at an extra cost
- may not be the best solution for wearing with eyeglasses or sunglasses
#8 66 Audio BTS+ (wireless)
The 66 Audio BTS+ are very compact over-the-ear Bluetooth wireless headphones (not earbuds) design for sport. The wrap-around headphones are comfortable and secure, but the over-ear design can cause extra heat and sweat to build up around the ears. The Bluetooth 4.0 and aptX audio codec technology combined with an amazing 25-hour playback time on a single charge will definitely suite your needs if quality audio and long performance are your requirements.
While the audio quality is decent and these headphones have a multipoint connection option, the overall Bluetooth reliability is below average for headphones similar in price.
- good sound from larger over-the-ear loudspeakers
- quality aptX audio codec
- 25-hour battery life with music playback
- great sounding talkback microphone
- very compact for a true headphone design
- intermittent Bluetooth connectivity with some mobile devices
- not great wireless distance range
- ear pads can get hot and sweaty when working out for long periods
#9 Monster iSport (wireless)
With Bluetooth wireless aptX and AAC audio codec support, the Monster iSport wireless earbuds will deliver good sounding audio for your workout. The soft SportClip ear wings allow for a secure fit, and the noise isolation works very well.
The unfortunate thing about the iSport is that the overall reliability just isn’t good enough to rank them higher on this list, which is a shame because they really do sound good for the price. These headphones and the in-line remote/microphone aren’t as resistant to moisture as other brands listed here, and the longevity of the rechargeable lithium ion battery is below average. Other headphones from Monster have performed much better, making the iSport a step down in the workout headphones category.
- aptX and AAC audio codec for great sounding audio
- comfortable and secure fit
- tangle-resistant flexible cable
- general reliability and durability issues
- battery charge capacity can significantly diminish over time
- not very resistant to moisture and sweat
#10 Sony XBA-S65 (wired)
The first thing you notice about the Sony XBA-S65 wired earbuds is their unique low profile design and wispy around-the-ear loop. The XBA-S65 and its balanced armature transducers sound good, and the wired cable provides clear, consistent audio when compared with many Bluetooth wireless models. Even without an in-line microphone and volume controls, this could be a great workout set of headphones. Except…
The weakest link for the Sony SBA-S65 is the durability. If you can be gentle putting these earbuds on and taking them off, them they may give you a few months or even years of great sound. However, the average workout user will likely find that these earbuds just aren’t robust enough to withstand the rigors of high activity sports and everyday usage. That’s unfortunate, because they really do look stylish and sound good.
- splash-proof design
- secure fit
- no-tangle cord
- good sound quality
- not very durable
- earpiece assembly is prone to breaking easily
- no in-line volume controls or talkback microphone
#11 Jaybird Sportsband (wireless)
If you can still find the Jaybird Sportsband headphones, you’d be well advised to consider another choice for your workout music playback solution. While there are several other great models of Jaybird workout headphones to choose from, the Sportsband has been discontinued, and likely for good reason.
The Bluetooth wireless headphone style is unique and attractive, with small square ear cups featuring controls on the side, and a sleek-looking headband. And 10 hours of playback time is reasonable for wireless headphones in this category. But that’s where the good news ends. Poor adjustability of the headband, unreliable Bluetooth connectivity, and overall poor durability of the internal electronics are what cause these headphones to rank last on this list.
- unique style and design
- easy and convenient controls
- good playback time
- good sounding audio
- unreliable Bluetooth pairing and connectivity
- headband isn’t sized well for larger heads
- general electronics reliability issues
- discontinued by manufacturer