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For most of us, music is a key part of any good workout. There’s hardly a better feeling than standing in the squat rack in between sets or hauling through a long run and hearing your favorite song come on. That song can make you push a little harder or stick it out a little longer and push one extra mile. Music makes workouts pass by faster, keeps us happier and focused.
One of the easiest ways to enjoy music in a busy gym or on the trail is with wireless gym headphones. Untethered to a corded phone cable, we’re able to focus on our workouts and get into the swing of things. Whether you prefer earbuds or over-ear headphones, there’s no shortage of options on the market. We looked at the best options for a variety of users, testing and using the headphones through a variety of workouts.
We were looking for earbuds that wouldn’t fall out during the most grueling Crossfit workout. Headphones that would block out that annoying gym music using active noise canceling technology so we could listen to our own soundtracks. High-quality speakers so we could pick up a mid-workout call during a long walk outside and still experience good audio. We also needed headphones with a decent battery charge, so we wouldn’t have to recharge them every other day.
Things to consider
Like pretty much anything else in the gym, headphone style and fit is largely a matter of personal preference. Whether you’re a chill soundtrack listener or like to bang out reps to Metallica, here are a few things to keep in mind while you’re wireless headphone shopping:
Over-ear or earbud: You’ll see plenty of both in most gyms. Some argue that over-ear headphones provide better noise cancellation and feel more secure, while others remain loyal to earbuds because they are less sweaty and less cumbersome.
Noise cancelation: If your workouts are primarily in the gym, noise cancelation might be a good idea to drown out clanking plates, mouth-breathers and ambient gym music. If your workouts tend toward sunshine and city streets, however, it’s a good idea to ensure your choice of headphones have an ambient noise cancellation setting — allowing you to still hear cars, street noises as well as your music.
Battery life: If you are logging day-long trail runs or working out several times in a row without the chance to charge your gear, consider a set of headphones with extended battery life. Many wireless earbuds will charge a few times from their case before the case itself needs to be recharged, essentially extending the amount of time between “plug in and wait” recharges.
Skullcandy Crusher Evo Wireless Headphones
For those serious about bass, Skullcandy’s Crusher Evo Wireless Headphones are aptly named — the headphones feature a powerful and rich bass. Audiodo technology in the Skullcandy App analyzes the hearing in your left and right ear, then automatically adjusts the audio to optimal levels for your specific hearing. The headphones offer 40+ hours of battery and have fast recharge capabilities. They’re not as compact as earbuds, but still, fold flat and are an excellent option for those who prefer an over-ear experience with driving bass.
Bose Quiet Comfort II Earbuds
Bose has been synonymous with quality sound for many years, and the Quiet Comfort II Earbuds are no exception. The brand’s CustomTune technology sends a chime to learn your ear canal’s unique shape, which the buds analyze to customize noise cancellation and sound performance. Three different modes: Quiet (silences background noise), Aware (allows enough transparency to hear surroundings or for conversation) and ActiveSense (can soften or silence loud background noise) provide options for various gym scenarios. Three different fit bands mean the earbuds stay in place during rigorous runs. The Simple Touch controls allow the user to control music or volume — and answer calls — from the earbud itself, meaning it’s possible to leave your phone off to the side in the weight room while still keeping control of your music. Once the bud’s six-hour battery life is expired, the included case supplies two more charges before needing to be recharged.
JBL Reflect Aero
JBL’s Reflect Aero earbuds are designed to stay put during any number of workouts, whether you’re climbing, hiking, running or lifting weights. Whatever movement you throw at them, they are locked in place. The brand’s POWERFINS help secure the buds within the ear, while Over Tubes offer comfort through long workouts. True Adaptive Noise Cancelling works well to drown out loud noises, while Smart Ambient technology keeps you alert to your surroundings on outdoor workouts. A 24-hour battery capacity means you won’t have to recharge every few days, and JBL Signature Sound provides a rich music experience. In case you get caught on a call at the gym, three mics and VoiceAware technology on each IP68 dustproof and waterproof earbud help to ensure high sound quality.
Beats Fit Pro
The wingtip design and pressure-relieving vents on the Beats Fit Pro help keep the earbuds secure and comfortable during long workouts. Powerful, balanced sound comes through clearly with excellent stereo separation, thanks to a custom acoustic platform. Beats Fit Pro also supports Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking for immersive music, movies and games. Dynamic head tracking uses gyroscopes and accelerometers to adjust the sound as you turn your head. The Fit Pro also has Active Noise Cancelling and Transparency Mode depending on how much you need to tune out while working out. The six hours of listening time is boosted with an additional 18 hours provided by the included pocket-sized charging case.
TriBit MoveBuds H1
TriBit’s MoveBuds H1 Wireless Earbuds feature an IPX8 waterproof and sweatproof rating, which means the MoveBuds H1 can be used normally at water depths of up to three feet for up to 30 minutes. It’s a solid option for someone on a budget still looking to enhance their workout experience with some music or podcasts. The earbuds hold a 15-hour charge, with an additional 50 hours held in the included charging case, for an impressive total of 65 hours of playback. You can also toggle between Transparency Mode to still hear your music while also hearing the world around you.
Jabra Elite 7 Active
Jabra’s Elite 7 Active stays put during even the most grueling workouts, thanks to the brand’s unique ShakeGrip technology, which is crafted with a special liquid silicone rubber compound that holds the buds securely in the ear without the need for ear wings. The buds feature powerful Active Noise Cancellation which kicks in with a simple tap of the button, teamed with HearThrough technology to allow for awareness of the surroundings. The buds can be customized online through the MySound feature in the Jabra Sound+ app, allowing for a tailored listening experience.
There’s nothing better than a solid playlist to make a swim workout move along just a little faster. The Zygo Solo is designed for use in the water, using bone conduction technology to transmit sound to the deep inner ear through the skin and bone. The Zygo Solo is paired with a transmitter, which streams music, podcasts, audiobooks and more from any device to the Zygo headset. Users can also download the Zygo App for guided audio workouts.
Apple AirPods Pro (Second Gen)
The ubiquitous AirPods. They’re a classic for good reason — walk around any gym and you’re likely to see several pairs of the trademark white earbuds in action. The second generation of the AirPods Pro is a significant step up from the first generation, offering double the active noise cancellation, more responsive touch controls and Personalized Spatial Audio for immersive sound. Expect around six hours of use on a single charge, and an additional 30 hours of charge in the MagSafe Charging Case. The Adaptive EQ tunes music to your ears in real time to deliver crisp, clean high notes and deep, rich bass in stunning clarity.
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