Best sports headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?’s round-up of the best sports headphones you can buy in 2019.
Music makes most things better in our experience and if ever there’s a time that you could do with a pleasant distraction, it’s when you’re getting a sweat on in an effort to burn a few calories.
Whether you like going to the gym, running or even working out at home, we suggest a musical accompaniment. The best sports headphones will deliver great sound while offering sweat-resistant designs that stay in place.
From cheap true wireless buds that completely remove the wire, to in-ear wireless earphones and even Bluetooth over-ears, these are the best headphones we’ve reviewed for running and the gym.
How we choose the best sports headphones
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year – and that includes plenty of headphones. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?
We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same price category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.
From all of our reviews, we choose the best products to feature in our Best Buys. That’s why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you’re getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.
The best true wireless earbuds just got better! The latest version of Sony’s earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM3 offer an all-new Bluetooth chip which sharpens up music synchronization and a noise-cancelling processor which claims to bring a 40 per cent upgrade on its predecessor. Everywhere else, pretty much everything has improved, from the fit, to the battery life, to the sound quality. The best headphones for running and the gym? Quite possibly.
Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3
If top value sound quality from true wireless earbuds is what you’re after for a pair of gym headphones, Cambridge Audio has answered your prayers. For an affordable price, the Melomania 1 earphones deliver an open, detailed sound that’s hard to beat without spending more money.
A good fit is essential, and, due to the length of the earpiece itself, that might not be as easy to come by for everybody, but their sonic talent is such that it’s worth the effort and potential purchase of extra buds.
With nine hours battery life from the buds themselves, plus four additional charges from the case, that means an impressive 45 hours of continuous use from this little set-up. There’s no noise cancelling, but it is clear Cambridge Audio’s focus has been on great sound over bonus features.
Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
By combining the magic of the original AirPods with active noise-cancelling, Apple will be hoping it has another hit on its hands. And while the AirPods Pros aren’t the best-sounding noise-cancelling in-ears, they are still an utter joy to own and use.
Excellent noise-cancelling is complemented by a transparency mode that feels almost as natural as wearing non-isolating earphones. Here Apple has created a pair of headphones that’s as well suited to a long-haul flight as it is to a run around the block. For many, they could be the only pair of headphones they ever need.
Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro
Theses are some of the best-sounding, most reliable running and gym headphones you’ll find for this money. There is a soft cable between the two buds, each of which uses an in-ear hook to keep them in place. We like the design here, complete with lightweight remote, and these running headphones are also sweat-resistant and IPX4 splashproof, too. The battery life is a modest six hours but we’d imagine that’ll do most people for a few runs or circuits.
Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Wireless
These Sennheisers are designed with running and the gym in mind, with their rubberised ear fins and splash and sweat-resistant design. Fit is excellent and noise isolation is good. The earpieces are connected by a short run of cable which includes an in-line mic and controls. Battery life is a respectable six hours and sound quality is robust and powerful, just what you need when you’re making a push for the finish line or your final set of squats. And now they’re available for a bargain price.
Read the full review: Sennheiser CX Sport
JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to sports earphones and the JBL Reflect Flow is a hotly anticipated entrant to the flourishing, albeit rather niche, true-wireless-for-sports market.
In their niche category, though, the JBL Reflect Flow headphones impressive performers for the money, especially if you want a bass-heavy sound for the gym without resorting to a pair of over-ear headphones – and the 10-hour battery (or 30 with the case) will outlast a seriously long gym session.
Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow
Built with sporty types in mind, the SoundSport Free in-ears are both sweat- and water-resistant, and have a suitably rugged feel to them. They stick out a bit more than some rivals, and you could argue that some of the competition look both more stylish and more discreet. But it’s more than made up for it by the performance. After some initial connection issues, Bose seems to have sorted this with an update – and we never had a problem with the sound quality. There’s no noise-cancelling but there is a bold but balanced sound with plenty of bass. Good battery life, buoyed by a charging case, are the icing on the cake.
Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Free
The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless earphones are, predictably, wireless, offering Bluetooth connectivity, but they have a flexible cable between the buds. They also have a hook over the ear. The cable and the hooks mean they’re highly unlikely to fall out of your ears, so they’re ideal should earphones that stay put be a key priority. They’re comfortable, too, have a decent battery life of 12 hours, and offer a mic and volume controls on the cable. The sound is bassy and exciting, not offering the last word in clarity but perhaps ideal for the getting a sweat on to some pumping tunes. A solid bet if the feature set ticks your boxes.
Read the full review: Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless
We weren’t sold on brand name alone but a thorough reviewing later and we were sold on their skills for such an affordable price. If you prefer on-ear headphones for the gym, then these deliver good wireless sound and decent noise-cancelling for a great price. Of course you get what you pay for, and much more expensive headphones will deliver better all-round sound, but for this price they’re hard to fault.
Read the full review: Lindy BNX-60
The Jaybird Vista are true wireless earbuds aimed at athletes. They’re the company’s second shot at truly wireless in-ears and the latest in a fairly long-line of sports headphones from Jaybird. And it shows, with a comfortable, secure fit and an accompanying set-up app that’s a joy to use. And they sound good, too, with only the best wireless earbuds (see the top of this page) offering a slither more detail and composure. They’re sweat-proof, comfortable, secure and come with a range of features, ensuring they’re a good bet for any budding runner.
Read the full review: Jaybird Vista
A 2018 Award-winner, these AKGs are compact, convenient and surprisingly affordable considering what’s on offer. They’re a headband design, which probably doesn’t make them the best running headphones, but they’re a decent shout for the gym. The noise-cancelling is impressive and the AKG sound is dynamic and punchy.
Read the full review: AKG N60NC Wireless