Consider the following factors when selecting your new sporting companion. To begin, do you prefer wired or wireless headphones? Because of the added convenience of not snagging your arm on a dangling cable, all of our models below are wireless. If you choose a wireless model – which we strongly advise – you must consider battery life. In our specifications, we have included three battery life indicators: the battery life of the buds themselves, how long the charging case will last before needing to be charged from a wall socket, and the total battery life (which are the other two measurements combined).
If you are working out in the great outdoors, you will need some kind of waterproofing in case it rains. IPX4 is the bare minimum (all of the below have at least this rating), which means they can withstand water splashing. Some models, however, can be fully submerged for swimming or simply a post-workout shower. Consider the charging case as well. Some models have different waterproof ratings for the case, which is important to remember so that it is not ruined.
Noise-canceling headphones will help you focus by canceling out background noise and improving your hearing by allowing you to hear the details of your music without turning up the volume. However, it can be dangerous if you are out exercising because it makes you less aware of approaching cars. Finally, weight. Although 5g per earbud is very good, some can weigh twice that. In some cases, the listing only stated the total weight of the buds and case.
1. Bose SoundSport Wireless
The Bose sound is also ideal for this type of earphone, delivering the kind of powerful, punchy bass that will have you running faster. The SoundSport Wireless sounds dynamic and lively, ideal for getting you over the line or even off the couch.
2. JBL Reflect Flow Pro
Since its debut in 2019, the standard Reflect Flow has been a mainstay on this list (and can still be found further down this list). JBL’s newer, more expensive, higher-end Pro pair replicates that succeed admirably.
They have added active noise cancellation to the mix, as well as ambient and TalkThru modes that make you more aware of your surroundings (great for running). They are dust-tight and can be fully immersed in water, so they will not be affected by even the most torrential downpours. They also sound great, with plenty of bounce to get you through that fifth mile. They are not as refined as a dedicated music pair, but for sports-oriented buds, they are perfect.
3. Sony WF-1000XM4
These sweat-resistant, 2021 Award-winning Sonys should be at the top of your list if you are looking for premium sports headphones to slip into your ears. They have a lot of dynamics and detail, and they deliver a well-balanced performance with taut, weighty bass and sophisticated mids and highs. You can not help but be swept away by their musicality.
Those who prioritize battery life in sports headphones should find the Sonys’ eight-hour battery life to be more than adequate for any activity. The wireless charging case extends this by an additional 16 hours. The Sonys are also very comfortable to wear, with touch-sensitive controls and noise-isolating ear tips. When combined with excellent noise cancellation provided by Sony’s Integrated Processor V1, the WF-1000XM4 is difficult to fault.
Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat are both clever features that allow you to have a conversation without removing the earbuds – ideal for a mid-run chat. If you are looking for a high-end pair of sports headphones, the WF-1000XM4 should be on your list.
4. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
The vast majority of Bose’s noise-canceling headphones have traditionally been on- and over-ear models, but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are right up there with the best true wireless models.
They are light, and we can listen to them for hours on end. They are great to live with for the average commute or exercise session (the QuietComfort are sweat and weather-resistant), and they also feel like a quality product. The battery life is six hours on a single charge, with the charging case providing an additional two charges for a total of 18 hours – adequate but not class-leading. The ability to customize some features and controls, as well as adjust the excellent noise-cancellation in the companion app, improves usability. The addition of volume controls via touch is the icing on the cake.
The enthusiasm and excitement conveyed by these sports headphones are contagious. There is strength, poise, and an incredible sense of dynamism. The bass notes are full-bodied and go deep, and the QuietComfort extract a lot of detail. Overall, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are excellent all-around with impressive musicality and excellent noise cancellation. They are more than capable of competing with any opponent at this level.
5. Panasonic RZ-S500W
Panasonic is not the first brand that comes to mind when thinking of sports headphones. But maybe it should. These 2021 Award winners are the company’s first true wireless models, and they are fantastic. The specifications are extensive, with noise-canceling technology, an Ambient Mode, twin microphones for voice calls, and a battery life of 19.5 hours (6.5hrs from the buds and 13hrs from the charging case). A 15-minute USB-C fast charge can provide up to 70 minutes of playback. Each bud’s touch controls are responsive and intuitive, allowing you to easily control your music and switch between noise-canceling modes.
Ear tips come in five sizes to help with fit. We found this to be hit-or-miss, so we would definitely experiment with different sizes. The noise cancellation and audio quality are both excellent. The music is clear and refined, with deep and detailed bass. To summarize, these Panasonic sports headphones are of exceptional value. A fantastic bargain.
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