The best sports headphones for your workout

The Active Times

Finding the best workout headphones

(Photo: Wavebreak Media)

Sweatproof, slip-free personal sound systems for rocking your fitness routine.


When you're working out solo, good music is the perfect partner. It can motivate you, inspire you, and carry you through pain to new personal bests. But it's hard to find headphones that can stay on through—or survive—a solid sweat session. After all, sweat can ruin more delicate headphones.

Not to worry, though. Several companies are taking note, making water-resistant, sweatproof headphones that can handle a marathon or a brutal CrossFit regimen, and even rinse clean when the work is done.

There are a few important considerations when choosing fitness headphones, namely fit, sound quality and where you'll use them.

For indoor workouts, like the gym, in-ear headphones are the best. You want them to block out all the ambient noise—grunting, weights clanking, the incessant whir of stationary bikes and treadmills—to focus on the task at hand. In-ear headphones fit snugly into the ear canal, like earplugs, preventing those outside noises from interrupting your flow. Because they better seal off the ear, you can keep the volume lower on your mp3, iPod or smartphone, allowing you richer sound without blasting your tunes.

If you’re running or cycling outside, open-back earphones—especially earbuds, clip-ons and some neckband designs—that sit just outside the ear canal allow you to hear some ambient sounds, like traffic and other potential hazards (a bear on the trail, perhaps) to keep you out of harm’s way.

For workout headphones to be good, they need to sound great—deep and clear bass notes, tonal clarity and rich, sharp highs—and be stable during exercise, otherwise you’re wasting time fiddling with gear, the workout suffers, and you’re frustrated. Almost all headphones are sold with several pairs of ear tips—many with antimicrobial treatments to reduce the buildup of bacteria—that allow the user to dial in the best fit, no matter the activity. Add the structural back up of an ear clip, hook or neckband, and those personal speakers aren’t going anywhere.

These are 8 of the best workout headphones available. We ranked them based on sound quality, apparent durability, online consumer reviews and price. When you add it all up, it comes down to value. Where two different headphones had comparably good sound and one cost twice as much, we ruled in favor of the cheaper pair.  Where the price was in the same range, the better-performing pair takes the cake. It's that simple. We believe that all will stand up to sweat, stay in your ears and deliver top-notch sound through workout after workout. So queue up your playlist, and get ready to rock out on your workout.



Sennheiser Adidas CX685 Sports

(Photo courtesy Sennheiser)

Sennheiser Adidas CX685 Sports

For $70, the CX685 provide exceptional sound quality. The in-ear design creates an acoustically closed environment, ideal for a busy gym when you need to focus on your program. The small adjustable ear fin design hooks comfortably under the contour of the outer ear to keep a comfy fit, and the sound even and clear. In-line volume control allows for on-the-fly adjustment. Sennheiser was a head above the competition in terms of overall performance and price.

Currently $66.50; amazon.com

(See also: Are Beats by Dr. Dre worth the price tag?)




X-1 Surge Sportswrap Waterproof

(Photo courtesy of X-1)

X-1 Surge Sportswrap Waterproof

Fully waterproof up to 12 feet, the Surge headphones are designed for kayaking, swimming, SUPing or any other water-based adventure. The neckband design and watertight earplugs ensure fit and functionality, even in stormy waters. On the sonic side of things, strong neodymium drivers deliver superior clarity and tonal fullness. Of course, be sure to buy a waterproof mp3 player or smartphone case before you hit the high seas.

$60; x-1.com





Klipsch Image S4i Rugged

(Photo courtesy of Klipsch)

Klipsch Image S4i Rugged

Like running in the rain? Good. So does the Image S4i Rugged. All-weather ready, the S4i takes the award-winning acoustics of its sister S4 and gives it a raincoat. The in-line control uses oversize buttons for easier use when on the go, plus rubber reinforcements in key areas enhance its overall durability for more rigorous activities and a longer lifespan.

Starting at $99; Yahoo! Shopping










Bose SIE2i

(Photo courtesy of Bose)

Bose SIE2i

Bose teamed with Reebok to create a total athletic headphone package with the SIE2i. They put Bose’s renowned sound quality into a stable, sweat- and water-resistant chassis that features a hydrophobic cloth cord and a Reebok Fitness armband to keep your smartphone or mp3 player out of the way. The result is a high-end, fully functional sound system so you can rock out on your workout. The three-button in-line remote makes calls and track changes easy, so you can keep the momentum—and motivation—going. The SIE2i had sound quality to match some of its higher-ranked competition, but its heavy price tag dragged it down our list.

Starting at $150; Yahoo! Shopping




Yurbuds Inspire Duro

(Photo courtesy of Yurbuds)

Yurbuds Inspire Duro

Built for serious wear and tear, the unique Inspire Duro headphones twist into place in the outer reaches of your ear canal for a comfortable fit that won’t fall out. Because of the ergonomic shape, they stay put but also pull out easily when you need to hear outside sounds. The sweatproof nature of the headphones extends from the speaker covering to the soft, tangle-free cloth cord that wears well next to skin and rinses off just the same.

Starting at $50; Yahoo! Shopping





Polk Audio UltraFit 3000

(Photo courtesy of Polk Audio)

Polk Audio UltraFit 3000

The Ultrafit 3000 is Polk Audio’s all-in-one sports machine. Built to stay put during the most vigorous of exercises, the full-spectrum speakers are constructed with adjustable ear clips to eliminate any slippage. The cords—with their Kevlar core and cloth exterior—are tough and don’t get tangled like plastic does. The three-button, in-line control is simple to use, and seven different eartips ensure a custom fit. Completely sweat- and moisture-resistant, the Ultrafit 3000s are happy with a rinse when your workout is done.

Starting at $80; Yahoo! Shopping



Denon Exercise Freak

(Photo courtesy of Denon)

Denon Exercise Freak

More geek than freak, the Denon wireless sports headphone is a full-featured exercise tool with integrated amplifier that delivers superior sound for those who like the in-ear experience. The sweatproof earpiece has a swivel arm that allows for maximum adjustment to the ear tips to achieve the fullest sound. There’s even a reflective tab on the band for night runs.

Starting at $150; Yahoo! Shopping



JLab GO 4GB

(Photo courtesy of JLab)

JLab GO 4GB

Swim much? Fully submersible, the JLab GO allows you to take 800 or more of your favorite songs, literally, into the water. Simply plug the mini USB (the port is protected by a watertight, twist-and-lock plug) into your computer to update your playlist and charge the 10-hour battery. These headphones have seven pairs of soft silicone tips for a comfortable fit and a satisfying, tonally-balanced sound.


$100 (on sale now for $30); jlabaudio.com


Click to see More of the Best Headphones for Working Out



More from The Active Times:

6 Worthless Exercises and What to Do Instead

Workouts That Shape Hollywood

12 At-Home Remedies for a Sunburn

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Donald Trump Mistakenly Tweets to the Wrong Ivanka — and Receives a Stinging Response

      The president-elect, whose inauguration is Friday, tweeted Monday night that CNN was doing a “special report on my daughter, Ivanka. In his original tweet, @drgoodspine said “@Ivanka Trump is Great a woman with real character and class.” Although Trump changed the “G” in “great” lowercase, he kept @Ivanka as is — and got a response from the unsuspecting woman with that account name. Ivanka Majic responded to the mistaken tag, “And you’re a man with great responsibilities.

      People
    • ‘Ice cream killer’ is so dangerous, she’s headed to a men’s prison

      A Spanish murderer dubbed the “ice cream killer” is so dangerous, she’s being moved to an all-male prison to serve out her life sentence, according to a new report. Estibaliz Carranza, 38, earned the chilling nickname after she shot her boyfriend and ex-husband to death in 2008, cut up their bodies with a chainsaw and hid them in the freezers of her ice cream store in Vienna, Austria. The Mexican-born Spanish national stored the body parts in ice cream tubs filled with concrete and disguised the smell with air fresheners. Now, she’ll spend the rest of her life in an all-male prison in Asten, Austria, because she shows an “advanced reduction of the relevant dangerousness,” according to the Mirror.

      New York Post q
    • Something in space is killing off entire galaxies

      When we think about the survival of the human race we often focus on making sure our planet stays alive and habitable, but out there in the depths of space there are entire galaxies being killed off in a manner that is utterly perplexing scientists. A new paper ( PDF ) from researchers working at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research addresses the odd and extremely troubling trend and attempts to propose an answer for what exactly is leading literally thousands of galaxies to die premature deaths. After studying a whopping 11,000 galaxies in the general vicinity of our own, scientists now believe that a process called ram-pressure stripping is leading the ailing galaxies to be purged of their gas, preventing new stars from forming and leading them to sputter out far faster than would be expected. Without adequate gas to power new star formation, the galaxies simply get cold and die. “During their lifetimes, galaxies can inhabit halos of different sizes, ranging from masses typical of our own Milky Way to halos thousands of times more massive,” Toby Brown, the PhD candidate who headed the study, explains on the organization's website. “As galaxies fall through these larger halos, the superheated intergalactic plasma between them removes their gas in a fast-acting process called ram-pressure stripping." “You can think of it like a giant cosmic broom that comes through and physically sweeps the gas from the galaxies," Brown says. “If you remove the fuel for star formation then you effectively kill the galaxy and turn it into a dead object.” It's a disturbing notion, but there's good(ish) news; the process can take tens of millions of years to actually occur, so even if you were living in a galaxy where ram-pressure stripping was occurring, you'd be long dead before it could actually affect you in any way. That's reassuring... right?

      BGR News
    • If the iPhone 8 Looks Like This, the Galaxy S8 Is in Trouble

      The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are great upgrades, especially if you opt for the dual-camera-equipped Plus, but they don't really look any different from Apple's previous iPhones. If the new device looks anything like this, Apple will probably have a winner on its hands in time to celebrate the iPhone's tenth anniversary. Like the current iPhone, the iPhone 8 models on display here have curved edges, but both the front and back are made of glass, while the frame is stainless steel.

      Tech Media Network (Tom's Guide)
    • Amazon wins patent for Treasure Truck as it makes plans to expand beyond Seattle

      If you’re thinking about building a knockoff of Amazon’s Treasure Truck, the funky delivery vehicle for flash deals ranging from cameras to candy, consider yourself warned: The design is now patented. The patent was issued today, covering the ornamental design for the heavily modified Isuzu cab-over truck. The truck is typically stocked several times a month with one or two types of discounted goodies and makes deliveries to a few locations in the Seattle area. The Treasure Truck been compared to an ice cream truck for grownups: Amazon app users can get alerts about the deals on their smartphones, but once all… Read More

      GeekWire
    • Baby Dies After Being Found With Homeless Mother at Oregon Bus Stop

      The newborn child of a homeless woman in Oregon died last week after the two were found at a bus stop amid freezing temperatures.

      Tribune
    • Jay Cutler body shamed after Kristin Cavallari posts vacation photos

      Jay Cutler was able to get away to Mexico last week to celebrate his wife's 30th birthday, but the Bears quarterback couldn't escape criticism as some social media users slammed his vacation body. "He looks so flabby," one Instagram user commented on a picture of Cutler, wearing a Nike tank top and shorts, on a boat with Kristin Cavallari. "Jay been eatin them pancakes!" wrote another. Cutler, 33, hasn't played for the Bears since injuring his shoulder in the Nov. 20 loss to the New York Giants. His future with the team is uncertain. In the meantime, he threw a surprise party at Fulton Market Kitchen in the West Loop for Cavallari, who turned 30 on Jan. 5. The couple, who wed in 2013 and raise three

      Chicago Tribune q
    • Teacher Pregnant by Student Gets 10 Years in Jail

      Alexandria Vera, 24, pleaded guilty last year to aggravated sexual assault of a child and was hoping to avoid prison and just get probation.

      Cosmopolitan
    • A Very Pregnant Ciara Steps Out in Beverly Hills with Hubby Russell Wilson

      It may be the end of football season for Russell Wilson, but it’s almost the start of parenthood for him and wife Ciara. The couple, who are expecting their first child in March, were spotted together in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, following his Seattle Seahawks’ 36-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Divisional round on Saturday. The game took on a little extra significance when Ciara’s ex-fiancé, rapper Future, showed up on the sidelines to cheer on his hometown Falcons.

      People
    • Leaked video reveals the 2018 Ford Mustang’s love-it-or-hate-it new look

      A leaked promotional video published online has given us an early look at the 2018 Ford Mustang. The model gets a minor face-lift, and it carries on with the current car's 5.0-liter V8 engine.

      Digital Trends
    • Kaliyah Mobley, Kidnapped at Birth, Discovered Her True Identity Two Years Ago, Friend Reveals

      Kamiyah Mobley, the 18-year-old abducted as a newborn from a Florida hospital and raised by her alleged kidnapper in a South Carolina home, found out she was abducted about two years ago when she went to apply for a job, according to a friend. “She was upset about it,” Arika Williams, who long believed she was Mobley’s half-sister, tells PEOPLE. Mobley was only hours old on July 10, 1998, when authorities allege Gloria Williams posed as a health care worker and took her from a Jacksonville, Florida, hospital maternity ward.

      People
    • Rare photos of Betty White you've likely never seen (25 photos)

      Happy birthday, Betty White! Our favourite Golden Girl turns 95 on Jan. 17 — and she’s certainly come a long way. White officially holds the record for the longest TV career for any female entertainer. In honour of her birthday, click through the gallery to see some rare, vintage photos captured earlier in her career. Let us know what you think by tweeting @ YahooStyleCA!

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • Selena Gomez Wears Red Leather in a Way You're Guaranteed to Have Never Seen Before

      Selena Gomez might be the ultimate style chameleon. For last year's InStyle Golden Globes afterparty, Selena chose a vaguely boho, ethereal off-the-shoulder white gown from J. Mendel. But for 2016's UNICEF Ball in Los Angeles? Selena did a complete style 180. With the help of her stylist, Kate Young, Selena selected a long, red leather Louis Vuitton dress. Far from appearing heavy, the dress seemed relatively weightless thanks to floral cutout details and a ruffle around the neck. While at the event, Selena made the rounds and said hello to some of her very stylish friends, including new face of Louis Vuitton Léa Seydoux and designer Nicolas Ghesquière. Louis Vuitton and UNICEF partnered together

      PopSugar q
    • Aaron Rodgers Hasn't Spoken to His Family in 2 Years, Father Confirms

      In a New York Times story about the family rift, the NFL star's dad, Ed Rodgers, said the family hasn't spoken to the Green Bay quarterback since the end of 2014. The public first became aware of a rift in the Rodgers family when Aaron's younger brother, Jordan, appeared as a contestant on ABC's reality show "The Bachelorette" last summer. Before Jordan brought the show's star JoJo Fletcher to his Chico, California, hometown to meet his family, he told her that Aaron would not be there, explaining that he had chosen to distance himself from his family.

      Good Morning America
    • Chrissy Teigen Basically Goes Pantless

      Upon first look, it seems that Chrissy Teigen lived out everyone’s recurring worst nightmare on Monday: leaving home without any pants on. Phew, don’t scare us like that, Chrissy!

      Yahoo Style
    • Ciara Reveals Why She and Russell Wilson Abstained From Sex Before Getting Married

      The singer says she "gives credit" to her husband for first coming to the decision.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Donald Trump praises wrong Ivanka in Twitter shout-out

      LONDON (AP) — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump wanted to praise his daughter on Twitter — instead he accidentally sent his message to another Ivanka.

      Associated Press
    • Steve Harvey Apologizes for Joke About Asian Men: ‘Humor Was Not Meant With Any Malice’

      Steve Harvey issued an apology on Tuesday for a segment on his talk show that poked fun at Asian men. The show — which aired on Jan. 6 — featured Harvey mocking the title of self-help books. After showing the cover of “How to Date a White Woman: A Practical Guide for Asian Men,” Harvey launched into... Read more »

      Variety