Soundcore kind of owns the universe of super cheap, beater headphones. The sound quality won’t win any awards, you’ll notice some issues with distortion, especially with stuff like snare drums and vocals on the higher end of the frequency spectrum. But for $30, they sound fuller and clearer than you’d expect. Water-resistant headphones aren’t super common at this price, but the Spirit X are IP68 rated, which means they’re protected extremely well against water and dust. Their adjustable ear loop design ensures they won’t fall off and, impressively, they offer a whopping 18-hours of battery life. We’ve never tried to workout for 18-hours straight, but rest assured these are not headphones that are going to die on your way to the gym. They’re the perfect headphones for tossing at the bottom of your gym bag at the end of a workout and completely forgetting about until you start your next circuit.
The Best Workout Headphones for Biking
If you’re a city biker, you know that using any pair of headphones while you’re riding can be dangerous. You need a ton of spatial awareness to safely navigate all the trucks, cars, pedestrians, and other bikers zooming around the streets. The simplest way to address the problem of quiet commutes while biking is with a portable Bluetooth speaker. But if you don’t want your entire neighborhood to know you’re still listening to the Carly Rae Jepsen album from 2019, you have other options.
The best option we’ve tried is AfterShokz Aeropex. AfterShokz is a proponent of bone-conduction headphones, which have speaker pads that rest on your temples instead of in or around your ears. You pick up some of the sound through your outer ear, but the majority of the sound travels through the bones of your jaw in the form of vibrations to your inner ear. The result is a pretty hollow sound, leagues away from the high-fidelity experience of something like the Jabra Elite Active 75ts, but it’s plenty good enough for listening to talk-y podcasts. And, more importantly, you can listen to those podcasts while also hearing literally everything else around you. Other advantages? The Aeropex headphones are light, have a decent 8-hour battery life, are fully waterproof, and come with a two-year warranty. If you’re looking for headphones for your bike workouts and commutes, this is your safest and best option.
6 Other Wireless Headphones for Working Out We Like
Jaybird was late to the true wireless game—by the time it announced the Jaybird Vista in 2019, Jabra was set to release the third version of its own true wireless headphone—but the headphones are decent enough to be worth the wait. The Jaybird Vista has a great sound profile, not as good as the Elite Active 75ts, but much better than the AirPods you’re likely comparing them to. They connect to your phone easily and have a battery life of six hours. The real advantage is in their more rectangular design that supports the use of a bunch of different kinds of ear tips. All the provided options mean that there’s a zero percent chance these workout earbuds won’t fit and stay in your ears. And if any five hour ultra-marathons are in your future, that’s all you need to hear.
Beats’ new cheap workout headphones, one of our favorite things released in 2020, offer a slightly better sound quality and pairing experience than the Soundcore Spirit X headphones, for a bit more money. They offer sound quality that’s about as good as the Apple AirPods most people are perfectly happy with—a little hollow but not distorted—and feature the new Apple W1 chip that allows for the same seamless pairing and connectivity experience as AirPods. The in-ear Flex also features a solid 12-hour battery life, a comfortable fit, and little magnetics on the wireless earphones so that they’ll rest around your neck when not in use. They aren’t rated for sweat-resistance or water-resistance though, which makes these more ideal for casual workouts than for the kind of runs that leave you soaked.
We’re only just starting to reach a point where the true wireless earbuds available under $100 aren’t frustratingly bad. The Skullcandy Sesh Evo isn’t nearly as good as other in-ear headphones, like the Jabra Elite Active 75ts or Jaybird Vistas, but it offers a decent fit, good sweat, water, and dust resistance, and 24 total hours of battery life with the charging case (each single charge gets you five hours). The connection quality and pairing process isn’t as good as that from other budget headsets like the Spirit X and Beats Flex, and the sound quality is similarly inoffensive. But if you need the completely cordless experience, this is the only one in the price range worth considering.
The Bose SoundSport headphones look visually similar to the Jaybird Tarah Pro, but come with the fuller sound profile you’ve come to expect from Bose. Unfortunately, they only have six hours of battery life and chunky ear tips. The latter of these is the real kicker—not only do these headphones stick out of your ears, which looks weird, but they’re also pretty heavy. Even though you can work out in them, it won’t be nearly as comfortable as using the Tarah Pro. But if you want the higher-fidelity experience of a slightly wired headphone, with plenty of weather resistance, the SoundSports will do the trick.
Like the Bose SoundSport, Sennheiser’s earbuds sound great—clear and full, without the thuddy bass that accompanies other pairs in the same price range. The two control pads on the neckband are a little clunkier than we’d like, but the option to pick both from ear tips and ear fins means you can get a pretty solid fit in your ears with just a little tinkering. At $130, you get a great-sounding pair of headphones that holds up to most moderate types of exercise. The equally-priced Bose pair sounds a little better, but we like the Sennheiser pair for its multiple tips and more comfortable design.
Apple AirPods are not good workout headphones for most people, thanks to their extremely specific fit and lack of water or sweat resistance. But! If you’ve found that Apple headphones really work for you, then they do most things that people expect workout headphones to do. They sound fine, but more importantly, the pair easily and they stay paired, and have a long enough battery life to last through any reasonable workout (5 hours).