Best Workout & Running Headphones

| June 15, 2012 | 0 Comments

Welcome to my recommendations list for best workout headphones!

Whether you are looking for a pair of gym headphones, outdoor running headphones, or even swimming headphones, here you will find a great headphone that suits your needs (and desires).

My quick tips for shopping for workout headphones:

  • Comfort and fit should be your #1 concern! There is nothing worse than having to readjust your headphones every two seconds. Lucky for you, all the headphones on this list are known to be very secure and comfortable.
  • Water resistance and warranties are tied for #2 in my book. All the headphones on this list are water/sweat resistant, but some are water/sweat invincible! They all come with good warranties as well. The best is Koss’s epic lifetime warranty which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.
  • Sound quality is #3. You are probably not going to be analytically listening to your music when running or working out, but your headphones still need to do your music justice. All the headphones on this list except for the Sennheisers are known for their exceptional sound quality for the price.
  • Pick one and go! You shouldn’t have to venture outside this list to find a great workout headphone. These are the creme of the crop!
[Disclaimer: these recommendations are not comprehensive. Instead, we have tried to find something for everyone while keeping the lists short. At the same time, this is a living document so let us know what we’re missing!]

In order of ascending price:

Koss KSC-75 – $15 (Clip-on)

Do a lot of outdoor running? Look no further. The KSC-75 packs a stunning sound into a tiny clip-on package. They are also very comfortable over long periods of time and quite durable (just make sure you mold the earhook to fit tightly on your ears). Since they leak sound they are not appropriate in most public environments but in the gym or outside this is not a concern. The sound is very forward and in-your-face which goes well with upbeat music. The bass is rather strong and most people will find the overall sound signature very fun and enjoyable. There are mods galore if you are a DIY’er, but the stock version is excellent in itself in terms of what you are getting for the price. To top it off, the KSC75 is covered by Koss’s lifetime warranty. [Buy at Amazon]


MEElectronics M6 / Sport-Fi S6 – $20/$50 (In-ear)

My top recommendations. The Sport-Fi S6 is not just an earphone: it is a music workout bundle! Stripped down, the S6 is actually the M6 but it has a few features and goodies that might make it worth the extra dough. The “modular” cable system allows you cut down excess cable length, an armband is included that fits most phones and mp3 players, and the red/black paint job is more vibrant. Noteworthy is the memory wire which you can hook around your ear for an extra-secure fit. It is at it’s best with with instrumental electronic music but can really handle anything you throw at it. Both headphones are covered by MEElec’s 1 year warranty. [MEElectronics Sport-Fi S6 Review] [Buy at Amazon]

H2O Audio Surge 2G – $30 (In-ear)

Ever wanted to listen to music while you swim laps? Do you consistently grime up your headphones with sweat? Enter H2O Audio’s line of headphones that are completely waterproof and ready for underwater listening or under-the-sink cleaning. The sound quality is good for the price even among non-waterproof options. I decided to feature the Surge 2G on this list because I think it will appeal to the most people because it has the most powerful bass of the bunch, but their other headphones (Flex, Surge Pro Mini, and Trax) are good options as well.

There are three versions of the Surge: the standard version, the Surge Contact 2G which comes with an in-line microphone and playback controls, and the Surge Sportwrap 2G which comes with a behind-the-neck strap to ensure stability. All of H2O Audio’s products are worthy of a mention, so head over to their website for their full lineup of waterproof and workout products. All their products come with a 1 year warranty. [H2O Audio Surge 2G Review] [Buy at Amazon]


Sennheiser Adidas PMX 680/680i – $40/$50 (Earbud)

Sennheiser teamed up with Adidas to release the 680 line of headphones back in 2010. The other models in the series are the CX, MX, and OMX but I included the PMX because there isn’t much competition in it’s class. The in-ear CX and MX have the MEElectronics M6 standing in their way, and the OMX model is essentially any old earphone with added rubber ear guides (many other earphones come with these). The PMX is probably the best running earbud on the market. They remain very comfortable and stable in your ears even if you sweat lakes and head bang to your music.

If you like the design but don’t fancy the behind-the-neck band, the other 680 models are still viable options. Depending on what you will use them for, you should shoot for a different model: the PMX is best for running, the CX/MX are best for weight lifting or casual listening, and the OMX is the safe choice if you will be doing all of the above. My biggest complaint about the PMX is that it is a huge pain in the weight room because the headband consistently gets in the way of equipment (the bench for example).

None of these 680 models are known for their high fidelity sound, but they provide very nice thump in the bass for upbeat music. For a running headphone I put functionality over sound quality any day, and the PMX 680 is proof. The 680i is the same headphone with a built-in microphone. They come with a 2 year warranty. [Buy at Amazon]

Klipsch S4i Rugged / S5i – $80 (In-ear)

As opposed to being a workout headphone that can also be used for casual listening, the S5i is the other way around. The S5i is a modified version of the very popular S4 built for extra ruggedness. I say extra because the S4 was already known to be quite durable. The S5i an excellent entry-level earphone and doubles as a workout headphone thanks to their moisture resistant design and extra large in-line playback controls. They are just outside of bang/buck territory but are still a great choice for those looking for an affordable do-it-all headphone. The S5i comes with a 2 year warranty. [Buy at Amazon]


Running & Workout Headphones to avoid:

Aftershokz Sport – $60 (Bone conduction)

Aftershokz headphones keep the ears completely open to outside noise and are appropriately advertised as some of the safest because of the increased awareness of the listener. They do this using a very intriguing method of delivering sound to the listener: instead of sending the sound waves through your ear canal, the Aftershokz sit on the bone in front of your ear and send the sound waves through the bone. Though it is a novel idea that stemmed from military use (and has been successfully used in that application), the Aftershokz are simply disappointing for consumer use. The sound quality is expectedly poor while typical “open” headphones such as the Koss KSC-75 are able to achieve a similar “awareness effect”.



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Category: Best Headphones

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