It’s time to fulfill your New Year’s Resolution about working out more in 2018! The best way to do it is to get yourself an awesome playlist and let the music pump you up!
Once you get workout clothes and sort your regime, its time to get some workout headphones. It isn’t easy choosing a pair of headphones that are handy enough for a workout, but with great sound quality as well.
We’ve created this Best Workout Headphones 2018 list to help you easily find the ones that are worth your time (and money). So without further ado here are our picks for the best workout headphones of 2018.
- 1 Wireless vs wired – What’s better?
- 2 Criteria for choosing workout headphones
- 3 JLab Epic2 Bluetooth – Best Workout Headphones 2018
- 4 Philips ActionFit SHQ5200 – Best wired workout headphones
- 5 Bragi Dash – The headphones with the best accessories
- 6 Monster iSport Freedom – Best Sound Quality Workout Headphones
- 7 Urbanears Hellas Rush – Most user friendly workout headphones 2018
- 8 Sol Republic Shadow Wireless
- 9 SMS Audio On-Ear Wireless Sport
- 10 Jabra Sport Coach
- 11 Jaybird X2
- 12 Plantronics BackBeat Fit Headphones – Best Budget Workout Headphones
- 13 Final words – Wrapping it up
Wireless vs wired – What’s better?
It’s a tough choice. We typically hear that wired headphones get in the way, or the wires wear out from tugging or pulling during the exercise. Frankly, if you’re really serious about working out, then having a wire hanging around is just asking for trouble.
However, most wireless headphones just don’t offer the same sort of sound quality. Bluetooth connectivity also involves problems of charge on the headphones themselves.
We’ve mostly found that the best wireless headphones generally tend to be better for workouts than wired ones, because of the comfort of movement. If you’re willing to pay for it, then you get good quality sound as well.
Criteria for choosing workout headphones
We like to keep it simple, so we have three factors that we really considered when we looked at headphones:
- Durability—Even if it weren’t a workout headphone, this would be important, but workouts can be hard on headphones. Sweat and grime can build up, and it might bang against something. How well the headphones hold up is important.
- Sound quality—This is a no-brainer. If you’re not getting good sound, why would you buy it? But you might consider buying something that isn’t that great in terms of sound if you’re getting something extra in other criterion.
- Budget—This is an important factor, and we’ve made our selections considering it. Even if a headphone is really good, it’s also got to be worth the money you pay for it. Premium headphones can be ridiculously expensive, but that’s not what we consider the best buy on the market.
|JLab Epic2 |
|Bluetooth||Wireless and water-resistant|
|Philips ActionFit SHQ5200||Over-Ear fit||Moisture wicking fabric for sweating|
|Bluetooth||Integrated sensor technology tracks your workouts|
|Monster iSport||Bluetooth||On-ear track and volume controls|
|Urbanears Hellas Rush||Bluetooth||Built-in touch interface|
|Sol Republic Shadow |
|SMS Audio On-Ear ||Bluetooth Over-Ear Fit||On-Ear Track Control|
|Jabra Sport Coach||Bluetooth||In-Ear coaching|
|Jaybird X2||Bluetooth||8-hour super-capacity battery|
|Plantronics BackBeat||Bluetooth||Nano-coating sweat proof technology|
The JLab Epic2 Bluetooth is a new version of the Epic model from JLab, which was pretty popular as a workout headphone itself.
One of the main reasons this gets our vote is because it is absolutely comfortable—it’s almost like it isn’t there, it’s so lightweight. They stay in without a problem, and the wire reinforced cable, that is part of the frame, is flexible enough to be unnoticeable while doing your workouts.
The user interface is pretty good, with the three-button design that is intuitive and easy to use while working out, even if you’re running.
The noise-cancellation isn’t fantastic, but it’s pretty good, and is okay for most purposes. You also get eight tips as part of the box, which is pretty cool. The Bluetooth connectivity is good, with no complaints at our end.
SOUND QUALITY DURABILITY BATTERY
The sound quality is definitely good. At higher prices, you might get a really great sound quality which makes this sound low, but by itself, the range of sounds is well equalized, and the bass isn’t overpowering even at high volumes. The low ranges, which sometimes get shrill on low budget buys, are in a good range here.
Durability is also good. The waterproofing is now IPX5 level, which is really good, and the circuit board has a new plasma waterproof coating. It’ll last well during your workouts, even if you sweat a lot and tend to drop stuff.
The battery boasts 12 hours from a single charge, which is really good, and this seems to be more or less accurate. You might get slightly lower time if you’re using the Bluetooth heavily, but we listen to music constantly, and we went almost a week without charging.
If you’re on a budget, and you want a good set of earphones, then there’s no competition. This is a great buy and is bound to be a storm among workout headphones in 2018.
Only if you really want to shell out money for top-of-the-range sound or want a lot of features, should you overlook this.
An offering from Philips, which is getting into the sports headphones market, this is a solid product.
It’s an over-the-ear headphone with a comfortable fit, and silicon coatings that are meant to keep your headphones on you; the ear pads don’t tend to be a problem.
However, the overhead frame tends to slip forward if you’re running or doing something vigorous. This is obviously a personal thing, and you might find it a perfect fit, but it made an otherwise good experience very annoying.
It’s otherwise comfortable and not heavy, so it can be kept on for quite a long time. The sweat-resistance is good, and the ear pads are detachable—you can wash them separately, which is a good thing.
The sound quality isn’t great, but it is decent, with a reasonable range of sound; the problem is that sound leaks out. So if you want to listen to your guilty-pleasure music, then you’re stuck trying to find somewhere private. More seriously, if you go to a gym, then you might get people annoyed.
This is the single best-wired headphones that we’ve found if you want an over-the-ear headphone. It has a reinforced cable that won’t rip out or easily get damaged, and the durability, in general, is good.
You don’t have to worry about whether you’re out of Bluetooth range, but you’re going to have to worry about other things.
Wireless just tends to be better, and if you don’t go for wireless, then you’re better off going for in-ear headphones. In either case, we’ve found that wireless headphones just tend to be better for sports workouts.
If you’re firmly in the “not wireless” camp, then you should go for this. Some in-ear headphones are better, but this is one of the better headphones we’ve seen in terms of overall performance.
The Bragi Dash is a solid pair of workout headphones. The best thing about them is that they aren’t just workout headphones. Although they hold up well in some of our main criteria, they also support your workout in other ways.
This is one of the first truly completely wireless headphones.
The Bragi Dash has been equipped with a fitness tracker and it is a good one! With this little baby, you can track your heart rate, along with the number of steps and time spent. You can get real-time feedback on your biometrics.
The basics are also pretty good. It’s an in-ear earphone that comes with a carrying case that doubles as a charger. You can get about five full sets of charge out of this. The battery life is about three hours, which isn’t bad, but isn’t great.
It apparently has 4 GB of space, but because of software bundling, it only actually has about 3.5 GB space for music. That’s plenty, especially if you’re using it mainly for workouts.
The audio transparency function, which turns ambient sound on or off, is pretty good. While it isn’t really noise-cancelling, it’s good enough for the gym or a run.
The call feature is pretty good; audio both in and out is clear. It’s simple to take a call through the Bluetooth, which isn’t always the case, even with high-end headphones.
However, if you’re looking for something easy on the pocket, this isn’t it. The Dash is an expensive model, which is why we can’t completely recommend it. It was fun to use the extra functions, but if you’re not looking at using the tracker, then it’s not the best choice.
SOUND QUALITY USABILITY
The sound is good, clear, but without heavy bass. It’s not fantastic, but it’s not a deal breaker either. A good quality of the Dash is that while you can use the Bluetooth and play via speakers, or connect to music through your smartphone, it also has internal space to store songs so that you can leave the Bluetooth behind.
When it comes to usability, the Dash might be a little difficult to deal with. While it doesn’t have the small fiddly buttons that make life difficult, the audio is controlled by a series of taps on the side of the earbuds, which is even more difficult to handle on the go.
Its FitSleeves are pretty good, and the Dash is lightweight and comfortable over the long-term. It is waterproof up to 1m, which is pretty standard.
It’s a good pair of workout headphones, and worth buying if you have the money to spend, but if you aren’t really serious about your workouts and likely to use the fitness tracker, then you could get most of the other features at a lower price. The internal storage was a great idea that other wireless headphones should pick up.
The Monster iSport Freedom is an over-the-ear headphone, and it is very in your face. Looking at it, our first impression is that it looks good and very edgy. A lot of wireless headphones are dainty in the ear headphones, but this one is bold. If you’re looking to make a statement, then the Freedom is a good choice.
They are very comfortable when you consider their size. They’re lightweight and comfortable, even for long-term wear. You can use it for hour-long workouts without wanting to take it off.
The over-ear ear pads definitely help with sound quality. A lot of sound from the environment is cut off due to this, and the sound quality is pretty good. At higher volumes, you can expect distortion, which is disappointing, but these have some of the best sound quality that we’ve seen with wireless headphones. The bass doesn’t take over the entire song, even if you listen to a bass-heavy playlist.
It’s definitely durable, and easy to carry with its foldable frame, which is a plus point for an over-the-ear headphone. The frame can handle almost anything you throw at it unless you literally start throwing things at it. The sweat-resistant ear pads are also anti-microbial, and very easy to clean.
However, the price tag isn’t entirely justified by what you’re getting. With the high price tag, most people will be a little skeptical about the sound. It’s good quality, but not quite so good that you’d shell out this much for it. While it performs great as a workout headphone, at this price we expected it to be comparable to headphones that aren’t for workouts as well.
BATTERY LIFE FEATURES
While they say battery life is about ten hours, it’s more like six hours with heavy use. These headphones are very easy to use; the volume control on the ears is easy to get to, and without many controls (play/pause, volume control) it’s intuitive.
Another good point is the cable that comes with the headphones. If you run out of charge, in a pinch you can use it as a wired pair of headphones.
One of the best things about these headphones is that they perform great with Bluetooth. There are no connectivity issues, and the sound is clear.
If you’re willing to shell out a lot for your workout headphones, then the Monster iSport Freedom is a good deal with good quality Bluetooth and good sound.
If you prefer your workout headphones to be cheaper and less obvious, then it might be better to go for a set of headphones that will have a reasonable sound quality that isn’t as good as the Freedom, but worth the price.
An attractive pair of headphones, the Urbanears Hellas is marked by its minimalist, simple design. It has a foldable frame, and the headband and ear pads are made of a mesh material.
The Hellas seems to have been made keeping ease of use in mind. The Hellas has no extraneous controls with one single LED. It is easy to fold and put away into storage. It is also very easy to clean. You can just remove the ear pads and headband and put it in the washing machine in the washing bag they provide. We’ve tried it out, and it really works.
We’ve checked around, and durability does seem to be a bit of an issue. The thread-like headband is not very durable. And some people complained about the buildup of plastic shavings in the sizing mechanism.
There’s no wire included, so you can’t use it as a non-Bluetooth headphone, unfortunately, which is another problem. The Bluetooth is pretty good, which is one reason some people stick with it anyway. The battery life is also excellent, giving about ten to fourteen hours on a single charge.
The sound is unexpectedly good—clean, without an overpowering bass, and the volume control gives reasonably high levels without sound distortion. You can’t expect heavy noise isolation from these headphones, but it’s reasonably isolating.
The controls, keeping with their theme, are minimalist (play/pause, volume control, track change) and very easy to use, even while running or on-the-go. It’s very lightweight, which is a definite plus, but the mesh is rough over a long time, and can leave little temporary marks on your ears. While comfort is definitely a personal thing, this seems to be a deal breaker for a lot of people. The frame also doesn’t seem to be as sturdy as you would really expect from a workout headphone.
If you can deal with the mesh ear pads, then this is a good deal. The sound is good, and it’s a user-friendly headphone within a reasonable budget.
You’ll have to be careful with it so that you don’t end up breaking it, and if you have a little extra to shell out, it might be a good idea to go for a set of headphones that have a better frame.
The Sol Republic Shadow Wireless headphones are chic, with a minimalist, stylish design. It comes in two forms, black and silver, and white and rose gold.
Considering the price, these is some of the better headphones on the market, easily competing with some of the most expensive and well-known headphones.
The design includes three sets of ear buds, so you can choose which feels most comfortable. They all fit reasonably well and are comfortable. They aren’t truly noise isolating but are good enough for the gym. If you’re using them for running or outdoor sports, then noise isolation is a little more problematic.
While the headphones are comfortable, the earbuds have a tendency to slip occasionally. This can be very annoying in the middle of a workout when you can’t stop to put them back in. The behind-the-neck frame is far more comfortable than most such frames. The middle of the frame is slightly flexible, allowing for a better fit and letting you move your head around without worrying about your earbuds falling out.
SOUND CONTROLS FEATURES BATTERY
The audio quality is great, especially considering the price of the headphones. There’s a balanced audio quality; the bass is particularly good, and surprisingly so. It competed pretty well with much higher priced headphones.
The controls are on the frame and are fairly intuitive and easy to use. Some people object to the minimalism in the button control as well, but we frankly like a minimal amount of buttons, so we can just touch and get what we want without having to think about it. If there’s a learning curve on the buttons, then we don’t like it.
One of our favorite features on the Shadow headphones is their dual device connectivity. It pairs up to two devices at once, and you can switch between them. For serious music fans, this can be a tipping point. We could pair it to our iPod as well as our phone, which has different playlists.
The battery life is supposed to be about 8 hours. While this isn’t the best we’ve seen on a wireless headphone, it’s pretty good, and at this price is a good deal. It also boasts water and sweat resistance, which is a minimum requirement in a workout headphone
If you want a reasonably priced earphone with good sound quality, this is a good choice. The problems with this model are not a big deal, and while the headphones don’t have a lot of flashy extras, they are an excellent pair.
If all you’re looking for is a good pair of headphones that you can also use during your workouts, then this should be on your shortlist.
Made by 50 Cents and later acquired by Kono Audio, the SMS Audio generally boasts an excellent sound quality and good design. The Wireless Sport comes in five colors. While not a big deal, the choice of colors is nice, and the design is nice if not out of the world.
SMS stands for Studio Mastered Sound, for those who didn’t know. This is supposed to give a better sound quality, but in most devices, it just seems to be an excuse for shoving in a higher price tag. However, the Sport seems to be an exception.
Bluetooth connectivity is excellent; it connects without hiccups, and the sound is generally not interrupted. It doesn’t have any OS problems either, connecting with iOS and Android phones equally well.
The main problem with these headphones is that they’re pricey. It’s definitely one of the higher range headphones on our list, and while it’s pretty good on all criteria, it isn’t great enough to really justify the high price. You will get almost as good specs at half the price.
SOUND COMFORT SIZE CONTROLS
The sound on the device is really good, with deep bass and noise isolation tendencies. A range of sounds come out with good quality on these headphones. This is good as a workout headphone because you get the beats very clearly. Acoustic music isn’t as great.
For an over-the-ear headphone, it was pretty comfortable. The pads are rubberized, but not uncomfortable. Even through a full hour workout session, they were tolerable. This might be a problem for some people, and we know a couple of people who say that the tight quality of these over-the-ear headphones makes them feel lightheaded. After 40 minutes or so, they need a break. We experienced no issues with it.
The ear pads have a memory foam, which takes a few days to adjust to you but then they work like a dream.
The size of the headphones can be a problem. It’s a sturdy headphone which gets many, many points on durability but if you’re going to be using it a lot, you’re going to get irritated with how much space it takes up. It’s got a carrying case, but that takes space too.
The controls on the ear pads are easy to use and are good enough that you won’t have to mess about on your phone while you’re working out. The battery life is pretty good, with about nine hours of battery on a single charge. It has a cable that comes in the box that you can use when you’ve run out of charge.
If your budget is high enough and you find these headphones more comfortable than the others you’ve checked out, then go for it, but while the headphones are great, we generally expect more bang for the buck.
Those following the Jabra line know that they released a workout headphone with snazzy extras. The Jabra Sport Pulse, which boasted a heart rate monitor. The Sport Pulse was pretty cool and had a vocal fan base.
Let’s see how the Sport Coach does in comparison.
It has a fitness tracker, which is called TrackFit, and is apparently a motion sensor that will give live feedback, like the Bragi Dash.
There isn’t much difference in form when you compare it to the Sport Pulse. The earbuds are the same with a contoured design and additional ear wings to help keep them in place during workouts. The remote is okay but isn’t the best thing when you’re working out.
The most interesting part of the Jabra Sport Coach is the TrackFit motion sensor. It’s designed to work with the free Jabra app. You can customize your workouts from the basic workouts presented on the app.
There is a vocal coach that helps keep you updated with duration, distance and other parts of your workout. However, there isn’t much difference here from the previous Sport Pulse, and the Bragi Dash fitness tracker performed as well with their heart rate monitor.
SOUND/ BATTERY LIFE FEATURES/ DURABILITY
The most disappointing part was the audio quality. The bass wasn’t good, and at low volume, there was too much outside noise to really make it satisfactory.
The battery life isn’t the best. It’s rated at five and a half hours, but actual usage will probably be slightly lower.
One of the best parts was the Bluetooth connectivity. There was no call drop, and audio quality during calls was remarkably good.
When it comes to durability and the long term, it does pretty well. It’s not going to fizzle out on you immediately, and if you keep it just for workouts, then you’ll probably have it for a long time.
Much less expensive than the Bragi Dash, it performs a lot of the same functions, but there will be a compromise on sound quality. The biggest problem here is comparing it to the previous Sport Pulse.
While there have been some improvements, the motion sensor isn’t that different from the heart rate monitor. If you’ve already got a Sport Pulse, there’s no use shelling out for this. If you have to choose between the two, the Sport Coach is less expensive and slightly better, but it’s disappointing how similar the two are.
The Jaybird Bluebuds X was well known for being one of the better sports headphones, especially in the wireless category. The Jaybird X2 is their new and improved offering on the workout headphone market.
The X2 is extremely comfortable, and once you put them in, you can count on them staying in. We get very frustrated when we have to stop what we’re doing to put earbuds back in. With the X2’s new ear wings, that’s not going to happen.
The comply foam tips are ridiculously comfortable, so once we put them in, we settled in for the long haul. They are also lightweight, although that isn’t usually an issue with in-ear headphones.
There’s no active noise-cancellation feature, but it works well enough without it. Durability can be an issue. It’s packaged as sweat resistant, and that’s true enough, but the truth is that the Bluetooth and frame are not very sturdy. It works up to a certain point and then dies out. However, the warranty will replace it without cost, and the warranty is lifetime. However, that doesn’t count if you’ve been careless with them.
CONTROLS BLUETOOTH SOUND QUALITY
The wire behind the neck has the controls, which work surprisingly well. We generally prefer controls on the earbud which are easier to access, but these come to the fingers pretty easily. The controls are intuitive and not an issue. The good part is that you don’t have to keep picking up your phone.
The Bluetooth tech is good, with a wide range of connectivity to Androids, as well as iOS. The battery life isn’t out of the world, but it gets 8 hours on a single charge, which is good enough.
The sound quality, of course, is the big deal here, and what you’re paying for. The highs and lows are well-balanced with a good bassline. The X2s have some of the best audio quality in sports headphones, and it is definitely worth paying for.
The only reason this isn’t our top pick is the durability issue and the fact that it is pricey. When it comes to Bluetooth and audio quality, you couldn’t ask for better. If you think you’re okay with negotiating with customer service for a replacement, and you’re willing to shell out the cash, this is a good choice.
The Plantronics BackBeat is an unsealed in-ear headphone. Unsealed headphones are generally not our favorite thing—they always leak sound and noise isolation isn’t the best. The short version is that sealed headphones are those that have noise isolation as a feature, but this also means that sound quality might not be that great.
While unsealed headphones generally give better sound quality, it is not worth it because any time there’s any noise, you lose out on the sound anyway.
However, the BackBeat is worth your money. The sound quality is amazingly good. You’ll lose out a little on bass-heavy songs, but mid-range and high-range sounds are clear and well-balanced. If you’re a fan of good sound but don’t want to go for a sealed earphone with the attendant hassles, we really can’t recommend this enough.
One of our favorite features is that the neoprene case of the BackBeat Fit can double as an armband for a smartphone, so we can have it almost at our fingertips. There aren’t a lot of features on this headset, but it doesn’t need them. It is what it is advertised as—a solid pair of headphones that are wireless and that you can use when you want to pump yourself up for a workout.
As a workout headphone, this does pretty well. It’s very comfortable, and you can just keep using it for long periods.
The controls aren’t difficult, although it can be a bit tricky to navigate them at first, the learning curve is short.
The Bluetooth is good and doesn’t require you bending over backward just to get it to pair. There’s no mic, unfortunately, which is a bit of a blow. The battery life is a solid 8 hours, even with heavy use.
Overall, this is a good buy. The price is right, and if you really want a pair of unsealed headphones, then we can’t recommend this highly enough.
If you’re looking for a good product, reasonably priced, and you’re not the sort of tech fiend who is looking for every extra feature on the market, then this is a great buy. It won’t pinch your pocket, and it’ll last long enough that you’ll be comfortable with it. It’s a good headphone for workouts.
We’re going to be honest and say that while we completely stand behind our judgment on picking these ten as the best on the market for workout headphones in 2018, we also believe that headphones are a personal matter.
We don’t know what’s going to be comfortable for you, and what your needs are. Your budget is also going to be an issue.
So, even though we hope this list has been helpful, we fully encourage you to keep looking up headphones so that you get the workout headphone that is perfect for you.