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Best Headphones for Running 2017: Headphones for exercising and the gym


Looking for the best running headphones or gym headphones? We’ve put the top sports-centric headphones to the test.

Whether you’re a seasoned runner breaking marathon records or a nervous beginner pulling on your first ever running shoes, your favourite music can provide the extra motivation you need to push through the pain barrier.

Related: Best wireless headphones

Everyone has their favourite song that can get them motivated, so music can be the perfect companion whether you're running long distance or working on your sprint speed.

Even if you feel more at home in the weights room than the running track, a pair of secure, sweat-proof headphones can help keep your energy levels up as you're knocking out explosive power cleans.

Related: Best headphones

But you shouldn't have to struggle with earbuds that fall out of your ears or big cumbersome cans slipping off your head. You won't even notice you're wearing a good pair of exercise headphones, allowing you to concentrate on your workout while your favourite tunes get your heart racing.

We've looked at a whole range of headphones designed for running and exercise, whether that's pounding the pavement or hitting the gym, and also made sure they can deal with the sweat, rain and everything else you might throw at them.

Related: Best heart rate monitor

Running headphones 3

1 / 7

Our Score:


Sennheiser PMX 685i Sports

Key features:
  • Slim, lightweight design
  • Rich audio
  • Flexible, durable neckband
  • Review price: £60
When the Sennheiser Adidas PMX 680 headphones were first released they were the best running headphones by some distance. The Sennheiser PMX 685i Sports improve on those neckband-style headphones making them slimmer and enhancing the sound performance. They are extremely light to wear but don't lose any of its durability. They don't come with soft cushioning ear buds, but they still manage to sit comfortably in the ear.

Out on a run they are barely noticeable when on and stay secure thanks to the well-designed flexible neckband. It matches the original in the sound department delivering 120dBs of audio, but the sound is richer. It struggles with bass and music can sound a little distorted at higher volumes. If you don't like the invasive nature of in-ear buds, the Sennheiser PMX 685i are a great buy.

Buy Now at Amazon.co.uk from £75.99 (newer model) | Amazon.com from $68

Monster iSport 15
Key features:
  • In-ear design
  • aptX support
  • Sweatproof and washable
  • Noise isolation
  • Review price: £130
The Monster iSport SuperSlim wireless in-ear headphones are a great fit for fans of big, pumping tracks. While it lacks the detail and finesse provided by the iSport Victory set, the SuperSlim is all about the bass, though this isn't delivered in the erratic way of other wireless sports headphones.

We love the washable, secure design too, and while £130 may seem a lot to pay for dedicated sports in-ears, when you compare these earbuds to similar setups, the SuperSlim does actually offer better value.

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless

Key features:

  • In-ear heart rate monitoring
  • Sport button with voice prompts
  • Great Android and iOS companion app
  • Review price: £199.99

These used to be the most expensive headphones in this list, but the price has dropped considerably since we first reviewed them. That means they can now be picked up for around half the price, making them an amazing bargain for what are fantastic running headphones.

The Pulse are wireless for starters so there's no flailing cable to tuck under your gym shirt or running jacket. The earbuds sit snug and comfortable inside the ears and cleverly conceal the Micro USB charging port, which will give you just over four hours of battery life.

Related: What is VO2 Max?

Heart rate monitoring is the Pulse's special trick hosting the technology to track the biometric data without a chest strap or dedicated sports watch. Crucially, it's accurate too and all of the data is available to view in the excellent Pulse Sport app. Sound quality is fantastic as well offering rich, bassy audio with plenty of detail and clarity.

Bose SoundSport Pulse

Key features:

  • In-ear heart rate monitoring
  • Sweat and weather-resistant
  • Third-party app support
  • Review price: £169.95

The Bose SoundSport Pulse can not only deal with the rigours of sweat and rain without, well, breaking a sweat, they also have an integrated in-ear heart rate monitor. These have a super-comfortable and secure fit thanks to a generous selection of tips.

The included wingtips ensure these headphones aren't going anywhere, and a 5-hour battery life will get you through even a marathon. The one thing they do lack compared to rivals such as Jabra's Sport Pulse is a dedicated fitness app. Instead, you can use the heart rate monitor with your app of choice, such as Strava or Endomondo.

An inline remote will let you change tracks or adjust volume without breaking your stride. Sound quality lives up to the Bose name, so these headphones won't struggle to get you pumped for your next gym or running session.

Jabra Sport Elite

Key features:

  • In-ear heart rate monitoring
  • Truly wireless design
  • Great Android and iOS companion app
  • Charging case
  • Review price: £229.99
These are the only 'truly wireless' earbuds currently on our list. This means they are completely cord-free, with two separate earbuds. Thankfully, the fit is still incredibly secure thanks to a range of wingtips and tip sizes, so there's no worry about them falling out and getting lost.

Like the Jabra Sport Pulse, these have a fantastic in-ear heart rate monitor and work with Jabra's excellent Sport Life companion app so you get in-ear coaching and readouts as you run. The app can also take you through bodyweight exercise circuits that will help support your running.

An included case not only keeps the earbuds secure when not in use, but will also top up the battery. The Elite Sport are rated at 3 hours of playback, and the case can provide two additional charges. While these earbuds definitely come at a high price, they're worth it if you want advanced training features as well as a liberating cord-free form factor.

Jaybird X3 1

Key features:

  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Super-secure fit
  • EQ-adjustable in companion app
  • Multiple pairing modes
  • Review price: £110
Jaybird focus purely on sweat-proof headphones for adrenaline junkies and exercise enthusiasts alike. With the Jaybird X3 the company has finally gotten the right combination of a super-secure wireless fit, fantastic sound quality and respectable battery life making the Jaybird X3 a fantastic choice.

You're able to wear the Jaybird X3 in a number of different ways, such as behind your head or down the front of your neck, then you can either wear them straight into your ears, or looped over the back and inserted upside down. Then there are different tips and wingtips included to customise your fit even further.

Once you've found a combination that works for you, you'll be safe in the knowledge these headphones won't budge no matter how vigorous your activity. Then the sound quality is as good as we've heard from any running headphones, with a sound you can customise through the companion app.

Eight hours of battery life rounds off an excellent package alongside Bluetooth 4.1 that not only lets you pair your headphones to two devices, you can pair two Jaybird X3 to a single device if you and a buddy want to workout to the same tunes.

Soul X-Tra

Key features:

  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Breathable headband
  • Washable ear cushions
  • Running safety LEDs
  • Review price: £110
While generally, over-ear cans aren't the first headphones you might think of for exercise, some people prefer them to in-ear headphones. That doesn't mean you should make do with wearing any old headphones for a run.

The Soul X-tra are wireless cans that can also withstand the rigours of exercise with a sweat-resistant design and ear cushions you can pop off and wash when they get grubby. The lack of a wire will also mean you can run or exercise unrestricted. There's also handy media controls on the side of the earcups for adjusting your music without breaking your stride.

A really useful feature for runners are a set of LEDs that make you easier to spot if you like to run when the light is low. Once you're finished exercising, the headphones fold down to a more compact, easily-transportable size and the included case will keep them nice and safe.

Battery life at 24 hours is excellent and the headphones even support quick charging in case you need to top them up before rushing out the door. If you're dead set on a pair of over-ear cans, the Soul X-tra are a great choice.

Walter Avalos

October 29, 2013, 2:38 pm

Unfortunately the Pioneer SE-E721 are hard to find in America and adds $25+ for shipping from Europe....I've been spending so much money on all types of running headphones that don't work, I'll brake the bank for these, they sound great.


December 21, 2013, 10:32 am

The picture for the Monster cable headphones is for the intensity headphones not the victory ones?

mark tracten

January 17, 2014, 12:52 am

this is supposed to be a review of the best headphones... surprised there arent the sony mp3 headphones, jvc's and so on... how the beats ones got on here are beyond me as everyone knows they are crap!

Frank Peters

May 16, 2014, 9:01 pm

For me, there is only one king for sport headphones. FX-Sport VR1 wireless smart headphones. Genuinely great audio, comfortable, secure, sweatproof, rainproof, no wires, no phone on my arm [8gb mp3 built in], I can upload training sessions directly to the headphones, swim with them [with accessory - and it works!]. I just don't know why more people don't use them. www.fx-sport.net


July 4, 2014, 12:31 pm

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Carl Henrik Janson

September 27, 2014, 9:39 pm

I am and Audio professional and an amateur runner. By far the best earphone I have ever used during exercise is the Sony W273, now soon to be replaced with the W610. Why this is the best? Because it most definitely will never ever fall out of your year, they are simply STUCK in proper position. Secondly, because audio quality is more than good enough for a work out. Thirdly, there are no wires. And they are waterproof. Very well done, Sony. My reference is the Sennheizer Momentum over.ear. See here: http://www.sony.co.uk/elect...


December 30, 2014, 6:53 am

Any recommendations for the gym ( the music there coming out the speakers is beyond loud)
Here is the thing I often don't listen to music but watch a film instead and the sound level is always seems low, music I have the volume set about halfway but films even at the loudest settings are difficult to hear, thanks

Carlos Menendez

January 22, 2015, 7:43 am

So the Monsters are the most expensive, or is it the Jabras? I'm confused. Just saying. Contradictory information makes for a less trusted review.


January 29, 2015, 9:47 pm

For shorter distance runners or runners who don't sweat much these are good recommendations. However for serious distance runners or triathletes the reviews for lightweight vertical headband headphones (sony mdr-w08 or sonxtronic xdr-8000 or xdr-8001 ) which don't fill up with sweat and don't fall out seem to be as good ( or better )


February 20, 2015, 5:19 am

I have been using the Yurbuds for the last 4 months and I don't recommend them. They are difficult to get seated properly and will come out if you sweat more than a little. Additionally, the black plastic caps the fit in the ear come off easily and have frequently gotten lost. I will not buy these again.

News Reporter

April 24, 2015, 2:46 pm

I have read over 15 different professional reviews on all the major brands and read reviews on Amazon. I find this TrustedReviews website FULL OF CONTRADICTIONS compared to everything I've read elsewhere and within their own reviews. I really do not trust their statements after going through bluetooth headphone reviews. They are missing other manufacturers!!!


April 29, 2015, 1:13 pm

I agree but I will take it a step further...Yurbuds are copmletly awful. Very, very uncomfortable and the sound is terrible. Nothging good about these. At all.

Mollie James

July 9, 2015, 7:53 pm

I always had troubles fitting headphones and usually they fell off. Truth is I dont' have that problem anymore with Yurbuds, but yes, sound quality can be improved. A lot.

Erlend Thune

July 24, 2015, 3:54 pm

What happened with soft cushioning ear buds? I have Sony MDR-G57, which I came over by luck on ebay. They are however not produced anymore. In this review: http://www.acemyrace.com/he... they are rated #2. But all the first three models have cushioning ear buds and have additional support behind the ear to avoid them falling down. But neither of these are produces anymore and impossible to find anywhere now! WHY!!!???

cooper simith

August 27, 2015, 9:43 am

I saw this Yurbuds has been titled as "best running headphones for secure fit" and I would not agree with that. As far as I know, there are many great sport headphones out there. The Jaybird BlueBuds X, Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless and Axgio sprint would be much better in secure fit and overall.

iT7 Audio

October 13, 2015, 12:10 pm

Didn't find what you want in thsi review? Check out our offering in to the Sports headphones class. These just won Bronze Medal in the Men's Running Magazine's Awards Earphone Category!


Ira Tateu ☻♥☺

October 19, 2015, 3:14 pm

While none of these reviews can be trusted(anywhere) here is mine. I have owned every type of headphone and destroyed them all. Skullcandy= crap. May as well buy a $10 pair off the bargain bin. They will break and you are only paying for marketing. Shure does sound great but when they break you cry. Beats are a waste of time because they whistle in your ear when the wind hits them. Nothing but marketing and not worth their price. Klipsch seems to be a good compromise but their cords are small and need to be reinforced. If you are going to exercise using head phone the mfgs are setting these up to break. Look at BT to avoid cords or just buy them cheap so you can toss them as they break.

Michael Dinsmore

December 29, 2015, 2:08 am

I concur. My last run with my yurbuds, I spent almost the whole time putting them back in my ears after they fell out. Total junk and garbage. Wish I didn't buy them.

Laurence Beattie

January 12, 2016, 8:40 am

Absolutely correct. In Malaysia (tropical climate), I have gone thru numerous headsets, including many supposedly sweat-proof, including Philips Sport, Adidias/Sennheiser, etc. The best, BY FAR, have been Philips EXTERNAL headphones (the cheap ones with the foam cover over the speakers, and which are no longer available), because they keep the sweat out of the speaker. In the past I also bought as cheap as possible to prevent heartache when they failed.
However, I'm currently trying the jabra sport corded. The sound as well as fit is good, and the rubberized feel gives me some confidence, but we'll see how long the speakers last.

Frank Peters

November 25, 2016, 2:33 am

Just crazy not to include the FX-Sport VRX.
Why people want to train with a brick of a phone strapped to their arm, I will never know.
Once you train with the music actually on the headphones, the freedom from your phone is so noticeable. The VRX now has hundreds of workouts preloaded on there as well.


December 13, 2016, 5:06 pm

The review is for In ear phones!!!!

Frank Peters

February 12, 2017, 10:53 pm

The review title says "Best Running Headphones"?
I think there is actually a good argument against "in ear" as the fit is more likely to change once you sweat and in order to get good bass, you have to have them half way down your ear canal, so more likely to noise isolate and not as safe for running.

Freya Osborne

March 20, 2017, 9:39 am

I have used Yurbuds Inspire Limited Edition already. But, I think it's not perfect like it's name or brand.

Frank Peters

March 28, 2017, 12:21 am

https://uploads.disquscdn.c... FX-Sport VRX has the foam covers. Your correct, they do work well to prevent sweat entering. The VRX is ACE.

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