Great Workout Headphones

Thomas Germain

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

When you’re out for a jog or lifting weights at the gym, the last thing you need are headphones that are going to tie you down. That’s why the word “wireless” has found a home in the gym rat's lexicon lately, right next to “reps” and “steps.”

More and more consumers are gravitating toward wireless headphones, motivated in part by smartphone manufacturers ditching the headphone jacks on their flagship models. But smartphones aside, Bluetooth affords a level of flexibility that a wired model simply can't match, especially when you’re on a treadmill or lifting weights.

That’s where the following models come in. They’re all wireless and well-rated by our testers, who review close to 50 pairs of headphones a year. They're evaluated on a range of criteria including sound quality, features, comfort, and fit. And every pair below is advertised as water-resistant (though CR doesn't test that feature), so you can get your sweat on carefree. One model is even marketed for swimming.

While it’s true that wireless models tend to be more expensive than their wired counterparts, this list spotlights reasonably priced models made by Sony, JBL, 1MORE, Jabra, and Anker. And all make fantastic gym companions.

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, you can also browse through more than 150 models in our headphone ratings.

1MORE iBFree Sport

1MORE may not have the name recognition of other brands on this list, but the great audio quality and the $60 price make the iBFree Sport worthy of your attention.

The model has in-line controls for phone calls, volume, and music playback, and features a water-resistant design, according to 1MORE. And with its advertised 8-hour battery life, the iBFree Sport should keep you moving whether you're out for a run or trying to break your personal sit-up record.  

Jabra Elite Active 65t

The Jabra Elite Active 65t, $190, is a true wireless model, meaning it doesn't have a cord connecting the right and left earpieces. The high-quality sound makes it one of the top-scoring portable wireless headphones in our ratings. Its advertised 5-hour battery life is in the midrange for true wireless models. But any deficiency there is offset by a quick-charge feature and the convenient carrying case, which contains a battery that can fully charge your headphones up to four times on its own.

Other features that make the 65t great for the gym include a step counter, support for various digital voice assistants on compatible devices, and an ambient sound monitoring mode—a fancy way of saying you have the option to let in more noise from the outside world, which can help protect you from traffic and other hazards when you're out on a run.

We found that users with smaller ears might have trouble with comfort and fit, so you may want to try them on before you buy them.

Sony WI-SP600N

If you love your gym but hate the music it plays, this noise-canceling model from Sony may be a solution. The WF-SP600N gets great scores for noise-canceling performance and sound quality, and it includes extra features that make for a seamless workout. It has integrated controls for volume, calls, and playback; a quick-charging feature to back up the claimed 6-hour battery life; and variable noise-canceling controls to let in more or less ambient sound. It retails for $150 but can be found online for much less.

If you prefer true wireless, the Sony WF-SP700N performed just as well in our audio and noise-canceling tests but costs about $180.

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air earphones look a lot like Apple AirPods, but they cost about half as much at $80, and have a few notable advantages. Unlike the AirPods, the Ankers have an isolating design that will muffle some outside sound, and our testing shows their sound quality is significantly better, too. CR's technicians also note they fit and stay in place better than many true wireless models.

They don't have as many sports-focused features as the Elite Active 65t described above, such as a step counter or ambient sound monitoring. But they do have tap controls for calls and playback, and support for digital assistants, and they come with the option to use the right earpiece alone for single-ear listening.

According to Anker, these earphones are water-resistant, have a 5-hour battery life, and come with a charging/carrying case good for three additional charges on the go. They're available in black or white.

JBL Endurance DIVE

As the name suggests, the JBL Endurance DIVE is designed for use not just on land but also in the water. According to JBL, it's suitable for swimming and is rated to survive a dunk in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes.

Additional features include a built-in MP3 player, technology that automatically powers the headphones on and off as you put them on or remove them, and a short collar that sits close to the neck and may help keep them secure in the water. The sound quality is dependable, though not quite as good as that of the other models on this list. For about $90, the Endurance DIVE headphones are still a decent choice for critical listeners.

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