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When you’re out for a jog or lifting weights at the gym, the last thing you need are headphones that will tie you down. That’s why the word “wireless” has found a home in the gym rat’s lexicon, right next to “reps” and “sets.”
Many consumers are gravitating toward wireless headphones, motivated in part by smartphone manufacturers ditching the headphone jacks on their flagship models. And 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. These great workout headphones are all wireless and well-rated by our testers, who review dozens of pairs of headphones a year. Each is evaluated on a range of criteria, including sound quality, features, comfort, and fit. And every pair below is advertised as water-resistant (CR doesn’t test that feature), so you can get your sweat on carefree. One model is even marketed for swimming.
If you’re a Consumer Reports member, you can also browse through more than 150 models in our headphone ratings.
Samsung Galaxy Buds
The Samsung Galaxy Buds are some of the best-scoring portable Bluetooth headphones Consumer Reports has ever tested. That’s all the more impressive given their true wireless design and a price that often dips under $100.
The Galaxy Buds produce exemplary audio quality packed into a pair of unobtrusive earpieces, complete with touch controls for playback, volume, and skipping tracks. According to Samsung, they have a 6-hour battery life and come with a powered carrying case that will recharge the earphones for up to 7 additional hours on the go. The case itself can be charged with a wireless charging mat, and it’s small compared with the cases that come with many true wireless models.
Based on our most recent member survey, Samsung headphones earn solid scores for reliability and owner satisfaction, making this deal even sweeter.
Bose Sport Open Earbuds
Music is great while you’re working out, but cutting yourself off from your environment isn’t always convenient—or safe. Enter the Bose Sport Open Earbuds. This true wireless model has a non-isolating design that lets in outside sound on purpose, so you should have an easier time hearing that guy slamming down his weights behind you or traffic approaching when you’re on a run.
They have hooks to keep the earbuds in place while you move around, and they sit on rather than in your ears, so you may find them more comfortable, too. Even better, these headphones have above-average sound quality. According to Bose they have an 8-hour battery life and a quick-charge feature, for 3 extra hours after 30 minutes of plug-in time. However, unlike most true wireless headphones, the carrying case doesn’t double as a portable charger.
In our latest member survey, Bose’s regular stereo headphones earned top marks for owner satisfaction and a solid reliability rating.
Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT90BTBK SonicSport
Serious athletes, or just about any runner, will probably tell you that carrying a phone around so you can hear your tunes is a real pain. With the Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT90BTBK SonicSport, you don’t have to. These headphones have a built in music player with 4 gigabytes of internal storage, so you can load them up with songs or podcasts when you want to leave your other devices at home.
This model has great sound quality, a 6-hour battery life, and a quick-charging feature. They also have handy magnets in the earpieces to hold them in place around your neck when you aren’t listening and a novel function that pauses your audio when the magnets come into contact with each other.
Adding to the appeal, Audio-Technica gets outstanding ratings for reliability and owner satisfaction.
Apple AirPods Pro
If you love your gym but hate the music it plays, Apple AirPods Pro may be the solution. This successor to the AirPods adds noise-canceling technology and is designed using eartips instead of the earbud style of the previous model, which may improve fit and comfort for some users.
More important, there’s a significant step up in performance. Despite the overwhelming popularity of the older AirPods, they don’t score well enough in CR’s sound quality tests to earn our recommendation. But the noise cancellation on the Pros is superb, and the sound is far better, too—though they still don’t match the Samsung Galaxy Buds, nor a new noise-canceling model from Sony (which didn’t make this list because it isn’t water-resistant).
The AirPods Pro have an advertised 4.5-hour battery life, a quick-charging feature, and a case that should recharge the earphones up to four times on the go. They also feature a “transparency” mode, which pipes in ambient sound and works exceptionally well. Apple’s noise-canceling headphones get a superb owner satisfaction rating and an above-average reliability score.
Want a true wireless model that won’t make a huge dent in your wallet? The 1More PistonBuds deliver great sound quality for the price, beating out competitors that cost far more. They have an advertised 3.5-hour battery life and come with a carrying case that will recharge the earphones almost five times before it needs to be plugged in again.
The PistonBuds are advertised as water-resistant, and they feature touch controls and support for digital assistants. Based on our CR member survey, they boast a fantastic owner-satisfaction rating, though their reliability score is just average.
JBL Endurance DIVE
All the headphones on this list are advertised as water-resistant. The JBL Endurance Dive takes things further. According to JBL, they’re suitable for swimming and rated to survive a dunk in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes, making them a suitable choice if you get your workouts in a pool.
Of course, you probably won’t want to bring your phone in the water, but the Dive has a built-in MP3 player, so you won’t have to. They also have 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. The sound quality is above average, though not quite as good as that of the other models on this list. But for a model under $100, these headphones are still a decent choice for critical listeners.
One caveat: Thanks to JBL’s mediocre reliability rating, this model doesn’t earn a high enough score to receive an official CR recommendation. But if you need headphones for the pool, it’s worth considering.