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You can find wireless workout headphones at just about any price point you’d like to pay. Many (most?) of the ultra-cheap models are likely not worth your money. But are the higher-priced models any better?
In this review, I’ll look at three of the most commonly reviewed models and one that doesn’t always get as much love (or hype) as the others to help you see if any of these fit your workout routine or if you should be looking elsewhere.
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Which Types of Workouts Should I Use These Headphones For?
Whether you are an outdoors runner, prefer to workout at the gym, or have your own equipment at home, all of these headphones should work well for you.
You can use the headphones described in this review for any workout in which they won’t get in the way or otherwise hamper your exercises.
Sets without wires (Bluetooth workout headphones, for example) probably work in even more settings than those with a few wires. There is less chance that anything will contact something that it shouldn’t.
Read on to learn more about the best headphones for working out which include the best wireless running headphones.
The Jaybird X3 Sport Bluetooth Headset May Be the Most Popular
You can use the Jaybird X3 with any Bluetooth device, such as an iPhone, iWatch, iPad, iPod, any Android gadget, Windows device, or similar.
This in-ear style model, which is probably better called a set of earbuds than headphones, have a total harmonic distortion of less than 3%. That means the sound quality is pretty good – about the same as most decent sets of earphones.
You can connect (pair) up to 8 other devices with your Jaybird X3 earphones. It’s hard for me to imagine wanting to pair with more than 3 or 4 devices, so this should be plenty for you. You can use the Share Me feature to share what you’re listening to with another pair of X3 buds. This could be handy (and even fun) if you’re running with a friend and want to really share the same experience completely.
You can customize the sound settings on your device. Any changes you make are saved without the X3 buds. You can also use the Discover feature to check out presets from other users, including famous athletes. Make what gets them moving work for you too.
I don’t automatically think much about this feature, but since your headset has a microphone and is connected to your phone, you can use it to make phone calls while working out too.
A short press of the Power Button accepts a phone call. To decline a call, press that button for 1 second. A similar press also activates voice commands, such as those you would use with Siri or Google Now. To redial, press the Power Button twice. You can toggle a call from your phone speaker to your X3 earbuds by pressing the Volume-plus (+) Button.
The MySound app lets you boost the bass to your sound profile, but of course, this will reduce your battery life and thus your play time. Average play time is 8 hours though, so you won’t run out of power during a single workout, assuming you had the earbuds charged before you started.
To get a full charge (from near zero) should take about 2 ½ hours, using the included USB charging clip.
In a brand new box of Jaybird X3 headphones, you get the following items.
- X3 Wireless Buds
- Comply Isolation Foam Ear Tips (small, medium, and large)
- Silicone Ear Tips (small, medium, and large)
- Secure-Fit Ear Fins (small, medium, and large)
- Cord Management Clips
- Cord Shirt Clip
- USB 2.0 Charging Cable and Charge Clip
- Carry Pouch
The cord itself is about 19 ¼ inches long, so you’ll probably want to use those cord clips to keep it from flopping around and getting in the way of your workout.
A complete unit, with fins and tips attached weighs just 0.63 ounces. That puts the Jaybird X3 in the middle of the pack, relative to other sets discussed here.
The Jaybird X3 comes with a 1 year warranty. I’m not sure what exactly this covers.
Jabra’s Elite Sport Are Truly Wireless Earbuds
The Jabra Elite earbuds are totally wireless. Many other sets have a cord of some kind and are just not cabled to your phone (or other device). The Elite Sport buds are just earbuds, and that’s all.
Even so, each bud has 2 microphones inside that work together to filter out ambient noise during a phone call, so that your voice comes across clearly, even while you’re running.
I don’t understand exactly how this works, but Jabra says that the battery in this unit gives you 4 ½ hours of play time, but when coupled with the portable charging case, you get 13 ½ hours of play.
Like the Jaybirds above, you can pair these Bluetooth buds with up to 8 other devices.
If you want the lime green and gray style, you’ll (currently) have to shop at Best Buy.
The Jabra buds have passive noise cancellation to help you hear only what you want to hear. At the same time, they do have a HearThrough feature that lets you hear external noises for your safety and awareness.
These buds are IP67 verified, meaning you can hold them in up to one meter of water for half an hour without damage. Not that you would do this purposely, of course, but if you drop one in a puddle, you shouldn’t have to worry about it malfunctioning. This also means your sweat shouldn’t bother them either. They have a 3-year warranty against sweat damage.
Since this is a Bluetooth device, you can pair it with virtually anything running Apple iOS, Android, or Windows. You can enable performance tracking via any iOS or Android device.
In the box, you get these items.
- Silicon EarGels (small, medium, and large)
- FoamTips EarGels (small, medium, and large)
- EarWings (small, medium, and large)
- Quick Start Guide
- Charging Case
- Micro USB cable
- Warranty and Warning Leaflets
Each earbud weighs about 0.23 ounces. Because there’s no cord, these are just about the lightest set of earphones you’ll find. If you carry the charging case, add about 2.4 more ounces to your total weight.
Beats Powerbeats3 Are the Flashiest Around
If it matters to you how your headphones look, as far as color goes, Beats has you in mind. The Powerbeats3 comes in basic black but also Flash Blue, Siren Red, Shock Yellow, and perhaps even more shades. (Sorry, only the basic black are shown above.)
These earbuds will last about 12 hours on a full charge. You can get one hour of power in just 5 minutes of recharging time when the battery is low.
Beats claims that its earbuds have “flexible, secure-fit earhooks [that] maximize comfort and stability”. However, one reviewer says it’s tricky to make them fit properly.
There is a cord, but you get a cable management clip to help keep things where they belong.
The Beats RemoteTalk feature lets you communicate via Siri when you need to handle phone calls or want to control what you’re hearing without your hands.
In the box, you get these pieces.
- Powerbeats3 Wireless earphones
- Eartips with four size options
- Carrying case
- Universal USB charging cable (USB-A to USB Micro-B)
- Quick Start Guide
- Warranty Card
The Powerbeats3 is sweat and water resistant. No that you would purposely do so, but I wouldn’t submerge them in water for any significant amount of time.
Plantronics Backbeat FIT Is the Cheapest Option Here
While you may not have heard of the Backbeat FIT as often as those above, these are still extremely popular. That may be because they are relatively inexpensive and still have many of the features of their high-priced brethren, including a variety of color combinations – pink, blue, green, black, and white.
Listening time during your workout is not a problem. A charge will last up to 8 hours for listening only. If you need to talk the whole time, you’ll only get 6 hours.
The waterproof design meets IP57 standards, which means you could safely submerge them in one meter of water for half an hour. The Backbeat FIT also have a nano-coating to ward off your sweat.
When the buds need to alert you to some condition that needs your attention, they can do so in American English, British English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Mandarin, or Japanese. I am not aware that other headphones have this much flexibility because, even if they do, they don’t advertise it.
The FIT uses digital signal processing (DSP) and full duplex echo cancellation to give you the cleanest sound possible.
These aren’t the lightest weight earbuds, but at 0.85 ounces, that’s still pretty light. Your ears aren’t likely to complain.
Plantronics provides their PEAR Personal Coach app to keep you motivated during your workouts. You get unlimited access to 12 workouts designed by Plantronics. You also get a 6-month membership to PEAR+. This includes “interactive audio coaching from world-renowned trainers and athletes.”
How Well Do These Headphones Rate among Users?
As you may be aware, Amazon has a user rating system that uses 5 stars. Some of these earbud manufacturers have similar systems on their own websites too.
Here are the Amazon ratings, as of this writing, for each of the models above.
|Model||Jaybird X3||Jabra Elite||Powerbeats3||Backbeat FIT|
In addition, the Powerbeats3 rates a mere 1.32 of 5 stars with 22 reviews at BeatsByDre.com.
The Backbeat FIT rates a steady 3.8 of 5 stars with 980 reviews at Plantronics.com.
These statistics seem to point to the Plantronics FIT as the best earbuds for your money, despite the greater popularity of the others. The main downfall of the FIT relates to battery problems. Plantronics is very responsive to its users. The majority of the problems may be due to user error.