The Best Bluetooth Headphones for Running 2017, you know the power of a pumped-up playlist to energize your workout. As a techie, you covet the best gadgets. So when it comes to legging it, you naturally want top-notch gear to play your music clearly and unobtrusively. That means a pair of earphones that fit as snugly as your sneakers, deliver rich sound, and perform well in buckets of sweat. And if a flailing arm has sent your iPhone tumbling down the treadmill one too many times, you know you want something wireless as well.
Earphones for Exercise
For the gym, you’ll generally want earphones over headphones. They’re lighter, more resilient, and are often built for exercise. Even if you prefer the sound headphones offer, you’ll find that a good sweat can eat through most earcup pads quickly, and the extra bulk on your head is uncomfortable during a workout.
The Best Bluetooth Headphones for Running 2017 let you listen to your music without running a wire to your smartphone. They’re pricier than wired earphones, but the convenience can be worth it. However, they need power to work, so you’ll want to keep an eye on battery life. Of course, if you keep your workouts to a few hours at most and charge your earphones when you get back from the gym, that won’t be a problem.
There’s a new breed of completely wireless earphones out there, including the Bragi Dash and Samsung Gear IconX. Like Apple’s AirPods, these are truly wire-free Bluetooth earphones, in that there’s no cable connecting the earpieces, which are separate from each other. But the Dash and Gear IconX are far more secure in your ears than the AirPods, making them better for exercise. They also double as fitness trackers, with sensors to track your activity and heart rate while you work out, another trend we’re starting to see more of.
As with most enticing tech, quality can cost you. The priciest pairs on the list can be found for upwards of $300. But costs are coming down, and you can still get a very good inexpensive pair for around $40.
And before you lace up, check out these great pairs of wireless running headphones. On your mark, get set, go!
The Best Bluetooth Headphones for Running 2017 808 Audio Ear Canz
So many of the wireless earphones we review are fitness-oriented, yet so few of them are truly budget-priced. The 808 Audio Ear Canz is a welcome break from the norm—an affordable, water-resistant in-ear pair with plenty of eartip options to ensure a secure fit while exercising and a wallet-friendly $39.99 price tag. If you’re looking for a pure, transparent sound signature, look elsewhere—the Ear Canz dial up the bass and treble dramatically. This will be a solid motivational sound signature for many listeners during their workouts, and a turnoff for others looking for less-intense bass response. However, there’s a serious lack of quality Bluetooth in-ear options below $50, so we’re awarding the Ear Canz our Editors’ Choice award for helping to change that.
Available in black, the water-resistant, behind-the-neck style of the Ear Canz leaves little room for design flourishes—the flat, linguine-esque cable rests against your neck and its slack can be controlled with an included cable cinch. The eartip options allow for some added tinkering to find just the right fit—the earphones ship with three pairs of silicone tips in small, medium, and large sizes, as well as three pairs of stabilizing fins that rest against the ear to keep the earpieces in place. Being able to swap out the fins as well as the tips results in a super-secure in-canal fit that won’t fall out during rigorous exercise.
The inline remote control and mic compartment is located near the right earpiece. It’s of the three-button variety, with a central multifunction button for playback and call management. Unfortunately, 808 Audio uses the plus and minus buttons for both volume (which works in conjunction with your mobile device’s master levels) and track navigation. To adjust volume, you press the buttons quickly, and to skip tracks, you hold it longer, but don’t be surprised if you accidentally skip a track when intending to adjust the volume or vice versa. This type of mishap could’ve been avoided altogether by assigning track navigation to the central multifunction button, where the worst mishap that can occur is playing or pausing when you mean to skip, which is not as annoying.
The compartment also houses a status LED and a snap-shut cover that protects the micro USB port for the included charging cable. In addition to the eartips, fins, and cable, the earphones ship with a drawstring carrying pouch—in all, a healthy array of accessories for the price.
808 Audio estimates battery life to be roughly 6 hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels.
On tracks with powerful sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the pair delivers palpable, thumping bass that will appeal to those of you motivated by deep lows during your workouts. Impressively, these budget earphones do not distort in the slightest, even at top, unwise listening levels, while at more moderate volumes, the deep bass is still strong.
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Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a stronger overall sense of the sound signature. Do these earphones invent bass where it doesn’t exist? Yes. The drums on this track sound positively thunderous and Callahan’s baritone vocals, which need little help sounding rich in the lows and low-mids, get plenty of assistance anyway. If the Ear Canz didn’t deliver a solid high-mid and high frequency presence as well, the sound would be muddled and unclear, but the huge bass is balanced out by sculpted, boosted high frequencies.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the intense boosting on both ends is again apparent. The sub-bass synth hits sound like they’re coming through a club PA system, and the vinyl crackle of the drum loop, usually relegated to the background, is audible at most moments (a sign that the highs are getting some serious extra attention). The vocals teeter on the edge of sounding overly sibilant without ever quite getting to that point. This is an exceptionally boosted and sculpted sound signature.
For the price, it’s hard to argue with what the 808 Audio Ear Canz brings to the table—a powerful bass-forward sound signature in a water-resistant, secure-fitting design. The pair certainly gets our stamp of approval for budget-priced Bluetooth earphones, but we’re also fans of the JBL Reflect Mini BT and the Skullcandy XTfree in the sub-$100 range. If you’ve got more room in your budget, the Bose SoundSport Wireless is a solid pair, and if you can skip the Bluetooth and just want an affordable, exercise-friendly option, the JBL Reflect Mini is a winner. But for $40, the 808 Audio Ear Canz is the best way to boost your workout audio on a budget, and earns our Editors’ Choice award.
The Best Bluetooth Headphones for Running 2017 Jaybird X3
Jaybird has plenty of competition in the exercise-focused wireless earphone department, but the company continues to release excellent-sounding products that help raise the standard for the entire category. The Jaybird X3 wireless earphones aren’t the least expensive we’ve tested at $129.99, but they deliver robust bass response and well-defined highs, fit securely and comfortably, and feature a sweatproof design that’s ideal for the gym. There’s nothing revolutionary about the X3s, but they sound great and come with plenty of accessories, so they earn our Editors’ Choice award.
Available in black, military green, red, or white and gold, the X3 are neckband-style earphones that can be worn behind or in front of the neck. Optional ear fins add a level of stability, but the eartips alone will provide a secure enough fit for most users. The eartips are sweatproof and small enough to fit under helmets, making them ideal for exercise. Internally, 6mm drivers deliver the audio.
The X3 ship with quite a few accessories, including a generous array of eartips in various sizes (six total pairs, three in silicone, three in Comply foam) and optional ear fins (three pairs, S, M, and L), a micro USB charging cable that uses a cradle-style connection to snap on to the inline remote control compartment for charging, two cable cinches, a shirt clip, and a protective pouch.
One annoyance: The left and right earpieces are not labeled, but you can remember the inline remote control compartment is closest to the right ear. You can also switch the left and right channels with the free smartphone app, explaining the lack of markings but seeming pretty superfluous. The remote is of the three-button variety, with a central multifunction button for playback and call management. Volume up and down controls work in conjunction with your device’s master volume levels. The volume buttons also double as track navigation buttons, an increasingly common design that we’re not huge fans of—it’s easy to hold the button down thinking you’ll gradually raise the volume and instead skipping the track you’re listening to.
Jaybird’s companion app, MySound, is quite useful. You can set your own customized EQ, or listen to EQ profiles from various Jaybird-using athletes. The ability to listen to other athlete’s profiles is neat, but the ability to fine-tune your own settings is the most appealing aspect.
You can connect the X3 to two devices simultaneously. Jaybird estimates battery life to be roughly eight hours, but your results will vary with your volume levels.
First off, we tested the X3’s audio performance without employing the MySound app, but it is easy to add a little extra (or tone down a little) brightness or bass push to the earphones. In general, without the app, you get a bass-forward sound signature, but not one that upsets the overall balance with out-of-control low-end, as is the case with many exercise-focused earphones. There’s just as much crisp, clear high-end to enjoy, and you can tweak it to suit your tastes with the app.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earphones offer very powerful deep bass response. At top, unwise listening levels, the bass doesn’t distort, and the lows are still quite intense at more moderate volumes, though pleasantly balanced out with a solid presence in the high-mids.
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Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better idea of the X3’s general sound signature. The drums on this track can sound overwhelmingly heavy and thunderous on bass-heavy earphones, but the X3 give them an excellent added bass depth without sounding unnatural. The drums’ round thump and Callahan’s baritone vocals receive plenty of low and low-mid richness, but the vocals and guitar strumming also benefit from a high-mid that brings out the definition, clarity, and crispness of the mix. This is a sculpted sound signature, for certain, but with plenty of full-sounding bass depth and bright, defined highs.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives enough high-mid presence for its attack to retain a sharp contour and slice through the layers of the mix. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with powerful low-end thump. The vocals on this track receive the ideal high-mid and high frequency presence—there’s excellent clarity without things ever sounding overly sibilant or harsh.
If you’re looking for massive, unchecked bass performance to motivate you during your workout, look to the JLab Epic2 Bluetooth, but don’t expect excellent balance like the X3 deliver. We’re also fans of the Bose SoundSport Wireless, the Jabra Sport Coach, and the more affordable JBL Reflect Mini BT in the wireless, exercise-focused realm. The Jaybird X3 are fairly priced for what you get, however: a bevy of accessories, a secure, exercise-friendly fit, and most importantly, an excellent, customizable audio experience that will help motivate you during your workouts. That makes them our Editors’ Choice for in-ear exercise-focused Bluetooth
The Best Bluetooth Headphones for Running 2017 JBL Reflect Mini BT
While there’s no shortage of gym-focused Bluetooth earphones on the market, there’s certainly a dearth of options if you’re looking for accurate bass response versus, say, super-mega-overkill bass response. JBL’s $99.95 Reflect Mini BT walks the fine line between solid bass depth and seriously boosted lows, leaning toward restrained side of the spectrum. So if you’ve been waiting for a sweat-resistant, secure-fitting in-ear Bluetooth option that can withstand your tough workouts but doesn’t boost the bass to insanely high levels, this is the pair for you, and our Editors’ Choice.
Available in black, blue, pink, or teal, the Reflect Mini BT is worn with the cable behind the neck. As the name implies, the cable has a reflective strip, so you’ll always be seen when jogging at night. It comes with two styles of eartips—standard silicone in-canal tips, and tips that are outfitted with fins that help create a more secure fit. (There are two pairs of each: small and medium.) With an IPX4 rating, the earphones are sweat- and water-resistant, and can be cleaned with water, though full-on submersion isn’t recommended.
Other than the <spaneartips< span=””>and a charging cable that connects to a covered port on the inline remote, the Reflect Mini BT doesn’t ship with any accessories. At this price, a carrying pouch would’ve been a nice inclusion, especially considering the amount of time these earphones will spend in sweaty gym bags.
JBL estimates the Reflect Mini BT’s battery life to be roughly eight hours, but your results will vary based largely upon your volume levels. One downside: The earphones don’t go into sleep mode after a long period of inactivity, so if you forget to turn them off, expect to lose some battery life.
On tracks with powerful sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Reflect Mini BT delivers intense, deep bass response. However, the lows aren’t widely boosted—it’s more that they are reproduced with enough depth for the frequency range. At top (unwise) volumes, the Reflect Mini BT doesn’t distort, and at moderate volumes the sense of bass presence is still strong—and thankfully paired with a solid presence in the high-mids and highs to keep things from sounding too muddled or bass-heavy.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop gets plenty of that same boosted high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain a sharp contour and cut through the layers of the mix. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with reasonable power, but we hear just as much of the high-mid, raspy top notes as anything else—although the general sound projects a strong bass presence, we have definitely heard earphones that pump up the sub-bass far more significantly. It’s nice to see an exercise-oriented earphone pair that doesn’t obliterate the mix’s balance with bass overkill.
There’s no discounting the mysterious motivational powers of mega-bass sound at the gym. If serious low-end presence in a Bluetooth, exercise-friendly earphone pair is what you’re after, you have plenty of options. We like the Jabra Sport Pace, the Skullcandy XTfree, and the JayBird X2 in this price range. If you’re looking to spend slightly less on a quality, gym-friendly Bluetooth option, you have fewer options—the Plantronics BackBeat Fit is the best we can currently suggest. For $100, the JBL Reflect Mini BT is an easy-to-use, secure-fitting, well-balanced Bluetooth earphone pair. It’s especially appealing if you’re seeking to dial back the bass without sacrificing the exercise-focused design, and so it earns our Editors’ Choice.
The Best Bluetooth Headphones for Running 2017 Bose SoundSport Wireless
We’ve seen an influx of exercise-focused wireless headphones in the last year or so, and now Bose is throwing its hat in the ring. At $149.95, the Bose SoundSport Wireless earphones are among the pricier options in this category. But make no mistake: If rich, powerful bass helps motivate you while you exercise, the SoundSport Wireless will not disappoint. That said, we’ve reviewed several options we deem comparable that cost less. Other than the price, there is little to complain about here—Bose has made a very solid pair of Bluetooth exercise earphones.
Available in black or blue (with a silver model on the way), the SoundSport Wireless features a behind-the-neck cable with an inline remote control and microphone near the right earpiece. The eartips seal off the ear canal by extending the nozzle of the earpiece a bit; there’s also a fin on each tip that rests against the ear for added stability. Bose includes three pairs of eartips—one small, one medium, and one large. The tips are comfortable and manage to maintain a very secure fit—essential for high-intensity workouts—despite feeling light and at times like they’re barely there. Beyond the fit, the SoundSport is also sweat- and water-resistant.
A micro USB charging cable (that is frustratingly short) is included, as is a circular, padded zip-up protective pouch with a carabiner attached. The SoundSport Wireless ships with nothing else. Bose sells a SoundSport Wireless charging case accessory, which is a rubberized zip-up hardshell case with a built-in micro USB charging cable on the inside and a micro USB port on the outside, thus allowing you to charge the earphones while they’re in the case, but it costs an extra $49.95. That seems pricey for an accessory that essentially combines two items that you already get with the earphones themsleves.
Bose estimates the SoundSport’s battery life to be roughly six hours, though your results will vary depending on your volume levels during playback. It takes approximately two hours to reach a full charge. Pairing the earphones via Bluetooth or NFC is a quick, simple process, and the earphones will automatically re-pair with your in-range device when powered up.
The Bose Connect app—free for Android and iOS devices—allows you to control just about any current Bose wireless product, including the SoundSport. The settings available are few, but quite useful. You can adjust the length of time it takes the earphones to automatically power down (increments vary from five or 20 minutes, to the not-recommended three hours or Never options), or you can disable the robotic voice prompts you hear when powering up or down, for instance. However, the app is not essential to the operation of the earphones.
For those who are motivated by deep bass during their workouts, the SoundSport Wireless has what you’re after. On tracks with powerful deep bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the SoundSport Wireless delivers thunderous, intense response. At top, unwise listening levels, the drivers do not distort on this track, and at more moderate volumes, the bass response is still quite powerful. There’s a solid amount of high-mid and high frequency presence, as well, which keeps the balance from feeling too lopsided, but this is definitely a sound signature geared toward low-end lovers.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop gets just enough high-mid presence to accentuate its sharp attack, but more of the attention is focused on the thump of the loop’s low-mid sustain. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat here have some serious body and depth to them. Again, it’s a bass-forward sound signature that will certainly help many listeners power through their workouts. The vocals nonetheless get enough high-mid and high frequency presence to remain clear and in the forefront of the busy mix.
The boosted bass and crisp treble sound signature Bose delivers is certain to appeal to many who rely on audio to push them during intense workouts. We are also fans of the similarly priced Jabra Sport Coach, the less expensive Skullcandy XTfree, and the far less expensive JLab Epic. The JBL Reflect Mini BT remains our Editors’ Choice for delivering comparable sound quality for $50 less. And we’re curious about the Bose SoundSport Wireless Pulse coming out later this year, which has a built-in heart rate monitor. That said, the Bose SoundSport Wireless is every bit as good as the other options we’ve tested, or slightly better in some regards, though its price is quite high in comparison.