- Best Headphones For Mac Pro
- Best Headphones For Mac
- Best Headphones For Mac Book Pro
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However, some in-ear headphones, such as Apple's AirPods, also include a charging case that can top up the battery, so that's something you should check on before buying any in-ear headphones. Apple AirPods Best totally wireless earphones for the money. Despite some drawbacks, including their funky look, the AirPods are the best value for this new breed of totally wireless headphone.
The Best Wireless Headset for the Office Updated October 9, 2018 We’ve added information about Plantronics’s two new lines of wireless office headsets to the What to look forward to section. On the December 13, the day of the AirPods release, spending on headphones was ten times greater than the pre-holiday average for 2016. It was the largest single day of online headphone spending last year.' It added: 'Apple’s Beats brand headphones dominated the wireless headphone market for the last several years. Apple's newest iPad Pro models, both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch, have ditched the headphone jack, meaning you can't plug in your trusty wired headphones directly. On top of that, the new models of the iPad Pro have also swapped out the Lightning port for a USB-C port, so you can't use any lightning headphones either.
— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. However, our picks and opinions are independent from USA Today’s newsroom and any business incentives.
Black Friday deals in tech and electronics are super popular and sell out fast, but there are some great headphone and earbud deals still going strong... procrastinators rejoice!
We’re vetting all the best Black Friday deals for you in real time, but if you're specifically looking for headphones deals that are still available, we've got you covered.
The best Black Friday 2018 headphones deals available now:
- Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7BK Over-Ear Headphones—$179 on Amazon (Save $70.95): Our top-rated headphones! They’re on the lowest price of the year.
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- Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones—$299 at Amazon (Save $50): These excellent wireless over-ear headphones are famous for their noise canceling abilities, and this is the lowest they've been since August
- Jabra Elite 65t Alexa-enabled true wireless earbuds with charging case—$119.99 on Amazon (Save $50)
- HyperX Cloud II gaming headset w/ 7.1 surround sound—$69.99 on Amazon (Save $30): Our favorite gaming headset!
- 1More Triple Driver in-ear headphones with high resolution—$52.99 on Amazon (Save $47)
- Apple AirPods headphones—$149 at Staples (Save 6%)
- Audio-Technica ATH-M40x professional studio monitor headphones—$79 on Amazon (Save $20)
- Jabra Move wireless stereo headphones—$49.99 (Save $50)
- Beats Solo3 wireless headphones - Neighborhood Collection—$179.99 at Target (Save $120)
Check out all the best Black Friday deals you can get right now
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.
The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered this holiday season. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Wireless earbuds are smaller and cheaper than ever, yet it’s tough to know what you’ll get from these tiny devices before you buy. To help you make the right choice, our editors tested 27 pairs for at least two weeks of running, cross-training, and commuting. These 22 models passed our tests, but some rose above the rest. Here’s what we looked for in excellent wireless earbuds for runners.
Beats Powerbeats Pro
Rewarding sound and a 9-hour battery life.
JBL Reflect Mini 2
A stay-put fit and balanced sound for a fraction of the price.
Jaybird Tarah Pro
Try to outrun the 14-hour battery life of these connected earbuds.
Anker Soundcore Spirit Sweatguard
Decent sound and fit for the price of wired earbuds.
Aftershokz Trekz Air
Bone conductors push sound through your cheekbones.
Best Headphones For Mac Pro
Three Types of Buds
For the sake of making useful comparisons, we segmented our test pool into three categories: truly wireless; truly wireless with a hook over the ear; and wire-connected, which means there’s a wire or band connecting the two earbuds to each other. We also added a fourth category of cheap earbuds—under $50. Here’s what to expect from each type (click the links to skip to the reviews).
These buds have neither connecting wires nor hooks that extend around your ear; you just push them in and go. Being compact makes them lightweight, but their small batteries means shorter runtimes, although all of our test models came with charging cases that allow you to juice them up on-the-go. They also tend to be the most expensive. Examples include Apple AirPods, Bose Soundsport Free, and Jabra Elite Active 65t.
Truly Wireless with Ear Hooks
Adding a hook can improve an earbud’s fit, since there’s a second point of contact to hold the bud in place. The hook can also store antennae or a battery, helping these buds play longer than their truly wireless counterparts. They’re generally marginally cheaper than truly wireless models, but some cost more than $200 anyway. Examples include the Beats Powerbeats Pro, JBL Endurance Peak, and Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100.
These earbuds are still untethered from your phone, but they use a connecting wire or band to connect the buds and store batteries, microphones, or an antenna. If you can get past the connecting wire, you’ll enjoy better battery life (8 or more hours, compared to 4 hours from truly wireless) and a significantly lower price.
How We Chose
To keep the playing field level, we asked for the same feedback from all of our testers, thinking about which qualities were important to us as runners who use these devices. Here’s how we evaluated:
Our staffers are not audiophiles, so evaluating sound quality is largely subjective. Still, we’ve all used earbuds before, so we asked our testers to compare to other earbuds they’ve tried and provide specific feedback on the way their test-buds made their favorite songs and podcasts sound.
Fit and Ambient Sound
How an earbud fits effects how much outside sound it lets in, and there’s no ideal balance for everyone. Some runners like buds that fit deep in their ears and block all outside noise, allowing them to focus on the tunes, while others prefer lots of environmental sound from a looser fit. (The latter fit is safer for running outside and among other people.) So although we didn’t rank the earbuds by ambient sound, we did rank them based on whether they stayed in our testers’ ears.
And because isolating you from outside world should lend a clearer sound, we expected better sound quality from earbuds that fit snug in the ear than we did from earbuds that let in a lot of noise. For the best of both worlds, some of the pricier models offer an ambient sound mode, which uses the device’s microphone to bring in outside noise while maintaining a tight fit.
We also asked testers to evaluate how quickly and easily the buds connected to their phones, and how far they were able to get from their phones before the signal cut out. And we recorded any mid-run connectivity issues.
In two weeks of testing, we encountered few quality issues, but we also asked our testers to discuss how the earbuds felt—you’d expect a $200 set of buds to feel premium compared to a $40 pair. For long-term quality assessment, we checked user reviews from Amazon and other retailers looking for persistent issues, and we'll update our findings if any issues crop up as we continue to run with these models.
Water- and Sweat-Resistance
None of our testers had issues with water or sweat ruining their buds, but in a longer test scenario, moisture can and will destroy earbuds that aren’t capable of repelling it. So we factored in each device’s IP, or Ingress Protection, rating. The rating consists of two numbers. The first indicates dust protection, the second is for water protection. “X” in place of either number means there’s no data (so an “IPX” rating means dust protection wasn’t evaluated). The second number, for liquid ingress, is the one that matters most to runners.
A score of 1 or 2 means an earbud can withstand dripping water; Scores of 3 to 6 mean the buds will survive increasing amounts rainfall for longer periods of time. The gold standard is a scores of 7 to 9, meaning the earbud can be submerged in varying depths of water without failing. Most earbuds in this test have an IP rating, and most ratings were IPX4 or above.
We checked manufacturer’s claims against our testers’ experience and noted discrepancies where they occurred.
We’ll continually update this roundup with our test impressions of the latest wireless earbuds for runners, and tell us what you think about your buds in the comments. For more of the best new gear for runners, see our Best New Running Tech Center.
[Related: Carly Pearce on How Changing Her Outlook on Carbs Helps Fuel Her Running Routine]
Truly Wireless Earbuds
Jabra Elite Active 65t
A small package with high-end sound that stays putJabra
Jabra’s Elite Active 65t is everything you want in truly wireless sport earbuds. Both of our testers found a secure fit with the three included sizes of silicone inserts, and Special Products Editor Kit Fox, a regular AirPods user, said the Jabra’s had the best sound quality of any wireless headphones he’d tried. The earbuds also topped BestProducts.com's list of quality workout headphones. The bass isn’t as impressive as offerings from Bose and Sennheiser, but the buds still thump when you’ve established a tight seal and deliver a balanced sound across hip-hop, rock, folk (Fox’s second-favorite) and podcasts (his favorite). The lightweight buds didn’t move once our runs began, and the buds’ hear-through mode brings in ambient sound when necessary. However, the ambient sound quality still isn’t great when they’re sealed properly in your ears. Test Editor Dan Roe said he went down an insert size, losing some of the in-ear sound quality to gain ambient noise for outdoor running. The 5-hour battery life is enough for most runs, and the small charging case packs an additional 10 hours. Sound investment: Jabra's warranty covers the earbuds for two years of dust and sweat damage.
Jaybird Run XT
Improved connectivity and all-day comfort highlight these impressive earbudsJaybird
The Jaybird Run XT had already won a 2019 Runner’s World Editors’ Choice award before we began this test, but for consistency sake, we had Associate Health & Fitness Editor Danielle Zickl try them anyway. We still like them a lot, in part because they improve upon the pretty-good Jaybird Run. The old headphones cut out when objects (like your torso) obstructed the Bluetooth connection and struggled to stay connected in urban areas with lots of electrical interference, but we had no connectivity issues with the Run XT. Another update is the IPX7 rating, meaning they’re fully waterproof. The sound was crisp and clear, and once we found the right fit, the buds stayed put on the run. There’s also enough ambient sound to reveal nearby cars and pedestrians.
Among the best truly wireless buds, with a couple shortcomings for runnersApple
We’ll say this: AirPods are slick. Using an iPhone 7 Plus, Roe got an instantaneous connection each time he pulled one or both pods from the charging case. And despite the lack of silicone inserts, the plastic buds stayed in his ear without any adjustment; other runners report that the 'buds won't stay in their ears at all. The combination of expansive, full sound and ambient noise—your ear canal isn’t sealed—is ideal for outdoor running. Best of all, Roe said, you can pause them to have a conversation without taking them out of your ear (which explains why so many people are endlessly wearing AirPods, but we’ll leave the implications of that to Black Mirror). Two things keep AirPods from being truly great for runners. First, the single-charge battery life lasted 3.5 to 4 hours, which isn’t enough time for most of us to run a marathon. Secondly, Apple confirmed to Runner’s World that the earbuds are neither sweatproof nor waterproof. Roe ran 13 miles in the rain and tried to sweat through them on humid days—he didn’t have any problems, but the company's warranty won’t cover your AirPods if water kills them before planned obsolescence.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
Buy them if you prioritize sound above all elseSennheiser
The Momentum True Wireless is the most expensive option in our test. The sound lives up to the price: Of the three truly wireless earbuds he tested, Test Editor Dan Roe said the Momentum True Wireless beats out the Apple AirPods and Jabra Elite 65t in pure sound quality. Powerful 7mm drivers highlight thumping bass lines by 2Chainz and Young Thug while keeping the vocals crisp, and, for non-workout music, they tune out the world and unravel Esmé Patterson’s folksy guitar riffs like you’re at a live show. However, they don’t sound quite as good once they’ve wiggled slightly out of your ears—they don’t fall out easily, but you quickly lose the seal that makes the premium sound worthwhile. That means continuous adjustment if you care about excellent mid-run audio, and you’ll likely tap the touch controls in the process. We got less than 4 hours of battery life per charge, so like AirPods, they’re not ideal for marathoners. The IPX4 waterproof rating means they should withstand your training (as long as they don’t go through the wash), so the Momentum True Wireless is a reasonable investment for runners who care most about great sound.
Samsung Galaxy Buds
A secure fit and intuitive touch controlSamsung
The Samsung Galaxy Buds are a convenient and well-functioning option in the truly wireless category (and $30 less than AirPods). After three runs and a few handstands, Assistant Features Editor Riley Missel said the buds stayed in her ears securely. The buds deliver forceful but not overpowering bass and an all-around balanced sound, although Missel occasionally got static even when her phone was just feet away. Connectivity isn’t as good as AirPods or other truly wireless competitors; we lost signal just walking into an adjacent room. But touch controls allow you to pause music with a tap of the bud, which Missel found more convenient than button controlled-models she’s used. And an IPX2 waterproof rating means they’ll handle some sweat, but might not be ideal for heavy sweaters and perspiration-inducing spin classes.
Bose Soundsport Free
Exceptional sound but inconsistent connectivityBose
If you’re going to pay $200 for anything Bose, it should first sound very good. The Soundsport Free delivers. “The sound quality is amazing,” said Video Producer Pat Heine. “Deep bass and crisp high tones. I mean, it’s Bose, not just a bass boost.” At 60 percent of his device’s highest volume setting, he could still hear nearby cars, so there’s a decent amount of ambient sound as long as you’re not blasting your tunes. However, the buds required continuous adjustment during runs, and the biggest mid-run gripe was connectivity for one tester. Heine said the earbuds would cut out when he moved his hand between his iPhone 6 and his ears, even with his phone in a pocket on his chest. Runner-in-Chief Jeff Dengate had no problems, however, when using a pair with his iPhone XS.
UA True Wireless Flash
Comfortable and convenient, but a tinny sound disappointsUnder Armour
Given sound merchant JBL’s pedigree in personal audio, we expected these Under Armour-branded JBL earbuds to impress. However, after six runs and hours of office listening, the sound was clear but hollow—more treble than bass. We liked just about everything else: For Andrew Daniels, How-To editor at Popular Mechanics, they stayed in his ears without readjusting and, on a low volume, they let in enough noise for safe outdoor running amongst traffic. The True Wireless Flash was comfortable for hours of use and an IPX7 sweatproof and waterproof rating means they’ll withstand rain and humidity.
Clear and crisp sound, but required persistent fit adjusting
Aukey’s EP-T10 is among the cheaper truly wireless options in the test, but the buds held their own against more expensive options. “The sound was clear and crisp, without too much bass,” said Digital Editor Hailey Middlebrook. “They drowned out the squeaks of my bike trainer, which is hard to do.” On easy runs, Middlebrook said the earbuds stayed in her ears, but needed readjustment as she accelerated. Passing cars were audible at a moderate volume, but conversations weren’t. There were also occasional connectivity issues with pairing the buds to each other, but they didn’t persist after the first few tries. An IPX5 waterproof rating indicates they should hold up to sweat and rain.
Light on bass but there’s enough ambient sound for safe outdoor runningMobvoi
Mobvoi TicPods look like AirPods and, similar to AirPods, they aren’t bass-heavy buds that block out most outside noise. “They’re light on bass, actually—I’m not mad about it,” said Associate Features Editor Taylor Rojek. “I listened to a podcast and it sounded just like they were talking next to me. And music was not super bass-heavy.” Rojek also said she felt confident running outside because of the ambient sound. Mobvoi might not be a familiar brand for some—the Chinese wearable electronics firm was founded in 2012—but on initial impressions, TicPods don’t feel cheap. We had no connectivity issues and a 4-hour battery life and an IPX5 waterproof rating make them worth considering if you’re after truly wireless buds for outdoor running.
Altec Lansing Tru Evo Wireless
Decent sound drowned out by quality issues and low battery lifeAltec Lansing
Altec Lansing’s Tru Evo Wireless earbuds form a tight fit, almost like earplugs. That helped them deliver a balanced, deep sound. “What really impressed me was the bass,” said Test Editor Morgan Petruny. “They handled the ‘Old Town Road’ Billy Ray Cyrus remix at near-maximum volume pleasingly well.” Petruny liked the fit for treadmill runs at the gym, but found it allowed cars to sneak up on her on the roads. Streaming Spotify from her phone, she got about 2 hours of battery life from each charge (half of Altec Lansing’s 4-hour claim), and she killed one bud by simply dropping it from waist height. They did stand up to a couple downpours, though, but the apparent quality issues and low battery life make them a tough sell. “I would rather pony up a little more money for a pair that is really nice, with a longer battery life and better quality,” Petruny said.
Lightweight and secure-fitting, but with persistent connectivity issuesTivoli Audio
Tivoli Audio’s Fonico truly wireless buds are among the smallest and lightest in our test, weighing just 4.5 grams each. The buds extend deep into your ear canal, as Test Editor Bobby Lea discovered when he poked his ear drum while dialing in the fit. However, the thin shape means you can hear your surroundings fairly well—we heard approaching cyclists on a multi-use path while listening at half volume. The sound isn’t as full as we found on snugger-fitting earbuds, but it is clear and balanced. Our issue with these buds was connectivity: Running with an iPhone 7 Plus in-hand, the music cut out in one ear or the other every few minutes. The drop in audio never lasted more than a second or two, but for $130, we think you deserve a constant connection from a few feet away.
Truly Wireless Earbuds with Hooks
Big battery, expansive sound, stays put—near perfectApple
The Powerbeats Pro is the complete package—both well-rounded as wireless sport headphones and literally a large box that contains the earbuds and an additional 15 hours of juice. Not that you’re likely to need it; the buds last for 9 hours on a single charge. “The sound you get from the Powerbeats Pro is really expansive,” said Runner-in-Chief Jeff Dengate in his full review. “Every song sounds like you’re listening in a larger room, with speakers positioned away from you.” Ambient noise starts out minimal but increases as sweat causes the earbuds to lose some of their seal. The music gets a little hollower, but the awareness means you’ll pick up loud environmental noises like sirens and horns. Bluetooth pairing is immediate with an iPhone and a 5-minute quick charge delivers 90 minutes of playback. They’re rated IPX4 so they'll withstand a rainstorm (but not submersion), and despite their large appearance, the buds keep a low enough profile to be comfortable with a hat and sunglasses.
JBL Endurance Peak
Comfortable with quality sound, but don’t expect to hear much elseJBL
After six runs and some in-office use, Art Director Erin Benner said she’d buy JBL’s Endurance Peak with her own money. Music sounded clear and balanced. Using the smallest ear tips, the buds stayed in her ears and the ear hooks didn’t ruin the fit of her sunglasses. On anything but low volume settings, ambient sound was minimal. And despite being larger than many similar headphones and bearing the “Endurance” moniker, they delivered just four hours of battery life—they didn’t become uncomfortable after hours of wear.
Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100
A safe balance of ambient noise and great soundPlantronics
Features Director Matt Allyn used the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 in Midtown, Manhattan traffic and on a serene Pennsylvania rail trail, and found their sound and awareness to work well for both areas. “On the rail trail, I could still make out the sounds of bird flapping nearby,” Allyn said. He also felt aware enough to Citibike around New York City wearing them, although they struggled with interference from other devices (most wireless buds we’ve tested have this problem). The buds hover over the ear canal, rather than fitting within it, and use the hooks to stay in place—they didn’t require adjustment once running. However, the hooks do make them less comfortable to wear with sunglasses.
Quality sound with ambient-aware and noise-cancelling featuresSony
Sony’s WF-SP700N truly wireless earbuds feature a highly customizable listening experience. Photographer Trevor Raab said the default audio settings were decent, but tuning the app-based equalizer helped him dial in the perfect sound. Without any additional modes activated, there isn’t much ambient noise, Raab said. For even less, switch-on noise cancelling and rock out in your own little world. When it’s time to be aware, activate the ambient noise function. “Ambient sound mode was good enough that I could have a conversation with my dad while doing yard work,” Raab said. The hooks helped the buds stay in his ear without shifting about, too.
JLab Epic Air Elite
Not good enough for the priceJLab Audio
Digital Editor Jordan Smith was excited to try JLab’s Epic Air Elite wireless earbuds—her old headphones had just died—but after four runs, she “just rage-ran without music.” They didn’t stay in her ears when she sweat and she heard static each time she changed the song or adjusted the volume. The sound from the 8mm drivers was bassy enough to do justice to Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” but the tight fit means she couldn’t hear nearby walkers and cyclists on a multi-use path. The shape of the ear tips prevents you from comfortably wearing sunglasses with the buds in. The Touch controls were finicky. With sweaty hands, Smith accidentally made a Facetime call from the buds when she meant to skip a song. Tl;dr, there are better options here if you want to hear ambient sounds or wear sunglasses.
Aftershokz Trekz Air
The ultimate headphones for urban running awarenessAftershokz
For road runners who aren’t comfortable jamming an earbud into their ear as cars whiz past, there’s the Aftershokz Trekz Air. These headphones use bone conduction technology to transfer sound through your cheekbones, leaving your ears open to hear potential hazards before they sneak up on you. Compared to in-ear designs from Jaybird and Bose, the sound is “admittedly thinner and quieter, but I find it totally suitable for the occasion,” said Dengate in his full review. The headband is lighter and slimmer than the previous model, which allows you to wear sunglasses with the headphones. A 6-hour battery life and a sweat-resistant IP55 rating puts the Trekz Air on-par with truly wireless buds of a similar price—you’re losing an in-ear headphone’s full sound but gaining total awareness.
JBL Reflect Mini 2
Clear sound and a secure fit for less than competitors’ budsJBL
The JBL Reflect Mini 2 has been around for a while, but a price drop to $70 (down from $100) makes them an attractive value proposition. But there’s a lot more to like than the reasonable price: The buds form a tight seal in your ears and don’t move after you’ve started to trot. The downside for outdoor runners is the lack of ambient sound, which also isolates your tunes from the outside world. Image Editor Jimmy Cavalieri also used them while mowing his lawn. “Although I could still hear my lawnmower, the earbuds blocked out enough engine noise that the quality of the audio still sounded good without having to max-out the volume,” he said. “The sound quality was clear enough that if you concentrate and really listen to the music, you can identify each instrument.” The connecting wire between the buds is lightweight and hardly noticeable mid-run, and the Reflect Mini 2 connected via Bluetooth fast and, outdoors, it stayed connected up to 100 feet away. The earbuds also sport reflective cables for nighttime visibility, an IPX5 water-resistant rating, and an impressive 10 hours of battery life.
A comfortable, in-ear fit with excellent soundBose
The Bose Soundsport Wireless Headphones are among the best in this test because of their superior fit and impressive sound quality. Test Editor Bobby Lea quickly dialed in a comfortable fit so the buds didn’t come out mid-workout, despite the big speaker housing. The sound quality was as crisp and dynamic as you’d expect from Bose. The earbuds quickly connected to Lea’s iPhone 7 and stayed connected more than 100 feet away from it. The buds don’t let in much ambient sound. “They make you largely oblivious to the world around you, even at half volume,” Lea said. The Soundsport will give you a quality audio experience, just don’t let it ruin your awareness.
Jaybird Tarah Pro
The ultrarunner’s choice for all-day audio
Best Headphones For MacJaybird
The Tarah Pro’s biggest selling point is its claimed 14-hour battery life. We got 12 to 14 hours during testing, but there’s more to like about these ultra-optimized earbuds. Our music sounded clear and crisp, with an even balance of bass and treble. After Gear & News Editor Drew Dawson mixed and matched insert sizes, he found a fit that didn’t irritate his ear canal. Ambient noise was minimal because of the in-ear fit—you might hear a diesel truck, but a Prius could sneak up on you if you’re not aware. He appreciated small, overlooked details like the cinch that keeps excess cord from bouncing around and the magnetic earbud backs, which snap the buds together when they’re around your neck so you don’t lose them on the trail.
Sennheiser CX Sport
Superb sound while stationary, but tough to maintain a perfect fit while runningSennheiser
Similar to their big brother, the Momentum True Wireless, the Sennheiser CX Sport sounds excellent when the fit is tight. “I’ve tested dozens of sport earphones and these are the best sounding ones I’ve used,” said Creative Director Jesse Southerland. “Slightly heavy on the bass, but not in a way that throws off the colorization of the mids and highs.” However, Southerland found the fit tough to dial in, and the sound quality suffered once the buds slipped loose. “They tended to not stay in when any minor tension was put on the cord,” he said. And unlike the Momentum, there’s no hear-through mode to artificially bring in outside noise, so you’ll want to keep a low volume to stay aware of your surroundings.
Deep bass, decent sound, and a noise-blocking, in-ear fitBeats
The PowerBeats 3 are the earbuds for hip-hop and EDM enthusiasts who prioritize thumping bass to the sounds of the outside world. “It’s awesome for hip-hop and electronic music, especially when running. Rock music doesn’t sound as good,” said Account Director Matt Jacobs. The hooks that loop around your ear can work against the earbuds: After he pushed the buds in, the hooks didn’t fit our tester properly until the earbuds had fallen out slightly. Still, they stayed put after that and still blocked out most ambient sound. “An electric car could sneak up and kill me,” Jacobs said, noting that the upside is they cancel out most noise at a low volume when he’s chilling on the couch post-run.
Secure fit and decent sound
Photo Director Amy Wolff says she’s always struggled to find sport headphones that stay in her ears, but the Aukey EP-B80’s lock-down fit was a pleasant surprise. “I thought I’d hate the cable connecting the buds, but there is a slider that helps with the slack and it stays put during a run.” Wolff said. “I was shocked.” The downside is that once foam inserts (the buds also come with silicone tips) form a solid fit, Wolff wasn’t able to hear much else, which meant using a low volume for the duration of her outdoor runs. Sound quality was decent. “I wish the bass was heavier, but I think they still make Wu-Tang sound alright,” Wolff said. The buds come with an IPX6 waterproof rating, so they should stand up to regular running abuse, and a 2-year protection plan is available for an extra $6. A minor gripe: The included carrying case fits either the buds or the charging cable, but not both.
Mediocre sound and a harsh, in-ear fitBeats
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Jamming a set of earbuds into your ear canals is a decent way to enhance their sound—the audio hasn’t actually changed, but blocking outside noise improves clarity. That’s how the Beats X fits, but the sound was still hollow and not bass-heavy, either, said Test Editor Bobby Lea. “I tried all the fit options and none worked well. You have to jam them so deep into your ear to get them to stay put that you can’t hear anything else.” Bluetooth connectivity was decent: Outdoors, the buds held a signal up to 100 feet away from Lea’s iPhone 7. Indoors, they went through a couple office walls.
Jays M-six Wireless
Poor sound quality takes these buds out of contentionJays
Video Producer Derek Call would recommend almost anything on an Arby’s menu, but he won’t recommend the Jays M-six Wireless. “The sound was very hollow, like when you are at a party and you try placing your phone in a plastic cup to amplify the sound.” Call said. “The acoustics were all over the place. It seemed to only play treble, with bass and deeper drum fills getting lost.” Using the five sizes of inserts, Call eventually found a decent fit that stayed put for an hour of running, but he still got more ambient noise than most wireless buds deliver. “I’ll always appreciate being able to hear traffic over being caught off-guard,” Call said. “But other headphones like AirPods and Plantronics BackBeat Fit are able to find a Goldilocks spot between music and ambient sound.”
Skullcandy Ink’d Wireless
Get these handy budget buds while you still canSkullcandy
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The Ink’d Wireless has recently been replaced by the Ink’d+, which introduces rapid charging and active voice assistant functions. We’ve yet to try the Ink’d+, but after 7 months of testing its predecessor, Roe found the original worth a recommendation (especially considering the $35 sale price on Amazon). The 8-hour battery means they don’t require charging after every other run, and they’ve stood up to all the times he’s pulled them by the earbud from the depths of his gym bag. The sound and fit are decent, featuring Skullcandy’s characteristic, noise-blocking, in-ear fit and deep (if slightly muddy) bass. The tips at the ends of the band tend to bounce around on your collar bones if you don’t tuck them beneath your shirt collar, so the band will eventually fall off your neck if you’re not wearing a shirt—Roe used a string to tie the ends of the band together, fashioning a necklace that stayed in place while running. For that, they’re not perfect, but they’ve still shown us great quality and value.
Anker Soundcore Spirit SweatGuard
Serviceable wireless buds for less than $40Anker
The Anker Spirit SweatGuard didn’t excel at any one thing, but it did everything Assistant Digital Editor Jessica Coulon asked of it—for $33, that’s not bad. She liked the sound quality better than her wired Skullcandy earbuds, although Coulon said the Anker buds could have benefited from more bass. Once positioned in her ears, the buds mostly stayed in place, although the connecting cord would occasionally snag on her hair or clothing. At a third of total volume, ambient noise was minimal, so outdoor runners should be cautious while using them. An IPX7 waterproof rating and 8 hours of battery life round out the best budget buds we could find.