Best Earbuds and Headphones for Working Out for 2023 – CNET

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While some people still like to work out with full-size headphones, the majority of folks want a pair of wireless earbuds — and ideally, true wireless — for maximum freedom while working out. The truth is you can use just about any true wireless earbuds for working as long as they fit your ears securely and comfortably and are sweat-resistant and splash-proof.

But some wireless earbuds and headphones are better suited for working out than others. Sound quality is obviously an important factor, but so too is durability (added water- and dust-resistance) and design features like wing tips or ear hooks that keep the buds from falling out of — or falling off — your ears. Also, if you’re opting for a pair with noise-canceling capabilities, you’ll want some sort of transparency or awareness mode that allows you to hear the outside world as you’re working out.

I’ve included all kinds of workout earbuds and headphones on this list, including sport buds with both noise-isolating and open designs as well as bone-conduction headphones that leave your ears uncovered. I’ll update this list as new models are released.

Read more: Best True Wireless Sports Earbuds With Ear Hooks for 2023

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Hot on the heels of the third-generation AirPods, Apple has another new set of earbuds, this time from its subsidiary audio company, Beats. Technically, the new Beats Fit Pro ($200) aren’t AirPods, but they’re built on the same tech platform as the AirPods Pro. Unlike Beats’ earlier and less expensive Studio Buds, the Beats Fit Pro include Apple’s H1 chip and have most of the AirPods Pro’s features, including active noise canceling, spatial audio and Adaptive EQ. I’d venture to call them the sports AirPods you’ve always wanted. And for some people, they might just be better than the AirPods Pro.

Read our Beats Fit Pro review.

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Battery Life

Rated up to 6 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)

Not everybody can get a totally secure fit with the new AirPods Pro (2nd generation), but if you can, they make for great workout headphones for iPhone users thanks to their lightweight design and strong performance. They’re powered by Apple’s new H2 chip, which delivers more processing power while being more energy efficient, according to Apple. The new chip, combined with new low-distortion drivers, allows for improved sound that offers better clarity and depth. The noise canceling is also improved — Apple says the new AirPods have “double” the noise canceling of the original AirPods Pro. Additionally, the new AirPods add an extra hour of battery life, up from five to six hours with noise canceling on. Plus, a speaker in the case that emits a sound that helps locate your buds via Find My should they decide to hide from you.

Read our Apple AirPods Pro 2 review.

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Earfun

Battery Life

Rated up to 6 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX5 — protection against low-pressure water streams)

In the past, we’ve recommended Earfun’s AirPro SV and Air Pro 2 as excellent budget noise-canceling earbuds choices (they’re still good values). But the new-for-2022 Earfun Air S may be the best of the trio, with multipoint Bluetooth pairing and the latest Qualcomm QCC3046 chip with the aptX audio codec for Android and other devices that support it. They have the same 10mm wool drivers as the AirPro SV and feature surprisingly impressive sound for their modest price. They also work well as a headset for making calls with decent background noise reduction. The buds have an IPX5 water-resistance rating, which means they’re splash-proof and can withstand a sustained spray of water.

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The new Soundcore Sport X10 have an interesting design with rotating swiveling ear hooks that flip up when you’re using them and flip down when you want to set them in their charging case, which has a smaller footprint than a lot of buds with ear hooks. 

As long as you get a tight seal, they sound good, with powerful, punchy bass and good detail. They also have active noise canceling, which is effective though not as good as Sony’s or Bose’s noise canceling. They’re also fully waterproof with an IPX7 rating, which means they can be fully submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes. Battery life is rated at up to 8 hours with an additional three charges in the charging case.

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Sennheiser

The Sport True Wireless earbuds are essentially Sennheiser’s CX True Wireless earbuds with sport fins — for a more secure fit — and better durability. They have an IP54 rating that makes them splash-proof and dust-resistant. The CX True Wireless, rated IPX4, don’t offer dust resistance.

These aren’t noise-canceling earbuds but they do have an awareness mode that allows ambient sound to leak into the buds so you can hear what’s going on around you for safety reasons. They use Bluetooth 5.2 and have support for the AAC and aptX audio codecs. Battery life is rated at up to 9 hours at moderate volume levels with an additional two charges in the charging case (there’s no wireless charging).

Featuring clean and well-balanced sound with punchy bass, they sound very similar to the CX True Wireless and CX Plus True Wireless.

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Battery Life

Rated up to 7 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (Adaptive)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX5 — protection against low-pressure water streams)

Samsung-owned JBL has a couple of new sets of earbuds, the Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 that are surprisingly good. Both are equipped with the same 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips. And they also combine a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance, plus a robust feature set, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, an IPX5 splash-proof rating and wireless charging.

Aside from the design — the Live Pro 2 has stems while the Live Free 2 is pill-shaped — the biggest difference between the two buds is battery life. The stemless Live Free 2 are rated for up to seven hours, while the Live Pro 2 are rated for 10 hours.

The Live Free 2 fit securely in my ears and are smaller and superior to Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro, particularly in terms of comfort level. The buds are available in three colors.

Read our JBL Live Free 2 first take.

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Battery Life

Rated Up to 6 Hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless Earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX4 — Splash-Proof

Bose’s second-generation QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are not only about 30% smaller than their predecessors, but their case is about 40% smaller and truly pocketable. They feature best-in-class noise canceling and improved sound, thanks to Bose’s new CustomTune sound calibration system that customizes the sound for your ears. Voice-calling performance is also significantly better than that of the original QuietComfort Earbuds.

The other big change is to the ear tips. Bose has ditched its one-piece StayEar wing tips for a two-piece Fit Kit system that features separate ear tips and “stability bands” in three size options, giving you more flexibility to get a secure fit and tight seal. They really fit my ears securely and are splash-proof with an IPX4 rating.

Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review.

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With so many new wireless earbuds and headphones being released on what seems likely a weekly basis, it’s not easy for companies to differentiate their products in the marketplace. Skullcandy hopes its new voice-driven platform, Skull-iQ Smart Feature Technology, will do just that. Similar to the Apple AirPods’ “Hey Siri” feature, Skullcandy’s version allows you to say “Hey, Skullcandy” to issue hands-free voice commands without touching a button. Skull-iQ debuts on the sports-oriented Push Active (and $100 Grind Fuel), which will be firmware updatable via the Skullcandy App.

With their ear-hook design, they’re essentially a more affordable version of the Beats Powerbeats Pro and they actually fit my ears slightly better than the Powerbeats Pro (I’m not usually a fan of ear-hook style buds, but this is one of the better ones). 

The Push Active True earbuds are equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, are IP55 splash-proof, have built-in Tile Finding Technology and are rated for up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge at moderate volume levels. 

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Battery Life

Rated up to 5 hours

Noise Canceling

No

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)

Thanks to their StayHear Max tips and secure fit, the Bose Sport Earbuds make good workout headphones. The Sport Earbuds are more affordable than Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds 2, but that newer model has better sound and excellent active noise canceling.

Read our Bose Sport Earbuds review.

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What makes these Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS buds special is that they sound surprisingly good for open earbuds — they’re pretty close to what you get from Apple’s AirPods 3 for sound. On top of that, they support Sony’s LDAC audio codec for devices that offer it. Not too many cheap open earbuds have good sound but these Soundpeats have good bass response and clarity. They’re also good for making calls and have a low-latency gaming mode.

So long as they fit your ears securely, they make for very good workout buds with an IPX4 splash-proof rating.

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Battery Life

Rated up to 9 hours

Noise Canceling

No

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)

Yes, the Beats Powerbeats Pro’s jumbo charging case is a notable drawback. But the combination of incorporating all the features that make Apple’s AirPods great while delivering richer sound quality and better battery life in a wireless workout-earbuds design that won’t fall out of your ear (seriously, ear hooks for the win!) ultimately is a winning proposition for earbuds for running. Just make sure you buy these running earbuds somewhere that has a good return policy in case you’re in the small minority that has ears that aren’t quite a match for the buds. Note that these earbuds are frequently reduced from $250 to $170 (and sometimes less for certain colors) — don’t pay more than that if you’re buying them.

Read our Beats Powerbeats Pro review.

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Battery Life

Rated up to 10 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (Adaptive)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX5 — protection against low-pressure water streams)

Over the years, JBL has put out some decent true-wireless earbuds, but nothing that really got me too excited. That’s finally changed with the arrival of the Samsung-owned brand’s new Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 buds. Both sets of buds — the Live Pro 2 have stems while the Live Free 2 have a pill-shaped design — offer a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance, plus a robust set of features, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, an IPX5 splash-proof rating and wireless charging.

The Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 are equipped with the same 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips. Aside from the design, the biggest difference between the two buds is battery life; the stemless Live Free 2 is rated for up to seven hours, while the Live Pro 2 is rated for 10 hours. The Live Pro 2 is available in four color options.

Read our JBL Live Pro 2 first take.

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Battery Life

Rated Up to 8 Hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless Earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IP57 – Can Be Submerged for 30 Minutes Up to 1 Meter)

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer improved noise canceling along with very good sound and voice-calling performance, plus support for high-resolution wireless audio streaming if you’re a Galaxy device owner with the right setup. That said, their biggest upgrade may be their new design and smaller size, which make them a better fit for more ears. Aside from their somewhat high price tag, their only drawback is that some of their key features only work with Samsung Galaxy devices. They’re fully waterproof with an IPX7 water-resistance rating.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review.

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Cleer’s Epic Arc buds are similar to Bose’s Open Sport Earbuds (see below) but are actually a little more comfortable to wear thanks to their swiveling hinge. Like the Bose buds, they rest on the top of your ear just above the ear canal and fire sound into your ears. They’re open so they let ambient sound in (that’s a plus if you’re a runner or biker and want to hear traffic), but their 16.2 mm drivers provide ample bass and volume. They don’t sound quite as good as the Bose Open Sport Earbuds but they’re pretty close.

I liked the case, which is a little big but pretty thin. While it has an integrated USB charging cable (that’s nice), like the Bose Open Sport Earbuds case it doesn’t have a rechargeable battery so it’s basically a dock for charging the earbuds, which are also available in black. Battery life is rated at up to 7 hours and they’re IPX5 splash-proof.

Some of these types of ear-hook-style earbuds have physical control buttons but these have touch controls. I found they worked pretty well but not great. The buds do have a companion app that allows you to upgrade the firmware and tweak the sound profile.

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Shokz

AfterShokz changed its name to Shokz and released new ninth-generation bone-conduction headphones that offer slightly improved bass performance compared to the company’s earlier flagship model, the Aeropex (now called the Shokz OpenRun). That makes the OpenRun Pro the best bone-conduction headphones you can get right now, although they still can’t match the sound quality of traditional headphones.

Bone conduction wireless headphones don’t go on your ears — they actually deliver sound to your ear through your cheekbones. The big benefit of this technology as a safety feature for running is that, thanks to its open design, you can hear what’s going on around you — traffic noise in particular — while listening to music or having a phone conversation (yes, they perform well for voice calls). Plus, some race coordinators don’t allow runners to wear anything in their ears, which is where headphones like this come in handy.

Like the Aeropex, the OpenRun Pro have a lightweight, wraparound titanium frame and are rated for up to 10 hours of music playback and you can get 1.5 hours of battery life from a 5-minute charge (they have a proprietary charging cable instead of USB-C, which is unfortunate). I found them comfortable to wear but you may occasionally have to adjust them on your head to relieve potential pressure points. While they do offer a bit fuller sound with more bass — it’s an incremental improvement, not a huge leap forward — like other bone-conduction headphones these are strongest in the midrange where voices live so they’re very good for podcasts, talk radio, newscasts and audiobooks. A hard carrying case is included. 

Note that Shokz makes other, more affordable bone-conduction headphones, including the OpenRun, if you don’t want to drop $180 on its current flagship model.

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Battery Life

Rated up to 8 hours

Noise Canceling

No

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)

I liked Shure’s original Aonic 215 true-wireless earbuds, but they were buggy and Shure pulled them off the market. From a design standpoint, this Gen 2 version is essentially identical but not all the performance kinks have been smoothed out. 

Weirdly, they’re kind of the audiophile equivalent of the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They have a hook that wraps around the top of your ear and they stayed in my ears very securely (even more securely than the Powerbeats Pro earbuds). And like that Beats model, they have a jumbo charging case. Even though it’s technically bigger than the Powerbeats Pro’s case, it doesn’t feel bigger, perhaps because it’s slightly thinner.

What’s interesting about them is that the Bluetooth module is detachable (they have a physical control button as opposed to touch controls, which I liked). As its name implies, the Aonic 215 True Wireless Noise-Isolating Earphones incorporates Shure’s SE215 buds, the $99 entry-level model in its line of earbuds that have detachable cables. But the modules, which can be bought separately for $230, are designed to drive any Shure earbuds that have a detachable cable, including the $1,000 SE846.

Headset performance has improved (they’re no longer mono but stereo for calls) and they now have an IPX4 splash-proof water-resistance rating. They have clean, well-balanced sound with nicely defined bass — but they just don’t have a ton of bass. I’d like to see them cost about $50 less, but they do make for good sports earbuds that you don’t have to worry about falling out of your ears.

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Battery Life

Rated up to 15 hours

Noise Canceling

No

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX8 — can be fully submerged for long periods of time)

While the Tribit MoveBuds H1 only sound decent, not great, there’s a lot to like about them. They feel sturdy and are fully waterproof with an IPX8 rating. They also have very long battery life — up to 15 hours — and support Qualcomm’s aptX audio codec. Many Android smartphones offer aptX Bluetooth streaming.

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Battery Life

Rated up to 6 hours

Noise Canceling

No

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Bone conduction open-ear headphones

Water-Resistant

Yes (IP55 — protection against low-pressure water streams)

AfterShokz’ entry-level OpenMove bone-conduction headphone lists for $80, though we’ve occasionally seen it drop below $70. It replaces the older Titanium model, which is still on sale (it also costs $80), and features some small design upgrades. I found it comfortable to wear and while it doesn’t sound great, it sounds relatively good for a bone-conduction headphone — again, keep your sound quality expectations in check or you’ll be disappointed. It’s very good for listening to podcasts, audiobooks and news broadcasts while you run. 

This model charges via USB-C and includes a simple carrying pouch. Battery life is rated at up to 6 hours.

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Battery Life

Rated up to 12 hours

Noise Canceling

Yes (ANC)

Multipoint

Yes

Headphone Type

Wireless earbuds

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX5 — protection against low-pressure water streams)

The standard Master & Dynamic MW08 are on our best sounding true-wireless earbuds and best wireless earbuds lists. That model costs $300. This $350 MW08 Sport version sounds essentially the same and looks very similar but the exterior of the MW08 Sport buds are made of shatter-resistant sapphire glass (the MW08 uses ceramic). The case is also made of Kevlar fiber, making it durable and lightweight (the standard MW08’s is noticeably heavier). Lastly, in addition to the 5 sizes of silicone tips that come with the MW08, the Sport has two sizes of memory foam earphones that add some additional grip and help keep the buds in your ears (you do need to get a tight seal or sound quality will suffer).

They have active noise canceling (it’s good), a transparency mode so you can hear the outside world and a total of six microphones for noise canceling and voice calling. They’re expensive but they do sound excellent. The MW08 Sport are available in four color options. The case offers wireless charging and is also splash-proof, with an IPX4 rating. 

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Bose

Battery Life

Rated up to 8 hours

Noise Canceling

No

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Built-in with glasses

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)

The Bose Frames are one of those products you have to try to fully appreciate — or dismiss. The concept is you’re getting a decent pair of sunglasses with a pair of headphones that don’t actually go in your ears. Rather, integrated micro speakers in each arm direct a beam of sound to your ears. That design could be appealing to people who don’t like having headphones in or on their ears and it offers a degree of safety for runners and bikers who want their ears open to the world.

Bose has updated its line of audio sunglasses with three new models, including the Tempo sports model, which offers better sound and battery life than the more traditional-looking Tenor and Soprano. The Tempo has better specs all around, with USB-C charging and larger 22mm drivers. It delivers up to 8 hours of battery life.

Their sound is definitely improved from the original Frames. Bose says the Tempo sunglasses play “deeper and louder — loud enough for cycling at 25 mph — while [you’re] still able to hear traffic and your training partners.” They’re sweat-, weather-, scratch- and shatter-resistant, according to Bose and fit under most protective helmets. (I had no problem using them with a couple of bike helmets.) They also work really well for making calls, thanks to a new dual-microphone system. Optional lenses are available for $39 and you can order prescription lenses through Lensabl.

Read our Bose Frames review.

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Battery Life

Rated up to 24 hours

Noise Canceling

No

Multipoint

No

Headphone Type

Over-ear wireless headphones

Water-Resistant

Yes (IPX5 — protection against low-pressure water streams)

Some people, particularly weightlifters, like to work out wearing full-size headphones, and the BackBeat Fit 6100 over-the-ear wireless headphones are a solid choice for both the gym and everyday use. The adjustable sport-fit headband has an IPX5-rated water-resistant and sweat-proof design, 40mm angled drivers and noise-isolating ear cups with an Awareness mode. Battery life is rated at 24 hours. They sound quite good and really stay on your head securely; you can adjust the tension in the headband, which is innovative and ideal for exercise headphones.

Alas, Plantronics has discontinued all its BackBeat headphones, but the good news is you can get them at a discount as they’re being phased out.

They’re available in black, camo and gray.

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Further reading for earbud and headphone enthusiasts

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