Best Earbuds and Headphones for Working Out for 2023
Sure, some people still like to work out with full-size headphones, but the majority of folks want a pair of wireless earbuds — and ideally, true wireless for maximum freedom. The truth is you can use just about any true wireless earbuds for working out as long as they fit your ears securely and comfortably and are sweat-resistant.
What are the best earbuds and headphones for working out right now?
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 (higher level water- and dust-resistance ratings) and design features like wing tips or ear hooks that keep the buds from falling out of — or falling off of — your ears. Because the Beats Fit Pro earbuds have integrated wing tips, that’s one of the reasons they’re at the top of the list. But even lightweight buds like the AirPods Pro 2 (iPhone users), Beats Studio Buds Plus (iPhone and Android users) or the JBL Live Pro 2 (iPhone and Android users) work very well as workout earbuds if you can get a secure fit.
If you’re looking for a lightweight over-ear headphone for working out, Sony’s CH-720N headphones are a good option because they’re more affordable than Bose’s QuietComfort 45, Sony’s WH-1000XM5 or Apple’s AirPods Max headphones (yes, I see plenty of people wearing those headphones in the gym).
It’s important to note that if you’re opting for noise-canceling headphones, you’ll want some sort of transparency or awareness mode that gives you the options to hear the outside world as you’re exercising. Most recent ANC headphones and earbuds offer that feature.
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
Best earbuds and headphones for working out
How we test workout earbuds and headphones
We test workout headphones and earbuds based on six key criteria and evaluate the models we test in both a gym environment and for outdoor workouts that include a three-mile run. These criteria include design, sound quality, noise-canceling performance, voice-calling performance, features and value.
- Design: Evaluating design, we assess not only how comfortable the headphones and earbuds fit (their ergonomics) but their build quality and how well the controls are implemented. When it comes to earbuds, we also look at water- and dust-resistance ratings.
- Sound quality: We evaluate sound quality by listening to a set playlist of music tracks and comparing the earbuds to top competing products in their price range. Sonic traits such as bass definition, clarity, dynamic range and how natural the headphones sound are key factors in our assessment.
- Noise-canceling performance: We evaluate noise-canceling performance by wearing the headphones in the same spot indoors near a noisy HVAC unit to see how well they do at muffling lower frequencies. Then we head out to the streets of New York to test the headphones in a real-world environment where we see how they do muffling not only street noise but people’s voices.
- Extra features: Some great-sounding workout headphones and earbuds aren’t loaded with features, but we do take into account what extra features are on board. These include everything from quick-access awareness to transparency modes (your music pauses and the headphones open up to the outside world so you can have a conversation) to special sound modes to ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off your ears. We also take a look at the companion app for the headphones if there is one and how user friendly it is.
- Voice-calling: When we test voice-calling performance, we make calls in the noisy streets of New York and evaluate how well the headphones or earbuds reduce background noise and how clearly callers can hear our voice.
- Value: We determine value after evaluating the strength of the headphones and earbuds against all these criteria and what they’re able to deliver compared to other models in their price class.
Workout earbuds and headphones FAQs
Does sweat resistance matter?
Are in-ear or over-ear headphones better for working out?
Does sweat ruin headphones?
How do you make earbuds stay in your ears when exercising?
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Jabra Elite 7 Active review: Truly elite
Released alongside the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, the Jabra Elite 7 Active positions itself as the ideal workout earbuds. It features most of the key functionality of the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, with some slight modifications to please the fitness crowd.
While the price is competitive, the market is flooded with true wireless earbuds. Does the Jabra Elite 7 Active stand out from the pack?
Editors note: this article was updated on May 26, 2023 to include a street conditions microphone sample and answer FAQ submissions.
About this Jabra Elite 7 Active review: We tested the Jabra Elite 7 Active over a period of 7 days. Jabra provided the unit for this review. This article was originally published on February 3, 2022.
Workout enthusiasts will appreciate the secure fit and waterproof design. However, pretty much anyone seeking true wireless earbuds should consider this — it’s an all-around performer with few notable drawbacks.
What is it like to use the Jabra Elite 7 Active?
Jabra includes three ear tips and a USB-C charging cable in the box.
Both the Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds and charging case are small and lightweight, and feel sturdy enough to toss in a pocket or gym bag. The earbuds magnetically slot into the charging case, which snaps shut with a nice click. To listen in mono mode, just remove one earbud and it will connect to your phone (assuming you’ve gone through the initial pairing process).
The shape of the earbuds directs the ear tips deep into the ear canal. While this creates a tight seal that prevents sound from getting in or out, it may cause some discomfort. Jabra tries to mitigate this with a pressure-relief vent, but more sensitive listeners still might prefer over-ear or on-ear headphones. Be aware when operating the button on either earbud: pressing the button will shove the bud deeper into your ear.
A silicone rubber material Jabra calls “ShakeGrip technology” coats the earbuds to provide more grip. While this approach isn’t as reliable as using the ear tip wings or a wrap-around design of other workout earbuds, the soft matte finish and deep insertion inside the ear canal create a secure fit for most workouts.
Is the Elite 7 Active waterproof?
With IP57 dust and water resistance, these earbuds can survive nearly any adventure. You can also register the earbuds for two-year warranty protection against water and dust, and rest easy knowing they won’t go down without a fight.
How do you control the Jabra Elite 7 Active?
The buttons on either earbud control music playback, answering calls, or launching virtual assistants. You can select from Alexa, Google Assistant (on Android), or Siri (on iOS) from within the Jabra Sound+ app. Within the app settings, you can also select what combination of button presses will play/pause music or answer/reject calls.
These are the default Elite 7 Active controls:
|PRESS||DOUBLE PRESS||TRIPLE PRESS||HOLD|
In-ear detection automatically pauses your music when you take the earbuds out of your ear, and resumes playback when put back in. You can also toggle this setting on or off from within the Jabra Sound+ app.
Should you download the Jabra Sound+ app?
To get the most out of the Elite 7 Active, it is important to immediately download the Jabra Sound+ app and install the latest firmware updates. Early firmware versions struggle with connection issues and lack some key features entirely, such as Bluetooth multipoint — all of that is fixed with an update.
Once connected to the app, you’ll have the option to adjust the noise canceling and equalizer, and view earbud battery information. Tap the settings icon in the top right corner of the app and you can dive into seemingly endless customization options. You can adjust everything from in-ear detection, sidetone, and onboard controls to voice assistant, voice feedback, and call equalizers.
It is critical to download the Jabra Sound+ app and install the latest firmware updates when first using the Jabra Elite 7 Active
The MySound feature utilizes a hearing test to create a unique sound profile for your ears. Much like the Beats Fit Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4, the MyFit feature plays tones through both earbuds to ensure you are using the right size of ear tips. Moreover, you can personalize the active noise canceling (ANC) to target more low or high-frequency sounds.
Jabra differentiates itself from other headphone apps with its selection of white noise and soundscape files. Additionally, the Find My Jabra functionality tracks the last location your earbuds were connected to your phone. There are enough features baked into the app to write a whole article about, but in short, you won’t run out of customization options anytime soon with the Jabra Elite 7 Active.
How long does the battery last on the Jabra Elite 7 Active?
USB-C or wireless charging powers the charging case.
Jabra claims the earbuds last 8 hours on a single charge, with up to 30 hours of total playback time including the charging case. In our testing of continuous playback at 75dB(SPL) with ANC set to maximum, the earbuds lasted 7 hours and 10 minutes. This is slightly above average for earbuds in this category, and ensures the earbuds last a full day of regular use.
Five minutes of fast charging provides an hour of playback time, while it takes up to 150 minutes to fully charge the case and earbuds. The case supports wireless charging, or you can charge it the traditional way over USB-C.
What Bluetooth codecs does the Jabra Elite 7 Active support?
With IP57 water and dust resistance, you can take the Jabra Elite 7 Active nearly anywhere.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active features support for AAC and SBC. While we would like to see support for higher-end Bluetooth codecs such as aptX, AAC and SBC work well enough across most devices. Apple device users will get the most benefit from AAC, while Android device owners should try switching to SBC within the developer settings if they experience connection issues.
The Bluetooth 5.2 connection is steady up to a 10-meter wireless range, and should allow the Jabra Elite 7 Active to support the new incoming lower latency LC3 audio codec. As long as you’re up to date with the latest firmware, you shouldn’t experience too many connection issues with these earbuds. As we mentioned above, the Elite 7 Active also now supports Bluetooth multipoint, so switching back and forth between different devices should be pretty smooth.
How well does the Jabra Elite 7 Active block out noise?
ANC attenuates low-frequency sounds, while passive isolation from the ear tips blocks out most high-frequency noise.
Noise canceling performance on the Elite 7 Active is great, in no small part due to the passive isolation from the tight fit. Even without turning on ANC, the Jabra Elite 7 Active attenuates most noise above 500Hz by at least 50%. Set ANC to the maximum level, and low-frequency noise (such as the rumble from an airplane engine) will also only sound about half as loud.
Alternatively, the Jabra Elite 7 Active also features HearThrough listening mode, which amplifies environmental noise. This mode is especially useful for jogging when it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings. A single press of the left earbud activates HearThrough mode, which can also be set to pause your music when enabled.
How does the Jabra Elite 7 Active sound?
The Jabra Elite 7 Active (cyan) closely follows our target consumer curve (pink).
Most people will enjoy the sound of these earbuds. The Elite 7 Active hardly boosts bass and treble notes over the midrange, and the response doesn’t stray far from our ideal headphone preference curve. You’ll be pleased by the way the Jabra Elite 7 Active sounds with most genres of music. There’s also five-band EQ in the Sound+ app, so you can customize the frequency response to your exact preferences.
Lows, mids, and highs
Using the default sound, the Elite 7 Active emphasizes notes in the sub-bass frequency range (60-100Hz). This is prominently heard on the 808 bass lines of hip-hop tracks such as Better Now by Post Malone. You may notice the kick drum or bass lines in these tracks sound a bit loud, but it is not egregious.
The app’s MySound feature creates a custom listening profile based on the results of the in-app hearing test.
When listening to the chorus at 0:45 of Undeniable by Kygo (feat. X Ambassadors), the upper notes in the piano chords sound fine relative to the vocals and percussion.
How good is the microphone on the Jabra Elite 7 Active?
The Elite 7 Active has six microphones that feature noise reduction and wind reduction, though it lacks the bone conduction technology of the more expensive Jabra Elite 7 Pro. In the second microphone demo below, the earbuds attenuate most background noise in a simulated office environment. While these aren’t the best microphones we’ve ever tested, most people should be able to understand you on the other end of the line, even when walking around busy streets.
Jabra Elite 7 Active Microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Jabra Elite 7 Active Microphone demo (Office conditions):
Jabra Elite 7 Active Microphone demo (Street conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
As of November 9, 2022, 95% of readers have identified the microphone quality as at least “Okay. ” This is better than most other true wireless earbuds.
Should you buy the Jabra Elite 7 Active?
The 6mm drivers deliver great sound out of this small package.
If you’re looking for workout earbuds, you should definitely consider the Jabra Elite 7 Active. Even without a wrap-around design or wings, the earbuds stay firmly in place in the ears due to the grippy coating and deep fit. The lightweight design and rugged durability make this a great companion for exercise in any environment.
While the ANC and sound quality don’t blow us away, the layers of adjustment within the Sound+ app provide the necessary customization for anyone to attain an enjoyable experience. We would like to see more high-quality Bluetooth codec support, though these earbuds aren’t really meant for critical listening anyways.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active provides much more value than the more expensive Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Unless you need the best microphone quality, the Jabra Elite 7 Active provides much more value than the more expensive Jabra Elite 7 Pro. There are alternatives from other manufacturers worth considering, but if you’re in the market for mid-tier workout earbuds, the Jabra Elite 7 Active should surely be near the top of your list.
Jabra Elite 7 Active
Jabra Elite 7 Active
Great sound • ANC • IP57 rating
A great companion to any workout.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active is ideal for workouts and is a good pair of true wireless earbuds in general.
See price at Amazon
See price at Jabra
See price at Best Buy
How does the Elite 7 Active compare to other Jabra earbud models?
Similarities between the Jabra Elite 7 Pro (black) and Jabra Elite 7 Active (blue) run deep.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active is nearly identical to the Jabra Elite 7 Pro. The Elite 7 Pro features Jabra MultiSensor Voice technology with a voice-pickup (VPU) bone conduction sensor. We’ve seen this same technology in the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and it works rather well. Aside from that, the Jabra Elite 7 Active delivers the same features, performance, and design for $199 at Amazon.
If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper option, the Jabra Elite 5 is also a viable option. Sure, the Elite 5 doesn’t sound as good or cancel noise as well, but it brings aptX support, which makes it more Android-friendly. Pick it up for $132 at Amazon.
On the other hand, the Jabra Elite 4 Active delivers many of the same features in an even cheaper package. It maintains an IP57 rating, active noise canceling, and customization through the Sound+ app. However, these earbuds have a slightly smaller battery, no wireless charging, no in-ear detection, and no Bluetooth multipoint. You can find it for $89.99 at Jabra.
Then there’s the Jabra Elite 3, which is Jabra’s most affordable pair of earbuds to date, at $79 USD. You get plenty of great features with the Elite 3 like an IP55 rating for the buds, SBC and aptX support (no AAC), and good sound quality with a comprehensive in-app experience. Listeners who want a great pair of earbuds for less than $100 USD should seriously consider the Elite 3, $47 at Amazon.
How does the Jabra Elite 7 Active compare to the Jabra Elite Active 75t?
The Jabra Elite Active 75t is a few years old and a bit harder to find compared to the Elite Active 7. These earbuds have an IP57 rating, use Bluetooth 5.0 (instead of 5.2), and have less effective ANC. Still, you can get the Elite Active 75t for $149.99 at Verizon depending on the colorway, so it might be worth sacrificing the wireless charging and more ergonomic fit of the Elite 7 Active.
What are some alternatives to the Jabra Elite 7 Active?
The Vista 2 includes a slew of proprietary wing tips, which keeps the buds in place but makes it difficult to find replacement ear tips.
A close competitor to the Jabra Elite 7 Active is the Jaybird Vista 2, which features extreme IP68 and MIL-STD-810G durability ratings for the utmost protection. If your ears are the right size and you’re willing to drop the cash required, the Jaybird Vista 2 is certainly worth consideration, $117 at Amazon.
On the other end of the price spectrum is the Anker Soundcore Life A1, which only costs $49 at Amazon. You’ll miss out on ANC and some other high-end features, but the performance and durability of these earbuds will meet the demands of most athletes.
What are some frequently asked questions about the Jabra Elite 7 Active?
The older Jabra Elite 85t can now frequently be found on sale for around the same price as the Jabra Elite 7 Active. While the Elite 85t has great ANC, it doesn’t have the same durability or battery life of the newer model.
As outlined in our full headphone buying guide, different types of headphones work best in specific situations. If you’re frequently on the go or moving around during a workout, you should go for true wireless earbuds since they are lightweight, portable, and free of any distracting wires.
This is highly dependent on your ear anatomy, but we found it fit our test head well and Chase, our reviewer. Still, enough user reviews have cited a poor fit on various online vendor forums, so if you’re doubtful, try and find a vendor with a good return policy.
Yes! After updating to the newest firmware, your Elite 7 Active will support Bluetooth multipoint. The earbuds will remember up to eight devices, but can only simultaneously connect to two, and only play audio from one at a time.
No, the earbuds are not designed to be submerged in water for prolonged periods of time. Exposure to salt, chlorine, and other chemicals will deteriorate the earbuds as well.
No. These earbuds aren’t compatible with Apple’s virtual spatial audio feature.
How headphones work: device and principle of operation
Headphones in our time have become one of the necessary attributes of many people, thanks to them you can enjoy music or engage in self-education, listening to audiobooks, while being busy with some other business or being on the road, to spend time usefully. But have you ever wondered how the headphones work, thanks to what physical laws you can, for example, listen to hard rock loudly, and it will not bother the people standing next to you at all, because thanks to the headphones only you will hear it. In our article, we will analyze the principle of operation of headphones.
But let’s start with the fundamental question:
What is sound?
The simplest answer would be: sounds are vibrations caused by moving objects. These vibrations are perceived by our ears and then interpreted by the brain. This means that a certain mechanical movement is necessary to create a sound. For example, the sound of a guitar or violin is caused by the mechanical vibration of a string, and through special sound speakers, these vibrations are artificially amplified, making the sound louder.
The principle of operation of headphones
In headphones, the role of mechanical movements is played by special drivers located inside these devices. Driver units, also called transducers, convert analog audio signals into vibrations; in fact, they are miniature speakers. If a large speaker at a rock concert, for example, amplifies the volume of the sound to incredible proportions by actively moving sound vibrations into the surrounding air, then a miniature speaker in headphones should only move the volume of air inside your ear.
The typical size and corresponding characteristics of the speaker unit vary from headphone to headphone, but are typically between 6mm and 15mm. For example, the S500W true wireless earbuds have an 8mm driver for high quality sound. Real el headphones also have high-quality speakers.
To create sound, the diaphragm is an integral part of every speaker and consists of a thin membrane that creates sound waves as it moves. The intensity and direction of movement is determined by an electrical signal that is fed to the earpiece drivers. Not all drivers are created equal, and they convert electrical current into sound in different ways by moving the diaphragm.
Who invented earphones?
And why? The first loudspeakers were rather bulky, and in the late 19th and early 20th century, when sound equipment was equally bulky, there was no obvious, immediate reason to reduce “sound machines” to the size of a human ear. So how and why did headphones come about? Basically, there were three reasons.
- First, headphones can handle much less input power than large speakers, so they work very well with simple, low power audio equipment. If you’ve ever built a crystalline radio, you know that you can do it without a battery or any type of power supply if you use what’s called a crystalline earpiece, which generates sound via piezoelectricity using very little input energy (from the incoming radio wave). Some early headphones were even less sophisticated. So you could listen to Thomas Edison’s recording phonograph (the forerunner of modern turntables) using either an amplifying “horn” (the ancestor of the loudspeaker) or stethoscope-like tubes inserted into your ears (the ancestors of the headphones).
- Secondly, despite the bulkiness of audio equipment, there was still a strong need for portability. As early as 1891, a Frenchman named Ernest Mercadier patented a “bi-telephone” (a pair of in-ear telephone receivers) strikingly reminiscent of modern earphones “which must be light enough to be worn during use on the operator’s head”. Mobility was also clearly a must for the military. One of the main reasons for the development of headphones was that pilots and soldiers on the battlefield needed to hear the audio commands and orders of the central headquarters clearly and immediately. And in the cockpit of a noisy World War II fighter, you couldn’t put giant loudspeakers! Therefore, high-quality headphones were developed primarily for military fighter pilots.
- Finally, not everyone can hear the sound from the speakers as clearly as you. Looking through the patents in the US Patent and Trademark Office database, it’s clear that some of the earliest headphones were actually headphones attached to hearing aids. If you want to amplify the sound and do it in a portable and discreet way, using a headphone makes a lot more sense than using a speaker. In addition to putting the sound directly into your ear, you can also separate the microphone from the speaker and thereby reduce the “hum” and “whistling” (when the speaker effectively returns to the microphone). For example, at 19In 1943, a few years before transistors completely changed the power of hearing aids, Zenith Electronics introduced a hearing aid earpiece for just that purpose.
Author: Pavel Chaika, editor-in-chief of Poznavayka magazine
When writing an article, I tried to make it as interesting, useful and of high quality as possible. I would be grateful for any feedback and constructive criticism in the form of comments on the article. Also, you can write your wish/question/suggestion to my mail pavelchaika19[email protected] or on Facebook, respects the author.
About the author
Headphones not working: Troubleshooting
Did you know that the word “headphones” itself is synonymous with the term “headphones”? Apparently, this name arose due to the fact that the English headphones (head – head, phone – telephone) were literally translated. And only then did they begin to use the much simpler and more convenient word “headphones”.
Today, almost every one of us has this device – in the old days we used headphones only to listen to music, but today they have turned into a full-fledged headset, with which you can even communicate with a person by phone or by any other type of voice communication, for example Skype.
The only drawback of the headphones is the quality. Yes, even the most expensive device can fail at the most inopportune moment, which many of you have probably experienced more than once. In this case, often the problem lies not in the headphones themselves, but in the device to which they were connected. And I will prove it to you.
Let’s say you plugged headphones into the phone or player? but the following happens:
- Strange extraneous noises, rustles, crackles appear when playing the file.
- In order for the sound to be normal, you have to constantly keep your hand near the connector.
- Only one earphone can work, the other works intermittently.
If you are experiencing any of the problems described, then the problem with 99% certainty lies in the headphones themselves. To make sure of this, connect them to any other sound source (phone, TV, computer, etc.). If there is no noise in this case, then yes, it’s the headphones. What to do? If the headphones are relatively new and have a warranty, go to the store and demand a replacement – you have every right to do so. If there is no guarantee, then the choice is small – either we solder the existing headphones from a specialist (and the problem is probably in the plug or wire), or we buy new ones. It all depends on the cost of repairs, well, attachment to the device itself. By the way, you can solder the wires with the plug yourself, fortunately, there are a lot of schemes for this on the Internet.
If, after connecting the headphones to another device, the sound in them is restored, then the problem is in the phone (or player), namely:
- The headphone jack may have been damaged. This happened, probably due to mechanical damage.
- Contacts inside the device case may have oxidized, or a short circuit may have occurred.
- The problem may be with the device board. You can’t do without opening and analyzing the phone.
- Finally, the problem may be related to the software of the gadget, that is, to its firmware.
What to do? To begin with, we try to restart your device and if this does not help, then we reflash it. Also put the device on charge – oddly enough, but it can work. In case nothing helps, contact the service center to test the device for problems.
Well, we have dealt with mobile devices, now we are moving on to larger devices.
I’ll start with one very common problem – there is no sound when you connect headphones on the front panel of the system unit. And everything is solved as easy as shelling pears:
- The front output is simply not connected at the system level. To do this, you need to open the sound settings program (in my case, this is the Realtek HD manager – there is an icon in the tray). In the settings it is possible to connect the output on the front panel – check the box and click OK. After that, the sound will appear.
- If this does not happen, then you can try to change the default device in the sound settings. To do this, go to the control panel and in the “Sound” section, change the default device to another.
- Finally, it is quite possible that the front connector is simply not connected to the motherboard. To connect it, you need to disassemble the system unit.
The front panel is sorted out. Now let’s move on to other possible problems.
- If you made sure that the headphones work on another device, but the computer does not produce any sounds, then it’s definitely the PC. In this case, I recommend updating your sound system drivers. Personally, I have often encountered a situation where they simply disappeared or turned off.