11 Best Earbuds for Running: Your Buyer’s Guide

best earbuds for running


If you listen to music while you run, workout, or play sports, you’re probably familiar with the feeling of accidentally ripping out your headphone cables in the heat of action. Or worse, you might have tried exercising with over-ear headphones, only to ruin the ear cups the first time you dripped sweat on them.

The best option for someone who is always moving is a good pair of Bluetooth earbuds. Wireless earbuds free you from the burden of the audio cable without compromising audio quality. Many earbuds are specifically designed for fitness use, boasting sweat-proofing, rugged casings, and internal batteries that outlast even the most insane workouts.

That said, finding the right pair of headphones to meet your needs and budget can be tedious, so we’ve simplified things by laying out the best available wireless earbuds for fitness freaks. Check out our picks for the best earbuds for running below, and cut the cable before you rip them out of your ears one last time.

What Are the Best Earbuds for Running in 2020?

jaybird x4 wireless headphones for iPhone Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 8-hour battery life
  • Great audio mix for extended listening
  • IPX7-rated
Price: $128.93 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
jabra sport pulse, jabra sport, jabra sport pulse review, wireless earbuds, bluetooth earbuds Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Built-in heart rate monitor
  • Great audio mix for extended listening
  • IP55-rated
Price: $74.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
bah Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Motion-tracking accelerometer
  • Fully adjustible EQ
  • IP55-rated
Price: $43.30 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
soundpeats qy7 Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Solid audio performance
  • Compact, durable, and sweat-proof
  • Cheap
Price: $22.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
plantronics backbeat go 2, plantronics backbeat go 2 review, wireless earbuds, bluetooth earbuds Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Charging case
  • Durable, sweat-resistant design
  • Compact and comfortable
Price: $44.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
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  • Volume-optimized EQ
  • Clear and balanced sound
  • Durable and water resistant
Price: No price available Shop now at amzn.to Shop now Read our review
mpow cheetah, wireless earbuds, bluetooth earbuds, bluetooth running headphones Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 8-hour battery
  • Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX
  • Cheap
Price: $39.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
motorola s11-hd, motorola s-11, bluetooth earbuds, bluetooth running headphones, Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 6.5-hour battery life
  • 5 EQ presets
  • Incredible Bluetooth range
Price: $19.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
wireless earbuds, bluetooth earbuds, bluetooth running headphones, best headphones for running Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Stable ear hooks
  • 6-hour battery life
  • Bluetooth 4.0 and aptX
Price: $24.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
jbl wireless headphones for iPhone Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Reflective cable
  • Clean, balanced sound
  • Lightweight and durable
Price: $49.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. JayBird X4 Sports Headphones

    • 8-hour battery life
    • Great audio mix for extended listening
    • IPX7 water resistant
    • Wingtips are hard position
    • Proprietary charging cable
    • High price tag

    JayBird’s BlueBuds line of sports headphones has gone through many changes. For better or worse, we’ve ended up on the X4s, which have a lot to prove if they want to beat out their competitively priced predecessors.

    Thankfully, Jaybird continues to innovate and improve upon their products, and the X4s are absolutely worth it for their fast, convenient connectivity and custom-tailored sound.

    However, Jaybird has had their wireless headphone sound locked in for the last few generations, so the stand-out differences in the X4 headphones are all physical changes to their headphone experience.

    For instance, the X4s have upped their water resistance game significantly. This is Jaybird’s first pair of headphones to earn a full IPX7 water resistance rating, which means it can be submerged in water less than three feet deep. And yes, that applies to sweat as well.

    Speaking of sweat, these headphones are quite comfortable to wear while working out. Some Jaybird fanboys aren’t happy about the change in the X4s cable management clips, but being less biased, I really don’t mind the new cinch on the back. As with most Bluetooth earbuds, the cable that wraps behind your neck is flat and tangle-free.

    The earbuds themselves come with several interchangeable tips and optional wing-shaped ear cushions to ensure a secure fit and a tight seal. Choosing the right set is essential to maximize their sound and to keep the buds in place while you’re moving about.

    The headphones can be adjusted to wrap over the ear for less cable jiggle when working out or under the ear to put them on easier. The only downside I encountered in this setup is that the X4’s design doesn’t make it obvious what angle the wings are meant to be placed at, leaving you to do some guesswork when you swap styles.

    The inline controls for volume, calls, and tracking are easily accessible, and the pairing sounds and prompts are less intrusive than past iterations. A calming voice tells you the battery charge when you first turn the headphones on. Bluetooth 4.1 connection is quick and works at an above-average range.

    As for its sound, the Jaybird X4 headphones are phenomenal. Bluetooth transmission does set an upward limit for sound quality, but these headphones approach it with a rounded low-end, with downsized mids and a crisp mid-high frequency.

    The out-of-the-box sound seems geared towards making the audio fun to listen to without causing listener fatigue. If you prefer a flat or bass-heavy sound, you can use the Jaybird app to make and save tweaks on a parametric EQ display.

    While their sound is not as flat or true as an over-ear pair of headphones might get, these balanced EQ tweaks help reduce listener fatigue for extended listening. However you customize the sound of the X4s, you will be pleased with the overall fidelity and clarity of sound, as these earbuds represent the upper end of in-ear wireless audio.

    These earbuds can last through a week of runs with their 8-hour battery life. They charge incredibly quick but you must use a super short proprietary charge cable. This was also true for past versions of these headphones.

    The Jaybird X4s aren’t quite perfect, but they check off all the boxes for a top pair of workout headphones. And if your idea of the best earbuds for running involves having top of the line sound, then these cans are a sure pick.

    VideoVideo related to jaybird x4 sports headphones2018-10-18T17:28:40-04:00
  2. 2. Jabra Sport Pulse

    • Built-in heart rate monitor
    • Great audio mix for extended listening
    • IP55 rating withstands dust, rain, and sweat
    • Sound app has limited music playback integration
    • 4.5 hour battery life could be better
    • High price tag

    The Jabra Sport Pulse is unique for combining quality portable audio with a powerful suite of app-powered workout tools based on its built-in heart rate monitor.

    The left earbud of these stylish speakers has a button that syncs with Jabra’s Sport Life app to help you set and meet goals based on heart rate zones, calories burned, distance, etc.

    After you set a goal in the app, pressing the button on the left earbud reads out your progress toward that goal, helping you get that extra drive for greatness.

    But while the app has a thorough feature set for cardio workouts, it has limited incorporation of music streaming features, meaning you have to close out of it to get to apps like Spotify, Pandora, or iHeartRadio.

    On top of this, these headphones sound great, offering a balanced sound with a solid low-end sound. Mids are reduced at select frequencies to prevent fatigue from long-term listening, and this is done without negatively affecting the balance of the sound.

    The high-end, however, is a little bright and can overpower the low-end if you don’t get a proper seal out of the earbuds. The Sport Life app does offer EQ settings as well for those who like to dial in their sound.

    These headphones also offer a number of other great benefits, including a durable kevlar casing that is IP55 shock and weather-resistant, congruent with military standards. Phone calls sound great, as can be expected from Jabra products, and calls can be answered via inline controls for seamless use.

    The headphones get a decent 4.5 hours of battery life, but this is significantly less than what other wireless earbuds offer for battery life. Unless you do some beastly workouts this should not be an issue.

    However, if you are looking for a pair of cans that can bring your workout to the next level, these are the perfect pair.

    VideoVideo related to jabra sport pulse2018-10-18T17:29:07-04:00
  3. 3. Jabra Sport Coach

    • Motion-tracking accelerometer
    • Fully adjustible EQ for dialed A2DP sound
    • IP55 rating withstands dust, rain, and sweat
    • High price tag
    • Accelerometer should integrate into workouts more
    • Sound app has limited music playback integration

    The Sport Coach is another excellent option from Jabra, which, as the name suggests, also has the benefit of intelligent audio coaching via an integrated app. Like Jabra’s Pulse model, these earbuds come with a wide selection of eartips and wings, though the sample unit I reviewed fit my average-sized ears right out of the box.

    They also share the same IP55 shock and weather resistance, ensuring protection from sweat, rain, and drops, making them great for even the toughest workouts. These two units differ in how they track your fitness, though, as the Sport Coach uses its TrackFit motion-tracking accelerometer rather than a heart rate monitor to measure your workout.

    While runners and cyclists might miss the heart rate for cardio workouts, those doing cross training will benefit from the in-depth workout planning, which uses the charming female coach voice to guide you through sets of reps.

    I used mine for both running and cross-training, and the readouts from the Sport Life app were useful and motivating, especially getting your pace at the moment with the sports button on the left earbud.

    The built-in accelerometer gets much more use when you are running, as it does not have the accuracy to count individual workout reps for you, but there have been hints that this functionality is forthcoming.

    As for sound on the Sport Coach, audio quality is fairly impressive for something that puts so much emphasis on being a workout tool. Bluetooth A2DP brings a nice boost in clarity and dynamics for wireless listening, and the Jabra Sound app’s full EQ customization allows you to accurately dial in your preferred sound.

    The overall low-end sound that the speakers are capable of will not blow you away, but they will still provide plenty of volume and pumping sound at high volumes. Otherwise, highs are clear and mids are distinct, which makes these headphones good enough to listen to at home or at the gym.

    But while the Sport Life app easily pairs with other workout apps, the Sound app has limited incorporation of music streaming features, meaning you have to close out of it to get to apps like Spotify, Pandora, or iHeartRadio.

    The Sport Coach’s 5.5-hour battery life is a slight upgrade over that of the Pulse earbuds but still sits somewhere in the middle of the battery life spectrum. Bluetooth connection is solid and is supported with NFC connection as well.

    Though the price is still a little high, this model is cheaper than the Jabra Pulse, and both headphones offer an amazing value, especially if you have the discipline needed to make the Sport Coach your own personal trainer.

    VideoVideo related to jabra sport coach2018-10-18T17:29:45-04:00
  4. 4. SoundPEATS Qy7

    • Solid audio performance
    • Compact, durable, and sweat-proof
    • Low price tag
    • Awkward mic placement
    • Subpar Bluetooth range
    • Included Micro USB charging cable is very short

    The SoundPEATS Qy7 is a go-to pair of budget Bluetooth earbuds which offer durability and performance for a price that is hard to beat. The distinct color of its flat cable is matched by the onboard controls, which are fairly manageable.

    The build quality is fairly durable and sweat-proof as well, except the plastic cover over the Micro USB charger is rather flimsy. Its 5-hour battery life is average, and good enough for a few days of activity until you have to recharge.

    Bluetooth connecting is straightforward, but these headphones get fairly poor Bluetooth range, and would probably cut off at around 30 feet.

    Considering the price, the Qy7 sounds fairly rich and full across its highs, mids, and lows. Like other speakers that aim for long-term use, these headphones have a V-shaped sound curve, with punchy and present lows against crisp highs.

    The sound is balanced but does not stand out as uncharacteristically good. The speakers do not get loud, but this is not needed if you use the right ear tips for a proper fit. Doing so greatly improves the isolation of the sound, especially on phone calls.

    Phone calls are so-so anyway, as the mic is placed too far from your mouth to give good outgoing sound. Overall, the Qy7s are a great budget pair of Bluetooth earbuds, and you would have to spend quite a bit more to find a significant upgrade.

    VideoVideo related to soundpeats qy72018-10-18T17:32:04-04:00
  5. 5. Plantronics BackBeat Go 2

    • Charging case offers an additional 10 hours battery life
    • Durable, sweat-resistant design
    • Compact and comfortable
    • Slightly weaker low-end sound
    • Mic for phone calls picks up excess noise
    • Do not stay in the ear as well as top models

    The Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 is a compact and lightweight pair of wireless headphones that stand out among other midrange price options. In addition to being small and lightweight, the BackBeat Go 2 earbuds are P2i nano-coated for sweat and water resistance.

    They are comfortable to wear, but despite the fact that they come with three different sizes of ear tips, some users still reported a challenging fit.

    While the battery itself holds enough charge for 4.5 hours of playtime, these headphones come with a charging case that, when plugged in via Micro USB, offers an additional 10 hours of playtime.

    This feature might only get fringe use, but offers convenience in a pinch, as it can offer an additional hour of playtime from just 20 minutes of charging. Note that these headphones are available for about $10 cheaper without the charging case as well.

    Overall, the BackBeat Go 2 earbuds sound solid but do not offer the same top-quality sound you get from headphones twice the price. The bass falls a little short, which is excusable considering the size of these speakers.

    The lower mids and mids offer more punch and round out the sound, while highs are mostly clear. The incoming voice in phone calls sounds fine, but the microphone for the outgoing voice lacks noise canceling and easily picks up ambient sounds.

    For what it is, the BackBeat Go 2 is a great pick for the impulse runner, who would greatly benefit from having a charging case on the go.

    VideoVideo related to plantronics backbeat go 22018-10-18T17:33:26-04:00
  6. 6. Bose SoundSport Wireless

    Price: No price available
    • Volume-optimized EQ for reduced listener fatigue
    • Clear and balanced sound
    • Durable and water resistant
    • Bulky form factor
    • High price tag
    • Could be easily confused for the v1.0 product, which is not sweat-resistant

    The new SoundSports wireless earbuds are the second sports headphone from Bose, and they deliver the Bose signature sound in a much more workout-friendly manner than their 1.0 version.

    Comparative to other headphones, the SoundSports are a bit bulky, and they protrude from your ears. However, they are thoroughly sweat and water resistant, and fit decently into your ear via three different ear hook and ear tip combos.

    The eartips do not go fully into your ear canal, but this allows a necessary amount of external noise to bleed in. This keeps you alert of your surroundings while you run, but can mean a bit more wind noise on a gusty day.

    This hardly affects the sound though, as these headphones offer accurate and enjoyable listening. Unlike other Bose products, the SoundSports are neutral and balanced instead of boomy and bass-boosted.

    The bass is still well-defined, but it gives way to a present and faithful midrange. The highs are just right and don’t distort at high volumes.

    These cans have volume-optimized EQ, which helps prevent listener fatigue by cutting certain frequencies as you raise the volume. The Bose Connect app loosely controls this but does not offer listener profiles or other fancier features.

    These fast-charging headphones deliver about six hours of play time on one charge and have inline controls for volume and tracking, plus an integrated mic.

    All in all, the Bose SoundSport a great sounding set of headphones. They are a worthwhile purchase, as long as you don’t accidentally order the first generation product, which is not at all sweat-resistant.

    VideoVideo related to bose soundsport wireless2018-10-18T17:51:52-04:00
  7. 7. Mpow Cheetah

    • 8-hour battery
    • Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX
    • Low price tag
    • Volume change beep is annoying
    • Low quality microphone
    • Does not come with a way to manage cable length

    The Mpow Cheetah is one last budget option for Bluetooth headphones, and it is one that provides an ergonomic feel and quality sound that makes it seem like a more expensive pair of cans. The plastic materials used to make the compact earpiece are not high quality, but they are durable comfortable to wear.

    The included ear tips won’t work for everyone, but provided you can find a universal ear tip with a good seal, these will be great headphones for anyone. Bluetooth 4.1 connection is fast and easy too, and these earbuds also offer aptX support for listening to higher quality audio.

    The 8-hour battery life is very impressive and adds a lot of value to these headphones. The controls included are accessible and decent as well.

    The sound on these speakers is surprisingly clear, and not at all tinny. The bass and mids are fairly rich, and the highs are crisp without agitating the ear in longer listening periods.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the sounds you’ll encounter using the Cheetahs are not as pleasant as the audio. The feedback beeps from changing volume, as well as the constantly repeating warning when your battery is low will interfere with your listening experience because of how loud they are.

    And likewise, the built-in microphone for phone calls is included as somewhat of a gimmick, as it works for taking quick calls, but is not of good enough quality for daily use. Incoming calls do sound fine though.

    Despite being relatively inexpensive, the Mpow Cheetahs are a well-rounded pair of headphones that you won’t regret bringing on your next run.

    VideoVideo related to mpow cheetah2018-10-18T17:42:57-04:00
  8. 8. Motorola S11-Flex HD

    • 6.5 hour battery rapid-charges in 30 minutes
    • 5 EQ presets offer different listening experiences
    • Incredible Bluetooth range
    • Inconvenient control placement
    • Silicone headband reduces portability
    • Bluetooth connection can be tricky

    Comfy, but hard to keep compact. The form factor of the Motorola S11-Flex HD may seem somewhat outdated against the flat cables of other Bluetooth headphones, but the flexible silicone headband actually has some benefits over other designs.

    In terms of comfort, the S11-Flex is among the top choices, but this headset is not as portable since the set can’t go right in your pocket. The hydrophobic headband has an easily adjustable inner band and telescopic stems that rotate for a great fit.

    It is lightweight and sturdy and has reflective elements for night running, plus onboard controls (though they are not conveniently placed). Bluetooth range is fantastic, though pairing can be a somewhat finicky process. The battery life is a solid 6.5 hours, and even better yet, the S11-Flex offers a rapid-charge that lasts up to 3 hours with just 15 minutes of charging.

    Sound quality is excellent for the price, and five different EQ presets help dial in your sound for the perfect audio experience. The different sound signatures show a good range of balanced mids and highs, but bass is never a strong point.

    Obviously, the sound does not have to be stellar for a headset meant to be worn while working out, but the S11-Flex delivers good enough sound, especially when compared to other models of the same price.

    The volume could certainly be better, but if you desire more volume, you can usually get better sound isolation by swapping amongst the included tips. If you don’t mind the unique form factor, the S11-Flex is a solid pick.

  9. 9. Photive PH-BTE50

    • Ear hooks help keep earbuds in place
    • 6-hour battery life
    • Bluetooth 4.0 and aptX for higher quality listening
    • So-so build quality
    • Volume change beep is annoying
    • Non-flat cable tangles easier

    Photive’s PH-BTE50 is another popular midrange option for wireless listening while you run, especially since they offer useful ear hooks to keep the buds in place while you are on the move.

    Their silky rubber finish is treated with hydrophobic Liquipel coating, which means there is no need to worry about rain or sweat either, even around the onboard controls.

    The Bluetooth 4.0 connection is easy to set up, and if connected to an aptX-compatible device it can deliver quality beyond that of an average Bluetooth connection. With a 6-hour battery life, these cans can last through the most brutal workout sessions as well.

    Considering the limitations on audio that Bluetooth places, the PH-BTE70s sound exceptional, especially when using the aptX codec. Bass levels are deep considering the physical limitations of the speaker, and both mids and highs are clear at any volume level.

    Phone calls are possible, but really nothing special on this headset. Instead, it is best for listening to the music that you love without having to deal with earbuds falling out every 10 minutes.

  10. 10. JBL Reflect Mini 2

    • Reflective cable and water-resistant casing
    • Clean, balanced sound
    • Lightweight and durable
    • Battery life could be better
    • Somewhat subdued low-end
    • Telescopic sound

    JBL’s Reflect Mini 2 is a lightweight and low priced alternative to more popular sports earbuds like the Jaybird X3s, yet they have lots of the same features.

    The Reflect Mini 2s are a well thought out pair of headphones, offering a lightweight casing and a reflective wire that helps improve visibility when you are running at night. These earbuds are also water and sweat resistant, right down to the three different ear tips they include for a proper fit.

    Despite the Reflect Mini 2’s compact 5.8mm drivers, these headphones put out a fairly present sound with a high max volume. Their sound signature is balanced, but still fun to listen to. Highs are crisp, while the mids and low-end are prominent and clear.

    The bass is tight, though weaker than larger headphones. It still rounds the sound out without adding any muddiness to the mix.

    These headphones have inline volume controls and a built-in mic for answering phone calls. Their battery life is eight hours, which is decent but could be better. For their price, though, these easily compete with higher-end sports headphones and stand out as a great budget pick for any active user.

    VideoVideo related to jbl reflect mini 22018-10-18T17:32:36-04:00

See Also

11 Best Reference Headphones for the Studio

10 Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones: The Heavy Power List

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