The best headphones for sitting at your computer or in your home listening to music may not be the best headphones to put in your ears while you’re jogging around town. Activity will make them fall out and noise isolation or closed ear models will make it hard to hear your surroundings, but you still want good audio quality for your money. We asked you for the best headphones for those workout sessions at the gym, and here are the five best, based on your nominations.
Earlier this week we asked you which headphones you thought were the best to wear when you’re about to go for a run or hit the gym. Audio quality is just one factor in those situations—comfort, fit, price, flexibility, and durability are all also important. You offered up more nominations than we could highlight in one post, but here are the five models that stood above the rest.
When you need a pair of headphones that fit well, work with just about any device you might have, and still sound great, but you don’t want to spend a ton of money for something you’re going to exercise in, the Yurbuds are a great option. Yurbuds feature their patented “TwistLock” technology, which the company ensures that your in-ear headphones will never fall out, even while you’re running, working out, doing aerobics, lifting, whatever. They’re also designed to allow in a little more ambient noise than other models, so you’re still aware of your surroundings while you’re biking or jogging, which is always a good thing. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re designed to both be comfortable (Yurbuds claims the design avoids “nerve-sensitive areas of the ear,” so you don’t get that burning feeling of having something stuck in your ears too long) and sweat and water resistant, so a strenuous workout doesn’t mean you have to dry out your headphones too.
Many of you specifically mentioned the $ 30 Yurbuds Inspire models, and the $ 50 cloth-corded Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Duro (available for just over $ 40 at Amazon) as great, all-around options that won’t break the bank, won’t break your heart if they get lost at the gym, but also won’t make your music sound terrible while you’re exercising. In fact, those of you who nominated the Yurbuds almost universally praised their audio quality as well as their comfort and snug fit.
We’re no strangers to the Bose IE2 in-ear headphones—you liked them enough to nominate them as one of the five best overall in-ear models not too long ago. They may be pricey, coming in at $ 90 direct (and $ 117 for the MIE2 model that includes audio controls and a headset). The Bose IE2 and MIE2 both sport Bose’s StayHear swappable ear tips, which Bose claims will keep them from falling out of your ears even during strenuous activity. They include several sets so you can experiment and find the one best for you. The MIE2s are perfect for listening to music on your phone while you’re out running or working out, but still give you the option to answer incoming calls when you need to.
Those of you who brought up the IE2s and MIE2s specifically praised Bose’s build quality and the design of the headphones, and pointed out that it’s good to be able to buy one great set of earphones and wear them both when you hit the gym and when you’re on the train on the way to work, instead of having to swap out different ones for different uses. Plus, whatever you might think about Bose, they make decent audio products, solid enough that you probably won’t be disappointed with them, and with care they’ll last for a long time.
Jaybird’s Freedom and BlueBuds X earphones are both Bluetooth models that do away with wires and let you rock out wirelessly while you run, lift, or otherwise get your daily exercise in. The Freedoms, shown above, are $ 100 retail but will set you back closer to $ 77 at Amazon, and offer a flexible strap to keep them connected behind your neck, have clear, easily-pressed on-ear controls for volume and pairing, and allow you to answer calls with a quick tap while you’re on the go. The microphone is even built into one of the earbuds so your caller can hear you clearly. They also include sport cushions and multiple ear tips so they stay in your ears and fit comfortably. The BlueBuds X on the other hand, are a different, more traditional earbud design that will run you $ 170 retail (and at Amazon) but Jaybird says are the pinnacle of wireless earbud technology. You still have a connecting strap, but the audio and call controls have moved to a smaller control pod along the cable. The BlueBuds X also have been designed to compensate (according to Jaybird) for the inevitable sound quality degradation you’ll get passing audio over Bluetooth, and sport over-ear and in-ear fitting options so you can wear them the way you choose. The sport cushion and multi-sized ear tips are still there to keep your ears happy while you wear them.
Those of you who nominated the Jaybird models praised their battery life (8 hours between charges for the BlueBuds X and 6 hours for the Freedoms), their broad compatibility and easy setup, and the fact that they stay in your ears no matter what type of exercise you’re doing. In fact, Jaybird has videos of people working out wearing their earphones to prove the point. The other thing that’s important to note is that Jaybird prides itself on not just engineering earphones that are friendly for exercise—that are water and sweat resistant and comfortable to wear—but that also sound really good. They put a lot of attention into audio quality, and it shows—which it should, for the price point.
If you just haven’t been able to find a set of in-ear headphones that work for you, or that really do stay in place while you work out, Decibullz may be the answer. The company prides itself on their custom-molded headphones and ear tips that won’t fall out, because they’re designed to fit your ears and only your ears. You have the option to buy their headphones, which are the models we’ll talk about, or to buy just the custom molded ear tips and attach whatever earbuds or IEMs you already have to them (assuming they’ll fit). Decibullz’s headphones will set you back $ 40 direct for a pair with the Decibullz custom-molded ear tips along with them. Keep in mind though that Decibullz’s claim to fame is their ear tips, not their headphones, so while they’ll work with almost any device you plug them into, the remote control pod on the cable is designed for the iPhone. The ear tips on the other hand, are really spectacular, and are only $ 13 direct on their own.
The ear tips are DIY, so you get them, heat them up in the microwave, and then attach them to your own earbuds—as long as they’re the type that support replaceable rubber ear tips. Many of you pointed out that once you got a set of Decibullz tips for your own earphones, you never had a problem with them falling out again. Our friends at Gizmodo reviewed the headphones not too long ago, and-as you can tell by their headline—didn’t care much for them. The tips however, they loved—and we have to agree with them there.
The Motorola S10-HD Bluetooth wireless headphones put the Bluetooth radio, battery, and other electronics in a firm band that goes around the back of your neck while you wear them, and fits snugly to your head. The earphones themselves fit right into your ears, and feature on-ear controls for volume and music playback, not to mention buttons to answer and hang up calls and pair with your smartphone. They’re sweat proof and water resistant, and have actually been on the market for a while, so you can score a pair for $ 68 at Amazon, much less than their original $ 90 list price. You’ll get about 8 hours of continuous play time out of the S10-HDs before you have to recharge the battery, and despite their look, they’re only about 1.5 ounces.
Those of you who nominated the S10-HDs pointed out their solid bang for the buck price, lack of wires or cables, and the fact that they make decent headphones as well as workout headphones, even taking Bluetooth into consideration. Plus, many of you pointed out that the way the band fits around the back of your head means the earphones don’t slip out of your ears easily, and a quick wipe-down with a towel cleans them up nicely without having to dry out cables and such, and the audio quality is really solid without being so loud or over the top that you can’t hear your surroundings.
Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to determine the community favorite:
Honorable mentions this week go out to Skullcandy’s In-Ear models, which many of you called out for walking the line between affordability, audio quality, and solid design, but not so expensive or so great that wearing them while you exercised or ran around town jogging was a problem for you. Many of you didn’t specify which Skullcandy model you preferred, but we imagine the Titans or the 50/50s were some of the models you had in mind.
We also have to give an honorable mention to the various Sony in-ear models that were nominated. No specific models got enough nominations to make the top five, but there were enough Sony nominations to warrant a mention. Specifically highlighted were the Sony Active Style (MDR-ASxxxx) series, in-ear models with a unique wrap-around band for each ear that makes sure they won’t fall off while you exercise. Some of you praised Sony’s other models with over-ear adapters so you didn’t have to trust the headphones to stay in your ears while you worked out, and those of you who don’t like in-ear headphones at all praised the Sony MDR-Q68LW for being a solid clip-on model that rests on-ear instead of in-ear.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it’s not because we hate it—it’s because it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!