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Which Wireless Headphones Are Right for You?

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Within the last, five to ten years, running and sports headphones have certainly come a long way. Fortunately for us runners and athletes, technology has vastly improved and there are a lot of great brands, types, and styles of headphones available on the market today. But not all are created equal, and next to an injury, blistered feet and toes from a bad pair of shoes, and wearing the wrong attire for the weather, having headphones go out or break on you during the middle of a run can feel just about as bad as it can get.

And even worse than that is when you are two miles from the end of your first half marathon, freezing and tired to your core because the farthest you have ever run is ten miles one time, totally dehydrated and giving everything you have not to just quit altogether, and then your headphones go out (so you can’t listen to the playlist you carefully crafted that was your one hope for keeping you motivated)… it happens, people. Every runner has a different style of running and running preferences, so naturally what you wear in your ears is also going to vary person to person. Our list breaks down the pros and cons of some of the most popular headphones out there, to help you narrow down your choice to find which one works for you.

Wireless Beats By Dre

Rapper Dr. Dre recently sold his label to Apple, and the result is a quality pair of headphones that have the backing of one of the world’s leading technology and software corporations. If you are not as much into running as other forms of exercise (particularly weight lifting, walking, and workouts that do not require as much movement and jerking and head bobbing as running or jogging) then the original Beats headphones are an excellent choice. People love them because of their noise canceling abilities. Basically, put those bad boys on your ears, and all you will hear is the music blasting from your device. Talk about helping you get in the zone! However, these are not really practical for running, so the wireless headphones are your next stop. I have had a pair and can attest to the excellent sound quality and how well they hold a charge.

They also have a terrific Bluetooth connection, and even if your music playing device is 30 feet away, they will pick up the sound just as clearly as if you were holding it in your hand. And because they hold a charge so long, you do not have to remember to charge them nearly as often – which is great, because when you start trying to run or workout consecutive days in a row, the last thing you want to do is remember to plug in your headphones before and after. Talk about a motivation killer! And unlike some other headphones, they charge fast. We’re talking, if you plug them in for five minutes, you will have an hour of charge! However, my beats actually completely stopped working after just five weeks, without any indication that they were going out.

The reason is likely attributed to water damage. Even though the Wireless Beats claim themselves to be water and sweatproof, the plugin spot for the charger is not covered (like some other brands and styles) and so sweat can drip down in there and cause a short, or for them to stop working altogether. Fortunately, because Apple is the company it is, you can always purchase a warranty package like you would any other Apple phone or computer device. But who wants to have to keep bringing them back, even if they ARE under warranty? Especially after having spent $150 to $200!

Bose SoundSport Wireless

If you can get past the price tag, users pretty much all concur that Bose dominates the wireless headphone game. Recently, Bose came out with little bud-style headphones (much like AirPods) that are gaining in popularity among runners and exercises, but their SoundSport wireless model still reigns supreme. Although they don’t hold as much battery life as the 8 hours that some of their competitors can (these hold 6), Bose is known for its sound quality, and these headphones are no exception. Plus, they have a unique shape and design that fits virtually all types of ears (those of you who have unique ears and struggle to find comfortable headphones that stay put, rejoice!) Plus, 30 feet of Bluetooth connectivity allows these headphones to rival basically all other brands in Bluetooth distance connectivity.

Sony Wireless Bluetooth Ear Headphones

“Noise Cancelling.” Most of the time, that little phrase is associated with the big, DJ-esque headphones that completely cover the ear. And while it is really great to be able to hear nothing but your own jams pumping through the speakers, the bulky style of these headphones isn’t conducive to running. But Sony has upped the game, and their noise-canceling technology rivals some of the best over-the-ear headphones on the market. They also can boast the longest battery life of similarly priced (which is pretty high…) headphones, at nine hours of battery life. And they come with a convenient charging case, to keep your earbuds secure and protected while they charge in between workouts. These headphones have a really unique look, though, and not everyone raves on their style.

Wireless JLab Epic Air

The headphones are excellent. Although they retail around $150, they tend to last at least two years. They keep their sound quality well, too. Over time you might start to notice that their Bluetooth connection fades a bit, but it is never significant (and who cares if you are only using them for running when your sound device has to be strapped close to your body anyway). They get top ratings for holding up to sweaty workouts, especially because the charging hole is covered and protected from moisture. However, the biggest complaint about these headphones is that over time, their charge DRASTICALLY reduces. I was always very careful not to leave them plugged in too long to suck battery life but also was extremely diligent about plugging them in immediately after my workouts while showering off, to charge up a bit. Yet, they got to the point that they would die after half an hour of play time. And not just that, but the charger itself that came with the headphones went out. It started out with just being finicky about the position it had to be in to charge the headphones, but then finally got to the point where it died altogether. Overall, though, two years out of a pair of headphones is fairly decent (though knowing you have to budget about $75 a year on average for headphones, at that rate, is irksome).

Apple AirPods

When they first came out, AirPods got a bad rap and were quickly dubbed “What will be the most lost item of 2016”. Users thought that such small headphones not connected to anything were bound to bite the dust at the bottom of gym bags everywhere or fall out on a run, never to be seen (or heard) again. Yet, like Apple tends to do, they proved us wrong in a very good way. And consumers are now super on board with these little but might headphones. They pair well all devices, including non-Apple Bluetooth products. They have a sleek design, superb sound quality, and are durable (like their wired counterparts, Apple’s headphones are hardcore and stand up to sweat sessions like champions). The major downside with these little guys (aside from if you misplace them…) is their high price tag. And, even though the design is stylish and modern, they are not compatible with everyone’s ears.


  1. Lily Katz, Bose SoundSport Free Review, Review

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