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Best headphones for running 2020

Best headphones for running Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best headphones for running 2020.

Whether you're going for a run once a day or once a week, a good pair of running headphones will make it all the more enjoyable. 

The best running headphones will deliver great sound while offering sweat-resistant designs that stay in place, and with wireless options aplenty to choose from, you should get a decent battery life, too.

From cheap true wireless buds that completely remove the wire, to in-ear wireless earphones, neckband headphones, and even Bluetooth over-ears, these are the best running headphones we've reviewed. 

How we choose the best running headphones

Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year – and that includes plenty of headphones. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them?

We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. 

All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same price category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference.

The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.

From all of our reviews, we choose the best products to feature in our Best Buys. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.

Best headphones for running

(Image credit: Bose)

1. Bose SoundSport Wireless

Good sound and a comfortable fit, these are our pick as the best headphones for runninng

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: n/a | In-line remote and mic: n/a | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6 hours

Reasons to Buy

Comfortable
Fun sound
Strong wireless performance

Reasons to Avoid

Very little at this price

Theses are some of the best-sounding, most reliable running headphones you'll find for this money. There is a soft cable between the two buds, each of which uses an in-ear hook to keep them in place. We like the design here, complete with lightweight remote, and these running headphones are also sweat-resistant and IPX4 splashproof, too. The battery life is a modest six hours but we'd imagine that'll do most people for a few runs or circuits.

Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Wireless

Best headphones for running

2. Sennheiser CX Sport

A solid-sounding and appealing pair of wireless in-ears for running and the gym.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: n/a | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6 hours

Reasons to Buy

Clear, detailed sound
Punchy, weighty delivery

Reasons to Avoid

Lack a little rhythm

These Sennheisers are designed with running and the gym in mind, with their rubberised ear fins and splash and sweat-resistant design. Fit is excellent and noise isolation is good. The earpieces are connected by a short run of cable which includes an in-line mic and controls. Battery life is a respectable six hours and sound quality is robust and powerful, just what you need when you're making a push for the finish line or your final set of squats. And now they're available for a bargain price.

Read the full review: Sennheiser CX Sport

Best headphones for running

(Image credit: JBL)

3. JBL Reflect Flow

These are the best wireless earbuds for running

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 10 hours (30 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Good detail
Strong bass depth
Long battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Can be beaten for dynamics
Carrying case is a bit big

JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to running earphones and the JBL Reflect Flow is a hotly anticipated entrant to the flourishing, albeit rather niche, true-wireless-for-sports market.

In their niche category, though, the JBL Reflect Flow headphones impressive performers for the money, especially if you want a bass-heavy sound for the gym without resorting to a pair of over-ear headphones – and the 10-hour battery (or 30 with the case) will outlast a seriously long gym session. 

There are better wireless earbuds for pure sonic performance but if you want a sporty option, these might just be the best bet.

Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow

Best headphones for running

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony WF-1000XM3

The best-sounding wireless earbuds you can buy

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 6 hours (24 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Musical sound
Good noise-cancelling
Excellent battery life
Snug fit

Reasons to Avoid

No volume controls
No aptX HD support

The best true wireless earbuds just got better! The latest version of Sony's earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM3 offer an all-new Bluetooth chip which sharpens up music synchronization and a noise-cancelling processor which claims to bring a 40 per cent upgrade on its predecessor. Everywhere else, pretty much everything has improved, from the fit, to the battery life, to the sound quality. A five-star all-round option and a decent bet for the gym, too.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3

Best headphones for running

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

5. Bowers & Wilkins PI3

Brilliant wireless earbuds from B&W, ideal for running

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 8 hours

Reasons to Buy

Clean, detailed presentation
Solid, weighty and tight bass
Flexible design and fine build

Reasons to Avoid

Not IPX rated
Lack of eartip options

Bowers & Wilkins has successfully made a smooth move into the headphone market, building on its almost unrivalled reputation when it comes to making speakers. In-ears of this design, which makes us think of sport and the gym, haven't necessarily been on the hit list however – fear not, B&W has knocked it out of the park with these wireless in-ears too.

The PI3 earphones are a dual driver design, complete with a flexible neckband. We would prefer a few more ear tips to get the optimum fit, so it might be one to try before you buy. They deliver a decent battery life and though they aren't technically waterproof, B&W claims they are "resistant to light rain, splash and sweat". 

Happily, they deliver a clear, controlled, punchy and well-balanced sound. From rock to pop to hip-hop, the B&W PI3 earphones deliver a confident, entertaining sound. Another fine option from B&W.

Read the full review: B&W PI3

Best headphones 2020

(Image credit: EarFun)

6. Earfun Air

Affordable and feature-packed wireless earbuds.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 7 hours (35 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Punchy, expansive sound
Great feature set
Classy build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Treble needs more refinement

This little-known Hong Kong audio company doesn't have many products to its name but it has managed to do something that many bigger brands have not, and that's come up with a super-affordable set of true wireless headphones that are actually worth buying.

Not only do the Earfun Airs give a very worthy listen but they're feature-packed too. While you won't get active noise cancelling at this price, the noise isolation of these comfortable, well-fitting earphones does an excellent portion of that same job. They're also waterproof to IPX7 standards (1m submersible for up to 30 mins), they have voice assistance built-in and support Qi wireless charging.

Call handling is responsive and clear, and the battery life is a pretty stonking 35 hours when using the charge case. Amazingly it all feels fairly premium too. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection never lets us down and, while the audio is no match for headphones at double the price, they still offer some grippy, energetic listening and an excellent sense of space.

If you’re after something inexpensive that’ll sound good on your run, the Earfun Air buds could just be the ideal proposition.

Read the full review: Earfun Air review

Best headphones for running

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

7. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

A truly exceptional pair of cheap wireless earbuds.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 9hr | Charging: Micro USB | In-line mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Detailed, insightful sound
Reliable Bluetooth
Long battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Some may find the fit difficult

If top value sound quality from true wireless earbuds is what you're after for a pair of gym headphones, Cambridge Audio has answered your prayers. For an affordable price, the Melomania 1 earphones deliver an open, detailed sound that's hard to beat without spending more money.

A good fit is essential, and, due to the length of the earpiece itself, that might not be as easy to come by for everybody, but their sonic talent is such that it's worth the effort and potential purchase of extra buds.

With nine hours battery life from the buds themselves, plus four additional charges from the case, that means an impressive 45 hours of continuous use from this little set-up. There's no noise cancelling, but it is clear Cambridge Audio's focus has been on great sound over bonus features.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

Best headphones for running

(Image credit: Future)

8. Apple AirPods Pro

The new AirPods are a joy to live with and use all day, every day.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 5 hours (24 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Exceptionally comfortable
Strong noise-cancelling
Balanced, easy-going sound

Reasons to Avoid

Noise-cancelling impacts timing
Sony rival sounds more engaging

By combining the magic of the original AirPods with active noise-cancelling, Apple will be hoping it has another hit on its hands. And while the AirPods Pros aren't the best-sounding noise-cancelling in-ears, they are still an utter joy to own and use.

Excellent noise-cancelling is complemented by a transparency mode that feels almost as natural as wearing non-isolating earphones. Here Apple has created a pair of headphones that’s as well suited to a long-haul flight as it is to a run around the block. For many, they could be the only pair of headphones they ever need.

Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro

Best headphones for running

9. Bose SoundSport Free

Thanks to a recent update, these true wireless earbuds are pretty much the perfect package

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: n/a | In-line remote and mic: n/a | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 5 hours (extra 10 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Weighty, full-bodied sound
Deep, powerful bass
Even tonal balance

Reasons to Avoid

Thanks to an update, not a lot

Built with sporty types in mind, the SoundSport Free in-ears are both sweat- and water-resistant, and have a suitably rugged feel to them. They stick out a bit more than some rivals, and you could argue that some of the competition look both more stylish and more discreet. But it's more than made up for it by the performance. After some initial connection issues, Bose seems to have sorted this with an update - and we never had a problem with the sound quality. There's no noise-cancelling but there is a bold but balanced sound with plenty of bass. Good battery life, buoyed by a charging case, are the icing on the cake.

Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Free

best running headphones

(Image credit: Beats)

10. Beats Powerbeats 3

Supremely practical buds with a more-than-decent sound

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: n/a | In-line remote and mic: Yes | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 12 hours

Reasons to Buy

Good fit
Great battery
Bassy, fun sound

Reasons to Avoid

Bass is too much at times
Can lack clarity and dynamics

The Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless earphones are, predictably, wireless, offering Bluetooth connectivity, but they have a flexible cable between the buds. They also have a hook over the ear. The cable and the hooks mean they're highly unlikely to fall out of your ears, so they're ideal should earphones that stay put be a key priority. They're comfortable, too, have a decent battery life of 12 hours, and offer a mic and volume controls on the cable. The sound is bassy and exciting, not offering the last word in clarity but perhaps ideal for the getting a sweat on to some pumping tunes. A solid bet if the feature set ticks your boxes.

Read the full review: Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless

Best headphones for the gym

11. Lindy BNX-60

Noise-cancelling and wireless on a budget.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: n/a | In-line remote and mic: n/a | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 3 hours (9 hours with charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Great value
Detailed, solid sound
Noise-cancelling and Bluetooth

Reasons to Avoid

Treble muffled in standard mode

We weren't sold on brand name alone but a thorough reviewing later and we were sold on their skills for such an affordable price. If you prefer on-ear headphones for the gym, then these deliver good wireless sound and decent noise-cancelling for a great price. Of course you get what you pay for, and much more expensive headphones will deliver better all-round sound, but for this price they're hard to fault.

Read the full review: Lindy BNX-60

best running headphones

(Image credit: Jaybird)

12. Jaybird Vista

Energetic sound and a secure fit.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: n/a | In-line remote and mic: n/a | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6 hours (10 hours from charging case)

Reasons to Buy

Punchy, energetic sound
Meaty bass
Good app
Excellent fit

Reasons to Avoid

Can be beaten for detail
Quite expensive

The Jaybird Vista are true wireless earbuds aimed at athletes. They’re the company’s second shot at truly wireless in-ears and the latest in a fairly long-line of sports headphones from Jaybird. And it shows, with a comfortable, secure fit and an accompanying set-up app that's a joy to use. And they sound good, too, with only the best wireless earbuds (see the top of this page) offering a slither more detail and composure. They're sweat-proof, comfortable, secure and come with a range of features, ensuring they're a good bet for any budding runner.

Read the full review: Jaybird Vista

Best running headphones

13. AKG N60NC Wireless

Compact wireless noise-cancellers with superb sound quality.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: n/a | Cable length: n/a | In-line remote and mic: n/a | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: up to 15 hours with charging case

Reasons to Buy

Noise cancellation
Solid bass
Clear midrange and treble

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing of note

A 2019 Award-winner, these AKGs are compact, convenient and surprisingly affordable considering what's on offer. They're a headband design, which probably doesn't make them the best running headphones, but they're a decent shout for the gym. The noise-cancelling is impressive and the AKG sound is dynamic and punchy.

Read the full review: AKG N60NC Wireless

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  • BarrenT
    Very timely and a good variety of options listed here. I have the Melomania's however and could not use them for running as they immediately fall out. I've tried alternative buds to make the fit more appropriate but then they won't charge while in the case so i have to swap buds every time. Any recommendations to make them useable as run capable 'phones please?
    Reply