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Best sports headphones: great headphones for running and the gym

Best sports headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best sports headphones you can buy in 2019.

Music makes most things better in our experience and if ever there's a time that you could do with a pleasant distraction, it's when you're getting a sweat on in an effort to burn a few calories.

Whether you like going to the gym, running or even working out at home, we suggest a musical accompaniment. The best sports headphones will deliver great sound while offering sweat-resistant designs that stay in place.

From cheap true wireless buds that completely remove the wire, to in-ear wireless earphones and even Bluetooth over-ears, these are the best headphones we've reviewed for running and the gym. And with Black Friday around the corner, it's a good time to be keeping an eye out for bargains.

How we choose the best sports 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 sports headphones

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

1. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

A truly exceptional pair of true 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 sports headphones

2. Sony WF-1000X

Proper wireless in-ear headphones with serious sonic skills.

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

Excellent with timing and dynamics
Truly wireless
Decent noise-cancelling

Reasons to Avoid

Occasional right earpiece connection issue

We had to wait a while for a five-star pair of truly wireless earphones but Sony finally delivered the goods with the WF-1000X buds. The sound is excellent and you even get decent noise-cancelling to help drown out your gym's music selection.The neat carry case doubles as a charger and can be used to stretch out the battery life to nine hours. You also get the benefit of voice-controlled Google Assistant and Siri. The best headphones for running and the gym? Quite possibly.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000X

(Image credit: Bose)

3. Bose SoundSport Wireless

A fine pair of wireless in-ears, directly aimed at sporty types. They're comfy and sound great too.

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 and gym 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 sports headphones

4. 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 running headphones

5. 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 sports headphones

(Image credit: Beats)

6. 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 on-ear headphones for the gym

7. 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 sports headphones

(Image credit: Jaybird)

8. 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 gym headphones

9. 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 2018 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

MORE:

Best in-ear headphones

Best wireless headphones