For runners, joggers, and even the humble power walker, the portable, secure form factor provided by earbuds is vastly superior to the relative bulk of an over-ear model. They allow you to interact with calls and music handsfree, they’re lightweight and stay out of the way, and just owning a pair makes you feel like more of an athlete than you might actually be. And that’s something money can’t often buy.
Whether you’re looking for general use headphones with some element of sports specialization or a full-on, dedicated pair that do everything except jogging on your behalf, there exists a wide range of products on offer for you to choose from. So let’s dive in.
Top 3 Best Earbuds for Running
Jaybird X3 Sport Bluetooth Headset
Jaybird has taken the success of the X2s and, as you would hope, delivered on the promise of a solid, across the board improvement with the X3 iteration. The performance exceeds expectations—particularly given the customization offered by the My Sound app—, the design is solid, and the overall effect is very positive.
Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones
Whilst Bose’s eventual entry into the wireless headphones market has hardly been revolutionary, it has certainly proved a consistently strong contender which really is a viable choice as an all-round performer. Sound quality is good, battery-life could be better, but the strong feature list makes the SoundSports a good choice for many consumers.
TaoTronics TT-BH06 Wireless Earbuds
The TaoTronics TT-BH06 are far from perfect, and it would be foolish to recommend them to everyone. But they are an important, potentially disrupting presence in the marketplace demonstrating that a workable wireless headphone experience doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. If you want something cheap that does the job, this is for you.
This is fairly self explanatory. Earbuds are the clear choice for wearable audio in any sporting environment (with the possible exception of eSports, but let’s not be pedantic) because the form factor lends itself to staying out of the way while you get on with whatever personal best you have to beat.
There’s a lot of scope for customizing this experience to your own requirements. If you need wireless, go for it. If you’re looking for a high-end experience that can also double as sportswear, there’s lots of them too.
The market for sports-based earbuds is large, and you’ll certainly be able to find something which suits you down to a tee.
If you’re in the market for running earbuds, the likelihood is that you already know the kinds of trade offs you’re likely to encounter. The main one is audio quality. Given the emphasis placed on a creating a design that looks the part, is sweat- and water-resistant, and is sufficiently lightweight to do the job without disrupting your performance, the listening experience is rarely going to be excellent.
This doesn’t mean it’s outright bad by any means, but expect lots of brands to emphasise features like an artificially enhanced bass response to keep things pumping above the true clarity of a well-balanced listening experience.
What to Look For
A few of the lower- and mid-tier models have, bizarrely, neglected to account for sweat- and water-resistance. This is an obvious error, but can utterly wreck your device if you happen to be a wearing your earbuds during a particularly strenuous session.
Keep an eye out, also, for the quality of the inline remote control that the overwhelming majority of offerings will include as standard. You may wish to do some research into which of these are three-button remotes as having the volume control is always helpful when you’re on the move.
Wireless can be tempting, but you’ll have to consider the potential downsides of managing battery life and checking for charge levels every time you set off for a run or to the gym. This is fine, of course, but takes some getting used to and isn’t quite the plug and play experience some users hope for.
It’s genuinely never been a better time to buy earbuds for running or other sporting purposes. Manufacturers are acutely aware of the consumer desire for headphones which perform well enough to keep you motivated but which also feature a design that complements an active lifestyle.
You can find a great variety of offerings across a real breadth of price points, and are sure to find something which will suit you down to the ground. As ever, it’s important to keep in mind that there are trade-offs you’ll have to make depending on the model you end up choosing.