Best running earbuds and headphones to use for 2021

There are many elements to consider when selecting a pair of headphones on your run, however maybe a very powerful one is match. You desire a pair that is each comfy and safe — you do not wish to lose an earbud, and also you need ones that can keep in your ears even while you’re operating at max velocity.

There are different issues to consider as effectively. Good sound high quality is actually necessary, as is sturdiness, battery life and dependable efficiency with minimal dropouts. Evidently, operating headphones additionally should be sweat-resistant and ideally even waterproof. And eventually, some security options are a giant plus — by that I imply it may be necessary to have the ability to hear visitors when you’re operating alongside roads with automobiles driving by. Open-style earbuds or headphones that do not block out sound are good choices, or in-ear noise isolating buds which have a transparency mode that lets sound in (most of those sorts have a noise-canceling mode as effectively). 

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Sure, some individuals nonetheless run with wired headphones, however as of late most runners are searching for wi-fi earphones — and certain true wireless earbuds — as a result of headphones with a wire are cumbersome by comparability.

Nearly all of the headphones on this finest record are true wi-fi, however there are additionally a number of different sorts, together with on-ear and wi-fi bone-conduction headphones which might be fashionable with runners and bikers due to their open design that enables sound in for security causes. I replace the record periodically as I overview new merchandise.

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Water resistantSure (IP67 ranking — can stand up to immersion in 1 meter of water for half-hour).

AfterShokz bone conduction wi-fi headphones aren’t fairly what many individuals image after they consider an earphone as a result of they do not go in your ears — these headphones really ship sound to your ear via your cheekbones. The large advantage of this expertise as operating earphones is that, due to its open design, you’ll be able to hear ambient noise and what is going on on round you whereas listening to music or having a telephone dialog via the wi-fi headphones. That openness permits runners to listen to visitors sound, as having the ability to hear exterior noise and ambient sound is a crucial security characteristic in any exercise headphones. Additionally, some race coordinators do not enable runners to put on something of their ears, which is the place over-ear headphones like this come in useful, notably for individuals who must take heed to music whereas they run.

Aeropex ($160) over-ear headphones, which AfterShokz describes as its “lightest, highest-quality headphones but,” have been launched in 2019. From my preliminary testing, sound high quality on this pair of headphones is certainly higher than the corporate’s earlier flagship mannequin, the Trekz Air — or the Air, because it’s now known as. It is also barely extra comfy to put on with a snug match. Nonetheless, whereas AfterShokz continues to make small enhancements to efficiency with every new iteration of its wi-fi headphones, the sound high quality nonetheless cannot match that of a conventional headphone.

Read our AfterShokz Aeropex first take.


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Water resistantSure (IP55 ranking — can stand up to heavy sprays of water).

AfterShokz’ new entry-level OpenMove bone-conduction headphone lists for $100 however is at the moment promoting for $80. It replaces the older Titanium mannequin, which remains to be on sale (it additionally prices $80), and options some small design upgrades. I discovered it comfy to put on and whereas it does not sound nice, it sounds comparatively good for a bone-conduction headphone (once more, hold your sound high quality expectations in test otherwise you’ll be disenchanted). It is excellent for listening to podcasts, audiobooks and information broadcasts when you run (I generally tend to take heed to XM radio whereas operating). 

This mannequin prices by way of USB-C and features a easy carrying pouch. Battery life is rated at as much as six hours.

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Water resistant: Sure (IP55 splash-proof)

With so many new wi-fi earbuds and headphones being launched on what appears possible a weekly foundation, it is not simple for corporations to distinguish their merchandise within the market. Skullcandy hopes its new voice-driven platform, Cranium-iQ Good Function Expertise, will do exactly that. Just like the Apple AirPods’ “Hey Siri” characteristic, Skullcandy’s model lets you say “Hey, Skullcandy” to concern hands-free voice instructions with out touching a button. Cranium-iQ debuts on the sports-oriented Push Energetic (and $100 Grind Gas), which can be firmware updatable by way of the Skullcandy App.

With their ear-hook design, they’re primarily a extra inexpensive model of the Beats Powerbeats Professional they usually really match my ears barely higher than the Powerbeats Professional (I am not normally a fan of ear-hook model buds, however this is among the higher ones). 

The Push Energetic True earbuds are geared up with Bluetooth 5.2, are IP55 splashproof, have built-in Tile Discovering Expertise and are rated for as much as 10 hours of battery life on a single cost at average quantity ranges. 

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Water resistant: Sure (IPX5 ranking — can stand up to a sustained spray of water).

We had the cheaper EarFun Free on this record, however the newer and extra feature-rich EarFun Free Professional buds are those I am utilizing extra for sporting exercise as of late. They’ve energetic noise cancellation with a transparency mode, wi-fi charging and Bluetooth 5.2. Rated for seven hours of battery life with out the noise-canceling operate on, or about six hours with it on, they’re IPX5 waterproof, which implies they will stand up to a sustained spray of water.

They sound excellent for the cash, with comparatively clear, balanced sound and bass that has some kick to it — they’re fairly open-sounding. Light-weight and cozy to put on, they’ve little fins that assist hold them securely in your ears, they usually’re pretty discreet-looking.

Do not count on them to cancel noise in addition to the AirPods Pro, however they do present some first rate muffling. It is value noting that you need to use both the left or proper earbud independently and there is a low-latency mode for video watching (and presumably gaming). Name high quality was first rate, too: Callers mentioned they heard some background noise but it surely wasn’t intrusive they usually may hear my voice effectively. The contact controls have been responsive. 

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Water resistant: Sure (IP68 ranking — dust-proof and totally waterproof)

Identified for his or her safe match, first rate sound and sturdiness, Jaybird’s Vista sport earbuds ($150) have been on our lists of best workout headphones and best running headphones since 2019. Now the Vista 2, an upgraded model that includes a related design and better price ticket ($200), has arrived with a few key upgrades lacking from the unique: energetic noise canceling and a transparency mode known as SurroundSense, which lets you hear the surface world, an necessary security characteristic for runners and bikers. 

The up to date earbuds primarily have the identical design because the originals. Nonetheless, Jaybird has added some cloth to the surface of the buds, which helps lower down on wind noise (consider the material as a dampener). There’s additionally an ear-detection sensor, so your music mechanically pauses while you take the buds out of your ears.

The Vista 2 buds have an IP68 water resistance ranking, which implies they’re each dust-proof and totally waterproof. Jaybird says they’re additionally sweat-, crush- and drop-proof. And the compact case is now splash-proof and dust-resistant, with an IP54 ranking.

They sound fairly good when you tweak the EQ settings to your liking, however their sound high quality is not fairly as much as the extent of another premium earbuds within the $200 value vary. Their noise canceling, transparency mode and voice-calling are first rate although unspectacular (the AirPods carry out higher in all departments). However when you’re shopping for these, you are shopping for them for the safe match and sturdiness.

David Carnoy/CNET

Water resistant: Sure (IPX4 ranking — splash-proof)

The Beats Studio Buds look rather a lot just like the rumored stemless AirPods we have been ready for. Geared towards each iOS and Android customers, they’re lacking a number of key options on the Apple facet of issues (there isn’t any H1 or W1 chip), however they’re small, light-weight earbuds which might be comfy to put on and provide excellent sound. Whereas their noise cancellation is not nearly as good as you get from the AirPods Professional, they do have a transparency mode that lets ambient sound in they usually’re first rate for making calls. Finally, their match and sound high quality are their strongest promoting factors — and they’re about $50 cheaper than the AirPods Professional.

They match my ears securely (I ran with them with no downside), however you may get some slippage when you sweat rather a lot. In that case, it could be a good suggestion to spend money on some foam ear suggestions, which enhance grip somewhat (I exploit them with the AirPods Professional). Read our Beats Studio Buds review.

They record for $150 however have been sporadically discounted to as little as $125.

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Water resistantSure (IPX4 ranking — splash-proof).

So far as headphones go, Bose’s Sport Open Earbuds are fairly funky. To not be confused with the corporate’s extra conventional in-ear Sport Earbuds and QuietComfort Earbuds, they characteristic an open design with no tip, which means the earpiece sits on high of your ear and does not penetrate your ear canal. 

Geared towards runners and bikers who need their ears open to the world for security causes — or to individuals who do not prefer to have any type of bud of their ears — they sound surprisingly good. I ended up liking them, however their design is not for everyone, and the way comfy you discover them will decide how a lot you want them.

Read our Bose Sport Open Earbuds review.


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Water resistantSure (IPX4 ranking — splash-proof).

Whereas they are not marketed as sports activities earbuds, the AirPods Professional are excellent actually wi-fi headphones for operating. That is largely as a consequence of their profitable light-weight design and match, improved bass efficiency, efficient noise cancellation and glorious name high quality. Whereas I can not run with the usual AirPods (these in-ear headphones do not match my ears securely), I had no bother operating with the AirPods Professional, which have a noise-isolating design with a silicone tip that sits snugly in your ear. That mentioned, I received an much more safe match through the use of a pair of Comply foam ear tips ($25).

For runners, it is value noting that there is a transparency mode that enables sound to leak in. You will nonetheless should decrease the quantity of your music to listen to the sound of visitors noise. The AirPods Professional are additionally formally rated as being sweat-resistant.

Read our AirPods Pro review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Water resistantSure (IPX4 ranking — splash-proof).

Sure, the Beats Powerbeats Pro’s jumbo charging case is a notable disadvantage. However the mixture of incorporating all of the options that make Apple’s AirPods nice whereas delivering richer sound high quality and higher battery life in a wi-fi earbuds design that will not fall out of your ear (ear hooks for the win!) in the end is a profitable proposition for earbuds for operating. Simply ensure you purchase these operating earbuds someplace that has a superb return coverage in case you are within the small minority that has ears that are not fairly a match for the bluetooth earbuds. Be aware that these headphones are incessantly lowered from $250 to $200 and even much less — do not pay the total value when you’re shopping for them.

Read our Beats Powerbeats Pro review.


David Carnoy/CNET

Water resistant: Sure (IPX4 ranking — splash-proof)

Google’s Pixel Buds A-Sequence are type of uncommon, in that they are new however not precisely an improve. They appear and sound similar to final 12 months’s Pixel Buds 2, which debuted at $179 however at the moment are selling for less. Nonetheless, as a substitute of getting new options — like energetic noise canceling — they’ve really misplaced a number of. Why? The “A” stands for affordability: They solely price $100. That new cheaper price is the true story right here, making these a bona fide true-wireless worth, notably for Android customers. And the built-in stabilizer arcs (aka sport fins) assist hold the buds securely in your ears throughout sporting actions. Read our Pixel Buds A-Series review.


Water resistantSure (IPX4 ranking — splash-proof).

The Bose Frames is a type of merchandise you must attempt to totally recognize — or dismiss. The idea is you are getting a good pair of sun shades with a pair of headphones that do not really go in your ears. Fairly, built-in micro audio system in every arm direct a beam of sound to your ears. That design might be interesting to individuals who do not like having headphones in or on their ears, and in addition gives a level of security for runners and bikers who need their ears open to the world.

Bose has up to date its line of audio sun shades with three new fashions, together with the Tempo sports activities mannequin, which gives higher sound and battery life than the extra traditional-looking Tenor and Soprano. The Tempo has higher specs all-around, with USB-C charging and bigger 22mm drivers. It additionally delivers as much as eight hours of battery life.

Their sound is certainly improved from the unique Frames. Bose says the Tempo performs “deeper and louder — loud sufficient for biking at 25 mph — whereas nonetheless in a position to hear visitors and your coaching companions.” They’re sweat-, weather-, scratch- and shatter-resistant, in line with Bose and match beneath most protecting helmets. (I had no downside utilizing them with a few bike helmets.) In addition they work rather well for making calls, due to a brand new dual-microphone system. Non-compulsory lenses can be found for $39 and you may order prescription lenses via Lensabl.

Read our Bose Frames review.


David Carnoy/CNET

Water resistant: Sure (IPX4 splash-proof)

I preferred Shure’s unique Aonic 215 true-wireless earbuds, however they have been buggy and Shure pulled them off the market. From a design standpoint, this Gen 2 model is basically equivalent however not all of the efficiency kinks have been smoothed out. 

Weirdly, they’re type of the audiophile equal of the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They’ve a hook that wraps across the high of your ear they usually stayed in my ears very securely (much more securely than the Powerbeats Professional earbuds). And like that Beats mannequin, they’ve a jumbo charging case. Although it is technically greater than the Powerbeats Professional’s case, it does not really feel greater, maybe as a result of it is barely thinner.

What’s fascinating about them is that the Bluetooth module is removable (they’ve bodily a bodily management button versus contact controls, which I preferred). As its identify implies, the Aonic 215 True Wi-fi Noise-Isolating Earphones incorporates Shure’s SE215 buds , the $99 entry-level mannequin in its line of earbuds which have removable cables. However the modules, which might be purchased individually for $230, are designed to drive any Shure earbuds which have a removable cable, together with the $1,000 SE846.

Headset efficiency has improved (they’re not mono however stereo for calls) they usually now have an IPX4 splashproof water-resistance ranking. They’ve clear, well-balanced sound with properly outlined bass — however they only haven’t got a ton of bass. I might prefer to see them price about $50 much less, however they do make for good sports activities earbuds that you do not have to fret about falling out of your ears.

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Water resistant: Sure (IPX8 ranking — totally waterproof)

TaoTronics’ SoundLiberty P10 earbuds are one other AirPods Professional knockoff, however they’re one of many higher ones on the market for the cash, with good sound and first rate headset efficiency for making calls. The noise canceling is not as much as the extent of the AirPods Professional, but it surely’s fairly efficient and there is additionally an ambient mode that lets sound in (the equal of the AirPods Professional’s transparency mode, simply not fairly as natural-sounding), in addition to an anti-wind mode.

I’ve tried many TaoTronics headphones through the years and these stands out as the firm’s finest earbuds but. Whereas they are not fancy, they match my ears effectively, their case is compact and the directions clearly spell out use the contact controls. They’re geared up with Bluetooth 5.2 and are totally waterproof with an IPX8 ranking. Battery life is rated at six and a half hours with noise canceling on and quantity at 50%.

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Water resistantSure (IPX2 ranking — sweat-resistant and protects towards gentle splashes).

Say what you’ll in regards to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Reside’s bean-shaped design, however they may simply be probably the most revolutionary new true wi-fi earbuds of the 12 months. Like the usual AirPods, they’ve an open design — you do not jam an ear tip into your ear — they usually’re fairly comfy to put on and match my ears extra securely than the AirPods. These wi-fi buds are discreet and principally sit flush together with your ear, which reduces wind-noise whereas biking. I frequently use them for operating and biking, they usually’re nice for sporting actions in the event that they suit your ears effectively, however one warning: Some individuals will not get a safe match, so purchase them from a retailer that has a superb return coverage.

They ship good sound and work effectively as a headset for making calls, with good background noise discount so callers can hear you clearly even while you’re in noisier environments. Whereas they characteristic energetic noise canceling, it is gentle in comparison with the noise canceling in earbuds which have a noise-isolating design. In different phrases, purchase them for his or her design and sound, not their noise-canceling options.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review.


David Carnoy/CNET

Water resistantSure (IPX4 ranking — splash-proof).

Each Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds and Sport Earbuds make good exercise headphones, due to their StayHear Max suggestions and safe match, however the Sport Earbuds are extra compact and lighter and in addition extra inexpensive (the QuietComfort Earbuds do have glorious energetic noise canceling, nonetheless).

They’ve the identical IPX4 splash-resistant rating because the QuietComfort Earbuds, are geared up with Bluetooth 5.1 (my connection was rock stable) and share the same design aesthetic, with three shade choices obtainable. Not like their step-up sibling, they haven’t any energetic noise canceling and an hour much less of battery life — 5 hours as a substitute of six — in addition to no wi-fi charging. Whereas they do stand proud of your ears, they’re noticeably smaller and lighter than the QuietComfort Earbuds and their case is about 30% to 40% smaller. The case nonetheless is not as small because the circumstances for such opponents because the AirPods Professional, Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, Galaxy Buds Reside and Jabra Elite 75t. But it surely feels fairly compact.

Read our Bose Sport Earbuds review.


David Carnoy/CNET

Water resistant: Sure (IP55 splash-proof)

Sony’s WF-SP800N “sports activities” earbuds have been frequently discounted during the last 12 months, they usually just lately hit a brand new low of $78 on Amazon and Finest Purchase. This might very effectively be an indication that we’ll see new Sony true-wireless sports activities earbuds within the close to future.

No, the noise canceling and sound aren’t nearly as good as you get from the WF-1000XM4 (or WF-1000XM3 for that matter), however there’s nonetheless rather a lot to love about these ‘buds, together with excellent sound, stable noise canceling and good name high quality. The “arcs” (sports activities fins) lock the earbuds in your ears however you simply should make positive you get a decent seal from one of many included ear suggestions, or else each the sound and noise canceling can be lackluster.

Read our Sony WF-SP800N review.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Water resistantSure (IP55 ranking — can stand up to heavy sprays of water).

For those who do not wish to shell out $160 for AfterShokz’s top-of-the-line Aeropex bone-conduction wi-fi headphone, the Trekz Air — or just Air, because it’s now known as — retails for about $40 much less. This pair of around-the-neck headphones was AfterShokz’ high mannequin a few years in the past and is not a giant drop-off from the Aeropex, however has much less battery life (as much as six hours as a substitute of eight) and is rather less waterproof (IP55 vs. IP67 for the Aeropex). Nonetheless, the Air sounds good for a bone-conduction headphone. Nonetheless, once more, needless to say the sound does not measure as much as that of a conventional headphone.

Read our AfterShokz Trekz Air review.


Extra headphone suggestions 

Extra for health buffs | Finest operating earbuds and headphones to make use of for 2021


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