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7 Best Wireless Running Headphones of 2017 (At All Budgets)

Tech By Photo by Hunter Kelley

Last Updated July, 2017: We’ve added selections for best all-around wireless running, exercise, and workout headphones. This list includes new details and the entire list includes headphones that don’t easily fall out.

The Best Wireless Running Headphones
Our Favorites: Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless
Best For Hardcore Athletes: Jabra Sport Pulse and Sport Coach Special Edition
Best Overall: Bose SoundSport Wireless
Best for the Budget: Anker SoundBuds Slim Wireless
Best Fitting (and Most Comfortable): Decibullz Custom-Fit Wireless
Best Designed (Around $100): Jaybird X3
Best Audio Quality: BTS Pro by 66 Audio

Standard headphones, like the ones that come with your iPhone, work fine — they’re just not great for exercising. They aren’t sweat-proof, they have sensitive components (microphone, speaker, accelerometer) that are vulnerable to perspiration, and they’re prone to dying prematurely. The answer? Selecting the best wireless running headphones.

Sport headphones add a new dimension to your workout. They are light, have a comfortable and secure fit, and can handle the buckets of salty perspiration your dome dishes out. So whether you’re lifting weights, running or doing a total body workout, it’s time to swap out your basic buds for something better.

How We Tested: Over the last few months I’ve tested all of the sport headphones below. My runs range between four to six miles on average and take place either along NYC’s East River Path or the NJ suburbs where I grew up. I’m not a professional by any stretch — just a guy who’s been running consistently (three to five times per week) for the last 10+ years. And for me, running with music is vital. If you have any questions you can reach out to me a [email protected].

7 Best Wireless Running Headphones of 2017 (At All Budgets)

Best Wireless Running Headphones for Hardcore Athletes:
Jabra Sport Pulse and Sport Coach Special Edition

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Who Should Buy These: The Jabra Sport Pulse SE is designed for endurance athletes doing VO2 max training. The Sport Coach SE is ideal for HIIT workouts. Both headphones will give you updates how you’re doing throughout the workout, updating you on distance, cadence or how close you are to reaching your workout goal. To get any of these features, in either headphone, you’ll need to use the Jabra Sports Life app.

Admittedly, both headphones pack a lot of features that might be overkill if you’re just running and not training for something specific. And the battery life isn’t great — expect less than five hours. However, the sound quality is comparatively very good and the price doesn’t come near the $200 mark of the Powerbeats3 Wireless.

Overview: Jabra has pushed the envelope for running headphones. In 2014, it launched the Jabra Sport Pulse, its first pair of wireless sport headphones with a built-in heart-rate monitor; in fall 2016, we got the updated Jabra Sport Pulse ($160) and the Sport Coach Special Edition ($120). The former, and more expensive of the two, features a heart-rate monitor and continuous VO2 Max testing, a measure of the rate at which you consume oxygen during a workout. The more affordable Jabra Sport Coach SE doesn’t have a heart-rate monitor, but it does have a TrackFit motion sensor that automatically counts activities like push-ups and sit-ups.

Fit: Despite the differing appearances, both headphones have the same exact fit. Each pair comes with a variety of silicone earbud cushions and earwings in various sizes, so you can mix and max to get the right fit. For me, the fit was hit or miss — on some runs they would stay put and on other runs they felt loose. It’s obviously a matter of getting the right combination for your ears, but they didn’t hold as steady for me as others on here.

Sound Quality: Sound quality — which Jabra hasn’t been particularly known for — was strong on both headphones. The bass wasn’t super heavy. In terms of loudness, it was on par with the Bose SoundSport Wireless. It’s solid.

Other Recommended Reviews:
• “We’re highly impressed with the Jabra Sport Pulse, both from the perspective of accurate and useable heart rate tracking and the breadth and variety of workouts. It’s one of the best heart rate monitors we’ve tried, with a rich array of clever metrics to boot.” — Wareable
• “If you’d rather your fitness wearable live in your ear than on your wrist, the Sport Pulse SE are the premiere choice.” — Digital Trends

Key Specs
Jabra Sport Pulse SE
Driver: 6mm dynamic
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0
Water Resistance: IP55
Charge: micro-USB
Battery Life: 5 hours

Jabra Sport Coach SE
Driver: 6mm dynamic
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0
Water Resistance: IP55
Charge: micro-USB
Battery Life: 5.5 hours

Our Favorite Wireless Running Headphones:
Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless

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Who Should Buy These: If you own an iPhone and are willing to spend $200, which is expensive, this is a great pair of running headphones. I absolutely love running in these headphones. The fit was great and the volume was as good as could be expected. If you like the fit, but don’t care about the extended battery life or the easy pairing (i.e., if you own an Android), the Powerbeats2 wireless sport headphones ($55+) are also great and cost significantly less.

Overview: The next generation of the Beats’ acclaimed Powerbeats2 wireless sport headphones comes with several distinct improvements Most importantly, the Powerbeats3 is equipped with Apple’s W1 chip for fast and seamless pairing if you have an iPhone; if you like how easily the AirPods pair with your iPhone, these do the same thing. The second key upgrade is battery life; the Powerbeats3 has a 12-hour battery, which is exactly double what the Powerbeats2 offered.

Fit: I’m not normally a fan of earbuds with hooks that wrap around the outside of my ear; it creates a pressure point that makes the headphones uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. With the Powerbeats3, however, that wasn’t the case. The hooks didn’t rest on my ears at all. They only touched my ears when I was leaning forward, hands on my knees, because I was out of breath. The hooks also didn’t cause the earbuds to flop around during the run, which is what normally happens. Overall, the fit was excellent. I could wear these headphones for hours.

Sound Quality: I like my headphones really loud when running, so, in terms of volume, the sound was on par with Jabra’s Sport Pulse Special Edition or Jabra’s X3. It was bass heavy, but I didn’t have a problem with that.

Other Recommended Reviews:
• “You’re paying a little too much for the Beats brand and getting a little too much of that Beats sound, but these are fantastic workout headphones—and great for everything else, too.” — Wired
• “Solidly built and with a great battery life, the PowerBeats 3 get a lot of things right – but at this price point they need to do a little more than this to make them a worthwhile purchase.” — TechRadar

Key Specs
Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless
Driver: N/A
Connectivity: Bluetooth Class 1
Water Resistance: N/A
Charge: micro-USB
Battery Life: 12 hours

Best Overall Wireless Running Headphones:
Bose SoundSport Wireless

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Who Should Buy These: The Bose SoundSport Wireless are solid running headphones. They’re easy to use and there’s no fitness app to haggle with. And they don’t favor iPhone or Android, like the Powerbeats with the M1 chip. They’re also in the same $150-ish ballpark as other quality sport headphones. Ultimately, they’re solid, but don’t distinguish themselves from the pack; you’re going to buy them if you like the look and/or you are loyal to Bose.

Overview: This is a wireless version of Bose’s original SoundSport headphones ($100). It’s also nearly identical to Bose’s SoundSport Pulse ($200), just without the heart-rate tracking. The extent of your Bose loyalty and the way you want to use your headphones should dictate which Bose sport headphones you buy.

Fit: Like most sport headphones, the Bose SoundSport Wireless comes with a bunch of earwing options to ensure a quality fit. I had no problems with them falling out mid-run. However, and there’s no getting around it, these headphones look and feel bulkier than other sport headphones. Comfortable, yes. But they look slightly ridiculous in a non-workout setting.

Sound Quality: As expected, it’s bass heavy. Not overly so, but still bass heavy. As far as my need for loudness — these headphones were fine. They weren’t as loud as the Powerbeats3 Wireless, but they were on par with the offerings from Jabra and Jaybird.

Other Recommended Reviews:
• “The Bose SoundSport Wireless is the most comfortable, best overall in-ear Bluetooth sports headphone you can buy right now.” – CNET
• “They are comfortable, sound great, are easy to use and don’t cost more than their high-quality rivals.” – What Hi-Fi?

Key Specs
Bose SoundSport Wireless
Driver: N/A
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Water Resistance: N/A
Charge: micro-USB
Battery Life: 6 hours

Best Budget Wireless Running Headphones:
Anker SoundBuds Slim Wireless

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Who Should Buy These: If you’re a casual runner, and most earbuds stay in your ears (for me, most do not), this is a solid pair of no-frills sport headphones at an affordable price. The battery life is decent, lasting between 5-7 hours depending on the music volume. It has a built-in mic to answer calls, too. You’re not going to find deal on sport headphones out there.

Overview: Best known for its line of USB accessories, such as power banks, wall chargers and charging cords, Anker also makes a variety of in-ear headphones. And frankly, its SoundBuds Slim Wireless — new to 2017 — are the best sport headphones you can buy under $50. The combination of price and performance makes them an easy quick purchase on Amazon. That said, don’t expect them to sound better than the higher-end offerings here.

Fit: The fit on these wasn’t the best for me. The pair I tested came with varying sizes of silicone earwings and earbuds, but even when I thought I got the right combination, the right earbud would pop out of my ear every few minutes. If anything, they stayed in my ears better the longer I ran. Maybe it had something to do with the sweat. The earwings themselves were also a bit more cumbersome compared to the earwings on the Jabra Sport Pulse.

Sound Quality: Sound quality is this pair’s weakness. High volumes tend to break up the treble and vocals more than on other pairs. However, these headphones were loud, which is a necessary evil for me when running.

Other Recommended Reviews:
• “The SoundBuds Slim Bluetooth earphones are hard to beat for the price, especially if you’re not a stickler for sound quality.” — CNET
• “Unless you’re an audiophile, or like the way another pair of headphones looks, there’s no reason to pay around $150 for a pair of wireless earbuds, when the Anker SoundBuds Slim exist and cost under $30.” — Android News

Key Specs
Anker SoundBuds Slim Wireless
Driver: 6mm driver
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Water Resistance: IPX4
Charge: micro-USB
Battery Life: 7 hours

Best Fitting (Most Comfortable) Wireless Running Headphones:
Decibullz Custom-Fit Wireless

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Who Should Buy These: Get these if you can’t for the life of you get a pair of in-ear sport headphones to fit in your ears. They aren’t the most beautiful headphones — in fact, once they’re molded, I’d say they look a little gross. And at $120, they are fairly expensive for a sport headphone with no special fitness features. But if fit is #1 on your list of priorities, this is the pair you want.

Overview: The big differentiator with Decibullz is fit. Instead of traditional silicone ear cushions, these come with custom molds. The process to get them to fit your ears is a little bit of a science experiment (hot water is involved), but the resulting fit is unique to you. Additionally, these headphones have a built-in mic and can stream aptX audio. Decibullz also makes more affordable wired in-ear custom headphones.

Fit: They never fell out of my ears and they were surprisingly comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Sound Quality: The custom molds help with passive noise cancellation. The sound wasn’t bass heavy; overall it was fine. However, they didn’t get as loud as the others.

Other Recommended Reviews:
• “The Decibullz Custom-Fit Wireless Bluetooth Earphones are easy to custom-fit to your ears and offer great sound, decent battery life, and shouldn’t fall out while you’re exercising.” — Techaeris

Key Specs
Decibullz Custom-Fit Wireless
Driver: N/A
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Water Resistance: N/A
Charge: micro-USB
Battery Life: 5 hours

Best Designed Wireless Running Headphones (Around $100):
Jaybird X3

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Who Should Buy These: Runners with a budget around $120 really have three choices: Jaybird X3, Decibullz, and the Jabra Sport Coach SE. The Jaybird X3 is more geared toward the audiophile athlete; you can fine-tune its audio best. I’d also argue that the X3 are the best designed and most stylish of the three.

Overview: The X3 is the next generation of Jaybird’s highly lauded X2 wireless sport headphones, featuring enhanced drivers and a slimmer overall design. Jaybird claims it’s perfect for fitting under helmets, in case you want to take them skiing or biking. The battery life (8 hours) is better and the redesigned, “flatter” attenna in the mic gives the X3 a longer Bluetooth range than the traditional 30+ feet. The X3 works with the MySound app, enabling you to adjust EQ levels. Its Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity also lets you pair the headphones with two different devices simultaneously.

Fit: The fit is good, with big earwigs that look and feel similar to Anker’s SoundBuds Slim. I also like that the cable had built-in cable-shortening clips so the wire didn’t need to rest on the back of my neck.

Sound Quality: The audio quality is arguably the best on this list. Out of the box, the audio wasn’t bass heavy and I could play around with the EQ in Jaybird’s MySound app. The volume level was also amongst the loudest on this list.

Other Recommended Reviews:
• “The Jaybird X3 are an excellent pair of wireless in-ears for everyday use and workouts alike, with some forgivable shortcomings given their impressive affordability.” — TechRadar
• “The X3s got a brand new makeover, and it looks great. The cheap plastic of the X2s is replaced with more cheap plastic, but this one just looks and feels way better.” — Sound Guys

Key Specs
Jaybird X3
Driver: 5.8mm drivers
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.1
Water Resistance: N/A
Charge: micro-USB
Battery Life: 8 hours

Best Audio Quality Wireless Running Headphones: BTS Pro by 66 Audio

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Who Should Buy These: If you’re absolutely devoted to on-ear or over-ear headphones, the BTS Pro is for you. They’re a little bulky and weren’t as comfortable to run in for me, but the impressive sound, battery life (40+ hours) and Bluetooth range (100 feet) make them a solid pair to work out with. Another nice feature: the Motion Control app will help you locate the headphones if you’ve misplaced them.

Overview: The BTS Pro is an advanced (and more expensive) iteration of 66 Audio’s maiden sport headphones, the BTS Sport. Both are on-ear sport headphones, but, compared the BTS Sport, the BTS Pro boasts improved battery, audio and Bluetooth range, and the overall design is sleeker. These headphones have a companion app that lets you adjust EQ, among other things.

Fit: The taut plastic frame hugged my head and rested securely on the tops of my ears. They were comfortable enough, but by the end of my 30–45 minute runs, the tops of my ears were sore from the constant pressure. And on-ear headphones trap heat, so my ears tended to run extra sweaty. I can say, however, that they fit tight and never felt like they were coming off.

Sound Quality: The sound was excellent: clear highs and lows, even at high volumes. With the Motion Control app (available on Apple Watch, too), I could easily adjust the audio settings as well. However, the volume didn’t blow me away like I hoped.

Other Recommended Reviews:
•”The best part about such a large design is you get excellent battery life (40 hours) and signal strength so your music doesn’t cut out, plus our tester found it far easier to change volume and tracks thanks to big buttons.” — Runner’s World
• “With a comfortable fit, good sound, and impressive range, I was pleased with the BTS Pro. Call quality could be better, but if you mostly use your headphones for listening to music, that may not matter so much.” — Macworld

Key Specs
BTS Pro by 66 Audio
Driver: 36mm high-density drivers
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2
Water Resistance: N/A
Charge: USB Type-C
Battery Life: 40 hours

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