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This photo illustrates four great workout headphones.

Great Workout Headphones

These models stand up to sweat, stay in place while you run—and deliver on sound quality, too

When you’re out for a jog or lifting weights at the gym, the last thing in the world you want is a pair of workout headphones that’s going to tie you down. That’s why the word “wireless” has found a home in the weekend warrior’s lexicon lately—right next to “reps” and “steps.”

According to the market research firm NPD, 69 percent of every dollar spent by U.S. consumers on headphones in 2017 went to models that link to mobile devices via a Bluetooth connection instead of a cord. And as you may have noticed, Google, HTC, and Motorola have now followed Apple’s lead and eliminated the headphone jack from their latest smartphones.

That’s because wireless headphones afford a level of flexibility that a wired pair simply cannot match—especially when you’re on the treadmill or flat on your back beneath a 100-pound barbell. Given the 30-foot range of Bluetooth (the wireless technology found in most wireless headphones), today’s models free you up to remove the smartphone from your pocket and place it well off to the side.

That’s where the following models come in. They’re all wireless and well-rated by our testers, who review close to 50 headphone models a year, evaluating them on a range of criteria that includes sound quality, features, and comfort and fit.

While it’s true that wireless models tend to be more expensive than their wired counterparts, the list spotlights reasonably priced models made by Samsung, Jabra, JLab, and Bose. And all make for excellent gym buddies.

If you’re a Consumer Reports member, you can also consult our full database for more headphone ratings.

1
Samsung Level Active

Samsung Level Active

Originally priced at $80—but now available at some retailers for far less—these Bluetooth wireless headphones confirm that you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy high-quality sound at the gym.

They come with four pairs of earbuds (plus removable bowls and ear hooks) to help you achieve a snug fit, which is crucial when you’re bounding along in a good groove on the treadmill.

The built-in microphone and music player controls also come in handy when you need to answer a phone call or pump up the volume.

And Android phone owners may appreciate the fact that the on/off button on the right earpiece can be used to activate the fitness tracker timer on the manufacturer’s free Samsung S Health app.

    2
    Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless

    Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless

    Much like the headphones above, this $89 model from Jabra—well-known for its fitness-friendly apps—provides high-quality sound, built-in microphone and music player controls, and extra pairs of earbuds and bowl supports to help you find the right fit.

    But the headphones also have a built-in heart-rate monitor function: A sensor in the earbuds picks up the wearer’s heartbeat, and the free Jabra Sport Life mobile app (available on Android and iPhone devices) calculates the heart rate. Better yet, our tests found the app to be very accurate.

      3
      JLab Audio Epic Air

      JLab Audio Epic Air

      These $150 “true wireless” headphones don’t even have a cord connecting the left earbud to the right. There are benefits and drawbacks to this design: While the lack of wires makes the Audio Epic Air well-suited for workouts, the small size limits the battery to about 7 hours per charge, according to JLab. But this is offset somewhat by the convenient carrying case, which doubles as a charger—good for around four full charges.

      Beyond the form factor, our testers found that the JLab Audio Epic Air also produced very good sound quality. (By comparison, Apple’s AirPods rate just Good in our tests.)

      If your ears are on the small side, though, be sure to try these earbuds on before you buy them because you might have a hard time getting a comfortable fit, even with the extra earpieces included with your purchase.

        4
        Bose SoundSport Wireless

        Bose SoundSport Wireless

        This $150 model from Bose has many of the features that make the headphones above so appealing to gym rats: high-quality sound, microphone and music player controls, and extra earpieces.

        When used with the free Bose Connect app (compatible with Android and Apple phones), they also allow you to view your heart rate in real time.

        But some people may find this model more comfortable to wear while exercising because the earpieces don’t extend into the ear canal as far as those on typical models. Instead they rely on the attached ear bowls to stay firmly in place on your head.

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          Nicholas Deleon

          I've been covering consumer electronics for more than 10 years for publications like TechCrunch, The Daily (R.I.P.), and Motherboard. When I'm not researching or writing about laptops or headphones I can likely be found obsessively consuming news about FC Barcelona, replaying old Super Nintendo games for the hundredth time, or chasing my pet corgi Winston to put his harness on so we can go for a walk. Follow me on Twitter (@nicholasadeleon).