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The best wireless workout headphones for 2024

We tested for comfort, ease of use, battery life and water resistance.

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Setting the mood with the right music can make working out easier and more enjoyable. Wireless workout headphones give you the freedom to do any kind of exercise you prefer, be it weight-lifting or skateboarding, untethered and in your own little world with your audio of choice. But if you plan on sweating or doing anything more vigorous than a brisk walk with your headphones, there are things to consider like water resistance, battery life and overall comfort. And if you want just one pair that you can use in and out of the gym, the decision can quickly get complicated. At Engadget, we’ve tested a bunch of fitness-ready headphones and earbuds to come up with our top picks, plus some advice to consider before you pick up a pair.

Quick overview

Before diving in, it’s worth mentioning that this guide focuses on wireless earbuds. While you could wear over-ear or on-ear headphones during a workout, most of the best headphones available now do not have the same level of durability. Water and dust resistance, particularly the former, is important for any audio gear you plan on sweating with or taking outdoors, and that’s more prevalent in the wireless earbuds world.

Most earbuds have one of three designs: in-ear, in-ear with hook or open-ear. The first two are the most popular. In-ears are arguably the most common, while those with hooks promise better security and fit since they have an appendage that curls around the top of your ear. Open-ear designs don’t stick into your ear canal, but rather sit just outside of it. This makes it easier to hear the world around you while also listening to audio, and could be more comfortable for those who don’t like the intrusiveness of in-ear buds.

Even if a pair of buds aren’t marketed specifically as workout headphones, a sturdy, water-resistant design will, by default, make them suitable for exercise. To avoid repetition, here’s a quick primer on durability, or ingression protection (IP) ratings. The first digit you’ll see after the “IP” refers to protection from dust and other potential intrusions, measured on a scale from 1 to 6. The second refers to water resistance or even waterproofing, in the best cases. The ratings for water resistance are ranked on a scale of 1 to 9; higher numbers mean more protection, while the letter “X” means the device is not rated for protection in that regard.

All of the earbuds we tested for this guide have at least an IPX4 rating, which means there’s no dust protection, but the buds can withstand splashes from any direction and are sweat resistant, but probably shouldn't be submerged. For a detailed breakdown of all the possible permutations, check out this guide published by a supplier called The Enclosure Company.

Active noise cancellation (ANC) is becoming standard on wireless earbuds, at least those above a certain price point. If you’re looking for a pair of buds that can be your workout companion and serve you outside of the gym, too, noise cancelation is a good feature to have. It makes the buds more versatile, allowing you to block out the dull roar of your home or office so you can focus, or give you some solitude during a busy commute.

But an earbud’s ability to block out the world goes hand-in-hand with its ability to open things back up should you need it. Many ANC earbuds also support some sort of “transparency mode,” or various levels of noise reduction. This is important for running headphones because exercising outdoors, alongside busy streets, can be dangerous. You probably don’t want to be totally oblivious to what’s going on around you when you’re running outside; adjusting noise cancelation levels to increase your awareness will help with that. Stronger noise cancelation might be more appealing to those doing more indoor training if they want to block out the dull roar of a gym or the guy exaggeratingly lifting weights next to you.

All of the earbuds we tested have a battery life of six to eight hours. In general, that’s what you can expect from this space, with a few outliers that can get up to 15 hours of life on a charge. Even the low end of the spectrum should be good enough for most athletes and gym junkies, but it’ll be handy to keep the buds’ charging case on you if you think you’ll get close to using up all their juice during a single session.

You’ll get an average of 20 to 28 extra hours of battery out of most charging cases and all of the earbuds we tested had holders that provided at least an extra 15 hours. This will dictate how often you actually have to charge the device — as in physically connect the case with earbuds inside to a charging cable, or set it on a wireless charger to power up.

In testing wireless workout headphones, I wear them during every bit of exercise I do — be it a casual walk around the block, a brisk morning run or a challenging weight-lifting session. I’m looking for comfort arguably most of all, because you should never be fussing with your earbuds when you should be focusing on working out. In the same vein, I’m cognizant of if they get loose during fast movements or slippery when I’m sweating. I also use the earbuds when not exercising to take calls and listen to music throughout the day. Many people will want just one pair of earbuds that they can use while exercising and just doing everyday things, so I evaluate each pair on their ability to be comfortable and provide a good listening experience in multiple different activities.

While I am also evaluating sound quality, I’m admittedly not an audio expert. My colleague Billy Steele holds that title at Engadget, and you’ll find much more detailed information about audio quality for some of our top picks in his reviews and buying guides. Here, however, I will make note of related issues if they stood out (i.e. if a pair of earbuds had noticeably strong bass out of the box, weak highs, etc). Most of the wireless workout headphones we tested work with companion apps that have adjustable EQ settings, so you’ll be able to tweak sound profiles to your liking in most cases.

Connectivity: Wireless | Style: In-ear with wingtip | Assistant support: Google Assistant, Siri

Read our full review of the Beats Fit Pro

The Beats Fit Pro came out at the head of the pack thanks to their comfortable, secure design, good sound quality and transparency mode, among other things. As my colleague Billy Steele detailed in his review of the Fit Pro, the buds’ wingtip design sets them apart from other Beats earbuds and makes them particularly good for running and other workouts. The buds are fairly small and light, and the wingtip on each is flexible enough to hug your ear nicely without putting too much pressure on it. This helps them feel more secure when you’re moving around a lot be it during a morning jog or while taking a HIIT class. The buds are also IPX4 rated — not the highest amount of protection I encountered, but enough to keep the buds working well even during my sweatiest sessions.

As it were, the Beats Fit Pro stayed put during every single workout. However, adjusting their position on the fly can lead to one of my few gripes with the buds: accidental presses of the onboard controls. There were a number of times when I went to adjust a bud and I ended up pausing my music in the process because the buttons are so easy to trigger.

Sound quality is solid and particularly great for exercising thanks to its punchy bass and overall balanced profile. Spatial audio support is great to have, and while Adaptive EQ means you can’t adjust the EQ yourself like you can with other buds, it does make for consistently good audio quality. It’s also one less thing to play with out of the box, which I expect many people will appreciate; these earbuds are a true unbox-and-go option. ANC is also strong and transparency mode will come in handy for those who often run, cycle or otherwise exercise outside. It was the most natural-sounding transparency mode of any earbuds I tried, and it’s easy to turn on or off either with onboard controls or from the control panel on your iOS or Android smartphone.

Speaking of, the Beats Fit Pro work particularly well with iPhones thanks to their built-in H1 chip, but Android users can download their companion app to access things like quick pairing, control customizations and a battery status indicator. I didn’t get into detail about the setup process because, well, there isn’t much of one. But I will say that, upon unboxing, I was surprised how cheap the charging case feels. While it provides an extra 21 hours of charging on top of the buds’ promised six hours of life, the build quality feels like a real step down compared to the buds themselves. Aside from that and the touch controls, though, the Beats Fit Pro offer a complete package for athletes, one that can be used all day in addition to training sessions. Plus, their standard $200 price isn’t too cost-prohibitive, and they can often be found on sale for less.

Pros
  • Comfortable IPX4 design
  • Great sound quality with Adaptive EQ
  • Effective ANC and useful transparency mode
  • Multipoint connectivity
  • Solid battery life
Cons
  • Onboard controls are easy to accidentally press
  • Charging case feels cheap
$180 at B&H Photo
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$199 at Amazon$200 at Walmart

Connectivity: Wireless | Style: In-ear | Assistant support: Siri, Google Assistant

The Jabra Elite 8 Active almost bested the Beats Fit Pro, but ultimately the latter won thanks to their wingtip design and more natural-sounding transparency mode. But aside from those two things, the Elite 8 Active are just as good, if not better, than the Fit Pro.

First and foremost, the Elite 8 Active has one of the highest durability ratings of any earbuds we tested. Rated IP68, it’s protected against all kinds of dust and debris and it’ll survive being submerged in water at high pressure. Jabra also subjected the Elite 8 Active to military-grade testing, protecting them from excessive humidity, high temperature, rain and altitude. This is more protection than most need, but it will likely give some people peace of mind to know that these buds can take a beating.

That extra protection doesn’t make the Elite 8 Active bulky or unattractive as one might assume. These buds are some of the most comfortable I tried, with a lightweight design and a secure fit. The soft-touch finish on the buds and their charging case adds a level of luxury that most othersI tested did not have, too. There are onboard controls as well, and they’re not as easy to accidentally press as those on the Beats Fit Pro.

The Elite 8 Active has a great sound profile out of the box but you can adjust the EQ within the companion mobile app. The app has six preconfigured settings to choose from too, and I found myself using Bass Boost and Energize most of all while exercising (they’re pretty similar with strong bass, but Energize emphasizes highs a bit more). The Elite 8 Active definitely has an advantage over the Beats Fit Pro for anyone who prefers to customize EQ, or wants to have different sound profiles depending on what they’re doing. On top of that, these buds support spatial sound with Dolby Audio.

The Elite 8 Active support adaptive noise cancelation, and they do a good job of analyzing your environment and blocking out interferences. “HearThrough” is Jabra’s version of transparency mode, and it’s the setting to use when running outside in a city or an area with lots of traffic. Sound isn’t drowned out by wind in this mode either since HearThrough is designed to neutralize wind noise while also letting you stay aware of your surroundings. I ran in some particularly windy weather while testing these out, and I had consistently good listening experiences both with HearThrough and ANC activated.

As for battery life, the Elite 8 Active will get eight hours on a charge with ANC turned on, and an additional 24 hours when employing their charging case. You can get up to 56 hours of total use if you’re not using ANC, which is remarkable. The case also supports wireless charging, a feature that the Beats Fit Pro’s lacks, and it also feels more substantial.

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either the Beats Fit Pro or the Jabra Elite 8 Active. But Jabra’s buds offer a bit more customization and durability than the Beats Fit Pro, and not everyone will need the latter’s bonus features. However, if you’re an athlete who likes to play around with sound profiles or want some of the most durable wireless earbuds available today, the Jabra Elite 8 Active are the ones to get.

Pros
  • Comfortable fit
  • IP68 water and dust protection
  • Spatial sound with Dolby Audio
  • Strong ANC
  • Multipoint connectivity
  • Solid battery life
Cons
  • HearThrough doesn’t sound as natural as other transparency modes
$200 at Amazon

Connectivity: Wireless | Style: In-ear | Assistant support: Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant

The Jabra Elite 4 Active offer the best value for the money of any pick on our list. For $120, you get an IP57-rated design, solid sound quality with adjustable EQ, good ANC, the same HearThrough transparency mode that the Elite 8 Active have, app connectivity and a total of 28 hours of battery life. These were some of the easiest buds for me to “pick up and go” with, whether it was for an impromptu walk around the block, a sweaty HIIT session in my basement or an hour of work in which I really needed to block out distractions and get things done.

Like the Elite 8 Active, the Elite 4 Active is super comfortable and Jabra has really gotten the onboard controls right on this series of buds. The buttons are not so easy to press that you accidentally trigger them whenever you adjust the fit, and they provide satisfying feedback when you actually do intentionally press them. Sound quality and ANC are impressive, and I basically never had to worry about running out of battery.

The main differences between the Elite 4 Active and the more expensive Elite 8 Active are that the latter have a higher IP rating, voice guidance, spatial sound support with Dolby Audio, a longer overall battery life (56 hours with the charging case) and that satisfying soft-touch finish. The IP rating and extended battery life are the two main features that could compel some to spend the extra money on the Elite 8 Active instead. Also, spatial audio is nice to have if you have the buds semi-permanently placed in your ears constantly pumping out tunes, regardless of the activity. Otherwise, though, you’re getting a ton of excellent features with these $120 earbuds.

Pros
  • Great value for the money
  • Comfortable IP57-rated design
  • Good sound quality and ANC
  • Multipoint connectivity
  • Good battery life
Cons
  • No spatial sound with Dolby Audio like the Elite 8 Active has
$89 at Amazon

Connectivity: Wireless | Style: In-ear with hook | Assistant support: None

If you have less than $50 to spend, the $30 JLab Go Air Sport are a great option. I didn’t have high expectations going into testing these buds, but I was quickly impressed by their comfort and sound quality. Lots of headphones designed for workouts have this hook that wraps around the top of your ear, and it does help the Go Air Sport stay securely attached to your head. The hooks here are quite flexible and have a soft-touch finish, which adds to their comfort (I tried a few similarly designed buds with much stiffer hooks that were a pain in more ways than one.) Admittedly, this design will take some getting used to if you’re new to it, but it’s a surefire way to get a little extra stability during high intensity workouts.

Sound quality is pretty good on these buds as well, although not nearly as balanced as that of the Jabra Elite 8 Active or the Beats Fit Pro. I also appreciate that you can cycle through three different EQ modes — Signature, Balanced and Bass Boost — using the buds’ onboard controls. There’s no app to fuss with, and that was a nice change of pace after mostly testing buds with some kind of app connectivity.

You can expect eight hours of playtime on the Go Air Sport, plus another 24 hours of battery life with its charging case. While the USB-A cable built into the bottom of the case is handy, I feel like it should be a USB-C connector instead (it’s the year 2024, after all). The case is also on the bulky side; you can still throw it into a backpack or purse easily, but it’s not as svelte as cases you’ll see on more expensive buds.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Impressive sound quality for the price
  • IP55-rated design
  • Good battery life
Cons
  • Built-in USB-A charging cable is a bit outdated
  • Large case
  • Hook design won’t be for everyone
$28 at Amazon
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$30 at Verizon$60 at CVS Pharmacy

Connectivity: Wireless | Style: Open-ear | Assistant support: None

I was apprehensive about open-ear headphones, especially during workouts. But the Shokz OpenFit pleasantly surprised me from the first time I put them on. Earbuds with open designs like this allow for more situational awareness, with the goal being to let noise in rather than block it out. The OpenFit buds do a great job of this without skimping on sound quality or comfort.

The buds themselves almost float over your ear cavern and Shokz’s soft-finish “dolphin arc” hook is flexible enough to securely wrap around the top of your ear without putting too much pressure on it. There’s a bud-like portion at the other end of the hook that acts as counterbalance, resulting in a reliable fit that never faltered during all sorts of activities including running, strength training and indoor cycling. Granted, none of those exercises involve shaking your head up or down or side to side too much; maybe don’t wear the OpenFit to listen to head-banging death metal (if you can’t control yourself).

Sound quality is solid considering the design, and the OpenFit gets pretty loud as well. These buds have Shokz’s Direct Pitch technology, which uses reverse sound waves to optimize the distance and angle from the buds to your ear canal. The company claims this helps keep the sound directed towards your ear and reduces audio leakage. In my testing, I found that to be true to a certain extent. The OpenFit had the best sound quality and overall volume out of all of the open-ear devices I tried, but if you crank the volume up to the max (or close), the person next to you will definitely hear what you’re listening to. Overall, these are a great option for anyone who doesn’t find in-ear buds particularly comfortable, or those who just prefer to have more awareness of their surroundings while working out.

Pros
  • Comfortable open-ear design
  • Design allows for more situational awareness
  • Good sound quality and volume
Cons
  • No ANC
  • Not as secure when compared to in-ear or hook-toting buds
$180 at Amazon

The Apple AirPods Pro have an IP54 rating, which protects them from brief encounters with dust and splashes. While that’s more dust protection than many other earbuds we tested, it’s the same level of water resistance that most exercise-specific competitors have. We generally like the AirPods Pro, but the Beats Fit Pro offer many of the same features and conveniences (namely good transparency mode and the H1 chip), with a design that’s more appropriate for working out.

The Powerbeats Pro are a good alternative to the Beats Fit Pro if you’re a stickler for a hook design. However, they cost $50 more than the Fit Pro (although they often hover around $180) and don’t offer any significant upgrades or additional features aside from their design. They’re also quite old at this point (launched in 2019) and it appears Beats is putting more effort into upgrading and updating its newer models rather than this model.

The Soundcore AeroFit Pro is Anker’s version of the Shokz OpenFit, but I found it to be less secure and not as comfortable as the latter. The actual earbuds on the AeroFit Pro are noticeably bulkier than those on the OpenFit, which caused them to shift and move much more when I was wearing them during exercise. They never fell off my ears completely, but I spent more time adjusting them than I did enjoying them.

The most noteworthy thing about the Endurance Peak 3 is that they have the same IP68-rating that the Jabra Elite 8 Active do, but they only cost $100. But, while you get the same protection here, you’ll have to sacrifice in other areas. The Endurance Peak 3 didn’t blow me away when it came to sound quality or comfort (the hook is more rigid than those on my favorite buds of a similar style) and their charging case is massive compared to most competitors.