by Andrew Lisa

The Best Sports Headphones for Runners - Earbuds for Running
The Best Sports Headphones for Runners - Earbuds for Running

Runners have different needs in mind when purchasing the right headphones for running. Here's our top 21 best running headphones and earbuds best-suited for runners and athletes.

While many over-the-ear headphones offer uncompromising audio, even the most rigid audiophiles must consider fit, battery life, water resistance and durability if they're going for a run. Luckily, some in-ear headphones don't compromise much on quality.

The team at SpecOut compiled a list of the best sports headphones for runners and best earbuds for running. Every pair is in-ear style, fits into the "running / sports" headphone category. Included in our list a mix of traditional and wireless sports headphones. Wireless and bluetooth running headphones are beginning to break into the market as price-competitive alternatives.

These sports headphones for runners are ranked from lowest to highest Smart Rating, which factors in expert ratings, sensitivity, low and high frequency, and additional features. Price is not a factor of the Smart Rating.

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Top 21 Sports Headphones for Running

#21. Denon AH-C160 Wireless Sport Headphones

Headphones Smart Rating: 74.95, Type: Wireless In-Ear Sport Headphones

Although Denon's AH-C160 Wireless Sport Headphones are pricier than the average in-ears, these sport in-ear headphones for runners achieve better external noise reduction without sacrificing portability. Sweat proof and comfortable, the built-in mic lets users switch between streaming music and phone calls.

Denon's in-ear headphones can inspire you to greater efforts in your daily run or workout, or simply make the commute more tolerable -- and with the combination of a design built for comfort, durability and superb sound, plus the convenience of wireless Bluetooth connection to your phone or personal music player, Denon's AH-C160W is designed to give you the freedom to move with the music. The AH-C160W Wireless in-ear running headphones' sleek design uses unique Earhook technology, developed with a leading hearing aid specialist, to keep the earpieces in place -- even during heavy workouts or when running. Three sizes of ring give the best fi t for the ears, ensuring pure music playback and excluding noise.

Amazon: Denon AH-C160 Wireless Sport Headphones

#20. Polk Audio Nue Era Headphones for Running

Headphones Rating: 75.35, Type: Wireless In-Ear Runners Headphones

Occasional distortion issues, which are limited to loud sub-bass, are balanced with these headphones by mids and highs that are crisp and true. Multiple ear-tip options are available and the inline remote gels well with mobile devices.

Their design is fresh, a new approach to the headphone as a serious audio Accessory. Nue era are for anyone who cares about personal style, attention to detail. And the sound comes from more than four decades crafting quality audio products. It's a sound that's rich and immersive. But then that's exactly the Polk style. Polk, world-renowned for its sound quality since 1972, started with a high performance 5.5 mm Dynamic driver that exceeded previous drivers we had used in other designs. These drivers were developed with our Dynamic balance driver design process that uses the variables of materials technology and diaphragm geometry to discover the optimum balance for the drivers' performance goals.

Amazon: Polk Audio Nue Era Headphones

#19. Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones

Headphones Rating: 75.48, Type: Wireless In-Ear Sport Headphones

With no wires in the way, Bose's SoundSport Wireless Headphones keep you moving with powerful audio and Stay Hear+ tips designed for comfort and stability. A soft silicone material and unique shape provide a secure fit that stays put and feels good. Connect to your device easily with Bluetooth and NFC pairing, and use the inline mic and remote to control volume, skip tracks and take calls. With the Bose Connect app, controlling and switching between multiple devices is easy. These headphones are sweat and weather resistant and have a lithium-ion battery that delivers up to 6 hours per charge. With performance like this, the only challenge left is your workout. Included: Sound Sport wireless headphones; Stay Hear+ tips; USB charging cable; carry case. Allow up to two hours to fully charge the battery. A full charge powers the headphones for up to six hours. The headphones will not play while charging.Note: Before charging, be sure the headphones are at room temperature between 41 degree Fahrenheit (5 degree Celsius ) and 104 degree Fahrenheit (40 degree Celsius ) .

Amazon: Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones

#18. Sennheiser CX 685 Runners' In-Ear Headphones

Headphones Rating: 76.91, Type: Wireless In-Ear Runners' Headphones

Secure, easily adjustable and complete with an inline remote, these in-ear headphones are equipped with interchangeable inserts. Strong, bass-receptive audio means they can follow you out of the gym.

The CX 685 is part of the Sennheiser series of sports headphones. Developed and designed with professional athletes, the series offers improved fit, comfort and acoustics for even the toughest workouts. The CX 685 delivers natural sound and an acoustically closed design. The rugged, water resistant construction features para-aramid reinforced cables, strain-relief parts and a slide-to-fit holding mechanism to ensure a perfect fit.

Amazon: Sennheiser CX 685 Sports In-Ear Headphones

#17. Westone ADV Alpha

Headphones Rating: 78, Type: In-Ear Sports Headphones

These crossover earphones are rugged and waterproof with hi-fi level audio. The unit is not cheap, but the detail, dynamic expression and depth give users exactly what they pay for.

Designed with IPX weather resistance, the Alpha provides against spraying water, sweat, and any adverse conditions you come across in your adventures. Worry less about how wet conditions are impacting your earphones and start enjoying your music more.

Amazon: Westone Alpha Adventure

#16. Soul FLEX High Performance Headphones

Headphones Rating: 78.72, Type: In-Ear Sports Headphones for Runners

Although Soul's FLEX High Performance Earphones can be a bit bass heavy, and the in-ear buds can be tough to get out, these sport headphones are comfy and produce excellent sound. This is especially true for dance music, hip-hop, metal and other workout-friendly tunes.

The Flex sports headphone is specifically engineered for running and workput, complete with IPX5 waterproof standards, antibacterial ear hook surface and tangle-free cable. Ergonomically designed for comfort, the Flex's proprietary form-fitting ear hooks are designed against fallout during any workout, while the ported acoustic chamber showcases SOUL's signature sound.

Amazon: Soul FLEX High Performance Sport Earphones

#15. Klipsch Image S4i All-Weather In-Ear Headphones

Headphones Rating: 78.8, Type: Wireless In-Ear Sport Headphones

Offering truly exceptional sound for the money, Klipsch Image S4i All-Weather In-Ear Headphones for running goes beyond smartphone compatibility to offer extras like iPod playback. A drawback reported by some users is the thin, tangle-prone cord.

Amazon: Klipsch Image S4i All-Weather In-Ear Headphones

#14. Optoma NuForce Sport Bluetooth in-Ear

Headphones Rating: 79.5, Type: Bluetooth Wireless In-Ear Headphones for Runners

With virtually none of the compromises that plague most ultra-compact sport headphones, the Optoma NuForce Sport earphones stand out because they look like traditional earbuds. Not only do they stay secure during bouncing exercises like jogging, but they have bold, easy-to-access controls.

Designed with the athlete and active lifestyle in mind, the NuForce BE Sport are crafted from aluminum and polycarbonate and weigh just 13g, standing out in the sports headphone segment due to its design, light weight, and durability. Fashion also meets function in this wireless headphone, with a sleek design and multiple color options for ear tips and wings. With an IP55 water, sweat and dust resistance rating, a 10-hour battery life, and AAC and aptX audio compatibility, the NuForce BE Sport3 deliver incredible audio and are ideal for strenuous activity.

Amazon: Optoma NuForce Sport Bluetooth in-Ear

#13. Monster iSport Victory Bluetooth Earbuds for Running

Headphones Rating: 82.27, Type: Wireless Sport Earbuds

Water resistant, rugged and durable, these sport headphones for running produce excellent audio overall -- including deep, pounding bass. They also are a good fit for sports that require helmets, like snowboarding, skiing and cycling.

The secure fit of the iSport Victory gives you 90% noise isolation. A higher level of noise isolation means you won't be distracted by noises around you, allowing you to focus all your attention on your personal goals. Everyone sweats while working out, and the salts and minerals in sweat can damage sensitive electronics like headphones. The Victory is fully sweat proof and has an IPX 5 rating. The earbuds and sport clips can be rinsed or wiped after use and are resistant to microbial build up. We understand that sometimes you won't use your sports headphones to train, so we've included two sound profiles with the Victory -- Normal and Turbo. Bass-driven music is known to be a motivator for lots of different exercise and training regimes, as well as a big component of faster music at the 130/140 bpm level that's known to be a perfect accompaniment to running or faster types of exercise. So Turbo mode kicks up the bass and retunes the mids and highs to give your music, and your motivation, more attack.

Amazon: Monster iSport Victory Bluetooth Earbuds for Running

#12. Sennheiser OCX 686i Runner's Headphones

Headphones Rating: 83.4, Type: Sports Headphones

On top of the excellent build and design, these sport headphones offer well-controlled bass and strong isolation. Incredibly light, they come with an in-line remote housed under the Y splitter.

Amazon: Sennheiser OCX 686i Sports

#11. Jabra Sport ROX Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds

Headphones Rating: 83.83, Type: Wireless Earbuds for Running

Perfect for bass-heavy music during a demanding workout, these wireless headphones are Bluetooth ready. Near field communication enabled, the magnetic earpieces keep the cable free of annoying tangles.

The Sport Rox Wireless comes bundled with a Jabra Sound app -- a music player that gives you the full Dolby sound and more. Use the app to create and browse playlists, share music, and adjust the graphic equalizer so you can play your tracks the way you want.

Amazon: Jabra SPORT ROX Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds

#10. Plantronics BackBeat FIT 2100 Wireless

Headphones Rating: 84.22, Type: Wireless Headphones

The $100 price point is a crowded field, and this wireless set boasts both audio and a secure fit that rivals most of the competition. Although the bass response is not booming, the headphones are washable and come with removable tips, which makes them perfect for runners.

Embrace the outdoors with rugged and ultra-stable BackBeat FIT 2100 wireless sport earbuds, featuring Always Aware ear tips that allow you to hear your surroundings for safer running and training in any environment. Built with water-proof and sweat-proof materials, its secure-fit earloops stay put and withstand rigorous running and exercise while its lightweight design keeps you comfortable. And with up to seven hours of wireless listening, you can power a full week of workouts.

Amazon: Plantronics BackBeat FIT 2100 Wireless

#9. Urbanears Stadion Active

Headphones Rating: 84.37, Type: Wireless Running Headphones

Stadion is the performance-ready headphone for running designed to fit you seamlessly. With its light and stretchy body, and no cords attached, Stadion adapts to everything, from the unique shape of your head, to your most intense workouts. With one less distraction in your headspace, there's nothing stopping you from taking your workout into the zone.

Amazon: Urbanears Stadion Active

#8. Plantronics BackBeat Go

Headphones Rating: 84.8, Type: Wireless noise-canceling sports headphones

Escape with the BackBeat GO, wireless, active noise-canceling (ANC) earbuds. Its lightweight design provides comfortable all-day listening, while dual-mode ANC makes it easy to control how much noise you tune out. When you want to hear your surroundings, patent-pending magnetic smart sensors latch to conserve battery power by disabling ANC and disconnecting your earbuds from your Bluetooth device. Bluetooth is automatically reconnected and ANC is turned on when the magnets are unlatched, so they're ready when you want to listen to music or need to take a call.

Amazon: Plantronics BackBeat GO

#7. JayBird X3 Sport Bluetooth Headphones

Headphones Rating: 87.09, Type: Bluetooth headphones for runners

These earbuds are designed to be tiny, but packed with functionality, comfort, and sound quality. The 3rd incarnation in Jaybird's X series, these are the culmination of the company's sports earbud innovations. Smaller than ever, the X3 has a longer battery life, better sound, and a more secure fit. The in-ear speaker design has been significantly reduced by 20% and houses an enhanced 6mm driver for subtle lows and a booming bass. The smaller frame is more convenient to handle and offers a comfortable fit for different ear sizes. The earbuds can even be worn underneath a helmet. The frame is made from sandblasted, injection-molded metal for heavy-duty durability and a sleek style that does not affect Bluetooth signal strength. Additionally, the hydrophobic nano-coating makes the whole earbud waterproof, preventing sweat, snow, and rain from affecting your soundtrip! The X3 serves as a reliable partner for athletes and savvy business travelers who are always on the go. Be ready to answer an important call anywhere with confidence

Amazon: JayBird X3 Sport Bluetooth Headset

#6. Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition

Headphones Rating: 87.48, Type: Wireless headphones for runners

Now you can train even smarter with the world's first sports headphones with automatic vo2 Max measuring. Test, monitor and analyze your physical fitness level with the Built-in Heart rate monitor and vo2 Max measurement - all while listening to superior sound quality music for the extra motivation you need to power you through your next training run or workout.

Amazon: Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition

#5. Sennheiser CX 275 S Universal Mobile Headset

Headphones Rating: 88.41 Type: Headphones for runners

Although the sound can at times be tinny and shallow, these headphones boast impressive bass response. Not only are they secure and smartly designed, but they are affordable when considering their functionality.

Compatible with Android, Windows, RIM and iOS devices, this in ear canal headset offers excellent compatibility with virtually all major mobile smartphone brands using a 3.5 mm headphone jack. With the CX 275s you get legendary Sennheiser audio performance on the go, regardless of which smart phone you have. Different sized silicon ear tip adaptors provide an excellent fit and deliver ambient noise attenuation. Full control is achieved using the in-line remote with microphone for easy management of calls and music track selection. The CX 275s is the answer to complete entertainment enjoyment while keeping you fully connected on the move

Amazon: Sennheiser CX 275 S Universal Mobile Headset

#4. Jabra Elite Sport

Headphones Rating: 88.97, Type: Wireless headphones for running

With a completely independent housing that grips to your ear, the Elite Sport are the ideal companion to your workout routine. Built with performance in mind, superior sound quality and command response make the Elite one of the most diverse earbuds for running ever created. With customizable ear wings, eargels and foamtips, these earbuds offer a comfort fit that is unparalleled. Worthy of taking on your hardest training run, the IP67 water-resistant rating makes the earbuds insusceptible to sweat and dampness. With 4 digital MEMS microphones and advanced noise cancellation technology, music, calls and voice commands are always crystal clear. Most innovative, perhaps, is the charging storage case providing an addition 6 hours of playback and talk time when stored intermittently. This, combined with the standard 3 hours of playback, provides an impressive 9 hours of use before requiring a full charge. With an impressive set of on-board features, the Jabra Engage can also be utilized with the Jabra Sport App to monitor heart rate, track and analyse your fitness and provide personal audio coaching.

Amazon: Jabra Elite Sport

#3. Audio-Technica ATH-CKX9iS SonicFuel

Headphones Rating: 92.33, Type: Wireless headphones for runners

With enough bass to get by, SonicFuel is built with in-ear security in mind. Although single button controls can be tedious, strong highs and powerful bass adjustment make for overall powerful audio.

he ATH-CKX9iS SonicFuel in-ear headphones feature stay-in-place fit, providing unique comfort in addition to optimal sound. The C-tip configuration nestles within the ear where it locks in place for extra stability. Customize your comfort with a multitude of C-tip & silicone eartip sizes or use the included Comply foam eartips for true sonic immersion.

Amazon: Audio-Technica ATH-CKX9iS SonicFuel

#2. Atomic Floyd MiniDarts Noise Isolating

Headphones Rating: 92.91, Type: Noise Isolating Headphones for running

With a sleek, V-shaped design, these in-ear headphones for running provide amazing bass and super-crisp highs. Although they are not priced for the casual listener, enthusiasts will appreciate the overall quality.

Small space. Big sound. All the sound power and obsessive quality of Atomic Floyd, wrapped into a more compact pair of earphones. 2-Way Noise Isolation means nothing but your music goes in and nothing but nothing comes out. In: rich creamy bass. In: acid sharp details. In: sensational sound. A heady mix from a stunning set of earphones. Made in metal. Meant for music. Must be worn to be believed.

Amazon: Atomic Floyd MiniDarts Noise Isolating

#1. Jaybird Run XT Headphones for Running

Headphones Rating: 96.63, Type: Wireless headphones for running

Now fully waterproof, the Run XT is the second generation of Jaybird's all-terrain True wireless earbuds for running. Combining ultra-comfortable active fit and premium sound in a fully water-proof and sweat-proof IPX7 Housing, the lightweight Run XT earbuds provide true wireless freedom for runners in pursuit of their limits. the Run XT provides 4 hours of play time per charge and holds an additional 8 hours of power in the included charging case. Fast-charge functionality also provides an hour of play time for just five minutes of charging, ensuring you never have to head out on a run without your music.

Amazon: Jaybird RUN XT

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