Review : 8 wireless fitness earbuds

These will provide you great sound during workouts

If you are looking for a pair of new workout earbuds, you should check out our comparison review.

Anyone who has been to the local gym can’t help but notice the many people walking around wearing earbuds. Music makes exercise a little easier to get through, and can also provide motivation and pace for a good jog for instance.

With heart rate monitors and other advanced running gear, your headphones can work as a training coach that discreetly motivates you with messages into your ear. It provides just a little extra push when the body otherwise can’t take much more. If you haven’t already invested in a pair of wireless headphones, here is a small sample of the options out there.

A natural question could be: Why not simply use the headphones that came with the mobile phone? There are several answers to that question.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

First of all, the headphones that come with your phone are most often wired. This means having a long wire dangling from the ear, which is neither particularly smart nor practical, while limiting your freedom of movement. Thus, all the models in this test are wireless and connect to the mobile phone via Bluetooth. However, the headphones are no less wireless in that they all still have a wire or a form of hoop that goes behind the neck, connecting the two earbuds.

The next point that is important to consider is the fit. The primary task of fitness earbuds is to remain in your ears, no matter how much you move. The headphones that are part of the standard package for new mobile phones are rarely of good quality, and they have a tendency to fall out of the ears. On fitness earphones, the fit is perhaps the most important focus area. It allows the earbuds to sit firmly in the ear canal and remain there even when you are sweating. The producers have solved the task in different ways and with varying degrees of success. Moreover, common to them all is that they must withstand sweat and humidity somewhat better, and not drown during a session on the spin bike.

However, it is not enough that the earbuds sit securely. They must of course also be able to play well, especially since we are in this particular price range. Again, the results are very different, depending on what manufacturer we test, and naturally it is a matter of taste if you prefer heavy bass when increasing the pace and getting some motivational feedback.

The last point that is worth mentioning pertains to the extra features that start to accompany headphones in this category.

Some manufacturers have put heart rate monitors in the one earbud so that they can also be used as a substitute for a smartwatch or a fitness bracelet. It’s pretty smart, but it also means a significant hike in price, while shortening the battery life. However, it may be worth considering if you are interested in this feature.

The manufacturers were asked to deliver their latest wireless models intended for training. Each model is assessed based on the fit, sound quality, battery life, extra features and price. They have all been tested in terms of daily use as well as for running and strength training. Each test ends with a conclusion and an overall score.

 

What do you think?

0 / 5. 0

Bose SoundSport Pulse

Well playing lumps

Bose provides good sound, but disappoints regarding the battery life.

Our verdict

Bose is known for good sound quality and does not disappoint in this aspect. The silicone earbuds are comfortable and fits snugly in the ear.
They are just too heavy, and they have a tendency to fall out of the ears. The heart rate monitor empties the battery too quickly.
  • Bluetooth
  • NFC
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Wired remote control
  • Water and sweat proof
  • Weight: 23 grams
  • Battery: 5 hours
  • Price: –
  • Website: bose.com
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Price 2490 £

Bose is known for making some well-fitting, in-ear headphones that, in particular, perform well. Soundsport Pulse is no exception. The model builds further on the SoundSport Wireless, and has. as its name suggests, a heart rate monitor thrown in on the one side. It works well, and substitutes nicely for a smartwatch or a tracker.
The fit is good as always, if you are fond of silicone earbuds with wings, like me. They are comfortable, and do not sit too far into the ear, which means you can still hear the traffic or people around you. It is especially advantageous if you are jogging outdoors. Unfortunately, the wireless mechanics also mean that they have become a bit large and clumsy compared to the wired models. It is neither particularly nice looking nor practical, and on several occasions I experienced that they completely fell off my ears.

Sound quality

Fortunately, there are a lot of positive things to say about Soundsport Pulse. The sound quality is the highlight, and you get a pair that plays both loud and with a huge bottom. I like a little heavy bass, and Bose delivers this. Another smart thing I appreciated is the built-in voice messages. For example, when you turn on the headset, it tells you how much power there is. Unfortunately, this also quickly reveals how much the heart rate monitor drains the battery. I was going out for a run, and had 30% power left. That wasn’t enough to last an hour.

Conclusion

The Bose Soundsport Pulse is a good wireless training headset. However, a few things drag it in the wrong direction. The size means that it has a tendency to fall out of your ears, and the heart rate monitor drains the battery too quickly. In addition, the price is quite high. On the positive side, it plays incredibly well and is comfortable to wear. You can’t have it all.

Panasonic Wings RP-BTS50E

Panasonic gives you wings

It's the inside that counts, and Panasonic is certainly not as stupid as it looks.

Our verdict

Panasonic’s headphones play well, and feel comfortable to wear.
The design is somewhat untraditional to put it diplomatically. The remote control on the cord is too cheap and the buttons are hard to press.
  • Bluetooth
  • Wired remote control
  • Blue LED Light
  • aptX and AAC
  • Water and sweat resistant (IPX5)
  • Weight: 23 grams
  • Battery: 6 hours
  • Price: –
  • Website: panasonic.com
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Price 1490 £

A number of times I have stood with Panasonic’s official “Olympics in Rio”-earbuds in my hands and wondered how they are supposed to sit. The flexible hoops and winged earbuds are more odd than they are pretty. Panasonic should be given credit for making them sit comfortably in the ears, and they don’t feel at all as clumsy as they look. Due to the hoop, they sit so far out that you don’t feel closed in and you can still hear what’s going on around you. Strangely enough you can turn on some blue LED diodes if you want light in the wings. I don’t see the point of this feature, but it’s an amusing detail. Unfortunately, the remote control on the wire feels rather cheap and you have to push harder than you want to.

Excellent sound

Luckily, the unfortunate appearance and bad remote control are offset by the good sound quality. The headset supports the two audio standards aptX and AAC, and I swear that you hear really well. The RP BTS50E has a wide and well-defined soundscape. They lack neither bass nor treble, and are generally very pleasant to listen to. This can be done at least seven hours at a time before they need recharging, which is quite satisfactory.

Conclusion

The Panasonic Wings RP-BTS50E is perhaps not the prettiest thing that has come out from Panasonic’s factories, but thanks to good inner workings they play incredibly well, and therefore still deserve a chance. The hoops around your ears are a bit weird, and seem unnatural as they stick out from the ears. If you disregard this and the plasticky remote control on the cord, you get a set of Bluetooth headphones that play particularly well at an affordable price.

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium

Sound in the skull

Trekz Titanium does not enter the ear, but instead pumps sound in through the cheekbones.

Our verdict

The Titanium hoop sits as if glued to the head. Because the ears are free, one can still hear everything that is going on around one.
As expected, the sound is not outrageously deep or high. Its use is somewhat limited.
    • Bone Conducting technology
    • Bluetooth
    • Titanium hoop with built-in remote control
    • Sweat resistant (IP55)
    • Weight: 36 grams
    • Battery: 6 hours
    • Price: –
    • Website: aftershokz.com
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Price 1290 £

The headset from Aftershokz stands out from the others in the field on a fairly significant point. Instead of having earbud tips that go into the ears, these are worn on the outside of the head. The sound is transported to your inner ear via the cheekbones. Yes, this sounds weird perhaps, but it works surprisingly well. The reason for this construction is that one is still supposed to be able to hear what is going on around one when running or cycling outdoors. Instead of closing yourself off from the world, you can hear the traffic, the birds chirp, your footsteps and breathing. There is a meaning in this madness.
The hoop is made of titanium, and is easy and comfortable on the head. No matter how much you shake your head, it stays put. The buttons to adjust volume are located on the right side of the hoop. I found the placement a bit cumbersome and hard to find in the beginning.

A new experience

It is almost self-evident that you don’t get the same sound quality with a pair of bone conducting headphones as with regular earbuds. For that same reason, I can easily forgive both a lower and a flatter sound. Nevertheless, I was impressed with how well they actually played and appreciated the different qualities of this headset. The construction means both that some sound is lost and it is difficult to hear the music if there is too much noise and that they are best suited for outdoor use.

Conclusion

Trekz Titanium is a fun gadget. They are comfortable to wear, and play well despite their natural limitations. Unfortunately, their use is somewhat limited as they are not suitable for anything other than outdoor activities. For the outdoors, they are outstanding.

Jaybird Freedom F5

Expected more

Poor fit and flat sound in Jaybird is disappointing.

Our verdict

The design is pretty, and the app that comes along with it is good. When you find the right earbuds, they fit well.
The sound may be a touch flat. The solution with the detachable battery pack works poorly and makes the remote control way too heavy.
  • Bluetooth
  • Remote control on the cord
  • Water and sweat resistant
  • Weight: 14 grams
  • Battery: 4 hours
  • Price: –
  • Website: logitech.com
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Price 1390 £

Jaybird has previously received tremendous praise for its Jaybird X1, which had good sound and was comfortable to wear. The new Freedom continues to build on the good aspects of the previous model but does it in a smaller package, something which many will certainly appreciate. However, the small earbuds entail that some of the mechanics must be moved down to the remote control, which has increased in size.
The battery life is only estimated at four hours, but it can be jacked up to eight, if you fasten a small battery pack on the remote control. I like the idea in theory but not in practice. The remote is simply too large and cumbersome, which results in the one earbud falling out easily.

Boring sound

Regarding the sound, I must admit that I found it slightly flat and dull. In addition, one must be aware that Jaybird Freedom is a pair of headphones that must be inserted well into the ear canal to produce the best sound. You must therefore experiment with the accompanying earbuds and wings before you get the most out of them. I’m not a fan of earbuds that sit so closely, and that’s the reason why I’ve never completely fallen in love with them. The wings didn’t fit quite well in my ears, and were either a little too big or a little too small. The sound can be improved via the equalizer in the accompanying app, but was never quite as deep as the way I prefer it.

Conclusion

Jaybird Freedom appears and feels like a quality product. However, not everyone likes having wings in their ears, and the detachable battery pack is a bad solution. If you take it off, the power only lasts for four hours, and if it is attached, the remote control turns into a heavy block on the wire. Taking price into account, I had honestly expected a lot more.

Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition

Plenty of bass

Jabra’s earbuds stay where they are meant to be, and play both loud and deep.

Our verdict

Jabra delivers outstanding fit and excellent sound with plenty of bass. The heart rate monitor is also very good – especially at this price.
The heavy bass effects the treble. The tight fit in the ear can feel a little too insulating.
  • Bluetooth
  • Remote control on the cord
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Water and sweat resistant (IP55)
  • Weight: 16 grams
  • Battery: 5 hours
  • Price: –
  • Website: jabra.no
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Price 1599 £

With Jabra, like with Bose, you get a heart rate monitor in the package. It’s handy if you don’t have one already, and this gives the headset an edge over the other models in the same price range. However, common to both is also a poorer battery life, as the heart rate monitor is good at draining the battery. The reason that Jabra calls this a special edition is that in relation to the previous model, this now also has the ability to calculate your optimal air intake using the heart rate monitor. The earbuds are accompanied by an advance app, which may well seem a bit overwhelming with all its setting options.

The fit is incredibly good, thanks to a wide variety of earbuds. Especially the special wings, which are available in three sizes. They fit firmly in both the top and the bottom inside of the ear. Some might find it a little too insulating, but one thing’s for sure — they stay put.

Heavy bass

There is not much wrong with the sound, and Jabra provides value for your money if you love an earplug that can play loud and deep. The sound is wonderfully heavy, and the bass has some kick to it. It gets almost a little too heavy, and along with the tight fit, I would have preferred more treble.

Conclusion

With Sport Pulse Special Edition, Jabra has gotten something right. The fit is incredibly good, thanks to specially designed earbuds and wings, and the earbuds play both loud and deep. A snug fit and a heavy sound is an individual taste. If you want to still hear what’s going on around you, and don’t think that a heavy bass is something to strive for, you might want to look for something else.

JBL Reflect Contour

As if glued stuck

Even an avid athlete will have trouble ripping the JBL out of the ears.

Our verdict

The fit is wonderfully well, if one likes the hoop around the ear. Price and battery life are also approved.
The remote control of the wire is a little big and complicated. The sound could do well with a little more bottom and bass.
  • Dual Lock
  • Bluetooth
  • Wired remote control
  • Sweat resistant (IPX5)
  • Weight: 20 grams
  • Battery: 5 hours
  • Price: –
  • Website: jbl.com
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Price 990 £

JBL has shown up ringside with Reflect Contour that has gone all out on the fit, which is also particularly good. They call it “Dual Lock Technology”, resulting in headphones that hardly move, no matter how hard you pull the cable that connects the two earbuds. The reason for this can be found in the double hoops on each side, which sit both inside and outside the ear. JBL should be praised for this as it is one of the most important qualities for fitness earbuds. Thus, JBL is also more suited for intense sports, and not just running. The battery life is set for eight hours, which they lived up to nicely.

The sound is a little flat

In terms of sound, the JBL Reflect Contour does not stand out. It’s clear and good, but there is not much bass, which makes them seem a touch flat. However, wanting a lot of bass when training is a matter of taste, and does not tarnish this assessment. Nevertheless, the built-in remote control detracts slightly. It feels heavy on the chord and therefore smacks against the neck when running. At the same time, having configured the centre button to make and take calls instead of the default function of jumping back and forth in the music, confused me quite a bit in the beginning. No, I did not read the instruction manual.

Conclusion

JBL is one of the well-known players in headphone tests, and they have always performed quite brilliantly. The sound quality is fine, without being flashy, and the battery life is good. Where Reflect Contour really stands out is in the fit. They just don’t want to come out, no matter how hard you tug on the cord, which is a huge plus, and if there had been more bass and the remote control was lighter, the product would have earned top marks.

Monster iSport Victory

These play really well

One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Our verdict

The Monster offers surprisingly good sound, packaging taken into account. Moreover, the price is at the lower end.
If one has to say anything negative, it must be the design, which is perhaps not be the prettiest.
    • Bluetooth 4.0
    • AptX
    • Sweat repellent
    • 90% noise reduction
    • Two audio profiles
    • Weight: 15 grams
    • Battery: 8+ hours
    • Price: –
    • Website: monsterproducts.com
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Price 990 £

If you are looking for a couple of cheap and well-playing headphones for workouts, you might want to consider Monster and their iSport Victory, which they have dubbed “the athlete’s headphone”. They’re definitely not pretty, but don’t judge too harshly beforehand. I was pleasantly surprised when I first wore them.
Thanks to large ear-hoops and two different types of earbuds in three sizes, they should fit most ears. I grabbed the smallest of the silicones. They fit tightly and gave a claustrophobic feel in the ear canal. Even though they look huge with their long profile, they are light to wear, and they are so tight that they only come out if you pull hard on the cord. The built-in remote control is a bit too cheap and plasticky, albeit solid.

Surprisingly good sound

Fortunately, its appearance is irrelevant once you get the sound in your ears. The Monster has two built-in audio profiles, which you can switch between by holding the plus and minus buttons for a few seconds. The first is for warm ups, and the second is for workouts. The latter is preferable, and offers heavy bass, which I personally prefer, when I’m being motivated at the gym. With this setting, they sound better than most other models in the test.

Conclusion

Monster iSport Victory is sensibly priced, and plays surprisingly well. The battery life is quite reasonable, and is especially fun with its two audio profiles. The appearance is a matter of taste, and personally I can overlook the fact that they are ugly, since they in turn win so many points on sound, which should be the most important. The fit is also good, which is important when the going gets tough.

Plantronics Backbeat Fit

Fine Bluetooth hoop

Backbeat Fit is comfortable to wear and plays well.

Our verdict

The headset is comfortable to wear and plays well. It's an advantage that it doesn't sit too tightly in the ear so you can still hear the traffic.
It's annoying that Plantronics has taken away the armband for the mobile phone in favour of new colours and reflectors.
    • Bluetooth
    • Water and sweat resistant (IP57)
    • Weight: 24 g
    • Battery: 8 hours
    • Price: –
    • Website: plantronics.com
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Price 1295 £

The headset from Plantronics differs slightly from the others by not having an actual wire between the earbuds, but rather a kind of an integrated hoop. We have previously had the model in our hands, but because Plantronics has put an updated model on the market, we will look at them once again. I can start by saying that there is not much new, so to speak, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The only real differences are the colours and some reflective lines. The hoop that goes behind the head will probably not fit everyone. Personally I find it a slightly too hard, which makes it not fall naturally around the neck, but instead hangs and dangles in the air. On the other hand, the hoops that go round the ears are good, and they ensure that the headset stays put. Where the other competitors send an arsenal of accompanying earbuds, this is an accessory at Plantronics that costs money. I think it’s somewhat of a shame. The same thing applies to the armband for the mobile phone that used to be part of the package. It has now been taken away.

Good usability

Luckily, the hoop still plays brilliantly, and since there’s some air in the ear canal, it can easily be worn in traffic. You control the music via buttons on the sides and not with a control on the chord. This works really well, which means you can move about completely freely.

Conclusion

Plantronics Backbeat Fit was a good set of earbuds the last time we tested it, and it remains so still today. However, I do not understand the decision to remove the armband for the mobile phone, when I thought it was a brilliant USP. Despite that, I have no problem recommending the Backbeat Fit, which is both comfortable to wear and plays well.

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