When I joined a gym a few months ago, I knew I was in it for the long run. I strategically took an annual membership so I would be obliged to go and work out. I successfully eliminated the first problem which was to get my butt up and head to the gym. The second problem then ensues: I was ready to get out of there 20 minutes in.
Then I discovered one major thing that got me through my work out sessions. It was music. When a good song starts playing on the floor, I tend to stay on the treadmill longer, lift heavier weights and it helped me get the best out of my workout sessions.
That’s when I decided to invest in the best over ear headphones for working out. But like any investment, I did my research first. I could have any set of over-ear headphones but if they keep falling off my ear as I do my lunges or as I run the treadmill, then it would be pointless.
So it has to have that feature that keeps itself in my ears regardless of my movement. Another thing is that the material should be sweat or water-resistant. I had a pair of earphones when I started going to the gym and my sweat peeled the leather covering of the wiring and the earbud. It was a disaster.
I could purchase regular headphones but it would set me back the same amount if I bought high-quality ones which are great for working out. At the end of the day, the cost per wear matters. So I came up with the list of the best over-ear headphones in the hopes of helping gym-goers, aspiring athletes or those who simply want to last a bit longer with their exercise routines.
Best Over Ear Headphones For Working Out Compared and Reviewed
|Top||Bose SoundLink Around Ear Wireless Headphones II||Bose||Check Price on Amazon|
|MPOW 059 Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear||MPOW||Check Price on Amazon|
|V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Over-Ear Headphone||V-MODA||Check Price on Amazon|
|Sony XB950B1 Extra Bass Wireless Headphones||Sony||Check Price on Amazon|
|Sennheiser (HD 4.40 BT) HD 4.40||Sennheiser||Check Price on Amazon|
#1 - Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II
When you think about sound quality headphones or stereos, Bose will always be one of the top of the mind brands. There’s no need for an introduction as Bose has captured the market for its high-quality line of sound systems.
Born out of the first SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphone which had a lot of negative feedback due to its overall appearance (bulky, not at all sleek and was not that user-friendly), the company released its second better version: the Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II.
The biggest claim to these headphones which I personally think makes it a great choice for working out is that it is claimed to be made out of materials that are impact-resistant.
Imagine being on a run while wearing this pair and you suddenly trip. Wouldn’t it be a relief to know that it won’t break easily at all? While no one has tried to deliberately break the product, it’s a great assurance especially when you plan to use it for physical activities.
Another major plus is that it’s lightweight and just like any other headphones from Bose, you almost forget that you’re wearing them.
It also very easy it is to connect to your phone, computer or any other gadget with Bluetooth function. More than this, you can opt to use NFC— if anyone uses that at all, it has that feature for you. These headphones will last about 15 hours, and you’ll know that you need to charge it soon when the voice prompt notifies you.
On the downside, you turn to Bose for sound quality and if you’re looking for headphones that are heavy on the bass while you’re riding your stationary bike, then this one just won’t do.
If you’re very keen on that you’ll surely feel the lack of it. These are also not sweat-resistant, so if you’re going to use them, you should only for lighter activities. Bose still recommends their Sound Sport line for this function.
#2 - MPOW 059 Bluetooth Headphones Over Ear
If you’re going to use this in the gym, it will up your aesthetics a notch with its sporty design. It is dominantly glossy black and is accentuated by red streaks from the head padding to the earmuffs itself. Plus, it’s available in different colors. It looks better than most of the headphones on this list.
The battery life is impressive with 20 hours on its sleeve with every full charge. Plus, it has both the wireless and wired mode, in case you run out of battery in the middle of your workout, you can simply plug it in your gadget and you’re still good to go. The earmuffs are made with memory foam so it provides that added padded comfort around your ears.
If you’re only needing some background music during your workout, this will keep you going as it undoubtedly gives bass and treble for upbeat songs. But if you’re using this for acoustics and are very keen on that guitar bass sound, you might want to look somewhere else. Also, the buttons could give a little more push as you could barely tell if you’re pressing it already.
#3 - V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Over-Ear Headphone
The jack of all trades of all headphones, the V-Moda Crossfade Wireless is claimed to be the most indestructible one you can get. It’s captured consumers from different niches: gamers, DJ’s, and even bankers. Now, that says a lot for a headphone that doesn’t outshine any other headphone in a single category but it’s all in the sum of its parts.
The first thing that you will surely notice with the V-Mode Crossfade is the material. It’s made with high-quality vegan leather, metal and memory foam cushions. All of these allow bendability of the headband at 10 times from its original shape without breaking at all. Basically, you can twist and turn this bad boy— for whatever reason— and it just won’t give in.
To make the V-Moda even more fun, it has customizable aluminum shields for its earmuffs. You also have the choice to 3D-print it. You’ll receive it as plain aluminum or red which can be replaced for one that you designed.
In terms of sound quality, the Crossfade isn’t the best of the best out there but it puts the best foot forward. It delivers great bass and provides noise cancellation which are features that most audiophiles will look for though it doesn’t deliver much on mids. It has both wired and wireless modes which have a very small difference in terms of sound.
It has 12 hours of battery life– not the best one on this list but still workable. The major downside is that you’ll really feel the weight of these headphones as it is quite heavy. You’ll surely feel this as you workout at 309 grams. But the sturdiness of it might be worth that weight.
#4 - Sony XB950B1 Extra Bass Wireless Headphones
It promises not only to deliver on bass but also on mid and low-frequency sound perfect for those who have picky ears.
Sony delivers with innovation as the headphones come with active cancellation and a Sony app that will allow you to customize your music experience through an equalizer.
If you’re into EDM or pop while you’re on your Stairmaster, the XB950B1 will give you the sound you need as it surely delivers on bass.
It has 3 simple and low key designs that I find is not quite aligned with the market for EDM and pop music lovers, but that’s just me. On the other hand, the materials used seem to be quite premium and durable. One unique feature is its swivel earmuffs, it’s useful for storing them to make them quite compact but it would have been even smaller if it is fully foldable.
Overall, the XB950B1 is very competitive for its price.
#5 - Sennheiser (HD 4.40 BT) HD 4.40
For anyone looking for a minimalist design like Bose, and still delivery quality sound, Sennheiser HD 4.40 might just be the headphones that you’re looking for. It’s very lightweight and has a nice matte finish. Mostly made of plastic and some leather, it doesn’t seem like so because the design feels very high quality.
The earpads are very comfortable made out of memory foam. However, the ear cups feel very small and constricted (I have average-sized ears), and you might get easily irritated with the pad touching the corners of your ear. It can feel quite hot after some time.
The HD 4.40 battles out with the best in terms of battery life delivery 25 hours at one full charge. You won’t feel any emissions even if you leave it on for that long. One thing I like about this is that the buttons are slightly protruding and are of different sizes which allow you to easily determine the functions of the buttons.
Compared to the other headphones on this list, the Sennheiser 4.40 delivers good quality sound. Its bass is just right and it doesn’t irritate you over a short period of time. You’ll definitely feel the pump of the adrenaline with the great bass on this one. Mid and lows are okay— nothing sounds muffled or off on the ears.
A storage pouch is a huge plus for these headphones, but I personally feel like you’d need something similar to the V-Moda exoskeleton casing. This headphone needs all the protection it can get.
My Number One Pick
What To Look For In Great Workout Headphones
One of the things to watch out for in terms of buying the perfect headset for your workout is the weight of the cans. You already carry the weight of your body as you go about your exercises, sometimes, you carry more weight in the form of dumbbells, barbells and more. Any unnecessary weight is critical to remove to help sustain and maximize each movement.
Lightweight headphones like the Sennheiser 4.40 HD or the MPOW 059 address this concern. Both are mostly made of plastic or plastic leather which are tremendously light.
Ease of Control
Workouts can be stressful as you do it, so you want everything to be easy on reach be it your water bottle, towel or the next dumbbell that you’re going to lift. The same applies to a pair of headphones.
It would be too much of a hassle if you still need to take off your headphones for you to be able to play the next song or answer a call as you’re in the gym. It disrupts your treadmill time and distracts you from focusing on your workout altogether. Sennheiser’s 4.40 HD has easily controllable buttons which are easy to identify even with just a touch.
Wireless and Bluetooth– these two go hand-in-hand and are one of the major considerations for workout headphones. How irritating will it be if you get yanked by your headphone wires when it loops somewhere you don’t intend to?
Having wireless headphones with Bluetooth function isn’t enough though. You should be able to connect seamlessly without any effort. Bose products already have this on the onset. On the other hand, Sony’s XB950B1 leans toward the unnecessary as every action is prompted over the headphones.
It blacks out music or calls from the background when it does which can be highly distracting even for someone who’s not working out at the moment.
Music is one of the things that will keep you going farther, longer and stronger during your workout and you want to keep it playing throughout the duration of it. One of the things that you should look at is battery life.
Over-Ear headphones can offer longer battery life compared to their in-ear counterpart. From the list above, you’ll see Bose is the weakest in terms of battery offering only 15 hours of continuous playing while Sennheiser takes the cake at 25 hours.
Although if you think about it, no one works out for 15 hours straight. But it is still a factor to consider as you can still relax and feel the adrenaline die down with some good music when you exit the gym.
A major consideration that must be put in when buying workout headphones is comfort in terms of fit. There are two things that you should look at headband and ear cup size.
Not one head or ear is the same so you should be able to find the pair of headphones that are perfect for the size. V-Moda’s Crossfade gained a lot of good feedback on the fit of their headbands which means they put great research on how that will cup the head perfectly.
On the other hand, Sennheiser’s a fraction too small as you will feel the earpads touching your ear. When you’re working out, this will get a bit annoying or itchy at some point, and it would definitely disrupt your performance. It’s best to get headphones that you are most comfortable in, sitting down or working out.
Frequently Asked Questions for Workout Headphones
Q: How should I clean my headphones after each workout?
A: Every headphone brand has a different material: from the headband to the earmuffs, it should all be treated differently. The best thing to do is to seek out the manufacturer’s opinion on this especially if you’re going to regularly use it for working out.
You might find yourself with headphones as stinky as your training shoes if you don’t clean them once in a while.
Q: What are open and closed headphones?
A: Open headphones are designed to be open at the back and only have a grill-like design to protect it. There are audiophiles who claim that open headphones deliver greater sound quality versus closed headphones which feel like the sound is muffled as the sound is just in your head.
Q: What is a headphone burn-in?
A: There’s a belief going around within the audiophile community that burning in a headphone will help it produce great sound quality. The effect is not at all guaranteed but it is basically like breaking in your new car: drive somewhere far to heat up the engine. For headphones, when you buy it, play it until overnight on high volume.
When it comes to investing in anything, research goes a long way and buying the perfect headphones for your workout is no exception. Your research must come with canvassing, actually trying on the product at a store or if you’re buying it online, reading tons of reviews about it first.
Remember, expensive doesn’t always mean high quality and affordable doesn’t you’re sacrificing quality. Small headphones don’t mean weak, and big ones don’t mean sturdy. It will all boil down to your preference, how you define comfort and how these headphones will help you optimize your workout sessions more.
If these headphones are just the start of you building your home gym, check out these reviews for all in one machines you can use at home. We also did a post on the home gym essentials if you’re wondering what staples to add to yours.
Have fun looking for the right headphones for you! If you have any other suggestions that have made the list, why not post in the comments box below?
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.