Everyone who follows us or other fitness sites and social media likes to work out and keep themselves in shape. Part of our mission statement was to assist you in finding the best ways to do that. The most challenging aspect of that for me as I have gotten older has been the consistency of my workouts and able to stay focused, complete them, and finish strong. In that regard, one of the most valuable pieces of equipment in my gym are my headphones. Seriously, before you laugh, putting on my music allows me to turn out the distractions, keep my mind from drifting on to thing I have to do at work, and kind of just drift away to my zone for that hour, hour and a half, that is my time. So, we wanted to do a review of the best headphones on the market for those of you who value your workout time as much as I do.
Now before you laugh at the weight we’re putting on this, take a moment to think about how your workout or run would without them, or when yours doesn’t work properly or has poor performance. It’s really annoying and gets in the way. There is now way I can get through my five-mile run without my music for motivation, distraction, and to keep my mind off the pain when I’m really pushing myself. To me, the most important aspects of both earbud and over-the-ear headphones are comfort and performance. You want to put them on, make your music selection and get to work. If they’re falling out, not blocking out the outside noise, or simply feeling cumbersome after 5 minutes then they’re going to more harm than good.
We’re going to break it down by over-the-ear and earbud. And we start off with our favorite in-gym buds, the Jabra Elite Active 65t. Retail $169.98, available through Amazon, Best Buy, and others. We consider these to be true wireless phones because not only do they not have a cord that connects to a media player, but they don’t even have a cord connecting the left and right buds. So, to answer the questions; very comfortable, the shape fits the ear well and is secure. The sound is strong but the bass not so loud that they need to be periodically removed as we found with some. Jabra took the time to actually put together good quality sound not just loud sound.
Ok, the over-the-ear category competition was fierce, with some really big brands with bigger advertising budgets. But our argument is substantive only and we like the Bose QuietComfort 35 (range from $299-$349) as the best over-the-ear headphones. Firstly, they feel comfortable over the ear, tight enough to keep the simple noise from interfering with the sound but no so tight that you begin to sweat and have to frequently pull them off for air. The noise cancellation is airplane ready and the true sound is as good as you’re going to get. You won’t be able to distinguish between these and direct plug in phones. The added features of the QC2 phones with Alexa voice control are optimal for those who work out at home, treadmill, elliptical, or rowing machine. The less time you spend fiddling with your music selection is more time you can spend working, also the sooner you’re done. For me, it was worth the extra $50 for the convenience.
In the in-ear category we like the RHA 650i ($59.95) For those of you that are not familiar with them RHA quickly has become a major player in the sound industry specializing in the in-ear and earbud categories, with several of their models ranked among the best. We thought so as well, finding the s650i best in breed. They are comfortable, sleek, and well-designed. Having both the standard port as well as a lightning extension that can connect directly to your Iphone. The sound is great with good EQ and base balance. Perfect for high-impact cardio workouts such as aerobics, rowing, bleachers, and jogging. They also have a version with ear hooks ($119) where you get the same quality but in a design that may be more compatible or familiar to some.
Honorable Mention Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones $329 – Now there isn’t any company on the planet that can match Apple for innovation and it’s beginning to rub off on their Beats brand. No one can match the Beats for colors and style and all you need to do is look around the next time you’re at the gym and count the number of Beats that you see. Now I was big on trying the Beats when they first came out and went right for the top of the line ‘Executive’ line. The silver color and fold up design was new at the time and on the cutting edge but the sound left something to be desired and the quality of the leather around the earpiece wasn’t very good quality and cracked rather quickly. It seems like they pushed some styles to market to meet demand with quality taking a back seat. That’s not the case any more were the Beats Studio 3 are seriously good enough for studio work. At a price point that’s at the higher end for workout phones but you get a lot of features that they cleaned up from the first generation. In addition to better noise canceling, you get the Apple w1 chip for class 1 Bluetooth connectivity. 22 hours of battery life is a major plus, easy charging cable, and more. As good as the features are they couldn’t match the same dominance with the sound. It’s good just not better than the Bose for the money.
We’ll post the entire list and scores at the end of the week…….