If I wanted a wired pair of headphones for working out, I’d choose Sony’s MDR-AS800AP. After extensive research—we considered a total of 145 sport-specific headphones and tested the 82 best reviewed and newest options—our panel of experts agreed that if they wanted a wired headphone, they’d want to take Sony along on their next trip to the gym. The sweatproof AS800AP fit our panelists’ ears more comfortably than the competition and also sounded much better than many other models we tested. With a universal single-button remote and mic, these Sony headphones will control your playlist and take a call. And their sealed design will block out that annoying dude-bro yell-lifting for attention in the free-weights section.
Different workout styles demand different kinds of sport headphones, however, so if you need something a little different, we’ve got your bases covered. More on those below. We totally get it; not everyone wants or needs a Bluetooth workout headphone. Wired headphones don’t need to be charged, and they offer the maximum sound quality for the dollar. So if you are among the many who prefer a wired and sealed option, a pair of the Sony MDR-AS800AP is the way to go.
While they generally hover around $70, we’ve seen them available for as low as $45, which is a steal. Even our panelists that don’t care for in-ear headphones with stability wings found the pliable yet sturdy material used in the AS800AP’s wings to be comfy. The AS800AP has a single-button universal remote that plays, pauses, skips tracks, and takes calls.
Can’t commit to $70 exercise headphones? Then, go for the uber-affordable Koss Fitclips; they won the budget option for a second year in a row. Why? The hook design is flexible and comfortable, and the sound is way better than the price tag—around $15—would lead you to believe. There’s no remote, but at this price you can devote a pair to workout-only use. So unless you’re accustomed to phoning your trainer as you’re getting your sweat on, you can’t do better for the price.
Exercise headphones are for people who want to run, hike, bike, or hit the gym while listening to music, podcasts, or other media. These headphones should be able to withstand a variety of stressors like sweat, rain, strain from dropping media players, and abuse from being thrown in a bag with other potentially dirty and damp equipment.
Headphones with wires are for people who don’t want the hassle of remembering to charge their wireless headphones, want the best sound for their dollar, and participate in activities—low-impact fitness pursuits like walking, or you don’t mind running a wire under your jersey—where a cable won’t be a bother or in the way.
Headphones should sound decent. But headphones that sound fantastic and win a group listening panel are functionally useless if they don’t feel good, stay put, and stay out of the way when you’re being active. That means you have to make sure they fit your ears well and have a long or short enough cord to accommodate the exercise routines you prefer.
If you’re currently using a pair of earbuds that aren’t specifically designed for working out, like Apple’s OEM EarPods, or are using a nicer pair of earbuds for working out, you will have a better experience with one of our picks. Workout headphones will take more abuse than EarPods and are designed to stay in your ears while performing activities. And unlike expensive headphones designed only for casual use, sport headphones are made to handle sweat.