The Best Wireless Earbuds for Running of 2019By Michael Desjardin and Julia MacDougall, December 21, 2018, Updated January 02, 2019
If you need a pair of running or gym headphones, the JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless (available at Amazon) are the best ones to buy.
Whether you walk, run, or just park yourself in a gym for a few hours each week, you're going to want something to carry you through your workout. Music, podcasts, and audiobooks can help keep your mind off the burn as you get some miles or reps in, and wireless earbuds help you get that without worrying about an annoying wire getting in your way.
Our criteria for top-tier workout earbuds is simple: they should be wireless, they should stay in your ears, and they should sound good. Simple, right? Well, we've spent the past year testing all the best wireless earbuds you can buy, putting each through rigorous testing in our state-of-the-art sound lab in Cambridge, MA.
If you want wireless headphones to help you pound some pavement, read on. For more info, be sure to check out our roundups of the Best True Wireless Earbuds, the Best Wireless Earbuds, and the Best Wireless Earbuds for the Gym.
Updated January 02, 2019
JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless
JLab Audio Epic Sport WirelessBest Overall
The JLab Audio Epic Sport earbuds are billed as an "upgrade" to the popular JLab Audio Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless headphones, despite typically selling for about the same price.
The Epic Sport comes with JLab's signature bendable earhooks, multiple eartip sizes, and three types of cush fins to help the buds stay in place. The inline controls consist of a streamlined remote with three buttons.
The audio can still sound a bit tinny and lacking in bass, especially if the fit isn't perfect, but JLab Audio has really gone the extra mile by building in three "sound profiles": one that augments vocals and bass, one that has a flat profile with no extra enhancements (best for those looking for studio-like audio), and one that boosts the bass notes.
With an IP66 rating (able to withstand both dust and "powerful water jets"), the Epic Sport should be able to withstand rigorous workouts. Another high point is the satisfyingly long battery life which, in our experience, clocks in at over 12 hours. The skinny wires may make it easy to break the headphones, so be sure to pack up these earbuds in their case when not in use.
Overall, we were impressed by the JLab Audio Epic Sport earbuds-especially their ability to connect from the first floor to a phone on the second floor. A few customers didn't appreciate the proprietary charging cable (which cradles the remote and isn't merely a micro USB to USB cable), but we think that the Epic Sport is a solid choice whether you're walking in the woods or cranking through reps at the gym.
How We Test
Headphone manufacturers are typically aiming for either a flat or a curved sound profile. A curved profile is most common, and most curved profiles are trying to replicate the Equal Loudness Curve (ELC). The human ear hears higher tones more easily than it hears the bass tones, so for a human to perceive highs and lows at a similar volume, the headphones boost the volume of the lows, and moderate the volume of the highs.
A flat profile is usually found in "studio" headphones; the highs, mids, and bass tones have the same volume. However, as I just mentioned, we don't hear all tones at the same volume, so the bass notes sound softer, and the highs sound louder. Some people prefer studio headphones because of their audio fidelity—they are hearing the music exactly as the producers intended them to hear it. Also, as implied by the name, studio headphones are used in studio recordings to help mixers figure out what, if any frequencies, they should boost or reduce.
In addition to the more scientific testing, we also wear each pair of headphones around town to get a sense for their features (like extra amps or noise cancellation) and short- and long-term comfort.
In-ear vs. On-ear vs. Over-ear
You've probably seen a bunch of different headphones in your every day life, but what you may not realize is that headphones, while they have a number of different selling points, are primarily categorized into three types: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear.
The Jaybird X3 Wireless earbuds are the noteworthy successor to the Jaybird X2 Wireless earbuds. There's nothing really fancy-looking about the Jaybird X3, but these earbuds boast a number of neat features and accessories, the main one being a customizable sound profile.
Like the X2, the Jaybird X3 can be worn with the wires hanging over the ear or hanging straight down. Because there are so many tip, fin, and earbud configurations, it will still probably take a while for you to find the right fit. For those with small ear holes, we recommend the smallest size of Comply memory foam tips, which make for a better fit, better isolation, and better sound clarity. Once you have a good fit, the 8-hour battery life will get you through a work day of calls and music without trouble.
One sticking point is the remote. The controls rely on the wearer holding buttons down for a certain amount of time, rather than sequential button presses. It's different from the way wireless earbuds usually operate and can be frustrating to use while running, but it's manageable with a bit of practice.
Other helpful accessories include clips that can adjust the length of the cable, a shirt clip, and an exciting new feature that allows you to customize the sound profile. After connecting the X3 earbuds to the Jaybird app (Android, iOS), you can use your fingers to boost or reduce the volume of highs, mids, and lows. You can save your profile for future use, or choose from a few preprogrammed audio settings with names like "Signature" and "Bring the Bass". (In our experience, if you really want to boost the bass, reduce the highs and increase the lows at the same time.)
Many customers agreed that finding an ideal fit for the X3 earbuds is a significant time investment, but is ultimately worth it. Gym-goers were very happy that the X3 stayed in place despite a variety of exercise types and positions, and everyone really appreciated the quality of the sound. The main complaints users had were about the proprietary charging cable, defective products that failed to hold the stated 8-hour charge, and terrifyingly sudden battery updates. We do not recommend listening to classical music or horror movies towards the end of the X3's battery life; having a lady shout "BATTERY LIFE: 20%" or "CHARGE ME" will surely scare the daylights out of you.
Jabra Elite 25e
Jabra Elite 25e
If you're on a budget, and you're looking for solid earbud performance with a few extras, consider the Jabra Elite 25e. In addition to a surprisingly balanced sound profile, these earbuds have an adjustable neckband and an amazing long battery life of around 14 hours.
While bass notes played in the Elite 25e aren't especially booming, they manage to avoid the tinny quality that plagues many earbuds, which is a feat for a pair of earbuds under $100.
Jabra's take on the neck band is an interesting one. It has "zones" that are flexible, and allow for a slightly better fit for those who are broader in the neck/shoulder area. Additionally, the inline remote is housed in the neck band, making it easier to access by touch, since the remote isn't moving with the wires as you run through the woods. The downside of this design choice is that the remote buttons are really hard to press, and not very responsive. It can take a few jabs before the volume up/down buttons respond accordingly.
The eartips that come with the Jabra Elite 25e are oblong, rather than circular. These tips are purported to create a better fit, but that wasn't the case in our experience. Because of the unusual shape of the eartips, they never sat correctly in our ears, and the imperfect seal allowed us to hear shouted conversations on the bus with better clarity than our music. With a poor fit, the earbuds are also more likely to fall out during activities that require bouncing.
These eartips are a great point of contention for people who purchased the Elite 25e; some found that they really did increase the fit and comfort, while others experienced the same poor seal we did. If circular earbuds have worked well for you in the past, think about swapping the eartips that come with the Elite 25e for ones that you already know fit you well.
Of the wireless earbuds we've tested recently, the Jabra Elite 25e have the longest battery life, coming in at around 16 hours. This is not a drill. The convenience of having to charge your wireless headphones every couple of days instead of once a day cannot be overstated.
The Jabra Elite 25e is a great product for those with very specific needs and tastes. There may be some form and function problems, but the battery life is no joking matter.
JLab Audio Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless Sport
JLab Audio Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless Sport
JLab Audio's Epic2 Wireless are the less intense (and similarly-priced) cousins of the JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless, but they are still a great contender in the wireless earbud game.
The Epic2 Wireless have the same great sound, battery life, and adjustable earhooks as the Epic Sport, but with a slightly reduced (but still impressive) IP55 waterproof rating.
While it's also missing the additional sound profiles of the Epic Sport, the Epic2 Wireless has the regular micro USB to USB charging of most wireless earbuds, meaning you probably already have such a cable on hand, don't have to carry an extra cable around in the Epic2's nicely reinforced carrying case.
User reviews are a mixed bag; some are very happy with the sound clarity, but there seems to be a higher than usual incidence of units that have physical defects or have bad connectivity.
Our experience was a positive one, but we recommend that you do your research before dropping your hard-earned cash on the JLab Audio Epic2 Wireless earbuds. Read the full review.