The Best Headphones for the Gym of 2019

By Michael Desjardin and Julia MacDougall, December 21, 2018, Updated January 18, 2019

The gym is an unforgiving place. At least give your ears a break with our top-recommended gym headphones, the JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless (available at Amazon).

Between work, hobbies, and maintaining social life, it can be tough to stay committed to a regular gym schedule. Plugging in a pair of headphones, however, can turn your exercise routine into an opportunity to catch up on some podcasts or to spin a couple of new records you've been meaning to listen to.

We've tested dozens of headphones that fit the bill for gym use, and we've managed to narrow it down to a handful that represent the best options out there right now. Unlike our similar round-up of the best wireless in-ear headphones for running, our gym headphone round-up isn't limited to wireless picks, nor does it exclude on- or over-ears.

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated January 18, 2019

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Credit: / Jackson Ruckar

JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless

Product Image - JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless
  • Editors' Choice

JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless

Best 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

Credit: / Julia MacDougall

We test all of our headphones on a head and torso simulator (HATS), which replicates how sound bounces around in the human body.

On our head and torso simulator (HATS), we put these headphones through our usual battery of headphone tests: frequency response, distortion, tracking, leakage, and isolation.

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.


Three popular types of headphones: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear.

Jaybird X3

Product Image - Jaybird X3

Jaybird X3

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 pre-programmed 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.

Beats Solo3 Wireless

Product Image - Beats Solo3 Wireless

Beats Solo3 Wireless

The Beats by Dre's Solo line features colorful, stylish on-ears that pump out bass-heavy tunes and create a tight seal to block out the noise of the busy gym around you. When used wirelessly, a full battery charge on the Solo3s lasts close to 40 hours long. If you're in the habit of plugging your headphones into an external source at the gym like a TV, you'll be pleased to know that the Solo3s are not limited to wireless use.

Unfortunately, the Solo3s suffer from the same issue its predecessors suffered from: too tight of a squeeze that might lead to achy ears. If you've owned and loved a pair in the past, however, you'll pretty much know what to expect.

They're certainly not cheap, but for their sound quality and versatility, the Solo3s make for a great pair of cans to take to the gym. Read the full review.

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless

Product Image - Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless

Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless

The Jabra Sport Pulse aren't the most attractive headphones of their kind, but what they lack in design they make up for in functionality. The Pulse tested well in our lab, producing an accurate (but slightly bass-heavy) sound profile free of distortion.

In addition to offering great sound at a relatively affordable price, users can connect the buds to the Jabra Sport Life app on their Android or iOS phone and keep track of their heart rate, distance, and workouts.

The Sport Pulse earbuds are a cool option with some neat tricks, provided you don't mind their somewhat odd appearance.

JLab Audio Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless Sport

Product Image - 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.

MEE Audio X7 Plus

Product Image - MEE Audio X7 Plus

MEE Audio X7 Plus

These wireless X7 Plus from MEE Audio feature an ear-to-ear strap with an adjustment clip that tightens the strap securely against the back of your head, making them a reliable choice for whichever workout routine you find yourself muscling through. Built with fitness in mind, the X7 Plus are also completely sweat-proof, so you can go ahead and push yourself to the limit without worrying about perspiration ruining your earbuds.

Relatively speaking, the X7 Plus represent a solid value for their price point. Plus, the X7 Plus carry a one year warranty, so there's no need to coddle them at the gym.

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