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The Best Headphones for Every Workout

posted by on May 26, 2011 in Music and Video, Health and Home, Health & Fitness, Headphones, Guides & Reviews :: 12 comments

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I can’t work out without music. I’ve tried, but what would have been a refreshing run or stint on the elliptical machine turns into a miserable game of how many minutes left. Music not only provides a welcome distraction, it also helps boost my performance. In addition to my phone, which is my music player, I always make sure I have a good pair of headphones that’s suited to my workout so they stay on and deliver great sound.

Two things to keep in mind when picking out a pair of headphones for working out are moisture resistance and ambient sound. If you’re just walking, a regular in-ear pair should be fine. But if you sweat heavily or want to run outside in a light rain, you’ll want a pair that’s labeled as water-resistant or waterproof.

When running on a jogging trail, through a park or on city streets, you don't want to be isolated from the sounds of your surroundings. It’s a matter of personal safety. But if you’re at the gym, the last things you want to hear are the grunts from the next bench or panting emanating from the neighboring treadmill. In-ear headphones are best at keeping out ambient noise, while on-ear headphones and earbuds (like the ones that came with your iPod) allow you to hear what’s going on around you.

Keeping sound and sweat in mind, I’ve picked out the best headphones for every type of workout.

H2O Audio Surge 2GSwimming

Whether you’re jumping in the pool, taking a run in the rain or merely a heavy sweater, a waterproof pair of headphones like the H2O Audio Surge 2G are a great choice. The in-ear style seals out water and delivers high-quality sound. There are five different size eartips to ensure a proper fit, which is especially important for swimmers. The Surge 2G can be used down to 12 feet.
Price: $28

Sennheiser Adidas PMX 680iOutdoor sports

The Sennheiser Adidas PMX 680i Sports Headset has excellent speakers that sit over, not in your ear, so you can hear what's happening around you. There’s a reflective stripe on the neckband to provide extra visibility and safety at night. Plus these headphones are rated as water resistant, which means you can sweat or even go out in a light rain and not worry about ruining them. They come with an in-line mic and iPhone's Voice Control and music navigation.
Price: $66

Etymotic hf3Indoor sports/Walking

Shockingly light, the critically-acclaimed Etymotic hf3 in-ear headphones have a wide dynamic range that lets you hear more of your music. You get interchangeable silicon noise-isolating ear tips as well as ear tips made of sponge-like foam, which allow in some ambient noise. Plus, a new Awareness app (free on listens for sounds louder than normal background noises and either lowers the music or vibrates your iPhone when the app hears a loud noise. The headphones have an in-line mic and support iPhone's Voice Control and music navigation.
Price: $146

Discussion loading

Maybe I'm mistaken but I

From ClistyB on May 26, 2011 :: 10:22 am

Maybe I’m mistaken but I always thought that the buds included with your iPhone are considered the in-ear style (which allow you to hear outside noises) and the ones like my Dr Dre Studio BEATS are the over-ear (the ones that cancel out the noise)?


Technically in-ear headphones sit inside

From Suzanne Kantra on May 26, 2011 :: 10:38 am

Technically in-ear headphones sit inside your ear canal. So the iPhone buds, which sit inside the ear but outside the ear canal, don’t qualify.


I'm glad to have read

From Audrey H. on May 26, 2011 :: 12:53 pm

I’m glad to have read your article, have had problems with earbuds getting sweaty. I think the waterproof set looks perfect, thanks.


Waterproof MP3 Player

From K Grondorf on May 26, 2011 :: 1:46 pm

Hi, Suzanne. Do you have any recommendations on an accompanying waterproof digital music player for the H2O Audio Surge headphones? Thanks.


Waterproof MP3 player recommendations

From Suzanne Kantra on May 26, 2011 :: 5:55 pm

You could go with a waterproof mp3 player like the FINIS SwiMP3.1G Waterproof MP3 Player. Or you might want to get the H2O Audio Waterproof Headphone System that has the headphones and a case for an iPod Shuffle. That way you could use the Shuffle out of the water as well.


Marketing Manager

From Dana Swanson on May 26, 2011 :: 5:54 pm

Hi Suzanne,
Thanks for including us in your headphone line up!  For K. Grondorf, I just wanted to throw in there that we make a waterproof//sweatproof case or armband for almost every MP3 player or smartphone on the market, so check our website ( for all your options. 

Also, I wanted to clarify that the headphones pictured are our Surge Contact headphones (that feature a waterproof in-line mic) If you click on the hyper link, it takes you to the Surge 2G headphones that have many of the same features, and are still 100% waterproof, they just don’t include the in-line mic smile

Thanks again for including us!!

H2O Audio


Thanks Dana. The correct picture

From Suzanne Kantra on May 26, 2011 :: 6:06 pm

Thanks Dana. The correct picture is now in the story.



From Dana on May 26, 2011 :: 6:15 pm

Thanks for fixing so quickly Suzanne!


Thanks Dana and Suzanne! I'm

From K Grondorf on May 26, 2011 :: 6:14 pm

Thanks Dana and Suzanne! I’m off to the pool! grin


Bose also good

From Ted Kendall on May 29, 2011 :: 9:28 pm

I run a lot and like you can’t run without music—it is intolerable.  But I got real tired of the ear buds that would slip out of my ear while running.  Plus they seal off sound too well.  I found some Bose earphones that are over the ear—like the Sennheiser’s—but with holders that fit in the ear to secure them well.  The sound is amazing.



From KYLE on September 15, 2011 :: 9:46 pm

The water proof headphones were great buy when I went swimming they didn’t work with my iPHONE, it got ruined.


What do you think of the Bose IE2?

From Jason on November 22, 2011 :: 10:27 pm

I found a good review of workout headphones for the Bose IE2 at

What do you think?  They look pretty sweet, but everyone seems to be all about Sennheiser.


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