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The fitness fanatic's guide to earbuds: Everything you should consider before you shop

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | March 19, 2015
Headphones can make or break a workout. Music is a fantastic motivator, and being able to hear your music (while also being able to hear what's going on around you) is incredibly important. And there's nothing more annoying than having your earbuds fall out during an intense cardio session, when all you needed was that little extra kick from Taylor Swift (or whoever you work out to).

Headphones can make or break a workout. Music is a fantastic motivator, and being able to hear your music (while also being able to hear what's going on around you) is incredibly important. And there's nothing more annoying than having your earbuds fall out during an intense cardio session, when all you needed was that little extra kick from Taylor Swift (or whoever you work out to).

The best dedicated sports earbuds are designed to stay in your ears, deliver great sound (without compromising on safety), and be durable enough to survive scrapes, bumps, sweat, and tears. Here are all the features you should look for when you shop for a pair of sports earbuds; plus, in-depth reviews of four new pairs of sports earbuds: Yurbuds Leap wireless earbuds, SMS Audio BioSport biometric earbuds, Sennheiser MX 686G sports earbuds, and Monster iSport Super Slim wireless earbuds. 

Features to look for

There are several factors to consider when picking out the perfect fitness earbuds. The most important factor — fit and comfort — is highly subjective. While I think that SMS Audio's BioSport earbuds are some of the most comfortable earbuds I've ever worn, many will find their excessive softness annoying (the covers are extremely flexible).

You'll need to take your own aural anatomy into account when you're shopping for fitness earbuds: If you have big ears, larger earbuds such as Yurbuds' Leap wireless earbuds will be better for you than they will be for people with smaller ears. If you prefer stiffer 'buds, Sennheiser's MX 686G sports earbuds offer great sound quality. If you're sensitive to wires touching the back of your neck, wireless earbuds probably aren't for you.

Fit and comfort are important in fitness earbuds because you'll be using these buds in difficult circumstances — while you're working out. Workouts are inherently physically uncomfortable, so any minor irritations (such as a nagging wire or a too-big earbud) will be amplified. Short of buying a pair of incredibly expensive custom-fit earbuds, you might find you need one pair of earphones for your workouts and a second set (or perhaps a set of conventional headphones) for your other listening sessions.

Most of today's sports and fitness earbuds have many of the same features: flat, tangle-resistant cords; wire clips for attaching the surplus cable to your shirt, so it doesn't flop around; bright colors to match your peppy workout clothes (some even have reflective strips for running at night); and sweatproof and water-resistant construction. If you're a runner, a cyclist, or you enjoy exercising outdoors, you'll want to look at earbuds that allow a bit of ambient noise to creep in, so you don't get run over by a truck because you couldn't hear it approaching.

 

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