The best headphones for sitting at your computer or in your home listening to music may not be the best headphones to put in your ears while you're jogging around town. Activity will make them fall out and noise isolation or closed ear models will make it hard to hear your surroundings, but you still want good audio quality for your money. Here are the five best workout headphone options, based on your nominations.
When you need a pair of headphones that fit well, work with just about any device you might have and sound good, but you don't want to spend a lot of money, the Yurbuds are a great option. Yurbuds feature a patented "TwistLock" technology which ensures that your in-ear headphones will never fall out, even while you're running, working out, doing aerobics, lifting, or whatever. They're also designed to allow in a little more ambient noise than other models, so you're still aware of your surroundings while you're biking or jogging. It also doesn't hurt that they're designed to both be comfortable (Yurbuds claims the design avoids "nerve-sensitive areas of the ear," so you don't get that burning feeling of having something stuck in your ears too long) and sweat and water resistant, so a strenuous workout doesn't mean you have to dry out your headphones too.
We're no strangers to the Bose IE2 in-ear headphones -- they also showed up in our Hive Five roundup of the best overall in-ear models late last year. The Bose IE2 and MIE2 both sport Bose's StayHear swappable ear tips, which Bose claims will keep them from falling out of your ears even during strenuous activity. They include several sets so you can experiment and find the one best for you. The MIE2s are perfect for listening to music on your phone while you're out running or working out, but still give you the option to answer incoming calls when you need to.
Those of you who nominated the IE2s and MIE2s specifically praised Bose's build quality and the design of the headphones, and pointed out that it's good to be able to buy one great set of earphones and wear them both when you hit the gym and when you're on the train on the way to work, instead of having to swap out different ones for different uses.
Jaybird's Freedom and BlueBuds X earphones are both Bluetooth models that do away with wires and let you rock out wirelessly while you run, lift, or otherwise get your daily exercise in. The Freedoms, shown here, offer a flexible strap to keep them connected behind your neck, have clear, easily-pressed on-ear controls for volume and pairing, and allow you to answer calls with a quick tap while you're on the go. The microphone is even built into one of the earbuds so your caller can hear you clearly. They also include sport cushions and multiple ear tips so they stay in your ears and fit comfortably. The BlueBuds X are a different, more traditional earbud design that Jaybird touts as the pinnacle of wireless earbud technology. You still have a connecting strap, but the audio and call controls have moved to a smaller control pod along the cable. The BlueBuds X also have been designed to compensate for the inevitable sound quality degradation you'll get passing audio over Bluetooth, and sport over-ear and in-ear fitting options so you can wear them the way you choose. The sport cushion and multi-sized ear tips are still there to keep your ears happy while you wear them. Those of you who nominated the Jaybird models praised their battery life (8 hours between charges for the BlueBuds X and 6 hours for the Freedoms), their broad compatibility and easy setup, and the fact that they stay in your ears no matter what type of exercise you're doing.
If you just haven't been able to find a set of in-ear headphones that work for you, or that really do stay in place while you work out, Decibullz may be the answer. The company prides itself on its custom-moulded headphones and ear tips that won't fall out, because they're designed specifically to fit your own ears. You have the option to buy their headphones, which are the models we'll talk about, or to buy just the custom moulded ear tips and attach whatever earbuds or IEMs you already have to them (assuming they'll fit). Keep in mind though that Decibullz's claim to fame is their ear tips, not their headphones, so while they'll work with almost any device you plug them into, the remote control pod on the cable is designed for the iPhone. The ear tips on the other hand, are really spectacular.
The ear tips are DIY, so you get them, heat them up in the microwave, and then attach them to your own earbuds (you need a model that support replaceable rubber ear tips. Many of you pointed out that once you got a set of Decibullz tips for your own earphones, you never had a problem with them falling out again. Our colleagues at Gizmodo reviewed the headphones not too long ago, and-as you can tell by their headline -- didn't care much for them. The tips however, they loved -- and we have to agree with them there.
The Motorola S10-HD Bluetooth wireless headphones put the Bluetooth radio, battery and other electronics in a firm band that goes around the back of your neck while you wear them, and fits snugly to your head. The earphones themselves fit right into your ears, and feature on-ear controls for volume and music playback, not to mention buttons to answer and hang up calls and pair with your smartphone. They're sweat proof and water resistant. You'll get about 8 hours of continuous play time out of the S10-HDs before you have to recharge the battery.
Those of you who nominated the S10-HDs pointed out their solid performance, lack of wires or cables, and the fact that they make decent headphones as well as workout headphones, even taking Bluetooth into consideration. Many of you also noted that the way the band fits around the back of your head means the earphones don't slip out of your ears easily.
Honourable mentions this week go out to Skullcandy's In-Ear models, which many of you praised for walking the line between affordability, audio quality and solid design. We also have to give a mention to the various Sony in-ear models that were nominated. No specific models got enough nominations to make the top five, but the line is clearly popular.
Want to make your own recommendation for a great exercise headphone? We're all ears (ahem) in the comments.