My Search for the Ultimate Gym Headphones. [Product Reviews]

Apple's iPod/iPhone earbuds.

When I think of my experience with headphones, three possibilities emerge: Either I have terrible luck, the existing products suck, or the elusive ultimate gym headphone exists – but I just haven’t found it yet.

When exercising, I tend to switch between listening to my iPod (mostly for audiobooks or podcasts), and listening to the gym’s televisions through the headphone jack on each cardio machine. I run fast and tend to sweat a lot, so I need a pair of headphones that stay in my ear and that are water-resistant. I feel like my needs are pretty basic.

I started with the traditional Apple earbuds that come with any iPod or iPhone. Strangely, when plugged into the treadmill’s headphone jack, I get electrocuted in my ears. No joke! I’ve been told that it’s impossible to get electrocuted through headphones, but I know what I felt. In addition, the earbuds wouldn’t stay in for more than a minute or two. They’d pop right out. For high intensity exercisers, Apple’s earbuds are shit.

Bluetooth Plantronics headphones

With a desire to go wireless, I opted for the Bluetooth Plantronics headphones. I loved not having to contend with a cord, and they stayed in – even at high speeds. Unfortunately, my pair malfunctioned and the battery wouldn’t charge. I brought it back, and got a second pair. The second pair also malfunctioned. I love the idea of Bluetooth headphones, but perhaps they’re just ahead of their time. And at $99, they weren’t cheap (though the price has since come down).

Disillusioned, I picked up a cheap pair of no-name earbuds at a local warehouse store. They were three bucks and lasted me several months, until my boyfriend stepped on them. Since then, I’ve purchased two more pairs of the no-name earbuds, and both pairs have fallen apart within a week or two.

Sennheiser OMX 680 Adidas earphones

Last week, I decided to splurge for a set of Sennheiser OMX 680 Sports earphones by Adidas. They were on sale for $59 (from $79), and are specifically manufactured for use during athletic training. The earphone wraps around the back of the ear to ensure a good fit, and the product is sweat-resistant. Unfortunately, it’s not a match made in heaven. The earphones come with a small volume control attached to the cord. This volume control must be clipped to your clothes – but I’m not really sure to what. The clip is awkwardly placed – it’s too high to be clipped to your shorts and too low to be clipped on to your collar. I clip it to the arm opening in my tank top, but it’s a strange fit. Moreoever, the whole product feels very plastic and very cheap (which would be fine if it were half the price). On the plus side, the sound quality is good – and so far I haven’t been electrocuted.

So – the search continues for the ultimate gym headphones. Do you have any suggestions for a better pair of headphones, earphones or earbuds that work great at the gym? Please let me know in the comments below!

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  1. I had a good experience with VModa earbuds. They lasted me a while and only died when I dropped them into the gym toilet (DOH!). I’d agree on the bluetooth, I heard the same complaint. I had pair of Motorola ROKR bluetooth headphones and I was having choppy sound if my Iphone was in my shorts or jacket but fine if I didn’t wear a jacket.

  2. The best headphone are bose, yes they are expensive but there is nothing like them the sound is AMAZING!!!!! mine costt less then 200 and you can get insurance for them but they are the best by far!!!

    • Kevin Calhoon says:

      I completely agree that the Bose headphones are the way to go. They have worked out great for the past two years of my fitness time, which I primarily run and they stay in place!

  3. I just got these SkullCandy ones ( They came with 3 rubber sizes so you can adjust to your fit. However, they are not my favorite because I like to be able to hear a little bit more of the ambient noise around and I feel like I am shouting when I talk to someone.

    • I have skullcandy headphones too. I love how they block out noise–so I don’t have to hear cars and trucks buzzing by me while running! But the cord is just way too long. Great for running, but for lifting it just gets tangled in my weights ๐Ÿ™

    • Do they stay in when you are running?

      • I’ve been using skullCandy earbuds almost everyday for just over a year now, and absolutely love them. Yes, the cord is ridiculously long, but I just tuck the excess in the side of my shorts, (i clip my shuffle to my shorts while running). I’ve found that as long as I have the cord under my shirt, it keeps the volume control from bouncing around, and the earbuds don’t come out. And as for sweat, i’ve got mine drenched a number of times, and they still work well.

  4. I have the exact same problem. The best pair of headphones were bluetooth but battery life was an issue. But after burning through three or four wired headphones I think I’ll reinvest in another pair of bluetooth headset.

  5. Tony Sopko says:

    The bose headphones available at best buy for around 120 bucks work great for me when doing cardio or lifting. By far the best sound and they do not come out. They are awkward at first becuuse they stay put with this web like thing that goes in the ear. Check them out, I think you’ll be pleasently suprised!

  6. I use Klipsch S4. I love them, they stay in really good. I use them all the time, running outside, or on a treadmill, and the rest of my work out. And they sound fabulous!!! They have great noise isolation, when I have them in, the world around me goes silent, so I can focus on the music, body and thoughts. Very highly recommended. I have had others test them out, and they are always satisfied. They are around 80 dollars, and in my opinion better then ear buds that cost 200+, even better than the Bose!.

  7. Motorola S9-HDs are awesome. S10s are supposed to be similar, but sweatproof. They get my stamp of approval!

  8. I’ve had moderate success with several of the Nike branded headphones, but for running I’m convinced that something that wraps over the top of your head is what you really want to keep them from coming out. The real problem, of course, is being able to actually hear anything with the ambient noise in most gyms.

  9. I got electrocuted from my headphones on the gyms treadmill, the gym told me I was nuts. I’m glad i’m not nuts, I asked some other guy that was on the same treadmill as me one day, and he looked at me like i was nuts.

    • AXOLOTL15 says:

      LOL maybe it’s because you used the word “electrocuted” instead of “zapped”? I you were electrocuted you’d probably be a crispy mess right now. XD

  10. I just purchased Jaybird Tiger Eyes earphones that had great sound and worked well for 3 months before they started shorting out and automatically switched tracks (a serious problem when you’re listening to an interval podcast that lets you know when to run). They boast a 1-year general warranty and a lifetime warranty against sweat. I’m not entirely sure how that’s supposed to work.

    I’m starting the returns process now on them. I’ll have to respond again after I’ve put the replacements through their paces.

  11. I am also looking for a good set of headphones. Could the Bose fans post what model number they are talking about? Thanks

  12. I’ve used my SHURE brand earbuds for several years now. I purchased them at Best Buy and they were in the same price range as BOSE. I’m super happy with them and they never fall out. Wide dynamic range so I can listen to anything from Rock to my favorite Classical or Broadway without distortion.

  13. I really love my Zagg earbuds and they have new waterproof buds.

  14. AXOLOTL15 says:

    I lost mine recently too! Death by dumbell. ๐Ÿ™

  15. I am not a big fan of ear buds, I have had all of them fall short because they are not very water resistant, I wish I had all the money back that I have spent on earphones/buds, I could fly to australia. I have Sony headphones, the drawback is that they pads get too wet and feel uncomfortable. but the sound continues to be great. I like a lot of base so these ones work for me, I just put the cord under my clothes. I am still continuing my search, I just refuse to pay a small car payment for something so small

  16. I feel your pain. These have lasted me longer than any other earbuds and are comfortable. They stay in even when sweating. The sound is also very clear.

  17. If you still live in Toronto go to Winners and check out their selection. I picked up a pair of panasonic ear phones that have a wrap around extension. Under $15 and great sound.

  18. Michael says:

    I heard of a product called Ultimate Ears used by performers on stage.

  19. I’m wondering if it is possible to clip the volume control to a lanyard or some form of necklace?

  20. coffeeaugur says:

    Earbud work best .. I got some Sony’s for about $20 .. so far they haven’t shorted out like all my others

  21. I have been using a product called “yurbuds” which are little silicone type attachments that fit on the end of the ipod earbuds and give a good tight fit, but feel comfortable in the ear. According to their website they are guaranteed not to fall out and I can attest to that. I just ran a half marathon last weekend and not once did they fall from my ears. Works for me!

  22. I endorse the Klipsch S4 or the Skull Candy. If price is a concern, the Skull Candy. If sound quality and noise isolation is what you seek, definitely get the Klipsch.

    They’re earbud style, but have several swappable tips that ensure the perfect fit when running. I put the chord under my shirt and this seems to be the best way to ensure they stay in place.

    I believe they’re water resistant so sweat has never been an issue. I’m not a huge sweater, but perspiration hasn’t bothered the headphones.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to comfort. The Skull Candy lasted a while, until I stepped on one and they were ruined. When I went to replace them I had a gift card and spent the extra ($79.99) on the Klipsch. I’d probably still be using the Skull Candy if not for my clumsiness.

    By the way – I had the same issue with my Apple earphones while using on board media at my gym.

  23. Not sure if they have been recomended yet or not but Dr. Dre Beats are simply put AMAZING! The sound clarity is great and there are interchangeable ear pieces so you can get comfort and they stay in. They come at a high price but, are well worth the cost. The design also alieviates the cord getting tangled. Normal price is 150 or so but if you can get some rip off versions from iraq they are merely 30 bux.

  24. While I agree with the Plantronics, only because their features are amazing. I’m currently using the Monster iSport, which are ranked number 1 by, and they rock.

  25. I got on sale over a year ago Sony DR-BT21G and have used them exclusively for workouts. There wireless, have held up to sweat sessions, and the battery seems to last forever on them, i barely recharge them. The volume and next track buttons are conveniente on the ear piece as well. Down side is the back is rigid plastic, and its not the most comfy. All going to come down to your head side there. Finally after so many uses, the ear protector pieces are falling off, and im looking for a new pair. There just arent good options in the market. The advantages much over weigh the bad points on this set.
    Remember for gym use here, dont expect killer sounds and bass. functionality.

  26. Ed Fenner says:

    For unbearable bluetooth headphones perfect for gym and taking calls try Sagem. Stunning quality non slip even ony bald head and have lasted three long gym training years without fault. Avaliable on eBay circa ยฃ30

  27. Jennifer says:

    I feel like you’re all posting about earphones with good sound quality and not earphones that are good to run with. Maybe it’s because you’re doing mild workouts and sound is your main concern.

    I run anywhere from 4-7 miles every day. Any pair of junky earphones will get you through a 1-2 mile run without slipping out. After the 2nd/3rd mile is when the sweat really starts pouring and everything gets slick (including your ears).

    After trying just about all standard earbuds (Apple, SkullCandy, etc.), I realized they all slip when you excessively start to sweat. I then switched to the wrap around style. I bought a pair of Philips ActionFit earhook phones. They were about $25-30. They fit decently, but the left ear went out after a couple months. Since the fit was decent I thought maybe I got a faulty pair and bought another. The second pair did the same exact thing. Even though advertised as sweatproof, they’re clearly not.

    Now I’m using Ironman earphones. They were about $50-55. They advertise as guaranteed to never slip out. I’ve had them for a few months now. Although they haven’t slipped out, they sure as hell get loose enough to where they feel like they’re hanging on for dear life. It’s a pretty annoying sensation while you’re running.

    That’s about where I’m at right now with my earphone experience. Maybe some marathon or long distance runners could give insight as to what kind of earphones they use.

  28. you must be glad to buy the beats pill wireless bluetooth speaker, the beats pill has powerful and great sound quality,

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