Best earbuds to buy in 2021: 10 best fitness earbuds for your workouts

Working out to your favourite sounds is supremely satisfying. Here are the 10 best fitness earphones to buy right now.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Image: Bose

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The best fitness earbuds enrich your workouts and encourage you to do more in the gym or out on your runs. By listening to your favourite music or podcasts, you can lose yourself in the moment rather than constantly be focusing on the next rep.

Finding the right fitness earbuds depends on a few different things, including the need for robustness and a comfortable fit while on the move – and they have to sound great, of course.

What to look for in the best fitness earbuds?

Sound: You may be focusing on beating your previous best time or completing your reps perfectly, but you also want to hear your favorite music as well. It’s important to pick out a good quality pair of earbuds that will work just as well during your downtime as they do during your active gym time.

Fit: A comfortable fit means that you won’t have to worry about the earbuds falling out mid-run, and not suffer from sore ears after an extended session. Look for earbuds that fit comfortably into your ears or offer different eartips for flexibility.

Battery life: No one wants to have to recharge their earbuds frequently. Active users will want to make sure their earbuds’ battery life can last the marathons or triathlons they are training for, or simply just for their really long walks.It’s also important to have a charging case that can sustain them for extended periods of time away from a power source.

Extra features: Some fitness earbuds offer fitness-related features such as tracking facilities or monitoring tools. Others simply offer superior sound quality through spatial audio or detailed apps. Not everyone needs additional features, but it’s worth paying attention to what’s available.

Is it better to workout with headphones or earbuds?

It’s a matter of personal taste. Wearing headphones can be useful when lifting or cycling as they stay firmly attached to your head without any risk of falling out. However, if you’re running or walking, a subtler and lighter pair of earbuds are generally the better option. Providing you pick a snug-fitting pair, they won’t fall out and you won’t feel like you’re carrying any extra weight.

The best fitness earbuds to buy in 2021 at a glance:

  • Sony WF-1000XM4
  • Jabra Elite 75t
  • Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
  • Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0
  • Bose Soundsport Wireless Headphones
  • Beat Powerbeats Pro
  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
  • Jaybird Vista
  • Apple AirPods Pro
  • Under Armour True Wireless Flash

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000XM4
Image: Sony

Offering fantastic sound quality, the Sony WF-1000XM4 works exceptionally well whether you’re working out or looking to relax in the evening. This is due to their extensive tweakable options via its companion app, which lets you get a personalised experience courtesy of the Analyse Ear Shape function as well as the ability to control active noise cancellation (ANC) for those times when you want to zone out away from the noise of the world. A battery life of up to eight hours means they’ll last for the longest of runs or treks too.

  • Price: $280 / £250
  • Battery life: Up to eight hours, increases to 24 hours with charging case
  • Features: Active noise cancellation, app support, voice assistant support, ear analysis tool

Read our full review here.

Jabra Elite 75t

Jabra Elite 75t
Image: Jabra

With a particularly snug fit for the ears, the Jabra Elite 75t are ideal for those worrying that their runs will cause a dislodged earbud. They offer tailored music profiles based on your individual hearing profile, along with active noise cancellation for blocking out surrounding irritants. IP55 protection means they’re fine to get a little wet or sweaty; although – like most of the earbuds here – don’t use them in a swimming pool. There are slightly better Jabra earbuds for sound quality, but when it comes to robustness and a good fit, you can’t go wrong with these.

  • Price: $210 / £150
  • Battery life: 5.5 hours, increases to 24 hours with charging case
  • Features: Active noise cancellation, app support, four microphones for calls

Apple AirPods (3rd generation)

Apple Airpods 3
Image: Apple

The latest Apple AirPods might still not be able to survive a swim, but they offer a far superior listening experience than before. Unlike the AirPods Pro, these lack active noise cancellation, but they now offer spatial audio with dynamic head tracking so that sound is placed all around you. Adaptive EQ automatically tunes music to your ears, which is always an advantage. Their comfier fit means they feel good in your ears even for extended periods and won’t fall out easily either. Apple device owners will particularly appreciate how easily they connect to their devices too.

  • Price: $175 / £169
  • Battery life: 6 hours, increases to 30 hours with charging case
  • Features: Adaptive EQ, Spatial Audio

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0
Image: Bang & Olufsen

A more stylish option than many other fitness earbuds, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0 also sound fantastic thanks to bass that sounds just right for punching your way through a workout. There’s no active noise cancellation here, but they do a reasonably good job of blocking out surrounding noises while you move. The app includes a transparency feature for making that more effective, while some preset equaliser settings are ideal for adjusting things just right. Generally, you can expect crisp mids and strong bass at all times. Battery life is a little low at four hours, which might not work for ultra-runners; but as a good mix of fitness earbuds and regular listening, these are a good match.

  • Price: $300 / £250
  • Battery life: Up to four hours, increases to 16 hours with charging case
  • Features: App support, transparency mode, stylish case

Bose Soundsport Wireless Headphones

Bose Soundsport Wireless Headphones
Image: Bose

The Bose Soundsport Wireless Headphones aren’t truly wireless, but that just means you won’t have to worry about them falling out mid-run. They’re sweat and weather resistant, making them ideal for a jog in the rain, plus they offer up to six hours of battery life meaning a marathon is an option here. These aren’t the newest of earbuds, but they’re dependable and their eartips ensure a comfortable fit no matter how long you wear them for. They’re well suited for an active lifestyle. Just bear in mind that they’re not quite as feature rich as their competitors but they sound suitably loud and vibrant.

  • Price: $130 / £150
  • Battery life: Up to 6 hours per charge
  • Features: App support, wired build, sweat and water resistant

Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats Powerbeats Pro
Image: Beats

The Beats Powerbeats Pro share a lot of the hardware with the AirPods, but offers a more secure fit for some ears thanks to a loop that you can attach to your earlobe. The in-built Apple H1 processor means that you get up to 9 hours of listening time, which is more than enough for even the most active of fitness fans. Their reinforced design and ear hooks offer great comfort and ensure that they can survive even the fiercest workout. They might not be stylish, but they work exceptionally well, with strong bass and a wide soundstage.

  • Price: $250 / $220
  • Battery life: Up to nine hours, increases to 24 hours with charging case
  • Features: App support, ear hooks, quick charging feature

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Image: Bose

Bose is a dependable name for any form of earphones or headphones, which is why the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds stand out so much even with another Bose entry here. These earbuds offer fantastic ANC for both listening to music and making calls. If you regularly work out in a noisy environment, these are the perfect pair of earbuds. Alongside that is a volume-optimised Active EQ that keeps the sound crisp no matter how high you turn up the volume. Expect tonal balance at all times, even if you’ve cranked things up loudly. A comfy but small fit means these are a solid choice when working out, although a higher IPX rating would have been appreciated, as these only go up to IPX4.

  • Price: $280 / £250
  • Battery life: Up to six hours, increases to 18 hours with the charging case
  • Features: Active noise cancellation, app support, noise-rejecting microphones

Jaybird Vista

Jaybird Vista
Image: Jaybird

The Jaybird Vista are designed for the most rugged of workouts, boasting an IPX7 rating . They’re waterproof, crushproof, drop proof and of course sweat proof. These are far more robust than the competition while still feeling very lightweight in your ears. They stick out a little bit, but feel good in your ears so you won’t need to worry about any discomfort. A choice of ear gels helps here too. App support means you can tweak the equaliser just how you want it to sound. Their wide soundstage is the main highlight here. They sound great, and with up to six hours of battery life, they tick all the boxes; but it’s their robustness that will truly sell them to certain people.

  • Price: $150 / £160
  • Battery life: Up to six hours, increases to 16 hours with charging case
  • Features: App support, lightweight build, very robust

Apple AirPods Pro

Image: Apple

The Apple AirPods Pro offer all the benefits of the regular Apple AirPods, but with some key extra features. That includes ANC, which does a good job of blocking out surrounding noises. There’s also a choice of three soft, tapered silicone tips so you can get just the right fit for your ears, which complements the adaptive EQ that tunes things just right for you too. There’s still no waterproofing here, though. Otherwise, they are a dependable pair of earbuds, especially if you already own other Apple devices as pairing them up is a cinch.

  • Price: $250 / £250
  • Battery life: Up to six hours, increases to 24 hours with charging case
  • Features: Adaptive EQ, ANC, choice of tips

Under Armour True Wireless Flash

Under Armour True Wireless Flash
Image: Under Armour

The Under Armour True Wireless Flash might have one of the ugliest cases out there. But with IPX7 sweat and waterproofing, they’re well worth considering for the most active of users. While they lack ANC in the traditional sense, they come with TalkThru technology, which lowers music volume and amplifies outside speech as and when required. They also offer winged ear tips that are perfect for the snuggest of fits before you embark on the kind of outdoor activities that the IPX rating encourages. Their deep bass will keep you enthusiastic through your entire workout.

  • Price: $165 / £159
  • Battery life: Up to five hours, increases to 25 hours with charging case
  • Features: App support, IPX7 rating, TalkThru support

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