If the headset market gets any more crowded, retailers may run out of space on store shelves. We call this situation “Headphone Heaven” because we know that you love choices! Of course, too many choices aren’t good either: Social scientists say that humans get confused when given more than seven, so we’re doubling down with reviews of nearly twice that number after culling through hundreds of candidates on your behalf.
These wireless earphones have a trendy name and the manufacturer has spared no detail in the engineering department because the sound quality is near perfect. Here’s what surprised us most about the Powerbeats2: while the company is known for bass-driven beats, you’ll find more balance with this product, so whether you listen to Adele while running or you require heavy metal to keep you going, you’ll be delighted. An absence of wires and a comfortable fit designed with ear hooks to make room for sunglasses are popular features. You might not mind forking over US$220 to own them.
Does this brand name alone send a shiver of delight down your spine? In fact, you would be hard-pressed to encounter any Bose product that disappoints when it comes to sound quality and the SoundSport is no exception. Although the mic and remotes are only compatible with selected Apple devices, the controls and microphone are easy to access. These moisture-proof earphones are designed for rigorous workouts and a shorter cable means no tangles. If you’re fussy about noise cancelling and cable, this Bose product might not be for you, but for US$116.95, this product delivers big time.
Jabra Sport Coach
Jabra loyalists are not shy about describing their love affair with this super brand, and it’s easy to see why they’re willing to shell out US$149.99 to snag a pair of these branded earphones. Powerful Bluetooth audio and fitness app functionality are top drawer and the sound is awesome. Features? Lots! Track calories burned, monitor your cadence and pace, keep tabs on your distance and expect more thanks to built-in motion sensors that keep you apprised of your progress. The Sport Button feature turns on automatically once your device is connected and you get the Jabra Sport Life app free of charge.
Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless
The Jabra Sport Pulse is winning over so many runners, we expect them to start a fan club. As the only wireless Bluetooth-enabled earbud set that tracks your heart rate, this product won’t crash and burn if you sweat buckets thanks to solid engineering. Take advantage of the Jabra Sport Life app for free personalised training tips, and the GPS feature lets you know where you’re going and at what pace. Revel in Dolby sound with equalizers that so closely mimic wired earphones, you may not believe your ears. The state-of-the-art noise reduction technology alone is worth the US$199.99 price tag. That said, expect five hours’ worth of battery time before you must recharge so for those who can’t stop talking, this may be a problem. Our suggestion? Buy two.
JayBird BlueBuds X2
These incredible Bluetooth-streaming wireless earphones are sold for US$179.95, but even if you must pay, expect a lot for your money. The sound signature is awesome and distortion-free. Because this product is an improved version of the Bluebuds X, it’s designed for physical fitness buffs. Features include a micro profile and super-capacity Battery HD technology extend the Jaybird X2’s playtime to a solid 8 hours. These earphones are sweat-proof and you won’t have to put up with slack cable. While the controls can be difficult to operate while the buds are worn — and some wearers complain about fit— you might decide that super audio delivery quality compensates.
JBL Synchros Reflect-I
They are affordable and sleek, but the feature you may love most if you run at night or in bad weather is the reflective paint that keeps you safe. This US$39.95 earphone has enough bass to keep you happy and there’s no top volume distortion. Some runners find the ear tip fit to be dicey at first, but give it time and you’ll adjust. JBL had the typical runner in mind when developing the Reflect because very few units prioritise runner safety and affordability, so bear with a little top volume distortion to keep yourself safe.
JLab Epic Bluetooth Earbuds
It may retail for around US$99.99, but if you crave power in a wireless product known for delivering impressive, distortion-free bass notes, do consider these affordable JLab earbuds that discriminating runners rave about. The earbud fit is extremely secure and the Epic comes with enough accessories to please a bells and whistles runners. Are you undaunted when it comes to running in any weather? These earbuds are splash-proof. Don’t buy before you check out the changing cable because it is short and might not be to your liking, but otherwise, feel free to fall in love.
LG Tone Infinim
Mind if we add another power player to the mix? The LG Tone comes with an impressive pedigree: Harman Kardon, the iconic audio brand that’s been pleasing audiophiles since 1952! Get a legacy for US$149.99 that includes a dynamic music delivery system, signature retractable earbuds with wire management, a jog button and space-age styling. That jog button offers one-touch, fluid music and volume control so the CD-like quality of your music will thrill you. Add the convenience of Bluetooth, 17 hours of talk time, up to 23 days of standby time and around 14 hours of music play time and expect to be impressed. Is the Infinim perfect? Almost. A few wearers have complained that the neck band pulled apart and there have been a smattering of battery life complaints, too, but we side with the mom who swears that her destructive toddler tried but couldn’t destroy these buds!
Plantronics BackBeat Go 2
If one of the things that drives you nuts is street noise impacting the music that keeps you running, you may wish to skip the BackBeat Go 2. On the other hand, this Bluetooth-enabled headset is a terrific improvement over its predecessor. Music quality is good, so if you like to sing along (for the first few kilometres) you’ll be satisfied with the mid-range and high-end audio quality offering slightly less bass output than competitors. Even if you purchase the optional battery charging unit, you’ll still save big if you comparison shop: At US$99.99 online, so if you run in relatively quiet environments and if light bass output doesn’t bother you, say yes to the BackBeat Go 2.
Reverb Active X Series Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Sport Headset
When was the last time your headset flew off? Consider buying the Reverb because the only way the Active X wireless unit could be more secure would be if you Gorilla-glued it to your neck. This headset resembles a horseshoe, but that’s the point: it’s engineered to wrap around the back of the head, so if you find headbands annoying, spending US$119 on this unit won’t bother you. Music delivery is bass-heavy so the quality of your tunes won’t suffer. Battery life won’t thrill you, either, but if you wear them for cross-training and limited distance runs shorter than five hours, you won’t run out of juice.
Not only are these earphones quirky, trendy and fashion forward, but they deliver enough bass for the pickiest audiophile. The fit is secure because the Method is designed for exercisers like you and there are no bad reviews about the interface between mobile devices and the unit’s inline remote control and microphone. The sound is intense — which qualifies this as both a pro and a con — but with an affordable price tag of US$23.99, you may not care. Simple. Fun. Functional. Once you try them out, you may not find a thing to complain about at this price point.
Samsung Level U Wireless Headphones
These Samsung headphones usually come with a price tag of US$69.99, but if you’re a savvy Internet shopper, you might find this sturdy product for less than $30. The brand is strong and clarity of sound is impressive thanks to crisp high notes and plenty of bass. The neckband style has become a favourite of runners who converted after too many pricey accessories flew off their heads and while this design isn’t for everyone, if you pair it with a solid brand name, sale price and respectable sound quality, you can’t go wrong.
SOL Republic Relays Sport
The engineers behind these mid-priced SOL Republic Relays Sports earphones did their job by delivering a quality product at a decent price, so if you favour the brand, your short list of purchase possibilities just got shorter. Runners love the secure fit and the high-powered sound quality that relies heavily on bass tones balanced by crystal clear high notes. Runners have a choice of remote control style, so if you have a strong preference, you’ll be delighted. What’s the downside to this US$49.99 earphone? There are no accessories, so audition the Relays Sport for sound quality before you buy.
When you buy this kind of gear, what’s most important to you — sound, fit or price? We’d love to know what your priority is when you shop since this market has grown so crowded of late!