Best Apple headphones & earbuds for working out
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Whether you're a runner, CrossFitter, weightlifter, gymnast, or pro dog-walker, you're going to sweat at some point. Here are the best headsets that will survive your workouts.
There's no point in working out if you don't sweat. And electronics are generally not compatible with that sweat, unless the manufacturer put a little extra effort into making sure that they'll survive.
Here are the best headphones for every workout modality, keeping "gotta have" features in mind, like price, sound, Apple integrations, distraction-free comfort, headphone longevity, or simply — headphones that won't fall off during the action.
Beats Fit Pro
Apple's subsidiary audio company, Beats by Dre, fastened a double meaning in the wireless earbuds' name Beats Fit Pro. Whether this is a summons for fitness professionals or a boast that promises the wearer a pro fit, we put these earbuds to the test.
Beats Fit Pro are similar to the AirPods Pro in that they are built with identical features and specs, including Apple's H1 chip, active noise canceling, Adaptive EQ, and spatial audio.
For the rough-and-tumble fitness professional, the Beats Fit Pro might actually not be the best fit. While the Beats Fit Pro do have an impeccable sound, they're for workout modalities that don't involve fast, jerky movements or upside-down movements, like handstands.
This is because the Beats Fit Pro fall out, and often.
Once the silicone ear tip pieces come into contact with sweat, they slowly lose suction. Paired with speedy, turbulent, or upside-down exercises found in modalities like CrossFit, HIIT, or gymnastics, this is a recipe for disaster.
A handstand can feel like a Mission Impossible moment, where the wearer has milliseconds to fix the earbud before it pulls itself from the ear.
In case the confusing sweat and water resistant but not sweatproof or waterproof distinction has you scratching your head, Beats' website states that Powerbeats, Powerbeats Pro, Beats Studio Buds, and Beats Fit Pro have "a water resistance rating of IPX4."
An IPX4 water resistance rating means that the item is "resistant to water splashes from any direction." A few beads of sweat should be fine, but don't cap your run by drenching yourself with the garden hose.
Because these buds can fall out in action, there's great danger of the wearer trampling and/or breaking the buds. The small, medium, and large ear tip pieces don't do much to keep the earbuds fastened in place during runs or jerky movements, either.
However, for calmer or more stationary workouts, like walking, Pilates, or stationary rowing where sweat is an afterthought, these earbuds are a great choice.
Beats Fit Pro - Pros
Beats Fit Pro - Cons
Beats Fit Pro headphones retail for $199.99, but are currently on sale at BHPhotoVideo.com and at Amazon.
Apple AirPods 3rd generation
While AirPods 2nd gen already stand out over wireless Beats earbuds due to their non-slip nature, the 3rd generation Apple AirPods are even better.
Apple AirPods 3rd gen - Pros
Apple AirPods 3rd gen - Cons
AirPods 3rd gen are for every workout modality. Once wedged comfortably in the ear, they do not pop out - not even during jump squats, sprints, or handstands.
AirPods 2nd and 3rd gen are under the same sweat and water resistant, not sweat/water-proof umbrella. Even so, they are easier to maintain and keep odor-free.
The hard tips are easier to clean than silicone with a simple wipe of a lint-free cloth across the buds after each use.
While some find their lack of noise-canceling mode a con, for the safety-inclined and concerned parent, noise-canceling is an unnecessary — even potentially dangerous — feature.
On a run, with AirPods 2nd or 3rd gen, you'll be aware of traffic and potential threats. At the gym, you'll be able to hear when the elderly woman asks for your help unloading the bar. At home on your spin bike, you'll be aware of the comings and goings of the house, like the front door opening and closing.
For your workouts, the main caveat is the pods' comfort beyond 2+ hours of use. For those who complete shorter workouts, these AirPods are indeed the perfect fit.
AirPods 2nd Gen are available to purchase for as low as $89 from Target. AirPods 3rd Gen are also available to purchase at a discount from leading Apple resellers.
Beats Studio 3 Wireless
Beats Studio 3 Wireless are the most expensive headphones Beats has to offer. While they might be great in the studio, they are not the best suited for sweaty workouts.
Beats Studio 3 Wireless - Pros
Beats Studio 3 Wireless - Cons
While the pros outweigh the cons, the cons are important to take into consideration — especially when it comes to your workout of choice.
Like the Beats Fit Pro earbuds, these headphones are best suited for slower, calmer workouts where the goal is not to work up buckets of sweat.
These Over-Ear headphones act as earmuffs, keeping heat inside the body. This can be a pro for colder outdoor runs, but most definitely a con inside hot, stuffy gyms.
These headphones won't budge, which is both a pro and a con. After thirty minutes of workout wear, the headphones serve as a painful distraction to your reps, squeezing the head and ears like a toddler to his mother's leg.
The ear cushions are Beats' largest yet. While this means that they relay unparalleled sound into the ear, this also means that they are heavy, weighing down your workout.
The biggest con, perhaps, is one that shows itself after months of wear — odor.
After a few months, no matter how much the soft ear pieces are cleaned, your headphones will smell. It is the same rancid odor of sweaty hockey gear left in the trunk without the chance to air-dry, and of sticky loaner boxing gloves from your kickboxing gym.
The ear cushions are replaceable, but it is an extra cost on top of an already extremely-pricey product.
The Beats Studio 3 Wireless are available at Amazon for over half off.
Beats Solo 3 Wireless
Between the Beats Studio 3 Wireless and Beats Solo 3 Wireless, the clear winner is the Beats Solo 3 for all workout modalities.
This is largely due to the smaller cushions, which don't feel so much like ear-muffs in winter. These also don't have the same python vice-grip on your head, like the Studio version.
Beats Solo 3 Wireless - Pros
Beats Solo 3 Wireless - Cons
Due to the smaller ear cushions, these headphones are more likely to slip during your upside-down movements or up-down movements like burpees. This issue shows itself more after one year of constant workout use, when the headband and cushions have more laxity.
Like the Studio Pro version, the ear cushions will develop an odor after a mere few months of workout use and will need replacing.
The Beats Solo 3 Wireless are available at a discount on Amazon, with pricing at press time dropping to $99.
Apple AirPods Max
These over-ear headphones are simply magic. They pack a whopping punch of a price tag — but for good reason.
For your workouts, these surpass any of the aforementioned headphones in one main realm: sound quality. We've seen some reports of condensation in the metal part of the headset being a problem long-term. To minimize this, maybe not use these outside when it's really cold, and wipe down the inside after workouts.
If you want the cream of the crop sound-wise, enjoy a good beat drop, and have a little extra pocket change to burn, these headphones could be for you.
Apple AirPods Max - Pros
Apple AirPods Max - Cons
Like the other over-ear headphones, these carry many of the same cons — laxity in headband/ear cushions after repeated use, and a massive price tag.
However, so far in our use, it has it developed the "old boxing glove" smell that the Studio or Solo Beats models did after months of use. It is also easier to clean.
Unlike the Studio or Solo models from Beats, you are able to detach the mesh-like ear cushions from the headband for cleaning. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of laundry detergent in 1 cup of water and dip a soft cloth in the solution. Using the solution, manually wipe down the cushions.
Allow cushions to dry completely before reattaching to the unit body. After months of sweat-buildup, even white cushions can look relatively new again.
Apple AirPods Max are available on Amazon, with discounts regularly bringing the accessories down to $449, from Apple's $549 MSRP.