Who should buy this
Workout headphones are designed to take more abuse than standard headphones and to stay in your ears while you're performing activities. Plus, they're made to handle sweat.
Exercise headphones are for people who want to work out while listening to music, podcasts, or other media. Unlike regular headphones, they'll stay in your ears while you move, and they'll withstand a variety of stressors like sweat, rain, and abuse. Most important, they stand in contrast to many non-sport headphones, which have warranties that you'll void if you get them wet.
Wireless headphones, in particular, are for people who find cables annoying, don't mind charging their headphones, and want to pay extra for the convenience.
We've also made other headphone recommendations in eight distinct subcategories, including budget options, unsealed headphones, over- and on-ear headphones, swimming headphones, and wired exercise headphones. Check out our full guide to find what works for you.
How we tested
Super wet to simulate super sweat. Our finalists after the rinse-down.
We brought in the winners from our previous test as well as 44 new models, and we had our panel of experts narrow them down to 11 new models that needed run testing and stress testing, as well as two that required swim testing.
Armed with our finalists, I took to the track and ran half a mile with each pair of dry-land-specific headphones; I also hit the pool with our two swim headphones. To test durability, I attached each pair of headphones to a heavy speaker and dropped the bundle from the top of a stepladder, and I shook, kicked, sat on, mashed, and smooshed them inside my gym bag vigorously. Finally, I sprayed each set of headphones using a water-filled utility misting bottle, after which I plugged the set in to see how well it worked.
Most people will find the JLab fits wonderfully, and the cable hooks that run over the ear are narrow enough to be worn with glasses or sunglasses.
The JLab Epic Bluetooth gets our overall recommendation thanks to a design that was especially comfortable for nearly all of our reviewers, with a lightweight, effortless feel on the head and sound quality that everyone enjoyed.
In contrast to other sport headphones, where we had to take some time to figure out the fit, the JLab Epic Bluetooth was intuitive. The slim, wire-reinforced cable hooks that run over the ears are stable enough to stay in place but narrow enough that you can wear them with glasses or sunglasses without issue. The three-button remote is easy to access behind your right ear, where you can activate play/pause, call answer/end, track changes, and volume by feel alone.
The sound of the Epic Bluetooth is on the bass-heavy side, but the results are pleasantly warm; rock, hip hop, and electronic music sound great. The mids are full without being muddy, and the highs are clear, not piercing or sibilant.
After hearing that our readers were experiencing problems with the Epic Bluetooth, including spotty connectivity and even total battery failure, we performed some additional testing. The pair we tested is over six months old, still being worn on regular runs, and free of issues. The only way we found to damage the Epic Bluetooth headphones was to run them under a faucet with the Micro-USB port fully open. We also contacted JLab, and company president Win Cramer asked anyone having problems with their headphones to reach out to the company at email@example.com or 866-358-6640.
The X2 (white) have a few small changes from the Bluebuds X (black). Most notably, the case and the wings have had some modifications.
If you don't like hooks over your ears, or if the JLab model is sold out, the Jaybird X2 is the way to go. The X2 is the successor to the Bluebuds X, a now-discontinued favorite. Both Jaybird models weigh very little, stay put, sound fantastic, have a lifetime warranty against sweat damage (which, if you sweat through one pair of headphones a year, can really add up), charge pretty quickly (around 2 hours), come with a nice hard case, and offer a design that you can wear in several different ways depending on what works for you. The X2 is, however, more expensive than the JLab Epic Bluetooth, and getting the fit correct the first time takes a little more patience. As a result, the Epic Bluetooth edged the X2 out, but only barely.
Wrapping it up
Whether you're training for a marathon, going for a personal record in Crossfit, or just getting moving, we know that the JLab Epic Bluetooth or one of our other top wireless headphones picks will meet your needs. (Or check out the wired options if you prefer.) So now that you've got the audio gear, go get yourself in gear! You can do it!
This guide may have been updated by The Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.