What Are The Best Bluetooth Headphones for Sports? Expert’s Opinion

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Best Bluetooth headphones for sports: Is it difficult to choose headphones suitable for sports? Our selection is here to help you find the ideal model adapted to your needs and preferences.

We forget it too often but Bluetooth headphones are rarely suitable for sports for various reasons: too little resistance to the elements too heavyweight unsuitable fit for movements, etc. Above all perfect sports headphones do not exist since not everyone has the same preferences. 

Isolation or openness advanced functions or simplicity there is not a universal sports earphone but an earphone for each user. Our guide highlights our top 3 of the best products then the complete selection allows you to broaden your search. 

Each device selected here has benefited from a complete test in different sporting conditions: running cycling gym yoga, etc. People on tighter budgets can also check out our guide to the best headphones for under 110 dollars.

Table of Contents

What are the best Bluetooth headphones for sports?

  1. Jabra Elite 8 Active
  2. Creative Outlier Free Pro+
  3. Anker Soundcore Sport X10
  4. Shokz OpenFit
  5. JBL Soundgear Sense

1. Jabra Elite 8 Active: the best Bluetooth headphones for sports

Talking about sports headphones without mentioning Jabra is difficult. A big name in headphones dedicated to businesses this Danish manufacturer has above all become over the years the most competent player in the sporting field. Its most recent creation, the true wireless Elite 8 Active, represents the quintessence of the genre.

Best Bluetooth headphones for sports

Particularly comfortable, these highly insulating headphones (with active noise reduction) have a very studied shape. 

This reduces pressure points in the hollow of the ear as much as possible and ensures excellent fit despite the absence of a support system such as an ear hook or neck strap.

Its IP68 certification synonymous with the highest degree of resistance to the elements on the market is already an excellent start, but the brand goes even further. Surrounded by a special silicone these Jabras are protected against sweat and all types of corrosion. 

As such, it is the only model on the market to have passed the 810H military test a mixture of shocks and alternation of temperatures as well as the HACT accelerated corrosion test. In other words, the Elite 8 Active are the most robust headphones on the market. 

No sporting use, indoors or outdoors, can overcome this. This resistance also extends to the case, since it is one of the very few of its kind to resist dust and splashing water.

The Elite 8 Active benefits from another advantage made in Jabra: ergonomics. The very complete controls (navigation and volume adjustment) are provided by large buttons, and the headphones can connect to several devices at the same time. 

To make matters worse, a very effective smartphone application, available on Android and iOS, enriches the experience. Finally, the Elite 8 Active benefits from audio quality that is both energetic and versatile all with an endurance ranging between 8 hours and 10 hours depending on use not counting the three-and-a-half recharges of the case. 

If we had to find a fault with them, it would probably be the sound feedback mode (to hear external noises) which muffles the high frequencies a little. [Best Bluetooth headphones for sports]

For:

  • Exceptional resistance to the elements
  • Sound quality, versatile and energetic
  • Good fit in the ear
  • Comprehensive and responsive controls
  • Excellent autonomy

Against:

  • Unnatural sound feedback mode
  • Fairly penetrating tips

2. Creative Outlier Free Pro+: the best bone-conduction sports headphones

Quite young in this field compared to other brands Creative has already built a nice catalog of sports headphones, particularly in the field of bone conduction. A true audio center the Outlier Free Pro+ are bone-conduction headphones. 

This format does not obstruct the ear canal which provides excellent ventilation and an absence of fatigue on the ears at the cost of non-existent sound insulation. The little extra of this Pro+ version compared to other conduction devices on the market comes from the design with an adjustable inclination of the branches. 

This helps compensate for the somewhat rigid structure of the whole thing. The main defect of bone conduction is unfortunately its average sound quality. The Creative headphones display very acceptable quality but are too short on bass. 

While listening to music remains possible, we mainly recommend them for podcasts. Except for this sound limitation, the Outlier Free Pro+ are unstoppable as they are so complete. IPX8 certified multipoint compatible and capable of operating for more than 10 hours they can count on responsive and ideally placed control buttons.

But the most impressive point is undoubtedly its possible use in water. Thanks to its 8 GB built-in memory the device can function as a standalone music player making it the perfect device for swimmers. This dual operation unique on the market makes the Outlier Free Pro+ the most complete sports package on the market. [Best Bluetooth headphones for sports]

For:

  • Suitable for swimmers
  • Dual-function Bluetooth and standalone
  • Comfort and ease of use
  • Perfect hold

Against:

  • Sound quality is not very suitable for music
  • Slightly rigid structure

3. Anker Soundcore Sport X10: the best value for money sports headphones

With its Sport, X10 Soundcore proves that it is possible to create sporty Bluetooth headphones without any compromise at a still reasonable price. Not as refined or optimized as Jabra’s Elite 8 Active they adopt all the codes of good sports headphones.

In-ear headphones (tips) with active noise reduction the Sport X10 accumulates good points. Surprisingly comfortable because they are quite discreet and not too intrusive they are supported by a system of silicone ear hooks that ensure optimal fit. 

Despite the compactness of the unit, Soundcore has not made any concessions on the sound architecture. The sound delivered is marked in the bass but controlled. A little aggressiveness can be felt due to the slightly emphasized treble but this is especially valid at high volume.

Combined with a complete application (with sound equalizer), the headphones offer a very rich experience without any real lack. It’s a shame to see that the control buttons located at the top of each earpiece, are a little too small.

Surprisingly the autonomy of around 8 hours far exceeds the duration of a very long sports session. As for active insulation, its performance is sufficient to place the athlete in a small bubble. Really good headphones at a reasonable price for all types of sports. [Best Bluetooth headphones for sports]

For:

  • Excellent comfort
  • Sound quality
  • Perfect fit on the ear
  • IPX7 certification
  • Total autonomy

Against:

  • Perfectible orders
  • Treble a little too forward

4. Shokz OpenFit: the most comfortable headphones

A pioneer in bone conduction Shokz surprised the world in mid-2023 by announcing OpenFit. True wireless in an open format these headphones rely on hybridization between bone conduction and classic speakers thanks to sound projection in the ear remotely. 

This principle called air conduction offers on paper the ventilation of one and the sound quality of the other. The least we can say is that Shokz did not skimp on the means. 

The shape of the OpenFit is particularly ergonomic and the headphones and hooks included are covered with an ultra-soft silicone specially developed for the occasion. This alliance makes them the most comfortable sports headphones on the market, nothing more and nothing less. 

This is good since the Shokz can operate for a long time: they do not give up before 6:30 hours of operation. Everything is fine? Not quite, since although the sound quality is better than with classic bone conduction headphones it does not reach the quality of very good closed headphones partly due to distortions in the bass. 

We can also criticize them for “only” IP54 resistance, as well as the presence of touch controls, which are less practical than physical buttons. Shokz’s open philosophy is therefore not impeccable, but OpenFit is no less successful. 

The royal comfort and the good balance between sound quality and openness more than compensate for the few youthful flaws of these atypical hybrids. [Best Bluetooth headphones for sports]

For:

  • The most comfortable sports headphones on the market
  • Impeccable outfit
  • Good sound opening
  • Perfect construction
  • Connectivity on two devices at once

Against:

  • Bass distortion
  • Only IP54
  • Touchscreen ergonomics less practical than with buttons

5. JBL Soundgear Sense: the best open-format sports headphones

The Soundgear Sense headphones are an opportunity to apply the JBL-style sense of sound balance on open-format headphones. The least we can say is that the formula works. 

Placed close to the ear canal they develop a surprising sound because it is controlled in the low frequencies and very balanced despite a little sparkle in the highs. Things are quite simple, JBL is the most audiophile open-back sports headphones.

Failing to make a perfect copy the SoundGear Sense is both complete and mature in its design. Heavier and more imposing than average they can fortunately count on an easy-to-adjust ear hook system providing good stability during exercise and more than acceptable comfort. 

JBL even provides a clip-on neck extension to stabilize the whole thing more securely. Like Shokz’s open earphones, we are unfortunately only entitled to an IP54 certification here sufficient in the majority of cases but unarmed in the face of immersion. 

Likewise, JBL relies on touch controls that are less compatible with wet or gloved fingers than buttons. These are minor flaws considering the general versatility of the product. [Best Bluetooth headphones for sports]

For:

  • Good sound quality
  • Versatility
  • Multipoint connection
  • Well-designed neck attachment

Against:

  • Quite heavy
  • Only IP54
  • Touch ergonomics

How to choose the right sports Bluetooth headphones? The key points

Here are the main criteria to take into account when choosing your headphones for sports use.

Open or closed?

Unlike classic Bluetooth headphones where better sound insulation is desirable Bluetooth headphones dedicated to sports follow slightly different rules, partly dependent on user preferences.

Indeed, good insulation is not necessarily desirable in a sports setting. While it is interesting to immerse yourself in a silent bubble certain activities require you to be alert and listen to your direct environment, for obvious safety reasons.

We can therefore separate this universe into two large families. closed headphones also called in-ear, and open headphones. The first is equipped with tips that penetrate more or less into the ear, which ensures better sound (at least in the bass) and better sound insulation. 

The latter do not obstruct the ear canal, resulting in greater comfort and a feeling of reduced hearing fatigue but at the cost of non-existent insulation and poorer sound quality. Many in-ear headphones allow you to get closer to an open port by incorporating sound feedback technologies. 

This principle reproduces the frequencies attenuated by the tips and thus comes close to a sound “without tips”. This compensates for part of the problem but does not reduce the feeling of pressure generated by the tip.

Therefore, the choice of the best sports earphone format depends on the user. On paper closed-back headphones are more versatile. However, blocking the ear canal requires precautions. To begin with, it is necessary not to do it for too long sessions to let the earwax evacuate naturally. 

In addition, the blood vessels in the ear are more stressed during sports. Some specialists believe that the excess pressure created by the tips on these more inflated canals is harmful in the long term. In the absence of serious studies on this subject, it is difficult to be categorical. 

We should also not forget the fact that open headphones, due to their non-existent insulation, may require a high volume to cover external noise. Let’s finish this chapter with the different types of open headphones: classic models and bone conduction devices. [Best Bluetooth headphones for sports]

Comfort and hold

The first criterion sought in the choice of true wireless in general comfort is even more important on Bluetooth headphones dedicated to sport. Head movements are amplified and sweat and humidity may appear so the need to be truly comfortable is essential.

Regardless of the open or closed type which already has its importance comfort is based on numerous criteria: weight of the headphones balance or even flexibility of the materials. 

Bluetooth headphones for sports must not create pressure at the top of the ear or in the hollow of the ear. Contact with the skin through the headphones themselves or any tips should be neither irritating nor too rigid. 

The tips generally made of silicone, must remain flexible and resistant to perspiration which is the case for the products in our comparison. If the slightest annoying pressure is noticed even before warming up there is no need to go further with the model.

Going hand in hand the outfit is just a priority. Sports headphones are used more than traditional devices so they are more likely to fall off. Manufacturers have developed various appendages to prevent any fall such as neck loops ear hooks or even fins that fit into the hollow of the ear. 

While this type of accessory is almost essential some manufacturers simply opt for optimized earphone shapes and an eye-catching surface. Here again, an inconclusive non-sporting test is eliminatory. 

If a simple movement of the jaw causes the product to move, or if the slightest movement of the head creates a swaying, the headphones are even more unsuitable for sport. [Best Bluetooth headphones for sports]

Resistance to the elements and sweat

Normally, headphones only need to withstand a little rain or light splashes of water, the tests of everyday life. Bluetooth sports headphones, especially in adventure settings, are much more demanding. In this context, the IP certification index is good even if it is not everything. 

This indicates by a set of two numbers the resistance to dust (first digit, X if no resistance) and to water (second digit). In this context, IPX4 which designates resistance to the vast majority of water splashes is a vital minimum. 

Ideally, we look for the highest index namely IP68 which indicates resistance to fine dust and prolonged immersion. This will allow you to easily wash your headphones after training.

On the other hand, this index does not guarantee resistance to sweat and seawater despite what some poorly informed sites claim. These fluids, which are particularly corrosive in the long term, require adequate coatings. 

Some high-end headphones are thus armed against this threat via the use of a special silicone. For the other devices nothing dramatic. Simply rinse them under a stream of water (if IPX5 certification or higher) or clean them with a damp cloth (IPX4). [Best Bluetooth headphones for sports]

For Swimming

There is a very special case in sport that of swimming. Although it is possible to wear a Bluetooth device such as a connected watch and waterproof headphones this wireless technology does not work underwater. 

From then on the only compatible products are standalone headphones, with internal memory, which are filled by connecting to a PC (via a dedicated cable).

Currently, the few products available are bone conduction-style neckband headphones. The ideal even if it is extremely rare is to opt for a device that ensures both functions. Some can both operate via Bluetooth for classic sports practice and autonomously for the pool or open water swimming.

Sound quality

Essential on classic headphones the sound quality remains important on sports headphones but goes down a little in the hierarchy. Since the ears are more able to enjoy good sound quality when at rest and relaxed sports do not put them in an optimal position. This is of course no reason to skip this part.

No surprise here in-ear headphones are preferred to enjoy the best possible quality. This architecture allows you to have much better quality in the bass and to benefit from more details without raising the volume too much. 

The important thing is above all to avoid excessive sound whether too high or too low which risks tiring the ear unnecessarily. Balance or a slight coloring, no more. [Best Bluetooth headphones for sports]

Controls and ergonomics

To use your smartphone as little as possible good headphones must be autonomous in terms of basic controls: play/pause move forward/backward and adjust the volume. 

Furthermore, these operations must be able to be carried out while moving during a run for example, and under specific conditions. The touch controls are very effective under normal circumstances but become erratic with fingers that are too wet (or sweaty) as well as with gloves.

Ideally, good sports headphones have physical buttons that are large and easily accessible. The actions to be performed must be quite simple limited to one press two presses or even one prolonged press no more. 

With larger sets, like neckband headphones, it’s even possible to integrate dedicated volume buttons, which is even more interesting. To these controls can be added little ergonomic extras, such as the presence of an application to have access to advanced settings or updates.

As for multipoint technology, it offers the headphones the ability to connect to two devices at once and switch from one audio stream to another. This can be useful when switching from your smartphone to your sports watch.

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