This article was originally published on Make the Sound Better. A lot of the content was out of date, so I have rewritten almost all of the content and done my best to find relevant recommendations for 2023.

It is worth noting that the original content says headphones, but most of the recommendations were in-ear earbuds. The terms are interchangeable, but in my regular content, I have always used headphones when I mean over-the-head headphones.


Apple removed the 3.5mm headphone jack from iPhones back in 2016 with the iPhone 7. At the time, there was a huge amount of backlash, and many Android users mocked the decision.

Unfortunately, if Apple decides to do something, many brands inevitably follow, and in subsequent years we have seen most phone manufacturers remove the 3.5mm jack from many of their phones, in particular when you look at the midrange and upwards.

You won’t find a headphone jack on any flagship Android phone nowadays, with the exception of some niche gaming phones such as the Redmagic 8 Pro.

However, wired headphones still have their place, and you can get some amazing budget wired earbuds that will outperform their Bluetooth counterparts, especially when you pair them with a good portable DAC.

When it comes to things like running or the gym, things get a bit more complex. Wired headphones were never really great for fitness, they were rarely IP rated, and I often found that they would end up breaking after a year or so. Normally it is a case of one earbud dying, either due to the wire or liquid ingress.

Personally, I’d strongly recommend using Bluetooth earbuds for running, they may cost a little bit more, but I have never had TWS Bluetooth earbuds die on me, apart from the battery degrading.

However, if you are insistent on wired headphones/earbuds for running, I have done my best to find some decent recommendations.

Best Wired Headphones For Running & Workout

Now, without any further ado, let’s start this actual review roundup.

Koss SportaPro: Check Price On Amazon

Best On-Ear Wired Headphones For Running

These on-ear wired headphones features in the original content, and you can still buy them, so I left them on the recommendation list.


Interestingly enough, many runners these days, or generally people who love exercising and listening to music, prefer the standard earbuds.

However, there are some standard headphones with an over-ear design that can be used for running or any other type of exercise.

If you’re into active lifestyle, love music, and still prefer high-definition audio files over simple mp3 stuff, then we’d fully recommend Koss SportaPro.

Sure, the brand might not be as famous compared to some other stuff that we have on the list. However, these are specially designed for sport and those who generally prefer listening to music along with their active lifestyle.

But although featuring an over-ear design, these headphones are still pretty light and comfortable.

One of the main features is the design that lets you bend the headrest, which allows normal operation even with different hairstyles and any kind of headwear.

When it comes to sound quality, they cover the entire audible spectrum and feature such a frequency response that will make things sound very lively.

The drivers feature rare-earth magnets that help them achieve amazing clarity all over the spectrum.

For their particular price level, we just couldn’t find any flaws. Koss SportaPro headphones are great for sports activities and they still manage to sound awesome.

The only “downside” here is that some may not prefer something with a headband for running, but then they should look for other types of headphones.

What’s most important here is that we have a great sound quality and that they manage to reproduce even those large FLAC audio files rather well.

Pros

  • Great sound quality and clarity all over the audible spectrum
  • Very light and comfortable, despite the overhead design
  • Adjustable headrest for different headwear and hairstyles

Cons

  • Some users might not prefer the overhead design

Buy Now From Amazon

MEE M6 Generation 2: Check Price On Amazon

Next up, we have an unavoidable mention of MEE Audio and its amazing hi-fi products. The original content recommended the X1, but they appear to be discontinued now. However, the newer MEE M6 Generation 2 look like an excellent alternative which is nice and affordable.

So let’s start with their very comfortable and ergonomic design.

Compared to “conventional” earbuds that we have these days, M6 headphones go over the ear with their adjustable flex wire that also comes with the full package.

While some may be discouraged with this, thinking that it may potentially feel uncomfortable, we can assure you that M6 feels pretty great, almost as if you’re wearing nothing at all.

But aside from great comfort with over the ear design, the ear-tips are also worth mentioning here. In fact, they come with a set of 6 different ear-tips of different sizes.

On the cable, we can also find the “remote” control for answering phone calls and for controlling play and stop for the music that you’re listening to.

Of course, it also comes with its microphone and a simple shirt clip that’s also very useful for running.

But aside from these useful additions, two main traits strongly stand out. The first one is the sound quality. This is also ensured with the great addition of different earpieces.

They’re also fairly reliable, at least in most of the cases. The support is also great in case something goes wrong, but they’re designed to be very durable and fairly water-resistant.

To be fair, we just can’t find a single downside that would be a deal-breaker. You can’t go wrong here.

Pros

  • Top-tier sound quality
  • They stick firmly onto and into the ear, even with different kinds of physical activity
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • Nothing for their price level

Buy Now From Amazon

JBL Endurance RUN: Check Price On Amazon

I think the JBL Endurance RUN is discontinued, but you can still buy them on Amazon for now. These are IPX5 rated for water resistance and the earbud design should stay secure in your ear.

The sound of these earbuds is characterized by a noticeable bass presence, lending a warm and enjoyable overall sound. The midrange frequencies are well defined, while the highs are clear and crisp.

The design of these earbuds has been carefully considered, offering two options for wearing them. You can wear them traditionally, with the wire hanging straight down, or you can choose to loop the wire behind your ears. The latter option is particularly advantageous as it makes the earbuds more lightweight, especially during workouts, and helps minimize microphonics. Even if the wire comes into contact with your shirt or running shorts, the behind-the-ear configuration reduces the impact.

These earbuds are designed with sweat protection in mind, which is essential for sports-oriented headphones. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the built-in microphone delivers impressive quality, considering the budget-friendly nature of the product.

Pros:

  • IPX5 water resistance
  • V-shaped sound works well for fitness

Cons:

  • Cable can be prone to snagging as the cable doesn’t go over year ears

Buy from Amazon

Avantree E171: Check Price On Amazon

These hook style earbuds have fallen out of fashion ever since TWS Bluetooth earbuds became the norm, but I was always fond of this design for fitness. I think it works especially well with wired earbuds because if the cable snags, the earbuds still stay on your ears, you will just need to readjust them a little.

It may take some time to become accustomed to the proper way of placing them in your ears, but once you do, you’ll find it difficult to go back to other options.

Like many sports earbuds, the E171 model tends to emphasize the bass, sometimes at the expense of overall clarity. However, if you enjoy a powerful low-end thump, these earbuds offer a fun sound quality.

The cable of these earbuds includes built-in remote controls, providing a convenient range of commands such as answering phone calls, skipping tracks, and adjusting the volume. I have personally found that controls on wired earbuds can be the weak spot for liquid ingress and the earbuds breaking.

Given that they are designed for active use, these earbuds come with sweat resistance to withstand your workouts and keep up with your sweat.

Pros:

  • Hook fit ensures they don’t get pulled off your ears

Cons:

  • Controls may be prone to liquid ingress

Buy from Amazon

JVC HAEBR80B Sports Clip Headphones: Check Price On Amazon

Another pair of earbuds that use the hook design to secure them in place. These don’t have a proper silicon eartip like you see on most earbuds now, but a shaped design that sits in your ear.

The sound signature of these earbuds is well-balanced. The midrange frequencies are clear and prominent. However, some individuals may find the bass to be lacking in strength, which could lead to complaints about its performance in the lower frequency range.

These workout earphones are designed to rest on your ears rather than fitting inside the ear canal. This design choice sacrifices some noise isolation but enhances your overall awareness of your surroundings, which can be beneficial during outdoor activities or in situations where situational awareness is important.

The reduced bass is likely a consequence of the lack of ear tip, as it doesn’t get a proper seal which would significantly improve bass response.

Pros:

  • A semi-open fit design gives you better environmental awareness

Cons:

  • Bass is lacking

Buy from Amazon

Wired vs Wireless Headphones For Running

But before we get into this topic about the best headphones that we can find on the market, let’s first differentiate between wired and wireless headphones, and how this particular configuration can impact your overall experience.

Of course, wired versus wireless headphone differences are pretty obvious. Many would argue these days that wireless headphones come with nothing but advantages, especially if we’re talking about exercise.

No matter what kind of wireless headphones we’re talking about, they always give you all the freedom in movement, without having to bother securing the wire somehow.

However, there’s a catch as wired headphones come with a higher maximum data transfer rate per second. Wireless headphones are usually at a maximum of 768 kbps, whereas wired ones are at 2304 kbps.

This isn’t much of a big deal if you’re playing mp3 files only. But if you’re both an audiophile and crazy about exercising and running, then wired headphones are a better choice.

Of course, they might feel a little complicated if you need to secure them and not have the cable tangled all the time.

However, many wired headphones these days are designed in such a way to prevent these annoying things from happening, and you’d feel as if there’s no cable.

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