Best Over-Ear Headphones For Working Out (2018): Our Favorites For Getting In The Zone At The Gym

Best Over-Ear Headphones For Working Out

When you’re at the gym, it’s important to be able to tune the world out and get in the zone! Of course, you want to be aware of your surroundings enough to stay safe. Safety aside, though, you want to be able to enter your own little world and crank through those reps. The best over-ear workout headphones give you exceptional sound quality for all your workout tunes while also helping to keep out distracting noise from others in the gym. They’re comfortable, reliable, and user-friendly. But which are they?

In this guide, we’ll introduce you to all our favorite over-ear workout headphones. We’re as passionate about our audio as we are about our workouts, so you can rest assured that the models we’ve chosen really rock. We’ve picked the best-looking, best-sounding, most comfortable models we could find anywhere. There’s something here for every budget, so make sure you read all the way through this buying guide to find your new go-to’s.

You’ll find in-depth reviews of all our current recommendations below. Read on to see which we recommend and to learn why!

PictureProduct NameWired or WirelessCost
Sony MDRXB450AP Extra Bass Smartphone HeadsetSony MDRXB450AP Extra Bass Smartphone Headset (Black)Wired$
Sennheiser HD25 Professional DJ HeadphonesSennheiser HD25 Professional DJ HeadphonesWired$$
Beats Solo 3 Wireless EarphonesBeats Solo 3 Wireless EarphonesWireless$
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, Noise CancellingBose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling - SilverWireless$$$

With columns for model name, cost, type (corded or cordless)

Best Over-Ear Workout Headphone Reviews (2018)

Sony MDRXB450AP Extra Bass Smartphone Headset (Black)
Sony MDRXB450AP Extra Bass Smartphone HeadsetClick for Price

These Sony headphones are the least expensive we recommend for working out. At well under $100, they should be affordable for practically any buyer. They might not have the superb sound quality you get on nicer corded and cordless models, but they sound better than anything else for the price. They also stand up nicely to wear and tear, so they’re ideal for working out!

Pros:

One of the best things about corded over-ear headphones like these is how inexpensive they are. You can grab these for less than half the cost of our cheapest wireless recommendations! They’re a great choice for folks who are on a tight budget and don’t want to spend more than $100.

They sound great, if not fantastic. There’s a lot of bass, as you’d expect from the name. The midrange is nice and well-rounded as well. Sony’s bass booster unit isn’t something that an audiophile would really want, but it does a great job at amplifying the low end so that your workout playlists pound along.

They fit comfortably and stay in place, even when jogging. Just make sure the cord won’t be yanked during your workout!

The cord isn’t wimpy. One of the biggest problems with most budget-range headphones like these is that the cords break almost immediately. They’re a pain to patch and replace, so it’s a refreshing change to see how rugged the Sony cables are. The whole set doesn’t feel as premium as Sennheiser or Bose offerings, but nor will it fall apart in a hurry.

The earphones swivel for easy packing. You can easily get these in any sleeve pocket of a backpack, or in a standard over-ear headphone carrying case.

Even though they’re corded, they’re current in terms of tech connectivity. There are inline call and volume controls on the cord. We also like that you can download an app that allows you to customize the controls, so that the buttons do whatever you like. It’s a nice upgrade for an old-school set of headphones!

Cons:

The balance isn’t great. There’s a lot of thumpy low end, and that’s great for dance-y music, but it does tend to dominate. These are good gym companions, but you probably won’t want to use them for everyday listening.

As with most inexpensive headphones, the highs aren’t as crisp and defined as we’d like. You definitely notice a difference between these and the Sennheiser’s below.

They don’t have as much padding as nicer models. We think they’re perfectly comfortable, but the Sennheiser, Bose, and Beats models below all feel better to wear, especially for longer trips to the gym.

The bass doesn’t absolutely rumble the way the Sennheiser and Bose models do. That’s not surprising at this price, though.

They don’t last as long as premium options like the Sennheiser headphones below.

Sennheiser HD25 Professional DJ Headphones

Sennheiser HD25 Professional DJ Headphones
Check Price & Reviews on Amazon!

These Sennheiser headphones are our top quality recommendation for those looking for a corded gym solution. They sound phenomenal, and cost much less than equivalent bluetooth models. We think they’re as good as it gets for working out with a wire.

Pros:

They sound great. There are any number of noticeable differences coming to these from the Sony headset above. There’s just as much bass, and it also has a richness that the boosted Sony’s can’t compete with. The midrange is more full. It balances better with the low end. Most of all, there’s a crispness and clarity to the high end which makes everything sound much, much better.

While every listener will have different preferences and subjective experiences with a set of headphones, we’ve found that the high end tends to be the easiest way to gauge sound quality. You can have all the thumping bass you like, but if the hi hats sound like they’re coming from a garbage disposal, you’re not going to have a great listening experience! That’s why we think the Sennheiser’s are so great. From top to bottom, the sound is rich, full, and clear.

They’re truly studio-quality. A lot of brands will claim that with no real right to, but these are standbys in studios everywhere. They make all kinds of music sound great, and we think that you’ll love them no matter what’s in your workout playlist.

They’re well-made. Sennheiser have clearly spent more money on making these than Sony have on the model above! The HD25’s have better padding and they break in to become more comfortable over time. That’s not true of the Sony’s.

Cons:

They’re corded. Of course, that’s not a con for those who are listening to lossless music files or those who don’t want to bother with charging their headphones. For most folks, though, convenience dictates that these probably won’t be as appealing as our wireless picks below.

They sound better than the Beats headphones below, but not quite as good as the Bose noise-canceling headphones we’ve recommended in our top quality slot. Bose has achieved an overall richness and warmth that’s unmatched, as far as we’re concerned. You’ll simply have to decide if that’s worth paying twice as much for.

Beats Solo 3 Wireless Earphones

Beats Solo 3 Wireless Earphones Click for Price

Beats Solo 3’s are our recommendation for wireless over-ear workout headphones on a budget. We suggest them to most buyers who want high-quality sound reproduction without spending a premium on the top-notch Bose model below. If you want to keep it under $250, these are as good as it gets!

Pros:

The connectivity is really great, especially if you’re in the Apple ecosystem. Most bluetooth headphones have a few steps involved to turn them on, choose an audio source, etc. With these, you just have to turn them on and the W1 chip connects automatically to your devices. Even on Android phones, it’s no trickier than any other wireless headset. These definitely stand out when they’re used with iPhones and Apple Watches though.

The sound is really great. The only wireless headphones we think “beat” the Beats are the Bose ones below. They’re more than $100 more expensive, so sticking with these is a no-brainer for most buyers. The Studio 3’s have lots of bass, plus a clear midrange and a surprisingly decent treble definition for midrange gear.

They hold up really well. They can definitely feel super plasticky, but in our experience these can handle years of use. The paint might eventually chip if you knock them around, but the padding stays comfortable and of course there aren’t any wires to wear out.

Cons:

They don’t have the balance, warmth, and overall richness you get from Bose headphones like the model below. Beats models place more of an emphasis on the bass and high end rather than a fuller midrange.

These aren’t noise-canceling. That’s another reason why you may want to spend more to get the Bose set below.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling – Silver

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling

Click for Price

The Bose QuietComfort 35’s are our top-quality recommendations for over-ear workout headphones. They’re extremely pricey, but they sound better than anything we’ve ever reviewed. They also fit comfortably for long workouts and make ideal companions for travel listening as well.

Pros:

Even the pickiest audiophiles won’t find anything to complain about here. Bose have an excellent reputation for high-end audio, and these are their flagship headphones at the moment. They crank out perfectly clear audio throughout the spectrum. The bass absolutely rumbles, while you can hear crystal-clear highs at the same time. The balance is warm, well-rounded, and satisfying no matter whether you’re listening to a gym playlist or watching a movie.

They connect easily and are paired with a convenient app. You can control your own EQ preferences and connected devices using Bose’s app for free.

They stand up really well over time and have excellent fit and finish. You might think it’s a bad idea to take high-end headphones like these to the gym, but the padding stays comfy, wipes off easily, and they can handle any knocks and bumps without a problem. The carrying case is also perfect for packing up on the way home.

These have active noise-canceling built in. It works extremely well and can isolate you pretty much completely from any distractions. That’s one reason these are so popular among travelers. We also think it’s ideal for the gym! You can get into your own zone and tune out the world, all the while hearing superb audio!

Cons:

The only real downside to these is the price. The audio performance and user-friendliness are both stellar, but you pay an absolute premium to get them.

Conclusion

Which of these workout-ready over-ear headphones should you buy for your gym routine?

The Sony’s are the obvious choice if you’re on a tight budget. They’re less than half the price of our midrange picks and the best affordable pair we’ve found to date. They don’t have the range, crispness, or clarity of nicer models, but they put out a lot of sound and the bass is solid. They’re still miles better than earbuds! However, we do recommend spending more if you’re able to.

The Sennheiser’s are the nicest way to go if you’re after corded over-ear headphones. These things sound phenomenal, and the only reason to spend more would be if you wanted active noise cancellation or wireless connectivity. These actually sound as good as the pricier Beats, even though they’re significantly less expensive. The Bose set do have an edge, but they’re even more expensive than the Beats. There’s certainly a significant convenience factor to going cordless, too, so there is an incentive to spending more that’s not necessarily related to sound quality. If you like having a cord, though, look no further than these!

The Beats headphones above are our recommendation for a set of cordless, over-ear headphones that you can work out with without breaking the bank. They’re not as outstanding as the Bose model we’ve recommended in our top slot, nor do they have active noise cancellation onboard. On the other hand, they’re more than $100 cheaper! These are our recommendation to the average buyer who appreciates cordless convenience but doesn’t demand audiophile sound quality or active noise cancellation.

Our all-time favorite over-ear workout headphones are the Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series ii). They’re extremely pricey, but can’t be beat for sound quality or overall experience. Since they actively shut out noise around you, they make it extremely easy to get in the zone and get your workout done without distractions. They’re very reliable, comfortable, and sound great with all kinds of music. You’ll also love taking them on planes and trains. Just be prepared to spend a premium to get them.

Buying Guide

Wired Or Wireless?

The first decision you should make is whether you’re looking for wired or wireless headphones to take to the gym. Both are perfectly valid for your workout tunes, but you’ll want to decide which makes the most sense for your lifestyle and preferences.

Corded headphones are a bit old-fashioned, but there are still lots of reasons why you might take them to the gym. You’ll never have to worry about charging your corded headphones, for one thing. Cordless over-ear models do have long-lasting batteries that don’t need to be charged daily, but you still have to remember to keep them topped up every week or so. Corded models also cost considerably less than equivalent bluetooth models. You’ll pay 50-100% more for bluetooth headphones that sound as good as the nicer corded options.

Having said all that, you’ll have that darn cord to contend with. Many phones these days don’t have headphone jacks. Cords can also get in the way, depending on the sort of workout you do. Plus, if you’ve got a smartwatch, you may want to use that for music and ditch your phone entirely. In that case, going cordless is the only viable option.

Cordless over-ear headphones can sound just as good as the corded models. You just have to pay a premium to get that audiophile quality! We don’t think you can find decent over-ear headphones that can handle the gym for less than $200. That’s more than twice the price of our budget picks in the corded category.

The benefits of going cordless are obvious–there’s no cord, of course! You don’t have to worry about getting tangled up in equipment, or yanking on your phone/headphones. You can also play music off any device, whether it’s your phone or your watch.

Just remember that no matter how long your bluetooth headphones last, you’ll need to charge them at least weekly if you work out regularly.

Decide On Your Budget

Before you start looking at any specific models, be sure to think about how much you want to/can afford to spend on your new over-ear workout headphones.

In large part, whether you choose wired or wireless headphones will determine how much you ought to plan on spending. You can’t find decent wireless over-ear headphones that sound good and can handle a gym environment for much less than $200. There are comparable corded models for well below that.

Don’t Expect Waterproofing

While most workout-ready earbuds are sweat-resistant either completely or partially, over-ear models aren’t. That’s in some part due to the fact that the big ear pads keep out moisture well on their own. Plus, the sort of people who wear over-ear models tend to be lifters rather than cardio junkies. Crazy amounts of sweat aren’t as much of a problem when you’re doing squats compared with doing springs.

So, don’t expect special sweat resistance or waterproofing on any over-ear headphones. There are only a very few models with it, and we don’t think they’re very good. Since it’s a non-issue, we think the important thing is simply to find a pair that fit well, sound good, and are built well enough to handle some bumps and scrapes in the gym and in the locker room.

What’s Next

We hope we’ve answered all your questions about finding the best over-ear headphones for working out. You can find out more about any of the models you’ve seen here by clicking on the links in our reviews. That’s the best way to check current prices, see color options, and look at complete specs. Or, if you want to find the rest of our reviews and recommendations, visit our homepage! It’s your new resource for finding the best workout gear and fitness equipment on the market.