The best sports headphones for your workout by Jeff Burke (ActiveTimes.com).
Tips on how to choose fitness headphones for gym, cycling, swimming, etc. Includes reviews of the 8 best headphones available:
Sennheiser Adidas CX685 Sports
X-1 Surge Sportswrap Waterproof
Klipsch Image S4i Rugged
Yurbuds Inspire Duro
Polk Audio UltraFit 3000
Denon Exercise Freak
JLab GO 4GB
The latest in Stax’s SR-Λ (Lambda) line, the open-back SR-507 has a electrostatic transducer featuring a larger-area diaphragm made of a thin-film material, more resistant to stretch from temperature or humidity variation. It’s housed in a tough resin case, resulting in cleaner, more accurate sound, rich, deep bass and the delicate highs. Stax redesigned the headband too. They reshaped the arc of clamping strip for optimal wear comfort and installed a 10-click slider mechanism for head-pad height adjustment and ear-pad pressure adjustment. A 2.5m low-capacitance, high-purity copper cable terminates in a 5-pin plug that mates with the jacks on their amplifiers.
Specs: frequency response: 7Hz- 41kHz; impedance: 145k ohms at 10kHz; max SPL: 118dB at 400Hz; bias voltage: 580 VDC
MSRP: $1100 US.
The ZR-T’s hand-crafted bamboo (also available in ebony) housing preserves the rich, full tones of music, because some woods reflect sound in its pure form. Matched (less than 3dB) 40mm drivers produce clear highs and booming lows with less than 1% distortion artifact. Soft, comfortable ear pads work with the closed-back design to reduce ambient noise. The headband folds for convenient traveling. The ZR-T’s 1.2m detachable cable terminates to a gold-plated 3.5mm plug.
Specs: impedance: 32 ohms, sensitivity: 113dB, frequency response: 20-20kHz.
MSRP: $80 US.
The transducers inside Sennheiser’s high-end IE800 measure only 7mm, the smallest extra wideband (into the ultrasonic range) sound transducer in commercial earphones, capable of high sound pressure levels. Two chamber absorbers (D2CA), ceramic housing and ergonomic, oval-shaped ear adapters attest to the innovative technology in this modern and elegant design. The scratch-resistant ceramic housing withstands extreme wear and tear. The IE800 also features a diffuse-field equalized response for accurate and natural playback, extremely deep distortion-free bass, very low harmonic distortion across the audio band and -26dB ambient noise attenuation.
Comes with 5 sets of ear adapters, a leather carry case, cleaning tool.
Specs: Frequency response: 5Hz to 46.5 kHz; impedance: 16 ohms; sensitivity: 125dB/1V 1kHz.
Price: $996 US.
The first headphone from loudspeaker maker KEF, the supra-aural closed-back M500 employs a 40mm neodymium driver engineered with a copper-clad aluminium wire voice coil for improved high frequency response. A tuning plate mounted over the drive unit in the enclosure optimizes clarity, dynamics and bass weighting. Earcups mounted on multi-directional Smart Hinges on the aluminium alloy, folding headband flexibly position to accommodate a variety of head shapes. Breathable ear pads with memory foam mold to the ears for acoustic isolation and a comfortable fit. Compatible with multimedia mobile phones, the M500 connects with a tangle-free flat cable (1.3m) with gold plated connector, 3-button remote and microphone. Comes with carry case, spare cable, airline adapter and 6.3mm adapter.
Specs: Impedance: 32 ohms, frequency response: 20-20kHz; sensitivity: 103dB; weight: 208 gr.
MSRP: $350 US.
From JVC’s Xtreme Xplosivs line, these in-canal monitors move air with 10mm neodymium drivers and tuned “Extreme Deep Bass” ports. Rugged, aluminum enclosures with tough detailed rubber protect these earphones from wear and tear. The 4-foot (1.2m) cable (Y-type) terminates in a gold-plated iPhone compatible 3.5mm plug. Comes with hard carry case and 3 sizes of silicone cushions.
Specs: freq. response: 5-23,000Hz; impedance: 16 ohms; sensitivity: 104dB.
MSRP: $70 US.
Like electrostatic headphones, magnetic planar headphones have a very fast response time due to the lightweight, flat diaphragm of the transducer. The transducers in the Abyss AB-1266 utilize a proprietary, thin, very low mass diaphragm and slotted, high power neodymium magnets for amazing bandwidth and low level detail retrieval. Unusual for a magnetic planar headphone, the matched drivers lack a rear magnetic structure and therefore reflections do not mar the open sound. The rigid anodized-finish frame has been machined from solid aluminum for exceptional strength, and an integrated resonance control in the front baffle adjusts for minimal added coloration. The padded headband folds for easy storage, and soft lambskin ear pads conform to varying head shapes. Dual balanced 8-foot (2.5 m) XLR cable set and 1/4″ (3.5 mm) cable Y-adaptor custom made by JPS Labs. Store in either the handcrafted, felt-lined wooden box or the heavy leather tote bag with extra room and pockets for a portable amp/DAC and an iPad.
Specs: frequency response: 5 Hz to 28 KHz; impedance: 46 ohms; sensitivity: 85 dB; weight: 660 grams (without cable).
MSRP: $5,500 US.
FiiO’s E12 Mont Blanc portable headphone amplifier neatly housed in a s slim aluminum enclosure with LED indicators. Designed around two high performance opamps: the ultra-low distortion, low-noise, high-slew-rate LME49710 audio opamp and a wide-bandwidth LME49600 current buffer capable of 250mA for an output up to 850mW. Compatible with high impedance planar magnetic headphones. Assembled with quality parts: WIMA capacitors, ALPS pot and low impedance battery and durable 3.5mm mini jacks for an input cable and headphones. The LiPolymer battery splits into a dual +/-11Volt supply and smart recharges from any USB port or laptop power adapter in as little as 3 hours. Settings for gain, bass boost and crossfeed.
Specs: 850mW max. output, dimensions 3.9 x 0.4 x 2.4 inches, weight 6.4 ounces.
MSRP: $200 US.
The i2 sound engine in Sol Republic’s Jax in-ear headphones produce deep bass and powerful sound with clear highs. The flat cable was engineered to eliminate tangles. Compatible with phone functions: a high clarity mic for talk and a three-button remote to adjust the volume, skip music and answer/hang-up calls. Comes with 4 sizes of eartips. Available in black, white and blue.
MSRP: $40 US.
The prodigious bass in the Skullcandy Crushers blast forth from its subdriver, a 55mm bass extension transducer powered by a class D amp inside the earcup, juiced with a single AA battery. A bass port in the earcups further reinforces the bass. The bass control adjusts the level of bass sensation. The REX40 40mm main transducer reproduces the audio frequencies. Closed-back design and soft-touch earpads seal out ambient noise. Hinged headband folds the earcups into a compact package. The replaceable cord includes a single-button microphone remote. Available in black, white and red.
Specs: 32 ohms impedance, 1 AA battery (40 hours)
MSRP: $99 US.