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7 Best Wired Sports Headphones for Running & Working Out in 2023

Last updated: 2 weeks ago
11 min read

We tested 192 headphones, and in our opinion, these are the best wired sports headphones with sweat protection and a secure fit in 2023.

You’ll find out:

  • The best wired headphones for sports that you can still get in 2023
  • The water protection rating of each pair
  • Why pick wired over wireless headphones for running and working out

Let’s dig in:

We test and review headphones based on an independent 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

More info Price Water protection Type Mic & Controls Plug design
Skullcandy Set Best overall
Skullcandy Set wired-earbuds for sports
Under $30
Sweatproof
In-ear
checkmarkcheckmark
3.5mm, I-shaped
MEE audio M6 Best running
MEE Audio M6
Under $25
IPX5
In-ear
checkmarkcheckmark
3.5mm, L-shaped
Avantree E171 Best ear hook
Avantree E171 Sports
Under $20
Sweatproof
In-ear
checkmarkcheckmark
3.5mm, I-shaped
Treblab Z7 Pro Best over-ear
Treblab Z7 Pro
Under $160
IPX4
Over-ear
checkmarkcheckmark
3.5mm, L-shaped
JVC HA-EBR80 Best non-in-ear
JVC HA-EBR80 classic sports earphones
Under $20
Sweatproof
In-ear
checkmarkcheckmark
3.5mm, I-shaped
Shure SE215 Best sound
Shure SE215 wired earbuds
Under $100
None
In-ear
crosscross
3.5mm, L-shaped
Koss SportaPro Best on-ear
Koss SportaPro
Under $30
None
On-ear
crosscross
3.5mm, L-shaped

Why worry about battery level?

If you can get wired sports headphones that work instantly when you take them out of a bag. You put them on, and they work. So, which ones should you get?

The best wired workout headphones you can get today are, in our opinion, Skullcandy Set.

Previous top recommendation: Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones are hard to get and, when available, too expensive.

Here are your top options for a reliable hassle-free experience and water protection:

CONTENTS (click to show more)

    Best Wired Workout Earbuds

    1. Skullcandy Set

    1st-place Best overall
    • Water protection: Unknown IPX but sweat resistant according to Skullcandy
    • Fit: TripleLock tech and flexible ear wings keep them in the ears during activity

    In our opinion, Skullcandy Set are the best wired sports headphones you can get today.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired cable
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: Wired in-ear | Battery life: n/a | Wireless range: n/a | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: n/a | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: n/a | Water resistance: Sweat resistant | Features: 3.5mm AUX, USB-C & Lightning versions
    • Stable fit thanks to the ear wings
    • In-line mic and controls
    • 3.5mm AUX & USB-C & Lightning version
    • Getting proper fit takes some time

    You can choose from 3 versions to fit whatever device you have:

    • 3.5mm AUX
    • USB-C
    • Lightning

    They stay in the ears thanks to flexible rubber ear wings. It takes some time to learn how to properly put them in the ears. But once you do, they stay in even during movement.

    You can easily use them for running, lifting weights, or cardio. The in-line microphone and control module allow you to take phone calls and control songs and volume without touching your audio device. This is a must-have feature for any sports headphones.

    Skullcandy Set are sweat resistant, according to Skullcandy. But they mention no official IPX rating. They’re safe to use in the rain or while sweating, just make sure you keep them away from submerging in water.

    How’s the sound? Slightly bass-boosted and quite fun. It’s suitable for modern, energetic music with lots of bass. This is what most sports people want.

    So, for a dependable pair of wired workout earbuds, check out the Skullcandy Set.

    Not happy with the wired options? (we know options are limited):

    Best Wired Headphones for Running

    2. MEE audio M6

    dollar Best wired earbuds for running
    • Water protection: IPX5 – protected against sweat and rain
    • Fit: Memory-wire ear hooks keep them stable during movement
    MEE Audio X1 wired workout earbuds

    MEE audio M6 are the best wired running earbuds, in our opinion. By hooking them over your ears, they stay in with ease. Plus, punchy sound and solid build quality with IPX5 water resistance make them ideal for sports.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 9mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Depends on version | Impedance: n/a | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: n/a | Features: IPX5 resistance, ear hooks, protective carrying case
    • Useful accessories
    • Secure fit with memory-wire
    • IPX5: Resistant against sweat and light rain
    • Boomy bass

    The sound quality is pretty good for the price. It’s perfect for all bass-heavy music, which is most popular among sportspeople. You can choose from 3.5mm or USB-C versions with or without the mic & control module.

    Ergonomically rounded and smooth plastic makes them comfortable for long workout sessions. Plus, the memory wire folds into ear hooks (cable going over-ear) and provides stability even for running.

    With the right ear tips, you can get fantastic noise isolation to block most ambient noise. But not as good as the best noise cancelling earbuds.

    Because of the IPX5 (water-resistant) rating, they can withstand any amount of sweat and rain, perfect for inside or outside jogging.

    If you’re looking for wired running headphones, MEE audio M6 are the best for the money. Or check the best wireless earbuds for running or headphones for running for more alternatives.

    $12.99
    in stock
    eBay
    $12.99
    $19.99
    in stock
    Walmart.com
    $13.99
    in stock
    3 new from $13.99
    as of December 7, 2023 9:53 pm
    Amazon.com
    $18.99
    $24.99
    in stock
    4 new from $18.99
    as of December 7, 2023 9:53 pm
    Amazon.com
    $19.99
    in stock
    as of December 7, 2023 9:53 pm
    Amazon.com

    Here are more options at this price. The best earbuds under $50.

    Best Wired Ear-Hook Headphones for Sports

    3. Avantree E171

    dollar Best wired headphones with ear hooks
    • Water protection: Sweat-resistant according to Avantree
    • Fit: Rubbery ear hooks maintain stability during all activity
    Avantree E171 Sports

    We believe, Avantree E171 are the best wired earbuds with ear hooks that are perfect for working out and running.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Yes | Impedance: 32 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable length: 47 inch (1.2m) | Features: Inline remote, ear hooks
    • Secure fit
    • Useful inline controls
    • Fun, punchy sound
    • … but a bit too bassy

    As with many sports earbuds, the sound can get bassy. Avantree E171 are no different, trading overall clarity for a good low-end slam. They offer fun sound, nevertheless. But they’re not made for sonic fidelity.

    The wired sport earbuds come with big ear hooks that secure them on your head, even if you have smaller ears.

    It takes some time to get used to the way you place them in your ears. But once you do, there’s no turning back.

    The 4ft (120cm) long cable has a built-in microphone and remote control for a wide range of commands, from answering phone calls to skipping tracks and volume control.

    You don’t have to worry about sweat as they come with sweat resistance (according to Avantree). There is no IPX certification.

    If you’re looking for wired headphones with ear hooks for maximum stability, Avnatree E171 are a great choice.

    Best Wired Sports Over-Ear Headphones

    4. Treblab Z7 Pro

    dollar Best wired sports over-ear headphones
    • Water protection: Certified IPX4 sweat resistance
    • Fit: Tight and strong clamping force keeps them stable
    Treblab Z7 Pro with the case

    Technically, Treblab Z7 Pro are not wired. But they are one of the few over-ear headphones with sweat protection that stay on the head during movement. And you can use them with a cable.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0 / Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 45h | Wireless range: 40ft (12.2m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2.5h + quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Auto play/pause, ambient sound mode, foldable
    • Good sound quality
    • Comfortable design
    • Stable fit, even for working out
    • IPX4 sweat resistance
    • Foldable design with included hard-shell case
    • Support for aptX HD & multipoint
    • Good active noise cancellation
    • Mediocre transparency mode
    • Slightly muffled-sounding with some genres
    • No app and custom EQ/presets

    Okay, bear with me. I know you’re looking for wired headphones, but there are basically no wired over-ear headphones that are suitable for working out.

    So, if you still want to use headphones with a cable, the Treblab Z7 Pro are the best we’ve tested. These over-ears are rare because they come with certified IPX4 sweat protection. This means you can use them for a sweaty workout or out in the rain.

    They stay on the head during movement, too. The clamping force is a bit stronger, which isn’t the most comfortable, but you need that to keep them stable. You can easily lift weights, do yoga, or even do some light running.

    The sound quality is slightly bass-emphasized with a nice punch. They support:

    • Multipoint: Connecting them to 2 devices at the same time (and wired 3.5mm AUX connection)
    • aptX HD: A high-quality Bluetooth audio transmission
    • ANC: Removes ambient noise so you can focus on your workout
    • 39.5-hour battery: Plenty of music on a single charge (if you use Bluetooth & ANC)
    • Built-in microphone (only in wireless mode)

    Check all the details in our review.

    $99.99
    in stock
    as of December 7, 2023 10:33 pm
    Amazon.com
    $159.97
    in stock
    Treblab.com
    $159.97
    $179.97
    in stock
    Walmart.com
    out of stock
    eBay

    Best Wired Non-In-Ear Sports Earbuds

    5. JVC HA-EBR80

    earbud Best Non-In-Ear
    • Water protection: Sweatproof according to JVC
    • Fit: Soft rubber ear hooks keep the earbuds stable
    JVC HA-EBR80 classic sports earphones

    We think JVC HA-EBR80 are the best wired sports earbuds that don’t go in the ear.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 13.5mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 16-20.000Hz
    Type: Earphone | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Yes | Impedance: 16 Ohm | Weight: 0.46 oz (13g) | Cable lenght: 4 feet (1.2m) | Water resistance: Sweat proof | Features: Ear hooks
    • Great stability with ear hooks
    • Balanced sound signature
    • … but subpar sound quality
    • Limited remote control functions

    Their sound signature is balanced. Mids are clear and well-present. Bass isn’t strong, and some people might complain it lacks in the lows. If you like bass, there are other bassy alternatives on this list.

    The JVCs are classic non-in-ear earbuds without eartips. They rest on your ears rather than go inside the ear canal. Yes, they lack good noise isolation because of that, but it makes them better for your awareness.

    They have a snug fit and can stay in your ears thanks to the soft rubber ear hooks. You can use them both for running or working out.

    If you don’t like the in-ear feel and want some awareness, check these out.

    Best Sounding Wired Sports Headphones

    6. Shure SE215

    trophy Best sound
    • Water protection: No water protection
    • Fit: Memory wire around-the-ear fit ensures stability
    Shure SE215 wired in-ear monitor

    Shure SE215 are the best-sounding wired headphones for sports, in our opinion.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 22-17.500Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise Cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Microphone only | Impedance: n/a | Weight: n/a | Cable length: n/a | Features: Detachable cable, optional wireless adapter
    • Good sound quality
    • Price-to-performance ratio
    • Detachable cable
    • Narrow soundstage

    These use a single dynamic driver that produces a nice, controlled bass with a good kick. The warm midrange is definitely the star of the show, presenting a lot of details, with the treble being quite smooth and rolled off. It’s high-quality audio.

    And they have many characteristics of sport earbuds. You have to wear them with the wire around the ear. This reduces the microphonics and the weight of the earbuds. Here’s a video:

    How To Wear IN-EAR MONITORS WITH A SOFT OVER-THE-EAR CABLE

    The housing is perfectly shaped to comfortably fit in your ear, providing good comfort and great stability. It’s made from clear plastic, so you can see inside the earphones.

    Another good thing is that the tangle-free cable can be replaced. So if you ever damage the connectors or the cable, you can simply buy a new one.

    The only problem is the lack of water protection. These were not made for sports, but light sweating or rain shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure you don’t drench them.

    For superior sound quality from wired earbuds, get the Shure SE215.

    Want more options? See the best headphones under $100.

    Best Wired Workout On-Ear Headphones

    7. Koss SportaPro

    dollar Best Wired Sports On-Ears
    • Water protection: No water protection
    • Fit: Lightweight design with flexible headband keep them on
    Koss SportaPro

    The best wired on-ear sports headphones are Koss SportaPro, perfect for fitness.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 5-25.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Back design: Open-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 60 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable lenght: 4 feet (1.2m) | Features: Foldable
    • Lightweight and comfortable
    • Lively, open sound
    • Not the best durability

    The overall audio quality of SportaPros is rather “bassy,” even to the point of losing treble. Bass is deep and emphasized even at higher volumes, quite a feat for such a lightweight pair of headphones.

    You can also check the PortaPro model, another great choice for slightly more money, but with Hi-Fi sound quality.

    Keeping them on your head is easy due to their lightweight nature and flexible headband, making them great for running or working out. The cushions are minimal but do the job.

    The open-back headphones have soft ear cushions that touch your ears. So, the background noise isn’t isolated, but they are loud enough to overpower any noisy gym. And because they let in ambient sound, they’re safe to use outside on the streets for running and working out.

    Their retro design shouldn’t scare you. The Koss SportaPro are a great choice of wired on-ear headphones suitable for any activity.

    Honorable Mentions

    Here are more wired headphones suitable for sports to check out:

    Previously Recommended Models

    Unfortunately, these great wired sports headphones aren’t available anymore. They’ve been discontinued by the manufacturers, and you can’t buy them for a reasonable price.

    • Bose SoundSport in-ear wired headphones: Previously the #1 recommendation. Used to cost around $100.
    • JBL Endurance Run
    • Samsung Active InEar
    • Sony MDRXB510AS
    • Skullcandy Grind wired on-ear headphones

    Why Get Wired Workout Headphones?

    Here are the reasons why the cable still wins in the wired vs. wireless battle today.

    Wired headphones are GOOD at:

    • Always ready. There’s no need to charge the battery life. Your sports headphones are regularly prepared, and you can just keep them in your sports bag for when you need them again.
    • Usually cheaper. Sure, you can get cheap Bluetooth headphones, but they are often more expensive. This plays a vital role if you’re on a budget.
    • Sound quality. Arguably, the gap is non-existent today. But audiophiles swear by wired headphones when it comes to sound quality.
    • Longer lasting (without relying on battery life). Lithium-ion batteries inside wireless headphones have a limited life expectancy. In fact, with every cycle (charge and discharge) and age, a battery loses capacity. It’s only a matter of time before your wireless headphones die out. You can read more about why lithium-ion batteries die here.

    On the other hand, not everything is sunny for headphones with a cable. There are significant reasons why wireless is better.

    Wired headphones are BAD at:

    • Convenience: Why carry around your phone attached with a cable if you don’t have to?
    • Features: Like ANC, ambient sound mode, equalization, onboard control customization, etc.
    • Tangling wires: As you’ve probably experienced, tangled wires are annoying to deal with. You always have to be careful not to tug or pull on them too hard. The cable is a weak point because it tends to break more easily than other parts.
    • Not as convenient during workouts: You need to have your music device with you at all times. This adds additional weight, which is significant during sports. A smartphone flapping around in your pocket is annoying, and you’re more likely to accidentally damage it.
    • Wireless tech is getting cheaper: All new technologies eventually drop in price, and Bluetooth is no different. Now you can get decent wireless headphones under $50 and wireless earbuds under $30. Also, a headphone jack in smartphones has become a rarity these days.

    If I were recommending sports headphones to a friend, I’d say to get a wireless pair (in most cases). But if the reasons above don’t persuade you, don’t let me change your mind. There’s nothing wrong with using wired headphones in 2023.

    What Makes Good Workout Headphones?

    You should look for a couple of things:

    A secure fit

    Without it, the gym headphones won’t stay put during a workout and thus be useless. This is primarily a problem for bigger over-ear and on-ear headphones. The best workout headphones provide a stable fit for all sports situations.

    Check our guide on keeping the earbuds from falling out.

    Plantronics BackBeat FIT 350 running test
    Ear hooks help with securing the fit for working out.

    Noise isolation

    It depends on where you workout. If you’re on the streets, too much noise reduction can be dangerous. However, if you prefer the gym, having your ear canals sealed means you’re can focus more on your reps.

    Long-lasting comfort

    You can keep up with the reps if your ears ache. Therefore, it should be a priority to get yourself stable headphones with a comfortable fit. Check the most comfortable headphones.

    Sweat and water resistance

    Water is the arch-enemy of electronics. You should keep it away from the internal parts of headphones if you want them to last. Thankfully, many models come with a certified IPX rating, which tells you how much moisture exposure they can survive.

    Enjoyable sound

    As with all headphones, audio quality plays a part. While you might not expect sonic fidelity in the gym, you want to enjoy your favorite music to push you harder. There are many different sound signatures to choose from and, thankfully, at least as many headphones that fit the bill. (Just make sure you don’t abuse the volume adjustment. High volume can damage your hearing over time.)

    Good warranty

    Workout headphones are probably going to be abused more than the ones we use at home. These headphones get thrown in the bag a lot, are exposed to lots of excessive sweat, and may fall on the floor at least a couple of times. Here are some of the most durable headphones.

    Wired vs. Wireless Radiation

    Wired devices

    • Wires can cause radiation. However, we’re talking about radio frequencies, which are completely harmless. Just like the antenna on your radio or on the roof of a car, the wire is able to pick up frequencies from the outside or create them on its own.

    At worst, these radio frequencies can distort the audio signal, which makes for an unpleasant listening experience.

    • The best tool to combat this phenomenon are ferrite beads. The latter suppresses the electromagnetic interference in the wire, providing a cleaner signal from one device to another. While you don’t see many ferrite beads in headphone wires, they’re very common in cables for data and video signals.

    Wireless devices

    We all know that smartphones and other wireless devices, like Bluetooth headphones, use radio frequencies for communication. But are they harmful?

    We’ve answered this question here.

    • Bluetooth connection uses the 2.4GHz frequency band, which is also used for WiFi, and microwave ovens.

    It’s an ideal frequency for agitating water molecules. Frequency gets absorbed by those molecules, which causes them to start shaking. That creates friction, which results in heat. Because of that, the microwave only heats the food and not the plate.

    • WiFi and Bluetooth use significantly lower power than a microwave oven. So you don’t have to worry that you’re going to cook your brains if you use Bluetooth headphones too much.
    • Smartphones use more power to beam out their signal. Their radiation is the highest when they need to reconnect to a different cell tower or at the start of a phone call.

    Longer exposure to phone radiation can also heat up the water molecules in your body. That is why your ears start sweating after a 30-minute phone session.

    The latter is also a reason why it’s recommended for men not to wear a smartphone in their pocket, according to thius study, since it might heat up the male parts.

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Is It bad to wear headphones while working out?

    It’s not bad to wear headphones while working out. Listening to music with a fast beat was proven beneficial to physical performance. As long as you stay safe, keep your headphones on.

    Is it better to work out with earbuds or headphones?

    It is better to work out with earbuds. They are better for most workouts because they’re smaller, lighter, and stay stable during movement. Bigger headphones are more comfortable, so better for long gym sessions of lifting weights but not fast exercise as they’re likely to fall off.

    Can you work out with wired earbuds?

    You can work out with wired earbuds as long as the wired don’t get in the way. Basic exercises like lifting weights, cardio, or running should be no problem. But any workout that demands extensive and quick movement can make you pull on the wires.

    Are all workout headphones bassy?

    Most workout headphones are slightly bassy because people prefer it that way. Bass gives you energy and rhythm for running and lifting. Also, during movement, shaking results in vibrations, which reduces low-frequency audibility. Therefore, the boost in bass helps to even out the audio perception during a workout.

    Are wired headphones good for running?

    Wired headphones are good for running as long as they keep stable on your head and you don’t have problems with the cable.

    Conclusion

    In our opinion, if you want quality wired headphones for sports, get the Skullcandy Set.

    • #1 Best Wired Sports Earbuds

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