Wearing wired headphones for running won’t appeal to everyone.
Certainly, going wireless has become popular and especially that now the gap between wired and wireless sound quality is getting smaller. Of course, wireless benefits from being more portable and is automatically better suited to some sports and exercises but for running we shouldn’t dismiss wired headphones just yet.
Why Pick Wired Headphones for Running?
Wired headphones usually connect to devices via a 3.5mm headphone socket. This headphone jack is still found on most devices but there has been a move by some companies — most notably by Apple — to remove it entirely and to encourage users to adopt wireless technology as standard (or to use its lightning connector). If you’re pursuing a slick aesthetic as Apple and Google are, then wires can look untidy and old fashioned against the smooth lines of your latest insta-worthy release. But there’s something quite simple and honest about a headphone jack. Numerous online tech bloggers have bemoaned its demise with some saying that even 2 years down the line, they’ve not forgiven Apple for ditching it.
Certainly, a wired connection is often more reliable: the signal is far less likely to drop out as can happen with wireless. Wires are old fashioned but they don’t rely on a battery — you just plug and play. There’s a simplicity that’s often overlooked in the push towards wireless. And even as wireless technology begins closing the gap on wired counterpart, most audiophiles will still insist that wired cans are far superior to wireless when it comes to sound quality.
Of course, this isn’t always strictly true as a more expensive pair of wireless headphones will certainly outstrip cheaper wired ones BUT as the Sound Guys put it: “the performance ceiling—and floor—is much, much higher. Ever wonder why the most high-end headphones out there are all wired monstrosities chained to amps? It’s because Bluetooth can’t hack higher quality audio as well as wired cans can.”
It’s easy to see why people go wireless for their workouts. Cutting the cord does have its advantages — you can’t get tangled up, and things can’t get caught on a wire that isn’t there. But how much is that a real problem? Most people will run wearing their device on an armband (or they’ll something similar) and slip the cable under their top, sports bra or jacket. For something like running, the wire makes little odds to the runner, surely?
Wireless isn’t always worth the jump in price especially if you’re only using your headphones when you go running.
If you don’t think that cutting the cord is a big deal, then we’ve got a few tips on picking out the best-wired headphones for running and some of our favourite on, over and in-ear headphones.
Choosing the Best Wired Headphone for Jogging
Look for a pair that are relatively lightweight. If you’re looking for on-ear headphones, then try something with a comfortable headband that won’t clamp or pinch your ears.
Earphones aren’t one-size-fits-all as some manufacturers suggest. Few things are more annoying than running and having to adjust one or put one bud back in. Ones that are specifically designed for sport usually have additional ways of securing themselves to your ear (see the Bose SoundSport Wired below) If you can, try them on first.
You're going to be sweating during a run. Most headphones (on-ear and over-ear) aren’t designed to handle moisture and sweat damage is one of the biggest dangers to headphone cushions. Always add a pair of sweat-proof headphone covers to your headphone cushions before you start working out.
If you’re running outside, then we’d recommend headphones where the noise-cancellation can be switched off. Situational awareness is vital to staying safe when you’re running outdoors and you should be able to hear what’s coming when you’re out and about especially if you’re in an urban area or running whilst female.
Usually, we’re all about headphones, but we’ve discovered that the term is also used interchangeably to mean earphones, too, so we’ve included a mix of headphones and earphones to help give you an idea of what’s on the market and what the best wired headphones for running are.
Useful for people who don’t like in-earphones that jab into the ear. These are held in place thanks to Bose’s wing-like StayHear Tips.
What makes this earphone useful for runners is that it’s an open-ear design which allows some sounds to filter through. We mentioned earlier that it’s important for outdoor runners to be aware of their environment as noise can be a precursor to danger, and these earphones let sounds through.
These are sweat-resistant and weather resistant, too, which is another great reason to take these outdoors.
It has a microphone and you can switch between calls and music with one-touch.
Focused sound allows for what Bose describes as TriPort headphone technology, a wide range of sound is produced including the deep, natural lows which can surround your senses.
Beats has always been criticised for being more about style than substance but the Beats EP on-ear wired headphones are actually pretty decent.
They have a durable design and the stainless steel is lightweight enough that it won’t weigh you down as you run.
The Beats EP headphones are cheaper than the Studio3 and Solo3 headphones but still offer a number of decent features.
Stainless steel arms allow for a firm grip. Keeping them on your head during a run or workout shouldn’t be a problem and there’s unlikely to be the ‘pinch’ that can sometimes happen with a tighter clamp. The cushions are pretty thick, too, providing a comfortable fit.
Sony has made the MDR-ZX310 headband out of plastic meaning that whilst it’s not the most durable it’s definitely one of the better value headphones. These really aren’t expensive at all and were described on the Trusted Reviews website as being ‘one to use guilt-free down the gym’. The fold up cups makes it ideal for doing just that or for packing them away until the next time you’re running out of the door. The sound quality is pretty decent or at least it’s good enough for running in.
We’re big fans of the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 wireless headphone so it’s great to see that Sennheiser has something for runners looking to stay wired. These are in-earphones so they’re portable and will easily slip under a running shirt or vest. The cable is partly flattened to help keep it tangle-free. There’s a slight angle to the earpiece, too, which should help keep it in your ear especially if you’ve struggled in the past with in-ear phones falling out when you’re in motion. They’re lightweight and comfortable to wear which is no small feat for earphones. They have a punchy bass which will work well for those looking to up the pace on their run.
If you’re looking for noise-cancelling headphones, then you can’t go wrong with Bose QuietComfort headphones. We’ve written about using the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless headphones in the gym in other posts and were impressed by both the noise-cancelling technology and the comfort of the cans. The Bose QuietComfort Wired headphones are also impressive on both these scores.
The TechRadar website even as far as to say that they “continue to outperform nearly every other noise-cancelling headphone in the areas that truly matter.” And we’d have to agree that they offer great value for money. One reason these are good for runners is that the noise-cancellation can be turned off making them a safer bet than other ANC headphones. Using it in this manner also means you’re not using the battery.
Skullcandy has released a couple of fairly decent headphones in recent years.
You can read what we had to say about the Skullcandy Hesh as a gym headphone but its Skullcandy’s Grind that was described as ‘Possibly some of the most comfortable headphones we’ve tried.’ by the Trusted Reviews website. Which is pretty impressive for a headphone retailing at around £40. The review goes on to say that: “While most headphones apply this evenly across the headband, Skullycandy reduces the thickness in the middle to combat fatigue on the part of the head that can suffer most. As a result, you can wear these for long periods without fear of severe discomfort.” - not bad.
If you’re a distance runner, then this could be good news. These aren’t that great at preventing noise leakage so they’re not going to be headphones for riding the bus home or for sitting in an office in.
What’s your secret to listening to much when you run? Earphones or headphones? Wired or wireless? Drop us a comment in the box below.