I couldn’t go to the gym without my headphones.
Not even once.
Just thinking of it brings me out in a cold sweat. Albert Einstein famously didn’t say that a gym workout without headphones feels four times as long, but he COULD have. It’s physics. Time definitely feels as if it’s moving more slowly when you work out in stone-cold silence. Of course, not everyone agrees.
An absolute psychopath will work out quite happily without listening to anything. The soundtrack of an internal monologue and heavy breathing is all some people need to smash a workout. Find whatever works for you but many of us prefer to exercise whilst we’re plugged into something. And why not? Listening to music can help improve performance by up to 15% and if that’s not worth slipping a pair of cans over your ears, then we don’t know what is.
Working out without sound does have one thing going for it: you don’t need to worry about looking after your headphones.
How many pairs have you replaced over the years? Owning headphones can be an expensive and frustrating experience especially if you’re regularly taking them to the gym. We’re probably all guilty of being careless with our kit. It’s easy to be heavy-handed with accessories and tech if we’re in a hurry or if we’re not paying attention to our stuff. Modern headphones are pretty robust, but they’re not unbreakable, so here are a few things that you can do to ensure perfect playback on your headphones for years to come.
What Will You Use Your Headphones For?
Taking care of your headphones will be easier if you identify what you’ll be using them for before you buy them. Different requirements may lead you toward a specific brand or away from the standard specifications of another. In the gym, it could mean deciding between wired and wireless. Wireless gym headphones have more mobility, no tangled cords and your phone can be kept “off-body”.
Using public transport or a frequent flyer? Active-noise cancellation with foldable cups and a carry case would probably be very useful to you. Once you can understand what you’ll be doing with your headphones, you’ll be able to sharpen into focus any non-negotiable features that will make your workout easier. Initially, at least, you may even feel tempted to take in-earphones to the gym. There’s certainly enough choice available. By 2023, the headphone industry will be worth an estimated $13.82 billion. There's everything from pound shop earbuds right up to the world’s most expensive headphones: the $120,000 Utopia by Tournaire.
When we listed our top-5 gym headphones earlier this year, we were very impressed by Sony’s MDR 1000 MX2. It offers a very respectable battery life and a quick-charge function that makes it ideal for the gym. Or Beats, too, with its seamless integration with Apple devices. It’s definitely worth taking time to think over your headphone choices before you buy and tailor your search.
Wrap Your Cords Correctly
The average cord length on a pair of headphones is 1.2 meters. Headphone wires are thin because they only need to transmit low power and because it’s cheaper to make them that way. We’ve probably all had to retire a pair of headphones or earphones earlier than we’d have liked to because of damage to the wire, so how you treat it could be the key to the longevity of your headphones.
Bending the cord — putting them in your bag or wrapping them around your phone, for example — puts stress on the internal wiring and can cause a loose connection. You know the drill: the sound plays fine in one ear but then begins to crackle and then cut out in the other.
The easiest recommendation is to go wireless or look for brands offering replacement cables. Some maybe covered by warranty. If going wireless isn’t an option, however, then you can find a way of wrapping the cables so that they’re not under as much stress. We were particularly impressed with this demonstration of ‘The Roadie Wrap’ featured on MakeUseOf.com. Or for head and earphone cables, you can follow this tip from Lifehacker.
Protect your Headphones from Sweat Damage
Sweat will ruin your headphones.
During your workout, moisture will start corroding the cushioning in the material of your cups, upsetting the delicate internal circuitry and making them smell funky. Nobody wants to replace a pair of £250 headphones after only six months. One sure-fire way to keep your cans fresh and dry is to use EarHugz. EarHugz are sweat-proof headphone covers that are anti-bacterial, machine washable and available in a number of cool designs. By wicking sweat away from your face, they’ll help reduce the risk of acne, too.
Covering almost all major headphone ranges, they’ll work on wired and wireless cans, and are way, waayyyyy cheaper than buying a replacement pair of headphones.
Use a Case
We’re probably all guilty of throwing our headphones around. They go to the bottom of our bags, onto the back seats of our cars, tossed into our gym lockers or swung around our necks without much thought. They seem sturdy enough, right? Maybe, they are, but exercising care in how you treat them will help keep them in one piece for longer — especially important if you’re travelling or if you have to travel to get to the gym. Often the case you purchased them with is more than adequate but it’s worth looking for third-party cases that may have added support or functionality.
Cases will protect your cans from dust, moisture and extreme temperatures when you’re not using them. When choosing a case, it’s important to get the right size and to look for durability and strength. You’ll want something quick and simple to use. Something that isn’t too bulky but which can stand up to a few hard knocks
Pull Out at the Jack
It’s easily done, but you should never pull your headphones from your device using the wire. You should pull out the jack in a firm but gentle tug.
Clean Your Headphones Regularly
There’s lots of advice on the internet about how to clean your headphones. Different brands, different models with different features suggest different things. If in doubt, refer back to the instruction booklet that came in the box. Our biggest recommendation is to use EarHugz headphone covers as they’re anti-bacterial and machine washable. Obviously, they help prevent moisture damage, too. Otherwise, you can wipe down your headphones with an antibacterial solution. Some websites suggest using a baby wipe or alcohol rub.
Headphonesty has some sensible advice on how to clean both in-earphones and headphones and also explain how to clean the headphone jack, too.