Everyone loves listening to music while working out. Playing some tunes while you’re running on the treadmill, lifting some weights, or even swimming can improve your performance and help keep you engaged. However, anyone who blasts music at the gym will have asked themselves one big question: are headphones or earbuds better for working out?
While both earbuds and headphones have certain similar features such as Bluetooth, noise isolation, and comfortable cushions, they still differ in many different ways. There are pros and cons to each—generally, earbuds are smaller, more comfortable, and better at staying in your ears comfortably, while bulky headphones are typically more durable and offer better sound quality. No matter what your workout routine is, it’s important to choose the listening device that’s right for you.
Durable and well-constructed, many headphones typically last longer and work better than most earbuds of the same price and level. While over-the-ear headphones can be large, they will undoubtedly offer a better sound quality than in-ear earbuds. If you’re the kind of person who likes a full, rich sound, then headphones may be the right pick for you!
Another thing to consider is comfort: while the pressure of headphones on your ears can sometimes be overwhelming, over-the-ear headphones are one-size-fits-all. If you have trouble comfortably fitting earbuds in your ears you may prefer headphones to earbuds. You can also replace the worn-out cushions on some models to improve their comfort rating. Headphones may be corded or non-corded, depending on whether or not they have Bluetooth compatibility.
Finally, one other thing to consider is noise isolation. Headphones will sometimes offer better noise-canceling than earbuds, so if you like to work out without lots of ambient noise, headphones might be the best option for you.
While headphones can be comfortable to wear and use at home, they may be more difficult to bring to the gym. Headphones can be bulky and inconvenient, especially during workouts. If you need a freer range of movement, especially involving your head, headphones may not be for you. They can be uncomfortable to wear over time, especially if your ears are sensitive to pressure. They may also be difficult to transport, especially when compared to earbuds.
Headphones can also trap sweat, especially if they’re not built with a high IPX rating, and this can damage the electronics within. Cordless headphones may have battery issues. Also, headphones will often come with a higher price tag—something to consider if you’re on a budget.
Smaller and more convenient, earbuds sacrifice sound quality and durability for ease of use. You’ll want to consider using earbuds over headphones if you prefer a simpler and more convenient fit. Earbuds are much lighter and easier to transport. Wearing earbuds will leave your head free and will be less cumbersome during energetic workouts.
Good workout earbuds will stay comfortably in your ear without falling out. Look for earbuds with G-shaped earpieces that allow you to easily keep them in your ears. Like headphones, earbuds may or may not come with a cord, and therefore may also come with battery issues, so be aware if you want to listen to music during long workouts.
Earbuds will typically have a lower sound quality than headphones, and those that do have a high sound quality are typically very expensive. If sound quality is a priority for you, you may need to pay a premium for good-sounding earbuds. The noise isolation in earbuds is typically lower quality than in headphones, so you may have to hear the sounds of your fellow gym-goers while working out.
Earbuds are also typically less durable than headphones, especially if you use them often, so they may require replacement more often than headphones. You may also find yourself losing your earbuds frequently since they are much smaller than headphones. Depending on the person, the convenience of earbuds may not outweigh the sacrifices you have to make in other areas. Carefully consider what’s important to you while working out, and what kind of athletic activity you’ll be doing; earbuds may make more sense for a weight-lifter than a gymnast, for example.
So, are headphones or earbuds better for working out? No matter where you stand on the headphones versus earbuds debate, it’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of both, as well as your unique circumstances. No matter what you’ll be using them for, it’s important to invest in high-quality, well-researched products! You’ll need to look to find the best earbuds for workouts. If you shop smartly and carefully, you’ll be able to pick the right earbuds or headphones for you, and begin your workouts in style!
Written by Dylan Kellum