1. Monster iSport Victory
The only thing that stopped these from being a perfect pair of running headphones was the slightly iffy quality of some of the materials used. It’s not a major problem, but you’d expect better for the hefty price. The three-button control pad feels a bit plasticky and you wouldn’t want to risk throwing these in your gym bag without first placing them carefully in their case. However, they were a joy to use. You can choose from five different sizes of earbud, to help you get your perfect fit, and once they’re in they’re a rock-solid fit that’s extremely comfy, no matter how much you sweat or jump around. The sound quality is superb, with a great balance of bass, mid, and treble. Noise isolation is excellent, so bear this in mind when you’re running outside.
Comfort and fit: 9.5
Sound quality: 9.5
2. IT7 Bluetooth Stereo Sports Earphones
These look heavy, owing to the cumbersome- looking neckband, but they’re surprisingly light. You can take calls on the run, thanks to a built-in microphone, and the battery power is good, with eight hours of listening time between charges. Bluetooth does away with wires, but it sometimes cuts out for a second when the MP3 is moved. They sit nicely on the ear, but much of the sound gets lost in the air between earbud and ear.
Comfort and fit: 5.0
Sound quality: 5.0
3. ME Electronics M6 in-ear sports headphones
A brilliant low-budget choice—what these lack in style they make up for in comfort and sound quality. The lack of ear hooks is not a problem since these feature ‘memory wire’—once you loop them around your ears they stay in place. Aside from the limited bass the sound quality is good: rich and clear. On the negative side, the earbuds feel delicate.
Comfort and fit: 7.0
Sound quality: 7.5
4. Jaybird Bluebuds X
Water-resistant and wireless, these are perfect for outdoor runs. The excellent performance is only slightly compromised by the irritation of a slack neckband that can rub against your skin if you start looking around. Other than that, and an occasionally patchy Bluetooth reception, there aren’t many downsides. They’re robust and, accompanied by a hard, pocket-sized case, very easy to maintain.
Comfort and fit: 7.5
Sound quality: 8.5
5. Denon Exercise Freak AH-W150
These durable wireless headphones don’t disappoint. Given the rather clunky earpieces, it’s amazing how non-intrusive they feel. Bluetooth 3.0 technology means there’s no time lag between speaking and being heard if you take calls, and the sound is superb. Other nice touches are a seven- hour battery life, a reflective neckband and the ability to pair up with the Denon Sport mobile app with GPS tracking.
Comfort and fit: 6.5
Sound quality: 8.0
6. Powerbeats by Dr Dre
These are almost brilliant. Designed to provide quality and style, they do deliver—just not as much as they should for the price. The sound quality is variable—the bass is awesome but mid-frequency sounds can be a little muffled. The over-the-ear hooks system offers a very good earbud fit, although those with smaller ear canals should try before buying. The headphones prevent almost all sound leakage, but still allow in ambient noise.
Comfort and fit: 9.0
Sound quality: 8.5
7. Yurbuds Focus Pro
These wired headphones look flimsy but they are surprisingly hard- wearing. We flung them around, but they coped admirably, thanks to the rubber on the ear loops, the reinforced, y-shaped control pad and the thick rubber cord. They sit lightly around the ears but after 90 minutes the buds began to make our ears a little sore, so firmly were they held in place. The sound quality is above average, and they’re sweat-proof and waterproof.
Comfort and fit: 8.5
Sound quality: 9.0