Listening to music is an excellent way to feel extra motivated and energized while lifting weights in the gym, running down the street, doing your daily stretching exercises at home, or hiking a famous trail. In fact, you’ll see many people wearing earbuds and turning to music when doing those activities, as it provides a new dimension to the workout.
If you’re a person who has the same active lifestyle, you know how essential earbuds are while you work your body. A problem is that not all earbuds can take a beating. If you don’t wear the correct pair, chances are it will die on you even before you complete your sets or lap. Worse, they won’t probably stay in for long, either. Thus, making it a hassle to wear them rather than being beneficial.
So, throw away your basic buds! To help you out, we’ve collated the best tips to help you select the best earbuds for an active lifestyle – leading you to find the perfect pair that goes the extra mile.
1. Aim for the perfect fit and comfort
Fit is everything, even for earbuds for casual use, but more for ones that you intend for strenuous activities. Can you imagine having to constantly adjust your earbuds while running on the treadmill or when hiking a steep trail? That will be a great nuisance and can ruin your experience.
With that, it’s crucial that you must find a pair that perfectly fits. After all, you want your earbuds to stay put and remain comfortable be it for short or longer activities where the device can be exposed to sweat or be off due to your rigorous movements.
Of course, it’s always best to try a pair first to see if it fits. If that’s not possible, your best resort is to choose a model that comes with additional eartips in a variety of sizes. Through that, you can maximize the chance of finding the right fit.
Meanwhile, some models also offer special earhooks and earwings. Regardless of whether they go around or clip on the ear, what they do is help deliver a more reliable and secure fit.
It’s also best to take the weight of the earbuds. You no longer need any extra weight while running or working out. For the best comfort, it’s best to opt for an extremely lightweight pair. Remember, you won’t enjoy earbuds if you’re not comfortable wearing them no matter how fantastic they sound or whatever special features they have.
2. Choose a model that are sweat, water, and dust resistant
Next to fit, the next thing that you should be looking for is a pair of earbuds that have ample protection from sweat, rain, and dirt. You must check the IP (Ingress Protection) ratings of the device, which is technically the degree of its protection against outside elements.
Your earbuds must at least have an IPX4 rating. The rating means that the device is splash-resistant. Though it cannot be submerged in water, it can withstand swashes of water from all directions, making it ideal for workouts or unexpected downpours.
If you’re doing your cardio in the gym, anticipate your earbuds will be drenched in sweat in no time. If you’re outside, you’ll never know when it will rain. If your earbuds don’t have enough protection, they will most likely perform incorrectly or worse, die out on you prematurely, sending your money down the drain.
If you’re into swimming or in other activities where you need to be submerged underwater instead, note that you need earbuds with a higher IP rating. For instance, an IPX7-rated device can be submerged for 30 minutes at under three feet of depth. If you wish to stay longer, go for IPX9-rated devices that can endure continuous submersion. The goal is to find the suitable resistance for your preferred activity.
3. Find models with physical controls
Though touch or swipe controls are an innovative feature that allows more streamlined, minimalist designs, they simply don’t work out with sweaty hands. For people with an active lifestyle, it’s always best to go for models with physical controls.
While physical buttons are old-fashioned, they are easier, faster, and more practical to use than their touch-sensitive counterparts. Don’t get us wrong! Discreet touch controls are still good if you’re just listening to music in the room or playing your favorite podcasts while on the train.
However, when you’re on the move, you will certainly find it more reliable to use physical controls to increase the volume or switch to a more upbeat song to get that much-needed boost in your workout. Luckily, many models are able to incorporate physical buttons into the design without being too bulky. Plus, they are made to be more responsive with sweaty designs. Just be extra keen to look around for such features when shopping for earbuds.
4. Shoot for the best sound quality
You’re still wearing earbuds, so sound quality is undoubtedly essential. Your earbuds must deliver a rich, balanced sound with bass that’s not too heavy or lacking. Volume levels should also be enough to get you pumped up. Plus, it should be from static or lag. If not, expect that listening to music won’t be as fun, affecting your routine or activity for the day.
If you can, it’s best to buy products designed for an active lifestyle from high-end audio companies. While you’ll be paying a higher price tag ranging between $200 to $300, you’ll get what you pay for as their products are reliable and will produce higher-quality audio. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry as you can still find good mid-range models. Just skip on the super cheap as they most likely use poor-quality sound chips that offer less-satisfying sound quality.
5. See the sound customization capabilities
You’ll be surprised that many earbuds now offer sound customization features. It’s an excellent addition, given that the intensity of the activities that you do also varies. For instance, you can increase the power and bass if you’re going to the peak of your workout. Afterward, you can tinker it to be less upbeat as you cool down.
Some models also have different listening models or EQ settings which you can access with a simple press of a button or via the companion phone app. That provides you better control depending on the audio quality and detail you prefer and whatever suits the activity you’re doing.
You can check the product description or download the app to check what customization capabilities a model offers. It’s also great to read the customer reviews to get a better insight into what the device can do.
6. Check the battery life
One of the most important steps that you should do when selecting earbuds is to check the battery life. Of course, you’ll want one whose power can match the period of your activity or better, outlast it. Most manufacturers will quote a total playtime of three to five hours. In reality, you’ll enjoy around 80% of the said figure.
After the battery has drained, you need to return the earbuds to the case to recharge them using the separate battery built into the case. Usually, a charging case has enough power to charge the earbuds for three to four times before it needs to be recharged itself.
Don’t fall for manufacturers that show a total playing time of 12 to 15 hours. That doesn’t imply continuous listening under a single charge but rather pertains to the combined playing time of the three to four top-ups. What’s acceptable is having at least 4-5 hours of runtime on a single use. Anything below that is unacceptable for people with an active lifestyle. Otherwise, you’ll have to look for the charger often.
7. Go for fast-charging models
If you’re a power user who often forgets to charge up your earbuds and the charging case, your best bet is to find models that have quick-charging capabilities. That way, you can top up their charge in a breeze and would never have to go to the gym, hike a trail, or do yoga without your precious earbuds.
Some models offer an hour of listening time with a 5-minute charge as long as the charge isn’t below 30%. Others can offer an hour and a half of playing time with the same 5-minute charge and remaining battery level. Just make sure to check and compare different brands and models and never miss out on this feature. Trust us, fast-charging support is something you’ll definitely want to have.
8. Opt for a good design
For a device that will continuously hang out of your ears as you run, work out, or do outdoor activities over a long stretch of time, you’re better with a pair of earbuds that doesn’t only sound nice but looks good on you as well.
If you don’t like the way your earbuds look, you probably won’t use them anyway. So, find one that looks sleek and premium. Some models even feature brushed metal faceplates, which is a great alternative for the other products that often sport plastic cases. Others offer sophisticated, minimalistic designs that simply stand out.
9. Make sure it’s compatible with your smartphone
What type of smartphone you’re using should always be a major part of the consideration. Though all earbuds use Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone and play music, you will not access all technologies and extra features they have if they are not compatible. For example, Apple devices only support the SBC codec and the higher-quality AAC and ALAC codecs. That’s why only a few iPhone users purchase Samsung’s Galaxy Buds or Google’s Pixel Buds, or vice-versa.
10. Take advantage of special features
To maximize your purchase, don’t miss out on the special features. Aside from the standard functionalities, you may want to have models that have premium features like transparency modes, active noise-canceling, quick pairing, and added gestures to trigger voice assistance or control music playback and calls. Just be mindful that the more features you get, the more you should be ready to spend more. Fortunately, you can still avail of a solid pair of earbuds with a few added features for less than $100.
Follow these tips and don the perfect earbuds to match your active lifestyle. Be it from climbing slopes, completing a lap, or shooting hoops, no matter what activity you intend to do, you’ll have no doubts about bringing them as you know they’re the right pair built to go the distance with you. Happy listening!
If you haven’t decided what type of earbuds to get, our Guide to Choosing Earbuds might help you.