The Best Sports Earbuds and Headphones for Any Budget

Whether you are undertaking a grueling gym session or a late-night run, a workout playlist is essential for taking you that extra mile, but those banging beats will fall flat if you don’t have the right sports earbuds to sound them out with.

Here, M&F has the hot picks for a great audio companion and sports earbuds on any budget.

SoundPEATS Air3 Pro Sports Earbuds

Courtesy of Amazon

Great for: Long distance runs

Price: Offer price $59.99 (usually $69.99) from Amazon

The SoundPEATS Air3 Pro Hybrid active noise cancelling wireless sports earbuds are ideal for those on a tight budget. It is the cheapest of our picks but with a 4-star review on Amazon, based on more than 250 ratings, these earbuds offer great noise cancellation and can block surrounding gym or traffic noise. We took them out for a run and found them to have a stable connection. Also attractive for runners is the fact that you can get 6-hour of listening time from a single charge (that’s an hour more than the standard Air3) making long distance jogs and even marathons fly by. Take the case-charger out with you and you’ll have a total of 24 hours battery until the next charge. Worried about rain or sweat? The Air3 Pro have an IPX5 level of waterproof to sweat and rain which is a great bonus for budget buds.

We found the Air3 Pro’s to be snug and very comfortable, essential when you need to concentrate on your next PR. In your down time, there’s automatic mode switching to cope with the different latencies of video or games. Another added bonus not seen with many sports earbuds in this price range is the ability to connect them to the SoundPEATS app to customize sound levels. We found the sound quality to be crisp and even had a surprisingly high amount of bass. For the majority of listeners, the noise cancellation will work wonders, although greater sound cancellation dB may be required if cycling at high speeds or dealing with wind and rain.

Verdict: At this price point, the automatic mode changing and audio quality makes them worthy of your cash and great for activities such as running or hiking where you need battery life but don’t want to lose an expensive piece of audio kit. If money is really tight right now, the SoundPEATS Air 3 Deluxe HS are released November 18 and while the regular retail price is $10 cheaper, they still offer 20-hours battery life and many of the same features.

Skullcandy Push Active Sports Earbuds

Skullcandy Push Active
Courtesy of Amazon

Great for: Athletes and active people

Price: Offer price: $74 (usually $79.99) from Amazon

While the Skullcandy Push Active True Wireless sports earbuds are priced at only around 10-20 bucks higher than the Air 3 Pro’s, the additional investment will give you a wealth of premium features. From a waterproofing standpoint, they are IP55 certified. This means that they can last 55 minutes completely submerged in water (at a pressure of one bar). There’s 10 hours of charge in these buds, with 34 additional hours available from the charging case. The Skull-iQ voice control technology proved to be seriously helpful for setting volume, and skipping to different tracks. You can answer work calls at the gym or out on the track without moving a single finger. On testing, we found bass to be sufficient but not so explosive that it got in the way of vocals. But, perhaps one of the most valuable features of the Push Active’s is the ear hook that stops you looking like a loser when standard earbuds decide to fall out of your head in a busy gym. The buds are currently receiving a 4-star review from more than 3,000 ratings, and it is easy to see why they are loved. The Push Active’s fit comfortably to your ear, making them great for training outside without fear of losing them to the elements.

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The Verdict: One feature that is lacking is active noise cancellation, so if you want to block out nearby interference the Push Active’s are limited in this area, but since they are more geared to athletes and those who train outside such as long-distance runners, you may be going it alone anyway. The Push Active’s also come with 3 different sizes of earbud cover, meaning that you should be able to get good noise isolation from the fit. If you want great sound and the added peace of mind that they won’t drop out of your ears, these are the pair for you.

Beats Studio Buds

beats studio sports earbuds
Courtesy of BEATS

Great for: Fashion conscious athletes who appreciate winning sounds

Price: Offer price: $119.49 from Amazon

The fact that Beats Studio Buds come in 5 different colorways means that you can choose the perfect pair to match with your favorite gym getup, but aside from the iconic Beats style you’ll also be owning some serious sounds. Spatial Audio offers an immersive, surround sound effects that are usually reserved for the over-ear style of headphones. And, with three soft silicone ear tip sizes, you can find a fit that is comfortable and secure for you. The Beats app provides everything you need to make sure you get plenty of bang in your Beats, and you can also access onscreen information on battery levels (you can enjoy up to 24 hours when combined with the pocket-sized charging case) or make those firmware updates a breeze.

The Beats Studio Buds offer Active Noise Cancelling with the ability to quickly switch to transparency mode when someone asks you how many more sets you have left on the only pec deck in the gym. And, speaking of the gym, these buds are sweat resistant, so go ahead and tell that guy that you’ll be doing another 3 sets! The onboard mic offers ‘Dual-Beam’ capability, and is great for cutting out background noise, so you can still make that call while on a run beside busy traffic.

The Verdict: As you would expect, the Beats Studio Buds offer a rich depth of sound and the different sized ear tips mean that you can find the perfect fit. We also loved the “Press and Hold” function as it allows you to customize what this activates meaning that you can easily manage listening modes, enable your voice assistant, or adjust the volume level.

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Sony LinkBuds S Sports Earbuds

Sony LinkBuds S
Courtesy of Amazon

Great for: Audio buffs who lead busy lives

Price: Offer price: $128 (usually $199.99) from Amazon

If you are the type of person who squeezes gym sessions into a busy schedule, you’ll be pleased to hear that the Sony LinkBuds S will give you 60 minutes of playback time in just 5 minutes. Perfect for those busy days where the last thing on your mind is plugging in your pods. Sony say that the LinkBuds S offer their best ever sound quality when on a call thanks to Advanced Voice Signal Processing, and with 20 hours battery life on offer via the case, these pods will be great for those long, drawn-out meetings too. Another awesome feature is the way that the LinkBuds S sports earbuds can automatically switch between noise cancelling, or ambient sound and it’s smart settings will learn from your behaviour so that it can adjust to provide the ideal sound setup, depending on your environment.

If sports earbuds are going to be worn for a long period of time they need to be comfortable, and thankfully Sony have nailed it here. They feel light and offer a secure fit, too. The LinkBuds S are a doddle when it comes to connecting with resources such as Alexa and Google Assistant. They also water resistant to IPX4 so sweat won’t be an issue when you are squeezing that all-important workout in. An accompanying app puts you in control of the EQ, and how your beats should sound

The Verdict: If superior sound is important to you then the LinkBuds S sports earbuds are going to be your new best friend. It’s not just the playback quality that stands out, but also the mic and audio when making calls.

Adidas RPT-02 SOL

Adidas RPT-02 SOL
Courtesy of Adidas

Great for: Those who won’t compromise on sound, or making eco-friendly purchases.

Price: Offer price: $229.99 from Amazon

The Adidas RPT-02 Sol is IPX4 Rated, making these over-ear headphones ideal for those tough, sweat laden workouts and while they lack sound cancelling, they do offer incredible comfort. But, what really makes these cans standout from the pack is they fact that they can be charged by sunlight and much of the build is made up on recycled materials. In fact, Adidas say that 51% of this product is made from plastic which is 87% recycled. So, if you care about the planet as much as your playlist, you will feel better than ever while training to your favorite tunes. These headphones can store a whopping 80 hours batter life, self-charged through solar power, and while some headphones would be giving off some serious body odor after long intense workouts, you can start everyday afresh because the ear covers are removable and washable. Sound levels can be adjusted via an accompanying app.

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The Verdict: Awesome, booming sound, not too bulky but secure enough to locked to your ears during the most intense workouts, along with the ability to charge via the sun, gymgoers can’t go wrong with Adidas’ latest audio drop.

Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear

Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear
Courtesy of Amazon

Great for: Being King of the gym

Price: Offer price: $275 (usually $299.99) from Amazon

Wanna look like “The Great One”? Well now you can, but you’ll have to shell out the big bucks to do it. Still, achieving greatness takes hard work, and with a 4-and-a-half-star review score on Amazon, you could become the owner of a true champion among headphones. And, unlike many celebrity-endorsed products, these bad boys stand up to scrutiny: Made as a collab between JBL, Under Armour, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the wrestler-turned-movie-star insisted on testing and providing input on the sound quality himself, before putting his electrifying name to these cans. Practically speaking, they are IPX4 Rated, meaning that they can handle splashes of water from any direction. This is important because many headphones are unsuitable for the gym, where getting your sweat on is par for the course. Not only are the Project Rock’s sweat resistant, but we found it immensely satisfying that, just like with the Adidas model above, you can take the ear covers off, wash them, and fit them right back on, meaning that you won’t be carrying around a pair of headphones that smells like overworn socks.

You’ll get a superhero worthy 45-hours of battery life on a single charge, and we were able to re-charge the internal battery with the included USB lead in close to 2 hours. UA also bundle a 12-month premium membership to their “Map My Run” app inside the box. Speaking of the box, inside is a quality carry case featuring a jubilee clip attachment for rugged sessions just as tough as the “People’s Champion” himself.

From a noise cancellation standpoint, DJ likes to focus on his workouts in the gym undistracted, and you can too because we could hardly hear an outside voice while on the treadmill or pumping iron. There’s a quick switch for turning off the cancellation, so that you can swap small talk with the squatter on the next rack. And, when you take the headphones off, they automatically pause. Now that’s what you call quality! The listening experience is where it’s really at. You can connect the Project Rock’s to the JBL app and even try out the Rock’s own EQ preset, or make your own adjustments. Either way, you’ll have access to seriously thumbing bass without losing some of those subtle tones. Connectivity wise, you are able to plug the headphones into your favorite audio player using the jack if you want to conserve battery life or use them as an audio monitor.

The Verdict: The ear covers are immensely comfortable and there is good distance between the speakers and your ear, allowing for a rich sound and a comfy, breathable fit. The price may be “People’s Eyebrow” raising, but when you walk around the gym sporting the Brahma bull decals on either ear, you’ll be the undisputed king of the gym.