Sports Headphones: wearable tech

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Our expert reviewer, Kieran Alger, Editor in Chief of T3, has put every pair of headphones you see on this list through its paces. He hit the gym to push the products to the limits testing them while doing a wide variety of your everyday fitness activities, from the treadmill and the cross trainer to strength training and squats.  If you  like this, check  out his guide to the best wearable tech fitness gadgets .

PX685i                     MX685 Sports         iSport Victory         iSport Freedom 

Powerbeats              SHQ1200               SHQ5200                SE-E721

Sennheiser Adidas
 PX685i RRP £60.

eBay likes: Great for comfort, cost, durability and sound. 
Watch out for: the remote can create a bit of tug.
Pair acoustic masters Sennheiser with sports giants Adidas and you get a set of pretty near perfect earphones. The PMX685i is the follow up to the neckband-style PMX 680 but with a slimmer frame and smaller remote. This makes them lighter but they’re still sweat and water-resistant with a protected cable to buffer against wear and tear. The neckband style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but being able to slip the headphones off and leave them safely around your neck is a bonus if you’re planning to use them on longer runs where in-ear styles have that habit of dangling around in front of you. With these, you barely notice they’re there whether they’re on or not.

Sennheiser MX685 Sports

eBay likes: each bud is adjustable for a more individual fit. 
Watch out for: lack of inline remote control. 

Another winning in-ear offering from the Adidas Sennheiser labs, the sportclip-style buds on the MX685 Sports kick out excellent gym-friendly audio with rich lows and crisp highs.
A well-designed alternative to the neckband headphones, this excellent collaboration has produced another winner. These headphones combine a snug and secure fit with shock-absorbing, flexible materials that are sweat-proof and moisture-resistant, making them perfect for indoor or outdoor use.
The lack of inline remote control means you’ll still need your smartphone to hand when taking calls, changing volume or skipping tracks, but it’s a minor moan considering the price.

Monster iSport Victory

eBay likes: the tangle-free cord really works. 
Watch out for: a bit on the pricey side

In our view the pack in enough features and sound quality to warrant the extra investment you'll need to buy these. The sportclip design that Monster was first to introduce, offers a secure fit even if you’re slipping them on under a cycling helmet. Sound performance is solid with excellent noise isolation and deep, intense bass without losing the detail and clarity that’ll bring your workout soundtrack to life.
Last, but not least, they come with a hygienic, anti-microbial coating and sealed housing that means they’re easy to keep clean and excellent at staying sweat free.

Monster iSport Freedom RRP £199.99
Monster iSport Freedom

eBay likes: they’re wireless, pairing with your iPhone, iPod or Android smartphone over Bluetooth low energy.
Watch out for: these are pretty heavy.

These vivid wireless sports headphones are designed with runners front of mind. They feature the gym-beating essential qualities, being sweatproof and water resistant. Yet the tech quality doesn’t mean they sacrifice on sound. As with most of Monster's products, the bass is loud, sound crisp and they're really quite loud.

The adjustable headband strap is handy for getting the fit just right and sports a thick stripe of reflective material that’ll help you be seen on those winter nights. The rubber earpads have plenty of spring for a more comfortable ride than many over-ear style headphones.

Powerbeats by Dr Dre RRP £120
Powerbeats by Dr Dre

eBay likes: fantastic for training that requires complete focus.
Watch out for: you can’t adjust the fit of the Powerbeats loops. 

We've all seen Premier League footballers bounding off team buses proudly wearing their Beats. Now the rapper-endorsed brand is branching out with the introduction of the Powerbeats.

These fitness-focused follow-ups still look the part, with a range of snappy colour combos. In audiophile circles, Beats have been criticised for lacking serious sound quality, but whatever they've done here has worked a treat. Whether you’re playing Rocky or European house mash-ups, the tones are top drawer. There’s good bass and decent crispness, delivering music that envelops you and silences background buzz. While they deliver on sound, you might have a niggle when it comes to comfort. You can tilt the buds themselves for a more comfortable fit, if the loops are too big you’re stuck with a certain amount of movement. It’s not ideal, but if you’re one of the lucky ones they fit, then your ears are in for a treat.

Philips SHQ1200 Actionfit in-ear headphones

eBay likes: so light you won't know they're there
Watch out for: have a nasty habit of falling out of your ears. 

Like their Actionfit headband siblings, the SHQ5200s (below), the super light Philips Actionfit SHQ1200 are specifically tailored for fitness use. They’re sweat-proof and water resistant making them a good option for the gym. On paper at least.
They’re just 4gm which is about as light as you’ll find, sadly unlike the headband Actionfits, what you save in weight you lose in ear comfort. There’s little more irritating than poking your buds back in while you’re trying to focus on your goals.
That said when they’re in, they’re very comfy in the ears and sound great. They’re specially tuned for sports with powerful bass and they’re built to last with an adequate length of Kevlar-protected cable that you can easily tuck under a t-shirt.

Philips SHQ5200 Actionfit headband headphones

eBay likes: robust enough to survive being dumped into your gym bag with your sweaty shoes.
Leading the Philips Actionfit range, these headband-toting cans go a long way to proving that over-head headphones have a place in the gym. Weighing in at just 3.5oz, the SHQ5200s sport a non-slip silicone headband that’s flexible and robust. The size can be adjusted to fit little and large heads alike. At the same time, the Kevlar-reinforced cable not only splits into two, protecting against any sudden snags on gym equipment, but it also strengthens the cord against wear and tear. 

The ear pads are extremely comfortable too. Although the fabric absorbs a fair amount of sweat - it's possible to slip them off and throw them in the washing machine alongside your other gym gear. So it’s nice and easy to keep them smelling fresh.
Sound-wise, these cans house 40mm neodymium drivers, which deliver an impressive bass response, ensuring that you get rich sounds with enough weight to tune out the crashing of weights and the pounding of treadmill rubber.

Pioneer SE-E721 RRP £40
Pioneer SE-E721

eBay likes: adjustable buds mean you have control on the in-ear fit, and the amount of sound that fills your eardrum.

Pioneer’s “skull fit” is designed for extreme sports and lives up to its billing. These ear-hooked headphones clamp around your ears with no intention of letting go until you’re ready to take them off, yet somehow remain comfortable at the same time.
The  9mm speaker units produce a supremely bassy sound, making them ideal for up-tempo workout music. Because they’re designed with extreme sports enthusiasts in mind, you’re getting a rugged build – but don’t be fooled by their tough exterior, these are also suitable for a jog around the park. Adhesive and bassy and a bargain for adrenaline junkies.

For alternatives to these wearable headphones, there are many wearable watches to track fitness much like a Fit Bit and Jawbone.

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