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It may seem like wired devices are fading fast as we move into the future, but there’s still merit and practicality in sticking with a good, old-school wired device, especially when it comes to earbuds for exercising.
So why go wired? Weight can be a heavy factor. Bluetooth and wireless buds mean that the battery and other electronics are in the buds themselves, which may only be minimal, but for long-term listening and small, sensitive ears, can definitely be noticeable (and painful). The battery being inside the buds will also eventually die over time, and some can’t be removed – forcing you to buy a whole new pair. Wired buds avoid all this completely, and a good set can last years or even decades when cared for properly.
A wireless connection can be spotty too. Some Bluetooth buds need to re-connect every time you use them, which creates an annoying lag when all you want is to get your music going. Not a problem with wired. Everything is instantly in your ears, with a reliable connection since you’re plugged in directly to the source.
And once your music is playing, sound quality is important. Bluetooth buds don’t sound bad, but for bringing out the full feel of the song, wireless transmission still can’t match wired in this respect. The technology just isn’t there yet. Until then, wired reigns supreme for any audiophile looking to discover the details in every song, hearing it the way the artist meant for it to be heard.
Finally, there’s a significantly less chance of losing them. Sure, wired buds can snag on a door handle and be ripped out of your ears, which is irritating, but they’re easy to put back in. When a wireless bud falls out during a jog through the park, it may disappear forever in a pile of leaves or down a sewer grate, and is much more expensive to replace.
What Are the Best Wired Earbuds?
The best wired earbuds will deliver reliable connectivity, consistent sound and comfortable all-day wear. Here’s what else to look for.
Drivers: Drivers are the tiny speakers inside the buds that pump out the sound into your ears. As a general rule, the more drivers a set of buds has, the richer quality of sound you’re likely to get. Buds with just one means that the lone driver has to cover the full range of sound, from the low bass to the high trebles. But more drivers means that each one can be tuned to different frequencies, which divides up the dynamic sound spectrum, giving you the full range..
Fit: A secure fit is important here, as buds that keep popping out while you run can be distracting, frustrating, and pretty useless. Most modern buds will come with a few different sizes of rubber tips to comfortably fit in your ear. Some even offer additional inner-ear support, or an extra piece of plastic that goes over the outside and behind your ear. While these greatly decrease the chances of your buds falling out, they can also become uncomfortable too. Some buds will have various other materials like gel tips, foam, and wax guards inside to lower ambient noise outside.
Weather-proofing: There’s a handy IPX rating scale for how water-resistant a product is: an IPX4-rated pair of buds can handle light rain, sweat, and splashes, while an IPX8 unit can be fully submerged and come out intact. For regular jogs and workouts, a lower IPX-rated bud should be fine.
Cable Length and Quality: While most people focus all their attention on the quality of the sound and finding a snug fit, consider the cable too. A tall person and a short cable don’t mix, and you’ll find from the first step that it’s limiting you from running freely, tugging on your ears with every step. Cheaper cables also tend to get tangled up easier than others while sitting in your bag or pocket, and take longer to untangle properly before every use. (A cable clip for your shirt can help too).
We’ve selected four popular picks to get you started on finding the best wired earbuds for your run, hike or whatever workout you choose.
1. Bose In-Ear Headphones
These buds are sweat and weather-resistant, so don’t be afraid to run in the rain. They’re a bit bigger than other options, but so secure and comfortable that they quickly fade into the background once your workout starts. The wingtips give them a secure grip on your inner ear, and won’t pop out during a jog or on the elliptical. Not to mention the sound quality is immersive and overall awesome.
While these aren’t technically noise-cancelling, the design is “sound-isolating,” meaning that it naturally does a pretty good job of blocking out background noise. These also come in a bunch of different colors too.
2. JBL Endurance RUN Wired Sport In-Ear Headphones
With an IPX5 rating, these are fully rain (and sweat) proof. The well-designed seal not only keeps water and moisture from getting in, it also creates an environment of balanced bass, mids, and highs, with a colorful clarity and a rich depth that brings out the details in your favorite tunes. Maybe most importantly, they’re extremely comfortable when wearing for long stretches, and secure enough to keep slipping out to a minimum.
The cable is nice and thick, with less chance of snapping out of your phone if it gets snagged on something. The buds are also magnetic, which helps keeps them from becoming a tangled, mangled mess in your purse or pocket, and the jack has a unique curve design to reduce stress on the wire too.
3. Sony Extra Bass Earbud
Sony’s buds feature a circular design and a brushed-steel finish that makes them look classy and solid.
But looks aren’t everything, and luckily these sound great too. There’s a nice frequency response and dynamic range here to bring out the subtleties of the sound spectrum, and make old songs sound new again. As the name suggests, these are heavy on the bass, which some users may be into more than others. These definitely have some weight to them too, and your ears may feel it after a while.
The cable itself is strong and rigid, and the set comes with three different buds for various ear sizes, and a handy little storage pouch too.
4. Samsung Active InEar Headphones
It’s pretty difficult to dislodge these Samsung buds.
The sturdy wings help to get a good grip on your ear, so you can move about freely without worrying.
The buds come with four interchangeable, super-soft thick gel tips to fit all sizes of ears, and the powerful 12mm drivers act as tiny, in-ear amplifiers. But beyond finding the right fit, these buds also filter out unwanted background noise, and improve the overall audio quality of whatever you choose to listen to.
The flat, tangle-free cable includes a built-in, three-button remote with a volume control too, so you can easily switch from playlist to conference call and back.