April 25, 2016

For the Confused Indian Buyer: Here Are the Best Earphones For Sports, Running & Gym


Music makes for theperfect companion during long workouts at the gym, sweaty runs at your favourite park, or extended fun cycling sessions. And it goes without saying that you need good headphones with good music.

For good sports in-ears, it's important that apart from sounding fantastic, they're comfortable, have a secure fit and isolate noise well. Being sweat resistant, washable and with minimal microphonics are also big pluses.

To help you decide, here are a few of the best in-ears for sports (both wired & wireless) in India. In no particular order, here we go!

1. Jaybird - X2

Industry Leader in Sports Bluetooth Earphones
Jaybird X2

  • Jaybird X2
  • Jaybird X2

The Jaybird X2 has been termed as "Perfection in Wireless Sound". A favourite of fitness enthusiasts around the world, these Bluetooth In-Ears lead the wireless sport category with best-in-class sound performance.

The X2 is very small, but comes with a massive purported 8 hours of play time. Although they generally last for about 7-7.5 hours or so. They're sweat proof, and are accompanied by a bunch of Comply tips & earfins to provide an optimum fit.

On the design front, it immediately registers as a Jaybird product. While they are geared to be ergonomic, the various small attentions to detail give it a unique touch. For instance, the hexagonal cuts in the earfins, the matte finish with the shining Jaybird logo in chrome, and the vast array of colour profiles, all lend it a look that’s unapologetically Jaybird.

The build is plastic but still quite solid. Jaybird is so proud of their quality that they even went as far as giving a lifetime warranty against sweat-related damage. The fit although comfortable, isn’t perfect, in the sense the earbuds may not make a tight seal and can be fiddly. To address this problem, Jaybird has shipped these with a bunch of eartips which include Comply's memory foam eartips which do the job fairly well.

While there are plenty of similarities between the Bluebuds X and the X2, there are some key differences too. First off, the Bluebuds are glossy, while the X2s are matte. Also, the X2 offers much more colour profiles than its predecessor.

The carrying case has been upgraded too, it's better than the previous one in protecting the earbuds. While signal dropouts were a slight concern with the Bluebuds, the X2s clearly have those issues resolved. Along with improving the battery life and the charge time.

The box is very similar to that of the Bluebuds X. Opening up the side flap will reveal the headphones and accessories. The overall presentation is neat. You’ll find a carrying case, a USB cable and a pouch holding the in-ear “fins” and three X-fit clips.

Coming to the sound, the X2s do complete justice to their claim of being one of the best sounding wireless earphones in the world.

The bass is surprisingly understated, but this quality gives it an overall tonal balance that is exceedingly impressive. Allowing the mids and the highs to truly come to life, and be smooth and crisp respectively.

This is an unusual choice, as most sports earbuds tend to crank up the bass in order to compensate for the loss of sound that occurs due to an improper seal in most sports earphones. Since the X2 provides very effective noise isolation, they can afford to do switch it up. The guitar riffs from rock and metal music do stand out, and that sort of sound in a wireless earphone is a rarity.

Just don’t expect the same pedigree of the RHA T10s, but for a wireless earphone, they are really good with a vast set music genres.

Karthekayan Iyer, Indian Express

""I don’t see a reason why you shouldn’t buy the Jaybird X2. Good things never come cheap – Jaybird X2 is just that one good thing. It sounds great. It’s well engineered, offers premium fit and extremely portable. We can’t ask for more."


Best In-Class Sound
8 Hour Battery
Fit Can Be Finicky


Our Verdict:
"The best sounding wireless earphones out there."


2. Beats by Dr. Dre - Powerbeats

Bass Heavy Earphones from the Apple Stable

  • Beats by Dr. Dre - Powerbeats
  • Beats by Dr. Dre - Powerbeats

With Apple taking over Beats, loyalists now have a fantastic option with the PowerBeats 2. These come with a bass heavy sound that is signature to all Beats headphones.

Does the PowerBeats have an iconic design that would attract eyeballs? Absolutely.

It’s not often that you come across a product that is known more for its design than its functionality. With the PowerBeats , build quality is impeccable, there are no flimsy bits, and it’s all tightly engineered for a solid overall feelThese earphones also have a no-slip grip RemoteTalk™ control that is compatible with iOS devices.

Fit it and forget it should be the mantra for any sports gear, but achieving a tight seal is an issue here. Although Beats claim it’s designed so on purpose to keep the ambient noise flowing in and the performance will not take a hit, irrespective of the fit. Despite Beats’ claims unfortunately, there is perceivable sound loss if a proper seal isn’t achieved, and if you try to force them to do that, the earphones could get uncomfortable.

Nevertheless they are lightweight and grip decently well

There’s one thing where Beats always strike the right chord, it's in the presentation. From the thick packaging to the striking colour combinations, the decorative presentation of the headset to even the design of the hard carry case, it looks premium. The headphones come with a few different sizes of silicone eartips. 

It’s all about the bass. But did you expect anything else from Beats?

Of course not, bass heavy sound and Beats go hand in hand, which is not a bad thing in this case. Since there are issues with getting a perfect seal, the added oomph somewhat compensates for the loss of sound.

It is foolish to expect the finesse of a Jaybird X2 like audio quality from the Beats. But while the former takes a different approach by focusing on the treble to extract detail, the Beats has an overall sound signature that takes a fun ‘V’ shape sound, that's big on bass with recessed mids to give the lows the centre stage of every music.

EDM, Hip-Hop and Disco Pop sound very good but might not be ideal for more subtle genres of music such as country, soft rock or Jazz.

Those who are loyal to the Beats brand will still find a lot to like here. The audio might not be great, but it will get the job done for the most part.

Jasmine France, CNET

"The Powerbeats by Dr. Dre Sports Headphones are a reasonable option for style-conscious runners with money to burn, but most fitness-minded listeners would be better served by other options on the market."


iOS Specific Remote
Very Lightweight
The heavy bass impedes the clarity
Design might not be comfortable for anyone


Our Verdict:
"If you're looking for a pair of in-ears that are big on bass and style, these are the ones to go for."



3. MEE Audio - M7P

Earphones for an Active Lifestyle

  • MEElectronics - M7P
  • MEElectronics - M7P

The MEE Audio (formerly MEElectronics) M7P is an upgrade to its M6P Sport Fi earphones which has specifically designed for a sports lover who wants to pump up their workouts with some bassy, energetic music.

The M7P's USP is their design more than the sound quality, which is of course nothing to scoff at. The most impressive feature of these in-ears is that they come with detachable cables, so you can easily replace various components in case they conk out.

The most important things for sports earphones is of course, the fit and sweat resistance. MEE Audio has definitely worked on both.

To start with, the first thing they've done is doing away with the stiff wire that wraps around the ears. Instead, they use memory wires are much softer and more flexible. The wires stay in place, and there's no need to adjust it to the right shape/position. The second major feature is the pivoting nozzles. These are a huge boon. Because the earphones are now able to move around just enough to prevent pulling out and heating during long wearing sessions, and rigorous activity. 

The M7P also employs 'Liquipel Watersafe™ nano-coating technology' to ensure that they remain sweat resistant. This definitely lives up to expectations. Plus, the durable cables emit minimal cable noise.

These earphones also come with a built-in microphone, remote, and universal volume control which is another tick in the design and utility column.

When it comes to noise isolation, they've done a pretty good job. These earphones have been designed to go deep enough into the ear canals so as to block out noise effectively. The four additional eartips do help out well. Additional accessories in the box include a matching carry case and a shirt clip attached to the cables.

Coming to the sound, audiophiles should probably get a handle on their expectations. For a sports earphone, they do really well. The bass is slightly boosted but not to the point of being overwhelming or negatively impacting the music. The mids are a bit recessed in comparison to the bass, but are clear, smooth, and still enjoyable. The highs have been enhanced a tad too but while being detailed aren't sibilant. Overall an enjoyable and clear sounding earphone with a slight V sound signature that still sounds somewhat balanced. 

Sound wise, they're slightly weaker than the others in this list; but for the purpose of working out, you'd probably not get anything better in this price range.

Johny Eros, JohnyTechReview

"Great crystal clean sound. The bass is strong and hits hard on EDM, Rap and Hip Hop without being muddy at all. Overall not much to complain: a very nice pair of headphones with great sound at an affordable pricing point."


Detachable Cables
Sweat Resistant
Over ear fit might not be for everyone


Our Verdict:
If you're looking for a budget earphone that would be perfect for your workouts, look no further


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4. Jabra - Sport Pace

Affordable Workout Companions
Jabra - Sport Pace

  • Jabra - Sport Pace
  • Jabra - Sport Pace

The Jabra Sport Pace is the latest budget offering from the Scandinavian Sports Wireless specialists. The earphones provide claim to be sand, dust, sweat and rain resistant and come with a reflective coating for added visibility at night.

You’ll spot the headphones as soon as you open the box, similar to MEE Audio's presentation. An inner box sits beside the cardboard holding the headphones with two additional pairs of ear gels and a micro USB charging cable.

The design can be best described as ‘No Nonsense’. And rightfully so, this isn’t a high end product and it does not try to imitate or be like one. But what it offers beneath its fairly busy-less design is a sturdy build.

Jabra has been in the wireless earphone business for some time, they have earned a reputation for the impeccable build in all their products. Although venturing into an affordable earbud, they still choose not to compromise on the build, which only ups their reputation.

These earbuds aren’t small, they do have some heft, which might be a turn-off for some, but it does make it rather secure. All points are towards a long lasting ,well built product, and that’s commendable especially considering the price.

The use of BT 4.1 makes sure that tracks aren’t skipped. Also the battery charges fairly quick. But the battery lasts for barely over 5 hours, which can make constant charging a hassle.

Given the way they fit, the lows are delivered powerfully. There is a somewhat slow quality to the bass response, but these still do a fine job with metal and other similarly aggressive music. The Jabra Sport Pace could use a bit more treble and some high mids.

They follow the same suit as that of the Beats. Rock and hip-hop are reproduced well, but still probably aren’t the best choice someone looking to find a balanced sound.

Simply put, the Jabra Sport Pace is for fans of big bass, still these Jabra earbuds will deliver, if a comfortable Bluetooth earphone is primarily what you're after. And for the price, they're probably the best wireless earphones out there.

Derrick Miyao, Android Guys

"If you enjoy the fitness lifestyle and enjoy listening to music, the Jabra Sport Pace Wireless earbuds are for you. They offer incredible sound quality, simplicity by removing your cord, added visibility if you are an outdoors buff and a wireless method for talking on the phone. They offer an incredible value and I highly recommend them to you."


Powerful sound
Resistance to external elements
Bass might be too much for some
Limited accessories


Our Verdict:
"Like the MEElectronics Wave, this model is perfect for users on a budget looking for a bass happy sound."



Slide-To-Fit Germ Resistant In-Ears
Sennheiser - CX 686G

  • Sennheiser - CX 686G
  • Sennheiser - CX 686G

A part of Sennheiser's new sports range, the Sennheiser's CX 686G has been designed for to provide fun, dynamic sound for the most rigorous of workouts.

Unlike most sports earphones, the CX 686G does not have an over ear design, instead they are proper in-ears which have in earhooks for a firmer grip. This helps in making them much more comfortable than its clip-type peers, especially if you have large ears. Perhaps not as secure, but the compromise is fairly healthy.

Plus, the earhooks have a unique feature so that you can move the slide-to-fit ear wings up and down to apply pressure to the outer part of your ear. So you can adjust the fit while you're wearing them whenever you like for additional security. 

The CX 686Gs are IPX4 rated, which means they’re not going to hold up to a swim in the ocean, but they’re tough enough to deal with some sweat at the gym. The additional eartips are also germ resistant.

Another addition is the inline remote, which sits at the intersection of the cords and holds a volume slider and a multifunction button to pause songs and answer calls. The 686G is compatible with Android devices.

Moving to the sound, the bass is powerful and sounds natural. While these will provide enough bass for a lot of people, if you’re the kind of person who really likes bass, these probably aren’t going to work for you. 

The mids, on the other hand, are dynamic with plenty of bite on guitars and nicely maintained vocals. The highs are slightly rolled off at the top, so they aren't as bright as they should be. Harshness is eliminated, but at the cost of sparkle. 

Stereo imaging is pretty decent, but won't blow your mind. The same can be said for the earphones' noise isolation.


"While you’ll find flashier looks and cooler features in more expensive sport in-ears, if you’re looking for an inexpensive pair of sport headphones that will hold up to long days at the gym, the CX 686Gs are certainly worth keeping in mind."


Comfortable In-Ear design
Pleasant, dynamic sound
Bass may not be powerful for some


Our Verdict:
"If you're a pair of in-ears that are affordable and tick all the boxes of a good gym earphone, go for these"


These were the best 5 headphones in the sports category. Although there are others that come within the same budget, these are the ones we definitely recommend. 

What are your favourite earphones in this range? Do let us know in the comments below!

If you'd like to learn more, #AskHeadphoneZone


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