When it comes to working out, most people prefer earbuds, but there are many who enjoy the experience of over-ear headphones for working out even more!
If earbuds are your “flavor,” you’re guaranteed to find the perfect pair for you on our list of the best workout earbuds. For those of you who prefer the benefits of over-ear headphones for working out, look no further than this list.
Best Over-Ear Workout Headphones
Over-Ear Headphone Workout Benefits
For hard-to-extreme workouts, it’s almost impossible to find over-ear headphones that stay securely on your head. That’s when a good set of workout earbuds are almost always essential, but they come with their own drawbacks.
For medium to light workouts, you have more flexibility in your choice of headphones, so you can take advantage of some of these awesome benefits of an over-ear style of headphone:
One of the major benefits of wearing headphones for your workouts is to help you get pumped up and stay at that level. That’s why the quality and range of the audio is a major factor.
With earbuds, the size of the drivers (speakers) ranges from around 6mm to 10mm. The average over-ear headphone drivers are around 40mm. That’s a big difference.
Even though you can get some great overall audio quality from earbuds, nothing beats the audio experience of over-ear headphones. Especially when it comes to the bass and other lower-frequency sounds that larger drivers can produce.
While audio quality is a huge contributor to the immersiveness of your listening experience, noise cancellation (and isolation) is the other major aspect. Just like with audio output, high-quality earbuds can do a great job at blocking out unwanted background noise, but not many can compare with an over-ear design.
Obviously, the main reason is that they cover your whole ear, so fewer exterior sound waves can hit those areas. So even though earbuds and over-ear headphones can have the same active noise cancellation technology, the passive noise isolation of the over-ear design will almost always make that headphone style superior.
We’ve reviewed and recommended some wireless workout earbuds that offer great comfort and stability, but at the end of the day, you’re still shoving something into your ear. This can be irritating during long workouts and repeatedly inserting/adjusting.
Even an ON-EAR headphone design has its comfort limits, because of the prolonged pressure pushing down on your ear lobe, helix, and other outer ear areas. Especially with the snugger fit you want for workout headphones.
The over-ear headphone design is second to none in the area of comfort because all of the pressure is applied around the ear and on the crown of your head.
Besides some over-ear headphones not having a snug enough fit to stay put during harder workouts, there’s one main drawback that plagues almost all over-ear headphones. The sad truth is that they’re extremely difficult to design for water and dust resistance. That’s why you won’t see many with an IP rating higher than IPX4, if they even provide one at all.
Most of the “best workout headphones” lists you see floating around the internet don’t really address this weakness. With that said, it’s obviously one of the most important things to consider if you’re dropping a few hundred bucks.
If you sweat a lot like I do, you’re probably better off going with a good set of workout earbuds. If you want to roll the dice and go with comfort and sound quality over durability and fit security, at least one of favorites on this list will be your perfect workout partner. There are even a few that can withstand excess sweat, and that starts with our best overall set of over-ear headphones for working out…
With an IPX5 water resistance rating, lightweight 240g design, adjustable clamp strength, and decent transparency mode, it’s amazing that these are priced at under $100. Especially since they offer premium audio quality and an above-average 25-hour battery life.
They may not have an official IP dust and water resistance rating, but the rain-resistant designation that Jabra has given them should do the trick in many cases. Besides great audio quality, noise cancellation, and battery life, they made the top of the list because of their overall comfort.
They may be one of the heavier sets of over-ear headphones on the list, but their over-oversized headband cushion and ear cushions provide a better wearing experience than most. Plus, they have an above-average clamp strength to help them stay in place during most medium to light workouts.
Harman Kardon, JBL, Under Armour, and The Rock did a great job at coming together and creating an awesome pair of over-ear headphones for working out. The IPX4 water resistance rating and detachable/washable ear cushions helped push these headphones to the top of the list.
Plus, it’s a pretty easy choice when you throw JBL’s signature audio quality into the mix. They’re literally the JBL 660NC’s on steroids.
Their mix of a bass-heavy sound signature, great active noise cancelling, and extra-tight clamp strength keep them on your head and you in the zone. Their lack of an IP water resistance rating risks them turning into no more than an expensive headband if you tend to sweat a lot.
They could easily be the #1 choice for over-ear workout headphones if they had at least an IPX4 rating. With that said, if you love listening to hip hop, pop, or electronic music during your medium to lighter workouts, there aren’t many that look, feel, or sound better than these puppies!
Even though the Adidas RPT-02 SOL are on-ear instead of over-ear headphones, they made this list because they are unique and groundbreaking. Besides being made specifically for workouts with an above-average clamp strength, washable ear cushions, and IPX4 water resistance, they have a few things we’ve never seen before.
First of all, 87% of the plastic and nylon used to construct these headphones is post-consumer-recycled, so they’re eco-friendly. Plus, they’re even more eco-friendly by using their patented Powerfoyle™ infused headband to self-charge with natural AND artificial light sources. Even without light, their battery life is a best-in-class 80 hours!
Did I mention they sound awesome?!
When it comes to over-ear headphones for working out you’re always rolling the “durability dice,” especially if you sweat a lot. The Treblab Z2’s have a tough IPX4 water and sweat resistance, pretty good sound quality, and awesome battery life.
With a price under $100, there are not many better choices to power your workout in the same price range.
The Skullcandy Crusher Evo headphones are great for workouts for one main reason. Skullcandy’s exclusive Crusher feature provides an extra boost of physical bass.
Using built-in vibration motors, the headphones literally shake in response to lower frequencies to provide a more immersive bass experience. Along with their good audio quality, it’s an impressive listening experience.
It’s cool when watching movies or gaming, but that extra bass feel is even more effective at keeping you pumped up during your workouts. Even though they’re on the heavy side, they fit pretty snugly, so the above-average stability helps them stay put during light to medium workouts.
Weighing in at 214g, the Philips A4216 Sports are the lightest headphones on our list. Along with the strong clamp strength, they stay on your head even through some harder workouts.
They have removable/washable ear cushions that are self-cooling and an IP55 water resistance rating, so they’re great for workouts no matter how much you sweat.
Their 35-hour battery life and audio quality are above-average. Plus, they start at just under $70. The only reason they didn’t make it higher on our list is that they have an on-ear design, so for some people, they won’t be as comfortable for extended usage.
All said and done, their designed, built, and priced to be exclusively used for your workouts.
F.A.Q. and More...
Are over the ear headphones better for working out?
Compared to workout earbuds, it’s not even close. Earbuds have far better stability, fit, and durability. Plus, you can get pretty comparable sound quality from a good set of workout earbuds.
Compared to ON-EAR headphones, it comes down to personal preference. While the sound quality, durability, and price are very similar across the board, fit and stability are where you see the biggest difference.
Over-ear headphones typically offer better stability since they have a wider surface area clamping onto the sides of your head. The over-ear design is also much more comfortable for most people because all of the clamping pressure is applied to your head instead of directly on your ear.
Does sweat ruin over-ear headphones?
Since over-ear headphones aren’t as popular for working out as sport earbuds, there aren’t that many choices that offer great sweat or water resistance. We’ve covered the best of the best on our list of the best over-ear headphones for working out, but for medium to light workouts, you can typically get away with regular headphones.
However, if you sweat a lot or work out in wet or dusty conditions, you may want to play it safe and go with a great set of workout earbuds.
Which one is better Skullcandy or JBL?
Comparing their flagship headphones, JBL wins easily when it comes to overall audio quality, which is obviously one of the most important factors in headphones selection. Also, JBL’s Headphone app is far superior to Skullcandy’s headphone app.
However, Skullcandy’s Sensor Bass feature is pretty cool and offers a pretty cool listening experience, especially when used for gaming and watching movies. The feature uses built-in haptic drivers to physically shake the headphones in response to lower frequencies and bass hits.
Why do people wear over-ear headphones to the gym?
There are 3 main reasons why some people prefer over-ear headphones for working out over earbuds.
- Sound Quality – Bigger drivers equal bigger bass, and a better overall listening experience.
- Immersiveness – The over-ear design offers great noise isolation to block unwanted background noise, and makes headphones with an active noise cancellation feature even more effective.
- Comfort – Instead of shoving earbuds into ears, the over-ear headphone design provides a pillow-like feel around your ears and on the crown of your head.
Do Over-ear headphones fall off when running?
For jogging, walking, and other light workouts, over-ear headphones typically stay in place. We still recommend using headphones with above-average clamp force to provide adequate stability and comfort for longer workouts.
Is on-ear or over-ear better for gym?
While on-ear and over-ear headphones offer very similar listening experiences, there is one glaring difference. Comfort.
The best on-ear or over-ear headphones for working out MUST have good clamp force, so they stay in place and aren’t a distraction. However, this extra clamp force, like you get with on-ear headphones like the Beats Solo Pro, can be painful and annoying, even during short workouts.
Nothing beats the comfort and stability of the over-ear headphone design, which is why there are only a few on-ear headphones on our list of the best headphones for working out.
Do all over the ear headphones leak sound?
At higher volume levels, you won’t find any over-ear headphones that don’t leak at least a little sound. Unless you’re in a library, recording studio, or other extremely quiet environment, you shouldn’t run into too many problems.
The leakage is mostly due to the large drivers found in on-ear and over-ear headphone designs. If sound leakage is a concern and you don’t require the use of over-ear headphones, you’re better off going with a good set of earbuds instead.
How We Choose The Best
These are some of the main features and design aspects we consider when picking the best over-ear headphones for working out:
This is an obvious design feature we look at when it comes to the best over-ear headphones for working out. It doesn’t matter how good they sound, if they fall victim to sweat, rain, or spilled Gatorade, they’re useless.
IP ratings can be confusing to people so here’s an easy way to look at it. The “IP” stands for Ingress Protection, and is an international standard used to rate electrical enclosures against water, dust, objects, and accidental contact.
The “IP” is usually followed by 2 numbers. The first is the dust resistance rating and the second is the water resistance rating. Sometimes there is an “X,” which means ithasn’t been tested against that metric.
For instance, the Beats Fit Pro have a rating of IPX4. That means that they haven’t been officially test against dust (X), and they have a water resistance rating of 4 (good to protect against sweat and light splashes). To make it easy, just pay attention to the last number. The higher, the better (9 is the best).
We consider battery life an important factor because the last thing you want is for your headphones to power off halfway through a workout or be dead on arrival. Most of our top choices will allow you to get a full week of workouts in between charges.
No matter what, all of our top picks have great noise isolation (Passive Noise Cancellation), but many feature some of the best active noise cancelling available.
Active noise cancellation is a luxury that helps drowned out background noise and keep you in the zone. Even though it’s not a necessity, anything that makes your gym experience more enjoyable is a plus.
Transparency or Ambient Mode is a little more important. If you’re in the gym or fitness studio, it’s a nice convenience for quick conversations or being able to hear instruction. If you like running, walking, or biking outdoors, it can be the difference between life and death.
Not only can it help you hear oncoming traffic, but it’ll keep you aware of other dangers, including animals and people.
Fit and Comfort
Fit and comfort always matter with anything we wear on or in our ears, but it’s even more important when picking on ear or over-ear headphones for working out.
Having above-average clamp strength is a neccessity because you don’t want them falling off or moving around during your workouts. Plus, after all of the worrying about sweat resistance, you don’t want them breaking simply because they fell off and got stepped on, ran over, or worse.