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CNET: Best workout headphones in 2021: Apple, Bose, Pixel Buds and more compared

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Published in Science & Technology News

After trying out plenty of wireless sports headphones and earbuds over the years, we've found that some models are better suited for workouts than others. The best workout headphones or earbuds should be wireless — and ideally, true-wireless earbuds — so there's no cable to restrict your movement in any way.

More importantly, they should give you a secure and comfortable fit, whether they're over-ear headphones with a plush earcup or in-ear earbuds. Needless to say, losing an earbud during a run or bike ride is a serious bummer. Decent sound quality is also essential, as are durability, reliable performance (with minimal dropouts), battery life and noise cancellation (as well as hear-through or transparency modes). And lastly, they need to be sweat-resistant, if not fully waterproof, for obvious reasons.

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Good sound, secure fit

Bose Sport Earbuds

CNET TAKE: Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating: splash-proof)

 

Both Bose's QuietComfort Earbuds and Sport Earbuds make good workout headphones, thanks to their StayHear Max tips and secure fit, but the Sport Earbuds are more compact and lighter and also more affordable (the QuietComfort Earbuds do have excellent active noise-canceling, however).

They have the same IPX4 splash-resistant rating as the QuietComfort Earbuds, are equipped with Bluetooth 5.1 (our connection was rock-solid) and share a similar design aesthetic, with three color options available. Unlike their step-up sibling, they have no active noise-canceling and an hour less of battery life — five hours instead of six — and they don't have wireless charging. While they do stick out from your ears, they're noticeably smaller and lighter than the QuietComfort Earbuds and their case is about 30% to 40% smaller. The case still isn't as small as the cases for such competitors as the AirPods Pro, Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus, Galaxy Buds Live and Jabra Elite 75t, but it feels reasonably compact.

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Lightweight, noise-canceling

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