I’ve never met a pair of earbuds that actually stays put in my ears through a full workout. The problem is that most are too large to fit properly in the first place, so they pop out the second I so much as breathe. Because listening to either a podcast or music during a workout is totally nonnegotiable for me, I often end up spending half my workout messing around with my earbuds to get them to actually stay put. It’s distracting and frustrating, and oftentimes, I’ll just pull them out and forgo entertainment altogether to avoid the problem.
When I’m running, I’m more willing to battle with my earbuds than when I’m lifting, because I’m not really doing anything with my hands anyway. But if I’m lifting weights in a gym, I really don’t want to worry about adjusting anything while I have weights in my hands. Plus, I’d rather wear a pair of on-ear headphones that will drown out the other noises in a busy gym (mine is never not packed). Something that I can slip over my head that will actually stay in place makes for a much more enjoyable experience.
So when Under Armour gave me a pair of the new Sport Wireless Train by JBL headphones ($200, jbl.com), I decided to take them for a spin (well, multiple). I tested them over the course of a week, using them both in the gym and on a run, to check out the features and see if they’d be a good go-to for me. Here are all the details.
The headphones are wireless, easy to use, and comfortable. Plus, they really stay in place once you put them on.
When you turn the headphones on, they make a car ignition noise. Completely unnecessary, but a nice touch. The volume and track controls are located on the right ear cup, so you can just reach up and press the button you need. The headphones were easy to pair with my iPhone via Bluetooth, are completely wireless (it does come with an audio cable in case you need it), and according to Under Armour, hold a charge for up to 16 hours. I did not work out for 16 hours in one week, so I don’t know yet if this is true, though there’s still power after two weightlifting sessions, three morning commutes, and one run. There’s also a speed charge function that gives you an hours-worth of juice with just five minutes on the charger. The charging cable is short and simple and plugs into a USB.
These headphones are really comfortable—there’s a cushion with slightly grippy material lining the headband. They’re adjustable, so I was able to fit them pretty perfectly around my head and ears. And since they are sturdy and fit snugly, these headphones definitely stay in place. Through deadlifts and planks, bent-over rows and crunches, they really didn’t move much. It honestly was such a relief to not have to fiddle with them every couple minutes like I inevitably do with any and all earbuds.
I also like that the ear cushions are smaller than other over-ear headphones I’ve tried. I always feel like headphones end up covering the entire side of my face (again, small ears over here), but these were more petite, which I appreciated. Speaking of the cushions—they’re densely padded and don’t pinch or rub or otherwise lay weird.
The best part about the ear cushions? You can wash them.
Unfortunately, they’re not machine-washable (that would be the dream), just hand-washable…but still. I love that after a sweaty workout, I can pop these ear cushions off and suds them up so that they’re fresh and clean for next time. The material is supposedly quick-drying, too, but I haven’t tried it yet myself so I can’t confirm. As someone who sweats a lot, no matter what workout I’m doing, this is much appreciated. It just kind of skeeves me out to think about wearing headphones over and over again without being able to remove all the grossness from the padded area. Also, the headphones themselves are sweat resistant, which is something I definitely need if I’m going to hold onto these for the long haul.
But the coolest feature is, in my opinion, the function that allows you to hear someone who’s talking to you IRL without having to take off your headphones.
OK so, let me explain. The Under Armour logo on the right ear cup is actually a big button. When you press it, the volume of whatever you’re listening to lowers and external microphones turn on so you can have a conversation with someone without having to take off your headphones. This, to me, is one of those awesome tech features that makes a new product actually cool and different. Of course you could pause the music and slip the headphones off one of your ears so you can chat with a friend, but for someone who doesn’t have their phone sitting right next to them on the weight bench or wants the interruption to be as minimal as possible, this is really cool.
You can definitely run in them, but it’s not ideal for a few reasons.
I decided to try running in these, and while they definitely stayed in place, there were some things I didn’t love.
The immediate downside was that the headphones created a sort of wind tunnel. It wasn’t a super windy day, but for some reason, the wind seemed to be catching in the headphones and creating this whooshing noise kind of like when you’re on the phone with someone who you can hear is clearly in a very windy place. My best guess is that it’s because of the external microphones. I could still hear my podcast, but I did turn the volume up a notch or two (probably not the best idea safety-wise) throughout my run to compensate.
And then after a couple miles, the pads started to feel a little stifling. I sweat the most when I run and it’s been stifling hot here in New York, and the ear cushions kind of just trapped the heat and sweat to the point that it was a little uncomfortable. Again, I could still listen to my music and I kept running, but I was glad when I got home and could take them off to get some airflow.
My verdict on running with these headphones: If they were the only pair of headphones I had charged, I would grab them and go. But I wouldn’t choose them over a more minimal earbud (even ones that I do need to fiddle with at regular intervals), especially in the heat.
My verdict overall: These are great workout headphones with some cool new features that make them stand out from other choices. Just save them for lifting sessions and daily use.
The great fit, comfort, cool technology, washable cushions, easy-access control buttons, and lack of any cord whatsoever make this a really solid pair of headphones to lift weights in. I’ve also been wearing them at my desk, because they fit so well and the sound quality is great, both for podcasts as well as music. Bonus points for the fact that they fold up and fit into a structured, ventilated carrying case.
Also, for what it’s worth, I hear that The Rock is coming out with his own version as part of his collab with Under Armour, so they’ve got his seal of approval too—which might mean more to you than mine and I wouldn’t blame you.
Buy them: Under Armour Sport Wireless Train by JBL ($200, jbl.com)