Headphones vs Earbuds for Working Out

Beth Huston Profile image

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Updated October 7, 2022

If you’re looking for the best headphones for your workout routine, you’ve likely considered the benefits of using headphones vs earbuds for working out. Both styles, from the best wireless earbuds to the most modest corded headphone, have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Let’s compare a few below.


  • Both earbuds and headphones make use of active noise cancelation.
  • Over-ear headphones generally provide better sound quality because of their larger drivers and components.
  • Finally, the availability of wireless options was looked into. Both headphones and earbuds offer readily available wireless models, so it was a draw.

Comparing Workout Earbuds and Headphones

While over-ear headphones are popular for at-home listening, can they beat out in-ear models for your next sweaty workout?

Insider Tip

Having physical buttons built into your headphones or earbuds gives you access to touch controls.

Active Noise Cancelation

If you work out in a noisy place, it’s a must to have an audio device that can block out the ambient noise. Active noise cancelation is a blooming technology that helps muddle external noise of all types. You can buy both headphones and earbuds with or without this technology, so neither is necessarily better than the other in this category. If you’re looking for a new pair, try comparing Powerbeats vs. Powerbeats Pro.

Overall Sound Quality

When comparing earbuds vs. headphones in any capacity, excellent sound is one of the most important topics. A pair of headphones, whether wired or wireless, will typically overpower a pair of earbuds at a similar price point. This is because of the larger drivers and other components in the headphones.


Make sure your wireless earbuds can provide plenty of battery life on a single charge.

Wireless Options

Nothing beats wireless models, especially if you’re looking for the best headphones for running or hitting the gym in general. This is because there’s less getting in your way while you’re working out. Although, you might want to compare running with headphones over earbuds, in case you’re unsure which is better. Yet, wireless earbuds are commonplace at this point, so they obviously pass the check on this category. However, wireless workout headphones are also pretty obtainable. Because of this, it’s a draw between the two styles. To understand more about this topic, try comparing wireless vs. true wireless.

STAT: Skullcandy, a U.S.-based consumer electronics company, is the market leader in the low-cost wireless headphone market, accounting for 13 percent of total unit shipments. (source)


What should I look for in over-ear headphones?

When choosing a pair of over-ear headphones, look for multiple hours of battery life for wireless headphones, noise cancelation and noise isolation to block out ambient sound, and great audio quality.

Are wireless headphones better for working out?

This depends on your personal preference. However, most people prefer not to contend with wires. Just make sure you can get several hours of battery life from a single charge for those long routines.

What are running headphones?

Running headphones can constitute multiple pairs of headphones. There are some pairs that are better than others, however. For example, you might want a pair with a water resistance rating if you run outside

Are premium headphones or earbuds worth the investment?

If you enjoy great quality, then yes. They come with tons of attributes that make them worth the purchase, like blocking ambient noise. AirPods Pro are a great example of this.
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