Time flies when you’re having fun.
Now when most people think of running, fun is not the adjective that comes to mind.
What if you could take your favorite audio books, podcasts, or radio stations with you on your run?
Leaving behind the annoyance and limitations typical headphones bring, over-the-ear wireless headphones offer comfort and accessibility that will make that jog go from a chore to so much more.
Below are our top 5 picks...
Top 5 Picks
Why choose over-the-ear headphones?
Headphones are one of the most diverse products on the market which can feel like both a blessing and a burden.
Learning the vocabulary of headphones and understanding your needs and what you wish to get out of your headphones are key in navigating the marketplace.
First and foremost, what does over-the-ear mean?
These are the headphones that completely cover-the-ear with soft padding and do not insert into the ear in any way.
There are some in the ear headphones that wrap around the top of the ear but that is not what is meant by over-the-ear since it technically is still inserted into the ear.
A major benefit of over-the-ear is production of more spacious and natural sound quality.
This is due to the larger surface areas of the ear cups which allows for the headphone to be further from the ear which in turn forces the sound to reflect off the folds of the outer ear.
This is very close to the natural way sound interacts with our ears in the world.
In or on ear headphones force the sound directly into the ear canal (1).
Due to the positioning of the headphones fit is often a big concern.
Head shape, quality of the sealing power of the pads, and glasses can all factor into whether a certain brand or pair are right for you versus the next person.
When considering over-the-ear headphones for running, comfort is a huge issue.
Over-the-ear headphones, again due to their position, offer longer periods of comfort over time compared to the in the ear option.
The in the ear design, due to the pressure against the ear, can make your ears hotter and sweatier when compared to over-the-ear models.
While over-the-ear headphones are larger, making them less portable than their in the ear cousins, their size offers audial benefits that to many outweigh their size inconvenience.
Qualities to consider for personal use
With so many options out there (wireless, bluetooth, dual mode), how can consumers actively choose which pair is right for their running needs?
First let us dive into terminology consumers are most likely to come across and how to determine if they factor into what someone is looking for.
Because these are wireless headphones, their power will come from either batteries or from charging them similar to your phone or computer.
This feature means the headphones will have two optional means of use; wireless or wired.
The optional wire will come with the device if dual mode is an option.
With smart cars and an ever increasing presence of gym technology in our homes, many users will be familiar with the capabilities of a “bluetooth” device.
Simply put, bluetooth devices can be connected to any bluetooth capable device.
These include televisions, phones, fitness trackers and cars.
If you find yourself wanting to purchase a device not bluetooth capable, there are transmitters that can help with connection which will be sold separately.
A common phrase you will find in your search for headphones is the term “noise cancelling”.
First, what is it?
Noise cancelling is a distinct feature of some headphones.
Noise cancelling is the use of active noise control to lower ambient noises during listening.
This feature can be the stand alone reason for the headphones or can be an accompaniment.
Headphones that are not noise cancelling use a method of passive noise control which can include soundproofing.
A noise cancelling set will use a soundwave with the same amplitude of the original sound to counter it; actively working to result in silence for the user.
For the audio lover, the names “Bose”, “Beats by Dre”, and “Skullcandy” will be familiar names.
The household names you will find for headphones all have their specific strengths that they can offer; be it noise cancelling, audio customization, or affordability.
While you may find the adage “you get what you pay for” to be fitting, it will be important that you know the distinctions between the highlights of the major brands you come across.
The less savvy buyer may assume pricier equates with higher quality but it is important to know where that quality is going towards and if it is the right fit for you.
Now let's dive into the reviews..
The Sennheiser is the headset for the tech-savvy user.
Coming equipped with Bluetooth 4.2 wireless technology, triple microphone array, NoiseGard, and both active and passive noise cancellation, this headphone set gives its user the ability to be in direct control.
Through voice prompts, touch controls, NFC pairing, smart pause, and automatic on/off features, a user may feel in complete control or may feel lost depending on their comfort level with smart tech.
With NoiseGard, the triple microphone array, and the active (490 Ohm) and passive (46 Ohm) noise cancellation, the clarity of communication and listening experience will be a highly integrated experience for the user.
Eliminating weight and bulkiness through the lightweight and collapsible design makes this set a great option for travel and on-the-go use.
This headset’s only drawback is the pairing issue when it comes to Windows devices.
Pairing perfectly with Apple devices, a user with a Windows machine would need to look into getting a Bluetooth transmitter separately.
With a built-in 420 mAh battery, this set provides up to 13 hours of audio time or 15 hours of talk time on a single charge.
One charge for the Mpow 059, on average, takes 4 hours.
The Bluetooth feature of this phone allows for connection with your devices up to 33 feet away.
A built-in microphone gives the user the ease of a hands-free phone call.
Using memory-protein ear cushions, making them feel similar to the texture of human skin, this set offers on-going comfort throughout their use.
The stainless steel slider gives the user the ability to find that perfect fit during use.
Another design benefit of this particular pair is the foldability, allowing comfort and adding additional space to your desk, your bag, or as you wear them.
This product is made to highlight sound quality over noise cancellation.
By using passive noise isolation, outside noise will not be completely canceled out.
The closed-back design, however, provides a hi-fi sound experience with a CSR chip and a 40mm driver working together.
With up to 22 hours of active use on a rechargeable battery, this headset only requires 10 minutes of charging to give you 4 hours of play time.
Along with quick charging, this headset’s comfort level comes from its ability to pivot while being lightweight and having memory foam ear cushions.
This allows them to lay flat; be it around your neck, in your bag, or during charging.
40 mm audio drivers with an integrated analog amplifier delivers a quality and dynamic sound experience.
A stand out feature for this pair is the voice notifications assistance allowing you to take calls, change tracks, and adjust the volume.
With built-in controls and a microphone, you are in charge while remaining hands-free.
As a headset that is not Bluetooth, users who wish to use this product by pairing it with other devices may find this to be a more difficult task.
The Avantree 40 hour wireless headphone does just that, offering up to 40 hours of audio play when used wirelessly.
A noted benefit of this item is the option of using the included 3.5 mm cable to switch to wired connection mode which does not drain the battery.
However, in wired mode there is no microphone option.
A few of the added bonuses of this selection is the ability to connect to two phones simultaneously; never missing a call.
With soft earpads and an adjustable headband, this is a great choice for longer periods of listening.
Offering a two year warranty allows for comfort in service and longevity.
Dependant upon the user, the ear cushions may not be the over-the-ear experience they were looking for.
The dimensions of the ear piece are 3 5/8" by 3 3/8" outside, with an inside dimension of 2 1/2" by 1 3/4".
This is a feature which may be overlooked by a user but can dramatically change the experience if not a good, literal fit.
The “noise canceling” Bluetooth headphones providing up to 6 hours of audio time and 10 hours of talking time on a single charge.
They come with support for TF card mode, not included, that offers 32 GB of loaded mp3 audio.
While not actively noise canceling, these headphones offering 44 mm drivers provide for exceptional sound quality with passive noise isolating for exceptional sound quality.
With memory-protein earmuffs, this set offers lasting comfort with extended use.
A flexible and sliding headband allows you to find and keep your ideal fit.
One of the biggest advantages this set offers is its folding design making it convenient for travel.
This pair, while offering the convenience of design and quality sound, does not come with the bells and whistles of other brands.
By knowing what you are looking for and need for your experience, this bare-bones approach to the headphones may be a bonus.
After looking into a few of the over-the-ear headphones, while keeping in mind their functionality during exercise, the Sennheiser came out on top.
For usability as well as audio experience, this pair allows the user to be hands-free while enjoying the clarity of noise cancellation.
Alone, these two qualities may not seem like much but when added onto the already easy to use features of collapsible and lightweight design, this pair offers the most complete experience for its user.
The ability to be in direct control, while hasslesome to a few, allows those who desire headphones giving them an experience without fuss will find that in this pair.