Help me find a new set of headphones for running.
May 23, 2014 2:47 PM   Subscribe

I need a new set of headphones for running and other activities, and I can't find anything that really works for me (both in terms of sound quality and staying in my ear).

My ideal headphones were these. These are what I've used for years for working out, and they're just about perfect for me. The over-the-head feature and light weight are my favorite parts. Unfortunately, they used to sell for something like $15 - 20 a pair, and now they're absolutely ridiculous in price and it looks like no one makes a similar product. My last pair just died, and I'm desperate.

I gave these a try today during my run and wasn't impressed. Not only did they pop out at one point, but the sound quality was absolutely atrocious.

Earbuds tend not to work for me - they shake themselves loose or fall out when I sweat (which I do prodigiously when I'm working out) or they hurt my ears. I've tried ones that hook over the ear, but I've found them to be painful (and also tend to fall off/out, which defeats the purpose). The behind-the-neck bands I found to be awkward.

I'm desperate for some good sport headphones that meet the following criteria: 1) stay in place (ideally with a headband, but I'm afraid that may be reaching), even with sweat/running/lots of head motion, 2) decent sound quality (no audible "pulse" whenever my feet hit the ground, which the current pair are doing), 3) comfortable, and 4) reasonably priced, considering I may go through a few pairs a year.

I know I've listed quite a few "I've already tried this and didn't like it," disclaimers, but hopefully you can help me find something that works!
posted by Salieri to Technology (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Even though earbuds haven't tended to work for you in the past, you may want to give Panasonic RPHJE120S earbuds a shot. They (like many other models/brands) have removable silicone pieces of different sizes to give you a good fit. And they're SO cheap, like $8. I've destroyed multiple pairs of >$100 earbuds but these guys just take a beating, and I don't have any pain or problems with them falling out of my teeny tiny ears when I run.

ETA: I'm not super picky about sound but I think they're fine. And the cord is not noisy when it rubs against clothing, etc.
posted by karbonokapi at 2:58 PM on May 23, 2014

I have used these for years. I go through about 1 pair per year or so, but at $10 to $15, that's fine with me. I can wear a hat or headband with no trouble.

Also, they come in many colors. :)
posted by AllieTessKipp at 3:02 PM on May 23, 2014

I just realized you meant you wanted a headband to hold the ear things on! Sorry. I did, too, but the radio shack guy convinced me to try these. They work well, AND now I can wear a hat or a headband (ear warmer thingie)...
posted by AllieTessKipp at 3:07 PM on May 23, 2014

(Looks down at his MDR-W08 headphones).

Oh man, this sucks. I love these headphones too. Guess I should treat mine more carefully from now on. These things used to be in every Target and Walgreens for $10. And they worked great.

It looks like the MDR-W034 is a similar model. I think I had a pair of these ones and there's something different, like the sides don't extend like the W08s do. Anyway, it might be a cheaper cross-reference while you search out someone selling the W08s (and I'll be right behind you).
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:12 PM on May 23, 2014

At first glance it also looks like the MDR-W014 might be identical to the MDR-W08L, just slightly different colored plastic.
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:16 PM on May 23, 2014

I like running with my Koss Porta Pro. I've had them for over 6 years. They are lightweight and have a headband which won't shake off. If you sweat a lot, you get can extra foam cushions. Great sound quality. Also comes with lifetime warranty.
posted by cazoo at 3:39 PM on May 23, 2014

I, too, was always annoyed by earbuds but took a chance on the very cheap but highly rated Panasonic RPHJE120S buds (at least) over a year ago. Turns out that most earbuds were just too big for my ears. It was great getting buds that came with different sizes. I use mine everyday for running, walking, etc and they are still in perfect condition. They do have great sound quality and do a good job of blocking out sound, too. Try them!
posted by ancient star at 3:54 PM on May 23, 2014

I also own the Koss Porta Pro as mentioned above for work use and cannot imagine wearing them during any kind of activity. They are not sturdy enough, at least on my head. They are very comfortable in general, though.
posted by ancient star at 3:56 PM on May 23, 2014

I don't run but I am sensitive to earbuds and I really like Urbanears Medis. They are designed differently than regular earbuds, making them way more comfortable and secure.
posted by radioamy at 4:28 PM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I run with these, and I love them (over a year of running, including training for two half marathons, and they're essentially as good as new). These are ear buds, and discontinued, but Sennheiser/Adidas seems to be producing newer versions, at least. What I love about these is that they do stay in well (admittedly, I don't sweat as much as some people, but I don't even notice that I'm wearing them after they're in) and they sound great while still enabling me to hear approaching cars, other runners, etc. The earbud style suits me, but they have other styles in the same line.

Maybe these would work for you? I can't speak to them personally, but they go over the head and seem to be a newer version of the same basic line. Maybe a bit more than you wanted to spend, though.
posted by cellar door at 4:30 PM on May 23, 2014

I can't speak to the headphone quality, but the headband is great: Halo Rhythm.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:31 PM on May 23, 2014

I run with AfterShokz headphones. They're not great for music, but for speech they're fine. They'll never fall off. They're waterproof. Bonus: they don't block your ears - so your perception of traffic etc. is hardly impaired.
posted by HoraceH at 6:40 PM on May 23, 2014

Thank you for the answers! The good news is that some of these are cheap enough that I can try out a couple of different options. It looks like I'm going to have to bite the bullet and go with some variety of earbuds and hope for the best. But I definitely like hearing what works/doesn't work for you (especially if you've had prior difficulties or complaints similar to mine and you've found a Wonder Product).

JoeZydeco, I feel you on the loss of the MDR-W08. These things were just perfect. I just saw these - maybe worth a try?
posted by Salieri at 7:18 PM on May 23, 2014

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