I’m on a quest to find the best running headphones that don’t fall out of my ears. When I tried AirPods Pro for running at the track a few weeks ago, I spent more time chasing down the bouncy plummeting buds than banking laps.
Despite my wireless headphone woes, I’m committed to running as a regular fixture of my workout regimen. I will discover the best wireless earbuds (or headset) to provide the soundtrack, even if I have to wear down the tread of my sneakers in the process.
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For my first post-AirPods Pro fail run, I enlisted Powerbeats Pro. Long positioned as a pair of fitness earbuds, I once tried the Beats-brand buds, but I lost them to the laundry cycle when I left them in my sweatpants.
Still, Powerbeats Pro combines water- and sweat resistance, an attractive ear hook design and effortless Apple integration via an ever-capable H1 chip. If that’s not the combination I need, I’m not sure what is. So are Powerbeats Pro my ideal running headphones? Read on to find out.
Running with Powerbeats Pro: Comfort and security
When I unboxed my baby blue-colored Powerbeats Pro, I saw three additional sets of eartips along with a fourth pair that shipped attached to the buds. AirPods Pro comes with just three total: the medium size already attached, and small and large sizes are in the box. But AirPods Pro offers a special fit test to pick the proper size for you. With Powerbeats Pro, I had to rely on old fashioned trial-and-error.
Satisfied with the stationary security of the smallest eartips, I felt ready to run. Once I finished my walking warm-up at the track, I turned on my upbeat tunes and picked up the pace. At first it seemed as though the Powerbeats Pro wiggled loose and could descend from my ears at any step. I decided to trust they wouldn’t, though, and after the first lap I grew comfortable with the barely-there feel.
After two miles, the Powerbeats Pro remained in my ears, even when I needed to adjust my ponytail or wipe away the sweat pooling around my neck in the humid summer air. That said, the comfort declined over time. Around the one-hour mark of my workout, the rigid hooks began pinching my ear lobes. The sensation grew intolerable, so I opted to walk home music-less. I never experienced this awkward pain with AirPods Pro.
Running with Powerbeats Pro: Sound quality
Before the Powerbeats Pro started to hurt my ears, I enjoyed the sound quality. These buds produce well-balanced audio, mastering the oddities of my eclectic running soundtrack. From the iconic baseball broadcast in Meat Loaf’s “Bat of of Hell” and the cymbal beat of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us,” to the addictive bass of Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” and anthemic vocals of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” the Powerbeats Pro held their own. I wish they could get a little louder for the moments I need an extra push, though.
Powerbeats Pro aren’t noise-cancelling like AirPods Pro, so I could still hear the passing siren of an emergency vehicle and buzz of other people at the track. I like feeling connected to my surroundings when I’m working out, but I wouldn’t wear Powerbeats Pro when I’m trying to focus on work. I’ll probably stick with AirPods Pro or perhaps AirPods Max when I’m not moving around, two of the best noise-cancelling headphones right now.
Running with Powerbeats Pro: Verdict
My experience running with Powerbeats Pro could've gone better, but it also could've gone worse. I happen to love the design and fun color options of the Beats earbuds, so I felt stylish, even with sweat dripping down my face. But they say pain is beauty, and that was the case after wearing Powerbeats Pro for a longer workout.
Luckily, I don't plan on reaching distance-runner status anytime soon. For a 60-minute-or-less track workout, the Powerbeats Pro are stellar — and they stay put. For the sound quality and easy pairing, I might even reach for them for my next weight-lifting session, too. I can't say they're the ultimate running headphones I've been searching for, but Powerbeats Pro are a worthy alternative to AirPods Pro.