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A good pair of workout headphones need solid sound quality as well as a comfortable design that can handle your sweatiest moments. The Sennheiser OCX 686G Sports earbuds have an over-ear hook design that is extra secure, and its sweat- and water-resistant construction can withstand indoor and outdoor environments. At $109, these buds are affordable and functional, but their limitations can't be ignored.
Sennheiser's OCX 686G Sports earbuds have the same look as the company's CX 686G Sport. They feature a green-and-gray color scheme, with flat, para-aramid reinforced wires so they can withstand tough situations, and remain free of tangles. These buds are sweat- and water-resistant, so you won't have to worry, even in rain or during sweaty summer sessions.
The main difference between Sennheiser's two designs is that the OCX 686Gs have an over-ear construction, with a flexible piece of plastic meant to sit on the top of your ear and hook around the back. A common feature for fitness headphones, this extra piece keeps the earbuds sturdy and locked in on your head, but they can also be uncomfortable for some.
The wires of each bud are connected by a basic inline remote, which has a raised volume rocker and a multifunction button. However, make sure to choose the right version of the earbuds depending on the smartphone you have, as there are specific models for Android and iOS. Only with the right correct model will you be able to use the built-in mic and volume rocker.
Comfort and Fit
The Sennheiser OCX 686Gs come with three pairs of ear inserts; I wore the largest one. While the over-ear design isn't my favorite, I prefer ones like this that have a structured piece of plastic that curls and cups the back of my ear. They were comfortable to wear in the gym and during my commute, without any of the back-of-the-ear soreness that typically accompanies this style of earbuds.
However, while they stayed put during my workouts thanks to this design, I did have to readjust the buds often. Most of the time they were about halfway in my ears, and I would have to push them in farther to keep them as secure as I wanted. The over-ear design keeps them suspended in this way, and that's my biggest issue with this style of earbud. I prefer the design of the CX 686G Sports buds, which have an adjustable hook at the top that lets you control the tightness of the buds when in your ear.
The high-output drivers in the Sennheiser OCX 686G Sports earbuds produce clear sound that highlight highs and lows well. The pianos in Luke Bryan's "Strip it Down" were sonorous and complemented his sultry vocals, giving the track an airy feel, although I did notice some faint white noise in the background.
Maroon 5's "This Summer" played with bass that thumped in the back of my head, while the buzzing synths and chanting vocals made me want to dance and drink the summer away. The buds performed really well when I listened to Travie McCoy's "Golden," featuring Sia; his bars came through clear and punchy, and her voice sounded melodious and smooth even as she switched octaves.
The OCX 686G Sports buds have nearly identical sound to Sennheiser's $69 CX 686G Sports headphones. The sound quality is also similar to that of the $129 Soul Run Free Pro Wireless earbuds, though the Sennheiser produces slightly better bass — songs like Kanye West's "Love Lockdown" had more prominent lows on the OCX 686G Sports than on the Run Free Pro.
Sennheiser has delivered yet another solid pair of workout headphones with the OCX 686G Sports. With a sweat- and water-resistant design and cords that don't tangle, these buds are convenient to throw in your gym bag and use during even the most vigorous workouts -- not to mention their sound quality is good enough for use in and out of the noisy gym.
For similar sound quality and a more traditional design, the $69 Sennheiser CX 686G Sports are a great alternative. Those who want the convenience of wireless should opt for the Soul Run Free Pro; just know that the bass won't be as punchy in those buds. Overall, the Sennheiser OCX 686G Sports headphones are well-designed earbuds with good sound that will keep you pumped up during your workouts.
Valentina Palladino is a senior writer at Tom’s Guide. When she’s not writing about fitness trackers or phones, she’s probably at a concert, or shopping at a beauty supply store. Follow her on Twitter at@valentinalucia.
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Valentina is Commerce Editor at Engadget and has covered consumer electronics for a number of publications including Tom's Guide, Wired, Laptop Mag and Ars Technica, with a particular focus on wearables, PCs and other mobile tech.