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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Headphones for Running

Comments (46)

I’m looking for recommendations for headphones for running.  I’ve been using some from Sony for a while – they are ok, but I’m having some trouble with how the right one fits (I guess my ears are different sizes – how exciting.)

If you have any suggestions for sport headphones, can you leave comments here?

  • Cliff

    I run with the Shure E2 (http://www.shure.com/ProAudio/Products/PersonalMonitorSystems/us_pro_E2_content)

    These also work great for noise cancelation on airplanes. They are small, light and pack very well.

  • http://urbantwelve.blogspot.com Chris

    I would look at Etymotic or Shure earbuds — they will produce amazing sound as well as mold to your ear.

  • Adam Messinger

    I would get some in-hear monitors from either Etymotics or Shure. I have some Etymotics 4s and they are great. They stay in place, sound great, and block out external sound (great for airplanes). This last feature may be a negative depending upon the environment you are running in. If you need to hear that car honking at you, then you may want something else.

  • http://hoppsan.org/jamesb/blogger Barnaby James

    More of a datapoint than a recommendation – I’ve used the Philips HS320 over the ear headphones. They’re cheap so you won’t be slitting your wrists when someone drives over them (it happened) but the sound is only so so. Also, if you aren’t running on a treadmill, the over the ear things make a whistling noise, especially if your running into the wind. Overall they were a better fit that most other headphones I tried. I had previously used a similar Sony brand of headphones but I had issues with the connection failing at the headphone jack when I ran. Your mileage may vary.

  • http://tachophobia.com Rick

    I like these:

    http://www.koss.com/koss/kossweb.nsf/p?openform&pc^sc^KSC6^Y

    Plus they’re made in milwaukee which is a definite plus.

  • http://www.donloeb.com don loeb
  • http://andrewbfife.blogspot.com Andrew Fife

    Brad:
    I’m not sure if these are what you are already using but these Sonys work well for me:

    http://store.advantage123.com/sny-mdrj20white.html

    -Andrew

  • http://www.hitflip.de Jan

    Hi Brad,

    I use custom earphones from Accusta. I’m not sure you can get them in the US, the website is in German.

    They send you a kit with some special substance which you use to create a cast of your ear. They then model an ear plug which fits you 100%, and attach either headphones or a bluetooth headset.

    Since they are handmade, they do cost 90-120 Euros, but I think they are worth it. I sometimes forget I am wearing mine, they fit so well…

  • http://natala.blogspot.com Natala Menezes

    I love my ER 6i’s – they fit into your ear (so they don’t fall out while exercising / running etc) are super comfy and have noise-cancelling properties. Etymotic offers a version where they take a mold of your ear to make them perfectly fit, but i find the generic ones work well.
    Here’s a link:
    http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er6i.aspx

    Note: the ER-6 model is similar – however the er6i headphones are white (to, you know, coordinate with your ipod) and have a triple-flange ear tip. I prefer the triple to the double that comes with the 6. YMMV.

  • http://www.hitflip.de Andre

    http://www.accusta.de/ is a german company that makes top notch custom fitted headphones. their products are amazing.

  • http://qor72.blogspot.com qor72

    I currently use Sony MDR-A35G S2 Sports Headphones. They are also sony, have decent sound, but more important to me allow me to hear more ambient noise so when I’m running I can hold conversations with folks I pass and hear cars, etc. as well.

  • http://www.johnives.com John Ives
  • Chris Barchak

    No suggestion on brand, but for the ill-fitting headphone problem, why not try a custom fitted earpiece? You can get fitted at a doctor for a hearing aid and use the impression to get one custom designed. More expensive (few hundred $) but should fit perfectly. Friends I know have been happy with theirs.

  • http://www.davehodson.com Dave Hodson

    Brad – not sure which Sony ones you are using. I use the Sony MDR-A35 and they work pretty well (fold up nice also)
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000067G0J/ref=sr_11_1/002-8504567-7818425?ie=UTF8

  • Craig

    I use Shure E3 noise reductions ear buds. Shure is the choice of the music industry. They wrap around the ear comfortably. I haven’t had them pop out yet while out for a jog and did occasionally have that problem witht iPod earbuds.

  • Seann

    Shure E3, E4 or E5 sound isolating earphones are great for running and travelling. However, make sure you order the rubber soft flex sleeves. They come in different sizes for different size ears.

  • http://bencarey.wordpress.com Ben Carey

    I’ve been using the Shure E2c headphones and I don’t think they are a good choice. I’ve had the left ear short out after only a few hikes and the sound could be better.

    The swappable ear pieces are really nice and I like the shape, I just seem to have issues with the quality.

  • jimsowers

    For running you do not want ear buds, or noise cancelling headphones. You headphones that can handle sweat, will fold away nicely, decent sound, and will allow outside sound to still reach your ears (e.g. car horn).

    Answer: Koss Sporta Pro

    For airplanes, forget Bose. Spend real money and get unbelievable sound – Sensaphonics.com. I had custom-made (molded) earpieces made — extravagent yes, but unbelievable sound! (And you can afford them better than I can :-)

  • Jay OHare

    SHURE E2c – The behind the head style of these are GREAT for running/working out. I’ve been using them for about 2 years now and have not found anything better for the price/value. I run mostly on country roads here in Steamboat so the sound isolation isn’t as much of an issue as it might be in a city.
    http://www.shure.com/PersonalAudio/Products/Earphones/ESeries/us_pa_E2c_content

  • jvaleski

    Odd that so many people are suggesting the Shure in-ear’s for running. They’re great for airplanes (much better than Bose canceling cans IMO), but when I run/bike I want to know when someone yells “trail” behind me, or says “hi,” or sense a car; you can’t hear anything external really w/ the Shure’s. I just use the in-ears that come with iPods. They stay in just fine for me (running or biking). Sure I’m part of the Apple cult when I wear them, but they’re cheap/disposable, and provide decent sound.

    Nice thing about the Shures though is that you can fit them better (one ear bigger than other), but, again, I want to hear what’s going on around me when I’m on the trail.

    • mista

      the apple ipod earbuds dont stay in retard…wtf are you smoking you must run liek a pussy

  • http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~ntolia Niraj

    The E series from Shure rocks. I have been using E2s for over a year now. You do need to replace the foam sleeves every now and then as they get dirty. They also do come with plastic sleeves but I prefer the former.

  • http://javathehutt.blogspot.com Michael Kovacs

    Add me to the collection of folks that recommend the Shure headphones. I have the E3Cs myself and I don’t know how I ever lived without them. The best $180 I’ve ever spent. I use them for running but like others said if you need to hear what’s going on around you they’re not your choice. I just look around a lot and stay alert and take the chance that a car isn’t going to run off the road behind me and run me over.

  • deep

    I have Shure E2Cs, and like them quite a lot for portable listening. One nice thing about running with the E2Cs is that they are designed to route the cable down your back rather than the front, where it can snag. With canalphones you can listen at a lower total volume with equal/greater perceived loudness because they isolate you from outside noise better than other earphone designs.

    It bears mentioning that canalphones like the E2Cs can produce microphonics. Every footstep becomes amplified when using canalphones due to their in-ear design.

    If you sweat a lot, and occasionally readjust canalphones while working out, there’s a chance of condensation/sweat going down the tube of the canalphone and into the driver. I had this happened to my E2Cs, which required replacement under warranty (Shure’s warranty and service is generally fantastic).

    So instead of canalphones, I’ve been using cheaper over the ear sports earbuds from Sony and they work swimmingly.

    http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTERSHOP.enfinity/eCS/Store/en/-/USD/SY_DisplayProductInformation-Start?ProductSKU=MDRJ11G&Dept=audio&CategoryName=pa_Headphones_hear

    Naturally the sound quality isn’t as good as something from Etymotic or Shure, but the over the ear design keeps them in place, there aren’t microphonics, and the earbud (rather than canalphone) design still lets you hear a bit of outside noise (useful if you’re running in traffic laden areas). Their water resistance makes them more appropriate to athletic applications. There’s also a little clip to attach it to your shirt. clothing.

  • Seann
  • Andrew

    I have E2s but would never use them for running. I run at night, so it’s even more important to be able to hear outside noises, and my roommate was nearly hit by a car while running using similar earphones. I’m sometimes hesitant to use them while walking! Plus, with good heaphones, why risk damaging them with sweat?

    The Sony h.ear phones and A35 vertical phones are cheap, stay in place, are lightweight, let noise in, and seem to be moisture-resistant. Sounds good to me.

  • Ian

    I, too, have been looking for new headphones/earphones for athletic use. I’ve used the MDR-A35 over-the-head phones, any number of cheap ear buds (including iPod stock buds,) and most recently the MDR-J10 clip-style phones.

    I dont have a good solution, but here’s my version of the problem:

    1) I must run with far more impact than most people because pretty much no earbud has ever stayed in for more than a minute or two. I strated solving this problem with the MDR-A35s and ended up with the MDR-J10s.

    2) I know for a fact that I sweat far more than the average person, and I have yet to find a pair of phones that’s truly impervious to sweat. The MDR-A35s solved the falling off problem, but would get wet with sweat and effectively stop working until they dried out. This is what prompted me to switch to the J10s. The J10s get wet far less frequently than the A35s (I think because most of the sweat drips down the over-the-ear clip portion,) and recover from wetness far quicker than the A35s, but I still have to take them out and dry them off 2 or 3 times during an hour long stint on the stairmaster or a 10K run.

    I just want headphones that stay on, and don’t fall victim to sweat. I was looking at the SweatGUTR headband, and I think that would be great if the ‘gutter’ went all the way back behind the ear, but alas it appears that it would just exacerbate the problem.

    Sigh.

    What did you end up doing?

  • Dave

    Did you know: this page comes up first when you google headphones running?

  • Peiter

    I only run with Diefter J-7500′s. Great bass with fluid, crystal clear highs. The cord is just the right length and obviously won’t fray.

  • Jason

    For anyone looking to buy noise cancelling head phones for running, do NOT do it. Those style of headphones are great for sound and weight lifting but not for cardio excercise.

    You ask why? Next time you go running, plug both your ears with your fingers to cancel all outside noise. You’ll hear your elevated hear rate beating and your lungs sucking air. With inner ear (noice canceling) headphones, they will block outside noises but also elevate the sounds of your internal heart rate and lungs working. You’ll have to blast your headphones on full volume just to drown out the noises from your own body.

    I like those style of headphones, but not for running.

  • JD

    I’ve bought 5 pairs of Shure e90′s that I use for about 4 hours a day – working out, on plane, working out again, long walks, etc. The quality is brutal. My 5th pair I bought in Feb and once again, one of the sides shorts out. The problem is at black junction part of the cable. If I monkey with that, the sound will come back but it is so frustrating. I am actually going back to the apple store today to get a refund. Anyone else have this issue??????

  • http://www.amazon.com/Radius-HPCAF11S-HP-CAF11S-Atomic-Aluminum/dp/B0018SDSVQ/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&amp MadRunner

    I was recently told by a friend about radius atomic earbuds. They are a Japanese brand that have recently come to the US. I bought a on amazon for $34.00 and they work great. They are designed so that you can put them on 3 different ways to find the most comfortable position. I have small ears and these are the first pair of earbuds I have found that actually fit and don't fall off. They come in different colors but I opted for the silver since it matched my iPod.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Radius-HPCAF11S-HP-CAF11S-Atomic-Aluminum/dp/B0018SDSVQ/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&amp MadRunner

    I was recently told by a friend about radius atomic earbuds. They are a Japanese brand that have recently come to the US. I bought a on amazon for $34.00 and they work great. They are designed so that you can put them on 3 different ways to find the most comfortable position. I have small ears and these are the first pair of earbuds I have found that actually fit and don't fall off. They come in different colors but I opted for the silver since it matched my iPod.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Radius-HPCAF11S-HP-CAF11S-Atomic-Aluminum/dp/B0018SDSVQ/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1210636991&sr=1-9 MadRunner

    I was recently told by a friend about radius atomic earbuds. They are a Japanese brand that have recently come to the US. I bought a on amazon for $34.00 and they work great. They are designed so that you can put them on 3 different ways to find the most comfortable position. I have small ears and these are the first pair of earbuds I have found that actually fit and don’t fall off. They come in different colors but I opted for the silver since it matched my iPod.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Radius-HPCAF11S-HP-CAF11S-Atomic-Aluminum/dp/B0018SDSVQ MadRunner

    I was recently told by a friend about radius atomic earbuds. They are a Japanese brand that have recently come to the US. I bought a on amazon for $34.00 and they work great. They are designed so that you can put them on 3 different ways to find the most comfortable position. I have small ears and these are the first pair of earbuds I have found that actually fit and don’t fall off. They come in different colors but I opted for the silver since it matched my iPod.

  • Poundthepavement

    I just stumbled across this site and wanted to let you guys know that my friend turned me on to a company that she had found on the internet call The Freq. She said that she got a pair of these about six months ago and it has absolutely changed her life. I have been doing some research to see what other options I might have and so far, this looks like it could really help me out. Their website is http://www.freqonline.com. The weird thing is that their headphones are custom made for each person. They are actually molded to the inside of your ear like a hearing aid! Anyway, I though you all might like to know. I will post when I get my pair and let you all know how things are going.

  • Simon

    I run with a pair of SoundMAGIC PL30 Earphones. The over the ear cabling fit is nice and secure and the sound is amazing for 30 GBP.

  • Lola

    I'm having the same issue but I don't know whether to go for proper DJ type headphones or in the ear, wlthough they fall out…I can't see myself liking the ear wraping ones….has anyone ever tried the DJ headphones?

  • http://www.bestearbudsforrunning.com Tommy Guerro

    Sony makes a really good pair of sport headphones/earbuds – Sony MDR-AS50G Sport Neckband Earbuds. I have been using them while I run for several weeks now, and they are great.

    Sound is clear, they don't get yanked out of my ears, and they are sweat resistant. Not to expensive. I got mine for about $30 from Pod Buds (http://www.bestearbudsforrunning.com). They are an online store that has a bunch of headphones and accessories for us runners and active types. I would check them out first.

  • http://www.bestearbudsforrunning.com Tommy Guerro

    Sony makes a really good pair of sport headphones/earbuds – Sony MDR-AS50G Sport Neckband Earbuds. I have been using them while I run for several weeks now, and they are great.

    Sound is clear, they don't get yanked out of my ears, and they are sweat resistant. Not to expensive. I got mine for about $30 from Pod Buds (http://www.bestearbudsforrunning.com). They are an online store that has a bunch of headphones and accessories for us runners and active types. I would check them out first.

  • Adam Howard

    I use Yurbuds. They fit right on to the ipod headphones (which yes, without yurbuds are extremely painful). Yurbuds are made out of this medical silicone so the grip is amazing. You can headbang for hours and they'll never fall out. The silicone is soft and makes them the most comfortable buds on the market for the $30 they're listed for. They size you according to the structure of your ear, you send a picture of your ear in to their website and they size you for free. here's the website: http://www.yurbuds.com. I hope you enjoy them as much as me!

  • Adam Howard

    I use Yurbuds. They fit right on to the ipod headphones (which yes, without yurbuds are extremely painful). Yurbuds are made out of this medical silicone so the grip is amazing. You can headbang for hours and they'll never fall out. The silicone is soft and makes them the most comfortable buds on the market for the $30 they're listed for. They size you according to the structure of your ear, you send a picture of your ear in to their website and they size you for free. here's the website: ” target=”_blank”>http://www.yurbuds.com. I hope you enjoy them as much as me!

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