Earbuds for 2021
Bose Sport Open Earbuds $249
They may appear cumbersome at first, but the comma-shaped Bose Sport Open Earbuds are designed for runners and sit securely on the curve of your ear. And because they don’t actually go in your ear, you can hardly feel them. Using a proprietary speaker technology that channels soundwaves into your ear (rather than bone conduction technology, which some people find produces an unpleasant feeling of vibration), the sound quality is terrific – at least as good as any earbud we’ve tested. Answering calls, adjusting volume and skipping songs are easy, and you get up to eight hours of listening on a charge. Like most of their competitors, Bose Sport Open Earbuds are sweat- and rain-resistant.
The “open-ear” technology is an excellent way to stay aware of your surroundings while running, and while this depends to some degree on how loud you like your music, it does promote greater awareness of traffic and other hazards.
PROS: excellent sound quality and the buds don’t sit in your ear
CONS: no in-case charging (they come with a separate charging unit), though battery life is excellent; the buds feel slightly uncomfortable with glasses or sunglasses
Bose Sport Earbuds $235
Bose Sport Earbuds sit in your ear, and with three sizes of silicone tips, you can customize the fit. The f lexible wings, which tuck into the folds of your ear, add a bit more security, so you never feel like the buds are about to fall out. The sound quality is topnotch, and pairing and setup via the Bose Music app, taking calls, pausing and adjusting volume are all easy and straightforward (swipe the right bud up or down for volume, double tap to pause music or accept a call; press and hold to decline). You get up to eight hours of listening on a charge, plus an additional five hours in the case. Sweat- and moisture-resistant. (They also come in a couple of jazzier colours than the plain black illustrated here – baltic blue is a nice teal, and glacier white is light grey with a lime accent.)
PROS: excellent sound quality, in-case charging
Apple Air Pods Pro vs. Apple Air Pods
Remember having to untangle your earbuds before every run, then threading them under your shirt so they didn’t accidentally snag an elbow and pop out of your ears? Some of us still do that, but Apple Air Pods ushered in a new era when they came on the scene in 2016. Many runners found the hard plastic buds (which are the same as in Apple’s wired earbuds) weren’t comfortable for long, or had a tendency to fall out. Those runners welcomed the Apple Air Pods Pro, with their customizable silicone tips, in 2019. But it really depends on the anatomy of your ears, because some still prefer the fit of the original Pro. Both connect automatically to all your Apple products, both have voiceactivated Siri connection and battery life is comparable ( both claim up to five hours of listening, with up to 2 4 hours in the charging case).
If you’re considering getting a pair and aren’t sure which ones to buy, here are some other considerations:
Air Pods 2
» are more affordable ($219 vs. $329)
» do not offer noise cancellation
(though this may be safer for running)
» if you opt for Air Pods, make sure they are second generation, which first came out in 2019 and which have better battery life and sound quality than first-generation Air Pods, as well as in-case charging. There are two model numbers for Air Pods 2: A2032 or A2031 (this is printed on each pod, or you can find it in your phone’s Bluetooth setup). The number on the case should be A1938.
Air Pods Pro
» have better sound quality, with noise cancellation as default mode
» come with three sizes of silicone tip, for a custom fit (though some people prefer the fit of the regular Air Pods)
» noise cancellation is the default mode, though it can be turned off so you can hear your surroundings while running. (Toggling between active noise cancellation, no noise cancellation and transparency mode takes practice.)
» Air Pods Pro are rated IPX4, which means sweat and rain are not an issue (though they are not waterproof and should not be used for water sports)— CR