Anyone at the gym can tell you the difference that music makes in their ability to push through their personal strength thresholds. Working out to the beat of uptempo music has been scientifically proven to increase performance in athletes helping them to push their limits beyond their ordinary levels. Yet, not all headphones are designed to withstand the particular demands of the working human body at athletic levels. Many in-ear headphones sacrifice sound quality for comfort or vice-versa. In this review, I will introduce our best in-ear headphones that offer a balance of comfort and sound quality. The models highlighted include the Monster iSport Immersion, the AKG 326, and the Sony MDR-AS40EX.
Most impressive in our line-up is the iSport Immersion Seriesby Monster. These headphones are specifically designed with an athlete’s unique needs. Each feature of the iSport series is engineered to provide superb comfort to users as well as precise and accurate music reproduction. The iSport Immersion have so many great features for athletes that it is difficult to chose a place to begin. Nonetheless, one of the most distinguishing features of the iSport Immersion is the patented SportClip design. The exclusive SportClip design comfortably fits the inter curvature of the ear to provide stability to the earbud and limit the
earbud’s movement within the ear canal. Unlike most earbuds, even those intended for athletic use, the iSport Immersion are extremely unlike to fall out of a wearer’s ear during exercise activities. But comfort is not the only concern for athletes. The interaction between a sweaty body and headphones does always result in a pleasant experience, particularly for those concerned about cleanliness.
To solve the problem of gross and sweaty earbuds, Monster designed the iSport to be completely washable. The iSport can be washed–with water–without being damaged either by the moisture of sweat or a stream of water. Moreover, for individuals who wish to listento music while practicing a water sport, the iSport can be used in swimming pools, while surfing, jet skiing and other relatively “surface” water sports. It is this water submersion feature that really distinguishes the Monster iSport Immersion from other in-ear headphones. But if water submersion ability isn’t enough, the iSport Immersion even features an in-line microphone and volume controls for complete power over the tracks and phone compatibility.
Not far behind the iSport Immersion in features, the Sony MDR-AS40EX offers lightweight comfort and exceptional sound quality. Generally priced at about a quarter of the price of the iSport Immersion, the Sony MDR-AS40EX is a great low-budget alternative. While lacking the in-line control and microphone for phone compatibility, the MDR-ASS40EX is moisture resistant and will not be damaged by the moisture produced when working out. Although the Sony MDR-AS40EX are probably not the very best choice if you are into intense water sports, they can reliably be used for intense workouts because they allow moisture to pass through the chamber without the threat of destroying the electrical components.
Like more conventional in-ear headphones, the Sony MDR-AS40EX are better suited for land use. They include pleasantly comfortable and stable ear hangers in three sizes. The hangers are removable, in case you prefer the earbud to sit in the ear without support. When used with the hangers, the MDR-AS40EX are securely held in place and are not jostled when jogging or running. Overall, the sound quality is respectable and they limit ambient noise for a focused and clear reproduction.
Finally, the AKG 326 boasts superior sound quality and functionally. As usual, the AKG brand provokes a sense of admiration among those familiar with the name. And, satisfying those expectations, the AKG 326 delivers stunningly accurate sound for headphones in our athletic category. If sound quality is your main priority from your workout audio gear, the AKG 326 are a great choice without caveat. Although far more of a traditional design approach, the AKG 326 do feature an in-line volume control and microphone for integration with a phone.
The construction of the AKG 326 is simple yet sturdy and reliable. When jogging the
comfortable earhooks hold the driver unit fast within the ear and do not allow the driver to be jostled by a users movement. The comfort and stability of the AKG 326 is further enhanced by the rubberized ear pads which also function to limit interference from ambient noise.
Overall, the AKG 326 are a straight forward answer for to-the-point athletes who demand quality sound reproduction.