Without doubt the most popular tech accessory around the gym and outdoors alike are earphones. As I write about wearable tech, I’m always keeping an eye out to see what devices people are using. In my gym, I reckon about 1 or 2 out of 10 people wear wrist-worn fitness trackers or sports watches, but around 7 out of 10 wear headphones or earbuds – mostly earbuds.
Listening to music is the main reason that earphones have become an orthodox component in most people’s sporting attire, but the advantages that biometric tracking and heart rate zone training can bring to your sessions are being realized by a growing number of sports and fitness enthusiasts.
All these cutting-edge smart earphones offer heart rate monitoring and plenty of fitness tracking features bundled with decent quality music playback and hands-free calls.
Best Wireless Earphones With Heart Rate Monitoring
Jabra Sport Pulse
These wireless HRM earphones want to help make the most out of your training sessions with plenty of metrics and real-time audio coaching.
They track your BPM with decent accuracy and help you train in the right heart rate zones. Use the pre-defined training programs to reach your goals, and get instant feedback on stats, including: speed, pace, distance covered, calories burned and workout duration. You’ll also get interval training cues and goal achievement alerts through the Jabra Sport Life Application.
Unlike some of the others featured here, you can’t store music on the Jabra Sport Pulse, so you’ll still need to take your smartphone on your runs and stream music over Bluetooth.
There’s a built-in microphone, and the earphones double up as a Bluetooth headset so you can take phone calls hands-free. Like many other high-end HRM headphones, The Jabra Sport Pulse are equipped with NFC to facilitate the Bluetooth pairing.
The Jabra Sport Life app is compatible with iOS 8.3 + / Android 4.0.3 +.
With the Jabra Sport Pulse you can sync your data with some of the best third-party fitness apps, including Strava, Endomondo, RunKeeper, and MapMyFitness.
Up to 5 hours music playback and heart rate monitoring, 10 days standby. Charging time around 2 hours.
IP55 Certified (not for swimming).
• Jabra Sport Pulse
Samsung Gear IconX
Samsung’s latest essential fitness gadget comes in the form of the 100 percent wireless IconX heart rate earbuds.
The smart wireless earbuds keep track of your heart rate, speed, distance, calories burned, workout duration, and more. An onboard voice guide provides real-time audio feedback about your biometrics as you’re working out. The voice guide works in 15 languages and has been recorded by real people; so no monotonous robot to annoy you.
Unlike the Ai onboard the LifeBeam Vi which gives you active insights, it looks like the Gear IconX voice guide will only tell about your performance.
The IconX feature a 4GB standalone music player which supports all the popular formats. It also allows you stream music from your smartphone.
There’s a built-in microphone so you can use the IconX to talk on the phone. A capacitive touch interface on the side of the earbuds makes sharp work of controlling your music tracks and incoming calls.
IconX use Bluetooth 4.1 to connect to Android smartphones. Your collected fitness data goes over to Samsung’s S Health app, you can sync the data to select fitness apps, such as Endomondo, Strava, MapMyRun, and Runkeeper
Gear IconX is compatible with devices running Android 4.4 + with at least 1.5GB of RAM.
Gear IconX works with Samsung’s the S health app, and your data can be synced with some of the best third-party fitness apps such as Strava, Runkeeper, MapMyRun and Endomondo.
Around 1.5 hours for Bluetooth music streaming, and 3.5 hours using the standalone player; both includes biometric tracking. The Gear IconX come with a carrying case that doubles up as a portable charger for power on the move.
• Samsung Gear IconX
The Dash smart wireless earphones have a gesture and touch-sensitive interface on the side that allows you to control them with simple swipes and taps on both the left and right ear. Bragi Dash are geared up for running, cycling, swimming and high-quality music playback.
Bragi’s Live Sports Assistant will give you real-time audio feedback on your heart rate, steps, cadence and session duration – Bragi say that more metrics are inbound in the near future.
You can stream music via Bluetooth, or leave your smartphone at home and the earphones’ standalone music player which supports MP3 and AAC, and has 4GB of storage.
Use The Dash as a Bluetooth headset with phone call capabilities, with a One ear bone microphone that allows you to talk while filtering your voice in busy surroundings. The gesture control technology enables to you answer a call simply by nodding your nut, or reject a call by shaking it. Calls can also be controlled with the touch interface. To prevent unwanted commands when you accidentally brush the touch interface, Bragi Dash uses a smart feature called Touch Lock.
The Bragi Dash smart earbuds are compatible with iOS – iPhone 4S + / Android 4.3 +
Third-Party app support has landed for the Bragi Dash, so you can sync your data with Apple HealthKit and Google Fit.
Around 3 hours music playback and fitness tracking / 250 hours standby / Charging time under 2 hours.
Bragi Dash are waterproof up to 1 meter. Listen to tunes while swimming and get heart rate, lengths, and swim duration data.
• Bragi Dash
LG FR74 Heart Rate Earphones
The LG FR74 Heart Rate Earphones connect to a small medallion hub which straps to your arm or clips onto your waistband. If you like your music with plenty of bass, it’s worth knowing that these earphones aren’t the most punchy. Unlike the Bragi Dash and Sony Smart B-Trainer, there’s no standalone music player so you’ll stream tunes from your smartphone.
A real-time Voice Guide will keep you up to date with your steps, distance, calories burned, speed, pace, heart rate, heart rate zone, and goal achievements. There’s also a VO2 Max feature which measures oxygen consumption and reflects your cardio fitness level.
Along with music streaming and voice-assisted fitness tracking, the LG HRM earphones have a built-in mic for hands-free phone calls. If you want to display the earphones’ information in real-time on your wrist, you can add the LG Lifeband Touch to your setup.
The LG Fitness app is user-friendly, has plenty of features, and works with third-party apps such as MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper.
The LG HRM Earphones are compatible with iOS 6 + / Android 4.3 + (and 4.2 for LG G2 and Galaxy S4 only).
The LG Fitness app plays nice with som top third-party apps such as MyFitnessPal and Runkeeper.
Around 4 hours with HRM and music playback / 6 hours music only / 250 hours standby.
• LG FR74 Heart Rate Earophones
Sony Smart B-Trainer
Sony’s smart HRM earphones are an all-in-one solution for people who prefer not to carry a smartphone while training. There’s an onboard standalone music player with 16GB of storage and a creative motivational feature that selects and plays music to match your heart rate. Music can also be streamed from your phone over Bluetooth.
The supported audio formats for the standalone music player are: MP3, WMA9, AAC9, ATRAC, Linear PCM10.
Sony Smart B-Trainer are geared up mostly for running. A total of six sensors, including a heart rate monitor and built-in GPS cover pretty much all the essential fitness tracking features and more. The onboard voice guidance provides audio feedback on metrics such as steps, calories burned, distance, speed, pace, cadence, pitch, strides and heart rate. Lap time data, GPS routes, and elevation data is also provided.
The smart earphones have a built-in microphone and can be used to take calls hands-free over a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone. They’re also armed with NFC which facilitates the Bluetooth pairing.
iOS 7.0 + / Android 4.1 +
Third-party music and fitness app support isn’t included in the the Smart B-Trainer’s repertoire, so the Sony app will have to do.
Between 3 and 13.5 hours depending on usage (GPS, music playback, Bluetooth, etc). Charging time around 1.5 hours.
IPX5 / IPX8. Can be used for swimming, but only heart rate data and music playback is available.
• Sony Smart B-Trainer
HRM Earphones Coming Soon..
Under Armour Headphones Wireless Heart Rate
A partnership between Under Armour and audio specialists JBL is aiming to result in the ultimate sports headphones.
The UA Headphones Wireless Heart Rate (yes, that’s their official name) are actually earbuds, not headphones; but if Under Armour and JBL want to call them headphones, I can live with that..
With people calling earbuds headphones, and sometimes vice versa, I just use the word earphones as a peaceful medium..
With a built-in heart rate sensor, users will be able to get a BPM reading with the touch of a button. The UA headphones (earbuds) use Bluetooth 4.1 to sync with the UA Record app for iOS and Android. Upon purchase, users will also get a 1 year free subscription to MapMyFitness Premium.
Three-button control will allow you to easily organize your music tracks, and a built-in microphone means you can use the earphones to talk on the phone.
So far, there’s not a great deal of information about any other fitness tracking features apart from the HRM. The battery life provides up to 5 hours of music playback.
A non heart rate version of the UA Headphones Wireless is already available, the HRM version is due to be released anytime soon.
HRM Earphones Coming Soon..
LifeBeam have teamed up with Harman/Kardon to make sure their high-tech heart rate earphones are pumping out high-quality audio. The name Vi is analogous to the Ai (artificial intelligence) living onboard.
LifeBeam haven’t held back with the feature set of the Vi earphones. Along with monitoring your heart rate, the Vi digital fitness coach provides real-time active insights to get you motivated and help maximize your potential.
Vi will have you running and cycling faster, burning more calories, preventing injury, training in the correct heart rate zones, optimizing cadence, learning about elevation changes on your outdoor routes, learning about your anatomy, and much more.
If LifeBeam Vi are as good as it says on the tin, they could be the ultimate sports headphones, earbuds, earphones, or whatever you call them in your part of the world.
As well as counting your BPM and helping you train with heart rate zones, LifeBeam Vi also measures heart rate variability. The next-level earphones can pull data from your smartphones GPS to deliver weather reports, geo-location, speed, and more.
Vi’s speech recognition allows you to control features such as music playback/volume, voice-to-text translation, and hands-free calls. The speech recognition feature works online or offline. It even gets to know your voice characteristics over time so it can better understand you.
Vi uses Bluetooth LE to connect with iOS and Android devices. The smartphone app works with Google Fit, Apple Health Kit, and music apps such as Spotify.
At the time of writing this, LifeBeam Vi is still live on Kickstarter. You can head over there and back the project. The estimated shipping date is January 2017.
HRM Earphones Coming Soon..
Bose SoundSport Pulse
Bose are moving into the biometric tracking space with their upcoming SoundSport Pulse heart rate tracking earbuds. The wireless earbuds are designed especially for exercise, although they don’t offer as many fitness tracking features as the others on this page.
You can take phone calls and calls from VoIP apps such as FaceTime and Skype hands-free thanks to a built-in microphone, and get incoming caller ID from the SoundSport voice feature.
Using the SoundSport’s inline remote you can easily control music, videos, accept/reject calls, and activate voice commands with Google Now, Siri, and voice dial.
Bose Soundsport Pulse are compatible with Android and iOS. The Bose Connect app was designed to work with the SoundSport Pulse and provide real-time heart rate data.
iOS 9.0 + / Android 4.3 +.
You can also sync your data with some of the best fitness apps, such as Runkeeper and Endomondo.
Around 5 of music playback and biometric tracking. Charging time is around 1.5 hours.
The Bose SoundSport Pulse will survive in the rain but they’re not for swimming.
September 2016. Available now.
• Bose SoundSport Pulse
HRM Earphones Coming Soon..
Kuaiwear smashed their Indiegogo funding goal by 189% back in March. Their product, Kuai, comes with the claim of being the world’s smartest multi-sport headphones.
Kuaiwear claim their smart headphones are capable of monitoring your heart rate more accurately than most wearables thanks to their clinically proven sensors.
They aren’t cutting corners in terms of features either. along with tracking your BPM, these smart headphones will give you real-time feedback about your speed, pace, cadence, distance, calories, Vo2 Max, and more.
According to Kuiawear, their HRM headphones are suitable for just about any sport, including swimming. In the pool, Kuai will track your speed, laps, strokes, distance, calories, heart rate, and you can listen to music. They are waterproof up to 3 meters.
Real-time voice coaching will help get you motivated and on track to smashing your fitness goals. The voice feedback feature incorporates coaching from some of the world’s top trainers. Additionally, professional training plans for all sorts of activities can be downloaded from the Kuai platform, such as weight loss, relaxation and recovery, and loads of sports.
Onboard Kuai is a standalone music player with 8GB of memory, so you can head out for a run, bike, swim or to the gym and listen to your tracks without your smartphone.
To round it off, you can use Kuai to take phone calls over Bluetooth – basically making them the complete package. I almost forgot, you can also sync your training data with some of the best fitness apps, such as Strava, MapMyFitness, and Endomondo.
These super-smart heart rate headphones have a battery life of up to 7 hours with all features included (I think). They use Bluetooth 4.0 to connect with iOS and Android devices. Kuai also incorporates ANT+ so you can connect to other compatible devices, such as smartphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers, power meters, bike computers and gym equipment.
Kuai will be retailing for $250 USD. Indiegogo backers should start receiving the headphones in July 2016.