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Running Headphones: Sennheiser Noise Canceling Headphones, Philips Headphones and Sony Hanging Headphones

Updated on December 7, 2010

It is through many trials and tribulations that I am able to call myself a running headphones expert.  That’s right, I’ve had just about every single set of earphones on the market.  I have this uncanny ability to lose them, ruin them, or buy completely worthless ones that I have to immediately turn around and return.  My ongoing mission over the years has been to actually purchase and keep high quality earphones that actually stay in place during a variety of activities.  One wouldn’t think this was a colossal task, right?  I didn’t think my expectations and requirements for a decent set of earphone was over the top, either.  But, time and time again my purchases were complete failures.  My three criterion for my running headphones are the following:  they stay in place during exercise, to stay in place during weight lifiting or core exercising where I’m lying on the floor, they have crisp and clear sound, and they have noise cancelling properties.  It doesn’t sound like a tall order, but anyone who’s spent any time at the gym knows finding the right earphones is a tall order. 

Sports Headphones:  Earbuds
Sports Headphones: Earbuds | Source
Supra-aural headphones
Supra-aural headphones | Source

Types of Running Headphones

Earbuds Earphones

Generally, when you buy a new mp3 player you get what are called ear buds, which are tiny earpieces.   There are two different kinds of mp3 earbuds, the ones you insert into the opening of the ear canal, or the buds that rest on the outside of the canal.   The ones that rest on the outside generally have clips that attach to the ears so they stay in place.  

Now, maybe my ear canals are somehow deformed, but the type you must insert  just doesn’t work for me.  They never fit snugly into the opening or my ear canal, or if they do, they actually hurt.  Worst of all, the minute I start moving they fall out.  I’ve purchased all different kinds, even some expensive brands, hoping they’d actually work, but no dice until very recently…

I’ve had great success with the other type of ear buds, however.  In fact, such success that I will never buy any other kinds of mp3 player headphones.  These mp3 earbuds are also considered sports headphones, see description below.

Circumaural Headphones

Think deejay here, you know, the big headphones.  These are the classic earphones that sit on the outside of your ears.  There is a cushioned pad that “cups” the ears, designed to filter out background sound, so they’re great noise cancelling earphones.  These aren’t used for sports, typically.  The band above the head can be adjusted to fit.

Supra-aural Headphones

Think 1980’s Walkman era here. These rest on your outer ears, and are generally padded with cushion.  Like the curcumaural, they have an adjustable band that goes across the top of your head.  These are much lighter in weight than the above, so they’re definitely an option for those who are on the go.  They range dramatically in price, from low end ones you might get on an airplane to high end at home use.  Some actually fold up to allow for easier transport.  They won’t be as uncomfortable as the circumaural, nor as hot.  They are not successful noise cancelling earphones, however.   It can be argued they should be however, as filtering out ambient noise could be dangerous for runners on the streets.

Sports Headphones or Running Headphones

As the name infers, these are lightweight, the most portable and specifically designed for sports or active lifestyles.  The bands come in two basic styles:  the over the head type, or the behind the head or neck style.  Some don’t have the band at all, and just use clips to attach to the ears.  The behind the neck styles are quite nice when you’re working out, the band isn’t constantly falling down into your face, and you can easily wear a hat or ponytail

Best Running Headphones

Running Headphones:  Sony Hanging Headphones, Mdr-As20J
Running Headphones: Sony Hanging Headphones, Mdr-As20J
Running Headphones:  Sennheiser Noise Canceling Headphones, CX 380, Sports Series II
Running Headphones: Sennheiser Noise Canceling Headphones, CX 380, Sports Series II
Running Headphones:  Philips Headphones, SHS 8000 Earhook Headphones
Running Headphones: Philips Headphones, SHS 8000 Earhook Headphones

Running Headphones

Take it from me, the girl with a drawer of dead earphone carcasses, there are three on the market today that fit the bill for runners, gym use and active lifestyles.  There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than continually having to adjust or pop back in an earphone while you’re trying to exercise.  I’ve had some success with the behind the neck earphones and their ability to stay put.  But, then try lying on the floor for core exercises and you’ll not only have an uncomfortable band digging into the back of your neck, but the earphones will also become dislodged.  One has sweat wicking abilities so you’re not dealing with an ear full of sweat.  The other two are simple to just wipe off, plus they keep your ears cool enough that I don’t find a lot of sweat accumulating anyway.  Finally, these three are not noise cancelling earphones, so you can stay safe in scenarios where you do still need to hear.  

Sony Hanging Earphones

My husband was sick and tired of me complaining and borrowing his earphones, so he did a little research and bought me the Sony earphones.  I must say it was about the best gym experience I’d had in a long time.  I just hung then over my ears and the buds were positioned just right for my ears.  No adjusting, great sound quality, I could still hear the noise I needed to hear, but thankfully could drown out the hideous music my gym likes to blare.  Very nice.  For 6 months, I had these ear marvels until one day… they were gone.  That’s right, missing out of my gym bag.  I tried to resurrect a few from the drawer cemetery, and was once again stuck with ear pain, poor quality and with continually reinserting the earphones into my ears.  I’m frugal and hated to spend the money on more until I finally broke down and headed to our electronics store.

Sennheiser Noise Canceling Headphones

I practically had a heart attack when I discovered they weren’t there anymore, so taking the vast amount of information I had about what constitutes a great set of earphones, I begrudgingly purchased my Sennheiser phones.  Oh boy, I was delighted with them, much to my surprise.  The sound is phenomenal, you can pick up the individual instruments playing, that’s how crisp the quality is.  I can do absolutely any kind of activity with them on and they aren’t budging.  They come with a variety of different bud sizes so you can pick the one that fits your ears the best.  Good grief finally a company who realizes there are anatomical differences in the size of our canal openings.  They come with a clip to avoid having the weight of the cord pull them off while you move, so use the clip, your shirt works nicely.  They’re great for whisking away sweat, too. 

Philips Headphones

My husband got jealous of my ear phones, but didn’t want to spend quite the same amount of money I did on he Sennheiser’s.  I giggled a little when he brought home his Philips earphones thinking he was in for some poor quality and huge slippage.  Okay, so I was completely wrong.  These puppies worked almost as well as my Sony’s in terms of quality and staying put.  They’re almost the same design as the Sony’s, but they don’t have a completely closed ear hanger.  But, it doesn’t seem to matter.  I tried them out and loved them.  I don’t think the sound quality is as good as the Sony’s, however.

By the way, about a month after purchasing my Sennheiser’s, guess what popped up in my daughter’s room?  That’s right, my Sony’s!  Yay, now I have 2 extraordinary pairs of headphones that won’t be landing in my drawer cemetery anytime soon.


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    Wooded 6 years ago

    I lose my headphones all of the time too. Thanks for the product information.