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Beats Powerbeats Pro Are the Best Totally Wireless Headphones for Runners

Apple’s first true wireless earbuds for sport pair excellent sound quality with a long-running battery.

Cookware and bakeware,
Trevor Raab

RW Takeaway: The best running headphones are worth the splurge. (And this top pair is on sale for the holidays.)

  • A 9-hour battery gets you through a marathon
  • The ear hooks mean you won’t lose these mid-run
  • Incredible sound from such tiny headphones

    Deal! Amazon is taking $80 off the Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones. Act now to get them before Christmas with Prime shipping.

    Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones
    $179.95 (28% off)

    Top-notch sound? Check. Long-run comfort? Check. Easy pairing and reliable connectivity? Check. A battery big enough to get you through a marathon—or longer? Check.

    The all-new Powerbeats Pro boasts features unmatched by any other true wireless headphones. The only downside: They’ll set you back a bundle.

    I ran with the Powerbeats Pro for 65 miles in the first week I had them, testing them on everything from a sweaty tempo run on a 75-degree day to a 20-mile long run in a cold, driving rain. Here’s how they perform when you hit the road.

    Enormous Sound Stage

    This should come as no surprise from a pair of Beats, but these things sound incredible, especially for a tiny pair of in-ear headphones. When I set these ’buds up at my desk and the opening lick of Gary Clark Jr’s Catfish Blues rang out, I yanked them out of my ears thinking they must not be connected to my phone. I was convinced the song was blasting from my phone, angering my colleagues in our open-office setup. But, no, it’s just that the sound you get from the Powerbeats Pro is really expansive. It’s hard to explain, but every song sounds like you’re listening in a larger room, with speakers positioned away from you—it’s certainly not the piercing audio you typically get from small ’buds jammed in your ears.

    Of course, the sound won’t rival over-the-ear cans, but it’s mighty impressive for a pair of workout headphones. When they fully seal your ears, the bass thumps. But, as you sweat, the seal works loose and the sound gets a little thin. In that case, you can hear more of the environment you’re running through—I could hear sirens and helicopters when running in Central Park, but not bike bells or the conversations of tourists. That also means there’s a little wind noise as you run.

    Beats Powerbeats Pro
    Powerbeats Pro come with four ear tips so you can customize the fit.
    Trevor Raab

    Bluetooth Pairing for Dummies

    If you’re accustomed to any Apple devices, you know how effortless it is to pair them to your phone. The Powerbeats Pro are the same: open the case next to your iPhone and a box pops up on the screen asking to pair the earbuds. Click connect and you’re all set. Have an Apple Watch? The good news is the Powerbeats Pro earbuds are already paired with your Watch then. Gone are the days of digging through settings, putting headphones into pairing mode, and crossing your fingers that there are no glitches.

    Performance on the Road

    One knock on totally untethered headphones is that the small size necessitates small batteries. But, the Powerbeats Pro last 9 hours between charges—twice as long as other true wireless models—and the bulky carrying case packs another 15 hours. So, you’ll have no problem cranking tunes for your next marathon.

    On my 20-mile long run, I set out with a fully charged battery and returned, 2 hours and 35 minutes later, with 73 percent battery remaining. Quick math on the back of a napkin suggests these will last the claimed 9 hours.

    More exciting, however, is that a 5-minute quick charge gives you 90 minutes of playback. I put it to the test, letting the headphones play until they completely died—they did sometime in the middle of the night; they outlasted me. At 5 a.m., I put them in the charging case and the batteries rose to 17 percent in the time it took me to slip into running clothes and brush my teeth. My tunes played loudly through that morning 5-miler, and the music didn’t stop when I wore the buds into the shower afterward.

    I e-mailed Apple afterward to ask if it was alright that I wore ’buds in the shower—its marketing says only that they’re sweat- and water-resistant. Apple confirmed they are rated IPX4, meaning it’s okay to wear them outside in a rainstorm, but don’t submerge them or take them swimming. On that aforementioned 20-miler, I was stuck in a downpour the entire time and could hear rain drops pelting the earbud housing, but the Powerbeats Pro never stuttered.

    Beats Powerbeats Pro
    The case is huge, mostly because it has to hold the ear hooks, so you’ll likely leave it in your gym bag.
    Trevor Raab

    While the case is enormous, the buds themselves have a slim profile. The ear hooks can be bent to fit your head better, yet they’re slim enough to also comfortably wear sunglasses or a hat. Those same hooks help the ’buds stay put even on your hottest runs—other such headphones can slip loose when you work up a good sweat. I logged a lunchtime 10-miler in Central Park on a recent 70-degree day and never once worried about the ’buds falling out.

    Small Complaints

    Despite all the reasons we love the Powerbeats Pro, some people are going to gripe about them. Mostly, that’s going to come down to two complaints—price and case size.

    Yes, $250 is good chunk of change for headphones. Then again, it’s $45 less than it costs you to run the New York City Marathon. Or, it’s just a few Starbucks lattes more expensive than some of our other favorite running buds like the Jaybird Run XT ($180) and Bose Soundsport Free ($200).

    The other complaint is the size of the charging case. It’s a brick. It’s not a Tic Tacs-sized case like AirPods, which I carry around nearly all the time. Instead, this is gonna live in my gym bag and keep my Beats playing all week between charges.

    Powerbeats Pro
    $179.95 (28% off)

    • 9-hour single-charge battery life
    • Expansive sound
    • Ear hooks ensure secure fit
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