Friday, November 14, 2008

Headphones Guide: How to choose sport headphones that suit your exercise routines, and keep you safe.

Sport headphones need to be chosen carefully, according to a number of different factors.

Certainly, there are plenty of choices available and a wide range of prices. But you can narrow down the options by thinking a little about the nature of your sport or exercise, and some of your own preferences.

Also, keep in mind that whatever your preferred exercise routine, your headphones won't be giving you the same quality of sound as you expect from your home headphones.

There are always outside noises that will interfere, plus the sounds you make yourself as you exercise.

Sport headphones are a compromise – combining good sound quality, plus lightness, comfort, and the ability to stay in position.

Here are a couple of the questions you want to ask yourself.

1. Do regular earbuds stay in your ears? Or do they fall out if you move about too much?

If you are among the luck few for whom earbuds will stay in your ears regardless of your head position, these can be a good choice for when running or cycling.

If, however, earbuds have a habit of falling out of position, then you can look at earpieces that are better designed to stay in place.

Options here include over-the-head headphones, neckband headphones, earclip and ear harness headphones and so on. Each of these designs ensures that the earpiece stays in place.

2. Do you exercise outside, on the street or on public pathways?

If you run, jog or cycle on public streets or on designated trails in parks, there is a safety issue. You need to be able to hear passing cars, cyclists, pedestrians and other people around you.

So when you choose your sport headphones, stay away from any kind of headphone with sound-isolating qualities.

In other words, if you exercise in public places, don't wear in-ear headphones, also known as ear-canal headphones.

It may be tempting, because the sound quality is generally better, and with the right fit they will stay in place as your exercise. But because they fill your ear canal, they can leave you vulnerable, simply because you won't be able to hear passing vehicles or spoken warnings from those around you.

If you work out in a gym, this is less of a problem.

For an idea of the various styles available, check out our sport headphones category.