I’m very particular about my exercise headphones. I like ones that go around my ear but not over my head, so that I can still wrap the cord around my iPod and throw it in my bag. I blast music when I work out, so they have to stay put and have decent bass. And thanks to the huge amount of time I spend in the gym and doing gym-related activities, they have to hold up to…well, sweat.
When I read about the NEO Aerial7 headphones I was intrigued by one thing: memory foam. The ear buds claimed to free my from fussing and fidgeting with my earphones during my workout, as well as resist sweat and offer great sound quality. I was curious about how this could change my workouts, so I set out to prove them right.
I put them through a fairly rigorous series of tests: a turn on the elliptical machine, a strength training session and jumping rope. The most surprising benefit came during my elliptical test: the headphones were nearly noise-canceling; I could barely hear the machine humming beneath me. The sound quality was good though slightly quieter than I like. The headphones’ worst performance was during the jump rope: the high-intensity movement jostled the ear buds pretty significantly, and since my hands were tied up flipping the rope I couldn’t reposition them as they fell out of my ear.
Though they didn’t hold up amazingly during the vigorous movement, they did pass the sweat test, as the day I did my strength training routine, the air conditioning was broken in my gym, leaving the temperature hovering near 85 degrees. Despite the drenching I got during that session, the slick surface of the memory foam never threatened to fall out of my ear, even as I held plank poses.
Perhaps the best testament to the headphones wasn’t fitness-related at all. I spent the long weekend in Las Vegas, and during my flight there from N.Y.C. I was seated next to a particularly rowdy bachelorette party that managed to drink the plane dry of alcohol well before we passed the Grand Canyon. I pulled out my Aerial7 headphones during the flight, and they may be the only reason I managed to finish this column.
So in sum, if you’re into stationary cardio (treadmills may not be the best match for these guys) or strength training, these headphones are non-slip and a good choice. But if you’re aiming for anything high-impact, they will bounce around (and out), so for me, I may go back to my around-the-ear pairs.