Buying a pair of the latest biometric sports tracking headphones enables you to monitor your heart rate, distances and calories burned right from your ears.
While the focus is currently on wrist-based heart rate monitors, such as the Fitbit Charge 2, Garmin Forerunner 235 and, of course, Apple Watch Series 2, ear-based biometric headphones have advantages. The ear can be more accurate than the wrist, thanks to the reduced movement and thin skin, which makes readings easier to take.
Essential reading: Best heart rate monitor
The main reason to invest in a pair of heart rate monitoring headphones is that it's a piece of kit most fitness fans buy anyway. But buyers beware: most require a smartphone to be taken out for a workout, too.
Read on for our list of the most advanced sports headphones money can buy.
Bose SoundSport Pulse
Bose's first optical heart rate headphones play nicely with RunKeeper and Endomondo, although the company is vague on other fitness apps. Designed for a tight fit to reduce that irritating feeling of wireless headphones falling out, Bose has also released its own Bose Connect app, which will show heart rate data in real time. While we can't vouch for accuracy, sound quality is assured and it's great to see a big player like Bose getting into the game.
$199.99, bose.com | Out October
Vi fitness coach
Vi's headphones – made by LifeBEAM – feature bpm and heart rate variability sensors and capture data on motion, elevation for serious sports stats. The idea is to deliver actionable insights on weight loss optimisation, injury prevention, running technique and provide adaptive training plans live to your ears. It's fully backed on Kickstarter, but won't deliver until December (at best).
While there are plenty of exciting releases on the horizon, here are the best biometric headphones you can buy today.
Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition
The Jabra Sport Pulse are great all-round sports headphones, that track your activity as well as supplying your ears with block rocking beats. The solid sound and range of data that's collected is impressive, although they're likely to be used as well as a dedicated sports watch, rather than as an alternative.
We found the response of the optical heart rate tech to be spot on, even matching a chest strap for accuracy. The app is also brilliant, with guided workouts and a focus on VO2 Max, as well as standard running and fitness metrics. It's not perfect however, as you'll have to reconcile running with your smartphone.
Read our Jabra Sport Pulse review for the full lowdown.
Bragi Dash headphones
Bragi Dash headphones are a pair of super-connected buds that can track your pace, heart rate and distance right from your ears. On the music front there's even 4GB of storage for tunes, which means you can leave your running watch and smartphone at home. Dash is waterproof up to a metre and will track running, cycling and swimming, which is perfect for triathletes.
Read this: Full Bragi Dash review.
Samsung Gear IconX
More day-to-day headphones than a pure sports offering, Samsung's Icon X boast 4GB for your running beats and a charging case to keep them powered up when you're about and about.
When it comes to sports the IconX has a built-in accelerometer plus optical HR to track movement, bpm and distance travelled, spitting out a calorie burn at the end of the workout. Obviously it works with Samsung's S Health app but also Endomondo, MapMyRun, Runkeeper and Strava, too. The big downside, however, is the complex set up process with the Android companion app – and the lack of iOS support.
Check out our full Samsung Icon X review.
Sony Smart B-Trainer
The Smart B-Trainer packs GPS, an accelerometer and heart rate monitoring in the right earpiece. There's also audio fitness coaching and it suggests what music tracks to play to match your heart rate. They're also fully waterproof but there's no specific pool based workouts. There's 16GB of storage for your music and the compatible runs on iPhone and Android.
Read this: We run with the Sony Smart B-Trainer
SMS Audio Biosport
Developed in an unlikely partnership between PC chip-making behemoth Intel and rapper 50cent, the SMS Audio Biosport headphones track your heart rate, sync with running app Runkeeper and are completely waterproof. The most incredible part, however, is that they can harvest energy from the sound jack itself, so you don't have to charge them to keep tabs on your ticker. Downside, slightly uncomfortable for some and limited compatible apps. They're going crazy cheap right now, however.
Essential reading: SMS Audio BioSport headphones review
LG HRM Earphone
These smart buds can keep tabs on your pulse from inside your ear-canal, along with metabolic rate and blood oxygen levels during exercise. A small computer built onto the strap, which connects via Bluetooth to the LG Fitness app, does the processing. They also play your music, too.
$179.99, lg.com | Amazon