When it comes to listening to music on the go, it can be easy to forget that the choices go beyond AirPods, bulky multi-hundred dollar headphones, and those cheap wired buds from the corner store. There’s a ton of variety in the earbud/headphone market that you may not have even heard of. Clip-on headphones are one such option, and they’re surprisingly versatile.
Clip-on headphones straddle the line between traditional headphones and fitness earbuds. In a lot of ways, they combine the best of both. If you aren’t familiar with sport earbuds, they’re like standard foam-tip earbuds but with a soft loop that curls around your ear. They come in wireless or wired varieties. When doing intense training or outdoor activities like cycling or running, these loops will help keep the in-ear headphones in place, so they won’t suddenly fly out. The compromise with these — and any in-ear headphones — is discomfort, as well as a loss of hearing clarity. Headphones, on the other hand, offer comfort and clear sound but can be cumbersome to bring around.
Clip-on headphones are compact and have ear-loops to keep them in place, like earbuds. But instead of in-ear tips, they generally have a comfortable foam on-ear pad. That makes them easier to carry around than headphones and more comfortable than earbuds. If you’re an athlete or commuter, clip-on headphones are worth considering. After all, no one wants an AirPod to fly out of their ear while jumping rope. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite clip-on headphones. Plus, we included some clip-on in-ear earbuds.
1. Koss Portable Stereophone Headphones
The great thing about clip-on headphones is that many of them are very inexpensive. Take this popular pick from Koss. These wired headphones use a standard 3.5mm plug with a four-foot cable. The on-ear design has a soft, replaceable foam pad for all-day comfort and a soft clip to keep it in place. On the Amazon listing, you can also choose the headphones and replacement cushions combo, which includes a package with six replacement pads. As for the sound, this option uses titanium-coated drivers to minimize distortion, and they have a deep bass response.
Pros: Affordable pick with replaceable ear pads, comfortable sport clip to keep them in place.
Cons: Cable is somewhat flimsy.
2. Panasonic Slim Clip On Earphone
A more minimalistic option is this pick from Panasonic. It has an all-black coloring with a contrasting white Panasonic logo. At less than 10mm, the headphones themselves are ultra-slim. This will make them easier to carry around and reduce the somewhat bulky look that some clip-on headphones have. Like many of the other options on this list, these headphones are wired. They have comfortable pads, and the ear-clips are flexible enough to put them on and take them off easily.
Pros: Sleek, minimalist look. Slim design means they won’t look bulky and they’ll be easy to carry. Comfortable pads and flexible clips.
Cons: Earpads are thin and can wear out or slip off somewhat easily.
3. Sony Sport In-ear Headphones, Black
A good in-ear option with a clip-on design is this affordable pick from Sony. These headphones are excellent for athletic types who find regular clip-on headphones don’t stay in throughout a workout. They come in black (which looks more like a slate gray), pink, and white. They’re also water-resistant, so they’ll be well-suited to handling workouts. They’re wired, and the wires are designed to be tangle-resistant.
Pros: Water-resistant design and secure loops make them a good option for intense workouts. Affordable and available in several colors.
Cons: Closed-loop design can make them somewhat challenging to put on.
4. LEVIN Bluetooth Headphones
This sporty, wireless option allows you to connect via Bluetooth, so you won’t get tangled in cables while working out. There are soft clips that fit around your ear, while a thin cable connects the earpads. Though they’re not truly wireless, you won’t have to plug them into a device. They have the look of sport earbuds, but they use soft on-ear earpads instead of in-ear buds. On the outside of the right housing sit the controls, including volume, skip, and a call button. The built-in microphone allows you to receive calls hands-free. Included with the order are a carrying case, replacement foam pads, and a charging cable.
Pros: Wireless, Bluetooth option with a built-in mic allows you to answer calls, skip songs, and change the volume with the built-in controls. Comes with a protective carrying case.
Cons: Ear clips are hard plastic and not the most comfortable. Headphones can give the sensation of pushing toward your ears, making them less comfortable.
5. Philips Over The Ear Sport Earbuds
These wired earbuds from Philips are designed with working out in mind. They have flexible rubber hooks that fit over the ear, and the sweatproof design means you can train hard in them. They also make great general-purpose earbuds, thanks to the microphone that lets you take calls and the 27mm speaker that provides crisp audio. The earbuds are available in either black or white.
Pros: Good options for working out. Built-in mic for taking calls.
Cons: Large ear clips may not be ideal for those with smaller ears.
6. Mpow Flame Bluetooth Headphones
If you’re looking for affordable sport earbuds, consider this option from MPow. It’s available in a variety of colors and features rubber clips that hold the earbuds in place while you’re working out. They’re wireless and connect via Bluetooth, but they do have a cable that connects the two earbuds to each other. That means that if one earbud falls out while you’re working out, it won’t fall to the ground.
Pros: Affordable option that’s available in a range of colors. IPX7 waterproof. Good option for working out.
Cons: Not the highest audio quality.
7. Besign Bluetooth 4.1 Headphones
Another good wireless option is this pick from Besign. It comes in a stylish mix of shiny and matte black. The built-in microphone allows you to make phone calls without touching your phone, and you can control your music from the buttons on the sides of the housing. This pair uses Bluetooth 4.1 for quick connections and has an impressively long battery life for a unit of its size. This option features on-ear earpads, ear clips, and a cable connecting the two pads. The foldable design means that they’re portable and easy to pack. Included in the box is a soft carrying pouch, charging cable, manual, and as well as the headphones.
Pros: Fast Bluetooth, built-in microphone allows you to take calls, sleek black look. The comfort of on-ear headphones with the portability of earbuds. Features noise-cancellation.
Cons: Not the greatest quality mic, so it may not be ideal for phone calls.