Our parents were right. They saw us with our Walkmans and yelled “You’re going to end up with wires growing out of your ears!” Now, they don’t literally do that, but we live in an age of ever-present headphones and earbuds of all shapes, sizes and purposes. And whether you are snowboarding, gaming or hooking up, here are the ones you need for, um, optimal performance…
Swimming — Sony Smart B-Trainer by Sony ($280): Losing your focus due to swimmer’s ear can suck but losing your rhythm and lap count can be worse. The waterproof Sony Smart B attempts to help with a heart rate monitor, accelerometer and voice coaching. Oh, and a built in MP3 player allows you to stroke without some bulky external device slowing you down.
Running — Plantronics BackBeat FIT ($130): These wireless stereo earbuds keep up with you no matter the workout, and the on-ear controls allow you to switch up your beats without looking at your phone, smart watch or music-playing device. The included reversible armband keeps your phone secure and gives you a spot to stash your buds when you’re done.
Weight Training — Beats Solo2 Wireless ($300): Muscle heads needing an adrenaline boost before hitting the weights can find it in these phones. Lightweight yet durable, with longer battery life and wireless functionality, the current Solo2 model does all the heavy audio lifting with on-ear controls to adjust media playback and buffer out gym noise.
Snowboarding — Outdoor Tech Chips Universal Helmet Audio ($130): These super-durable Bluetooth audio drop-ins are perfectly designed for ski and snowboard helmets, offering a two-button interface that can play, pause, adjust volume and answer calls without you needing to take off your gloves. Place them inside any helmet with an audio liner and dominate the slopes.
DJing — V-Moda Crossfade Wireless ($300): “The only headphones I’ve seen that look good and still have amazing sound.” If a signoff from ace DJ Avicii doesn’t sell you on V-Moda’s headphones, you might need to tune your hearing. The Crossfade Wireless packs the same award-winning quality as its predecessor—only in wireless form—optimizing sound when mixing and scratching around big crowds.
Cycling — Monster SuperSlim Wireless ($150): Cyclists are constantly on the move. But when taking calls while pedaling fast through the city streets, the need for a versatile in-ear set-up is pivotal. Thankfully the SuperSlim Wireless offers freedom and function alongside Bluetooth streaming, crisp clarity, five hours of playback, and a lightweight, sweat-proof design that keeps the buds in place.
Gaming — ASTRO A50 Wireless Headset ($300): Every hardcore gamer needs the right equipment to stay up on the COD: Advanced Warfare leaderboards. Astro’s industry-leading headset provides a uni-directional microphone for team communication plus three EQ settings to support customizable transitions between media and gaming. Meanwhile, cush construction offers enough head relief to get you through all-day Madden 16 sessions.
Travel — Bose QuietComfort 25 ($300): Taking the red-eye out of town and need to block out ambient noise? Meet your new mile-high buddy. The QC25 is engineered with Bose’s patented noise-cancellation technology to silence outside interference like the crying baby two rows back. Take in balanced and rich sound quality during in-flight naps, and savor the ability to listen to music even after the noise-reduction battery dies.
In-Home Listening — Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless ($300): The luxury audio staple prides itself on manufacturing high-end headphones with gorgeous ergonomics and pristine sound quality. So for the hermit audiophile who can’t walk away from his vinyl system, B&W offers a pair of wireless sound cans to satisfy your analog and digital tastes. The P5 Wireless functions like a hi-fi speaker, boasting dynamic drivers that produce a smooth soundstage to deliver a convenient, personal music-listening experience in the crib.
Sex — Samsung Level U ($30): Just because she’s a yapper in the sack doesn’t give her the right to kill your vibe. Made for over-the-neck comfort with wing ear gels, the Level U fits securely and can discretely disappear when you’re lying on your back. The large 12mm speaker units can pump out solid bass to enjoy your Yeezy playlist, you know, anytime.