One truth about me as a runner is that I need my jams. No jams, no racing. I’ve meticulously curated playlists where the bass drops are strategically timed to get on my nerves when I lose steam. Apart from my sneakers, my headphones are most important piece of racing technology that I own. And yet, my decade-long search for the perfect pair only ended a few weeks ago.
Behold, the beautiful, purplish Beats Fit Pro.
To understand why I’m gaga over these buds, you have to know the headphones that didn’t make the cut. (Don’t worry, I’ll stick to the highlights and save you a Dickens-length novel about the dozens of headphones that failed me in my 10 years of running.)
Headphones with superior sound — like the Bose Sound Sports – are often too big for my tiny ear holes, and I hunt them too much when they eventually fall out. I tried one of the first bone conduction wraparound headphones from Aftershokz (now just Shokz). The thing is, I want to feel the “wah-ow-wah-wah-ow” of a sick bass drop vibrating in my skull. These, at best, delivered a sad “wah” that would embarrass Waluigi. I sealed my Jabra Elite Active 65t, but they still sometimes fell out of my ear and lost their shine when the AirPods Pro arrived and ruined me with their superior connectivity. The AirPods Pro were practical for everyday life, but they aren’t sturdy enough for my exercise regimen. (I have sweaty ears, okay?) I thought I had found a good compromise in the Bose Tempo. They were comfortable, gave me good situational awareness, and sounded great for open-ear audio sunglasses. Then they let me down during the New York Half Marathon. I need my jams, and these were drowned out by the mediocre music playing over the speakers. I’m a firm believer that this is a major reason I ran out of steam on mile 10 and had to hobble the last 3.1 miles to the finish line.
So now that you understand the struggle, let me explain why I love my Beats Fit Pro.
I’ve always hated winged tips because I find them uncomfortable. It wasn’t – it was the first shock. The Beats Fit Pro fits well in my ear and stayed in place for an hour of running on a hot summer day. I was sweaty, but the buds never felt like they were about to slip out of my ear like my AirPods Pro and weren’t disgusting when I took them out. After getting home, I did my best impression of a metalhead headbanging ever. The buds have stayed in place, and since that first run they have stayed in place and dry through multiple workouts. I don’t know if that’s how the tips fit in my ear, but I’ve never had this good of a fit with front headphones.
In the meantime, these aren’t the best performing headphones I’ve ever used, but they are very good. More importantly, I get my precious bass drops and my favorite K-pop singer sounds like a sweet, melodious angel. The noise canceling mode is also good enough that I can slip into the zone during workouts or while writing, but not so quiet that I can’t hear a bus behind me. Hot plug: in fact, I don’t like this when the noise cancellation is too good, like on the AirPods Max. It’s disconcerting, and I feel safer when I have some situational awareness. (However, the Beats Fit Pro blocks out my attention-seeking cat’s screams, so I’m set.)
They also get all the connectivity benefits of the AirPods Pro, so they can do triple duty for fitness, work and Netflix binges. I did next to nothing to set them up and never had to manually pair them to my MacBook Air or iPad. It’s magical when I go from a podcast on my phone to a work call on my computer, followed by an on-demand workout on my iPad. We love a multitasking gadget. Also, I haven’t lost them yet, but I’m a brainless dodo and inevitably will. When that time comes, I can at least use Find My to find out where I misplaced them.
Retail $200, the Beats Fit Pro was not something I could buy on a whim. (Although I’ve put them on sale.) But, in the context of how much I’ve already spent on wireless headphones, it’s pretty reasonable. It was within budget and as I get older I understand better that investing in good quality can save you more in the long run. These definitely fall into that category for me.
The last reason is silly, but I love that the “cute” colorway is pastel purple and not pink. I love a good shade of pink, but tech companies abuse it on gadgets to the point where it’s borderline insulting. Also, the majority of my headphones have been boring black with, at most, a gunmetal accent. The world is a dreary place and, as silly as it sounds, a good splash of color cheers me up when the news cycle is awful. Plus, it fits my gigantic water bottle, so I feel fancy when I train. Little pockets of joy are precious these days, and I’ll take any I can get.
Headphones, especially when it comes to fit, are an incredibly personal device. You may not like them like me. But, for me, the Beats Fit Pro is exactly the right combination of price, form and function. (The only thing I wish it had was wireless charging, but those are small potatoes.) It’s funny because I’ve long avoided the Beats Fit Pro despite the recommendation many trusted friends and colleagues. I’ve been burned before – the hype rarely pans out and feedback is an issue. But I love them so much it really surprises me, a crusty, old, jaded reviewer. I can’t remember the last time my earphones got me excited for my next run – and that’s exactly what they do.