Adidas didn’t quite nail it when it launched its first two pairs of sports headphones last year. The FWD-01 in-ear buds lack the rock-solid fit required for exercise, while the on-ear RPT-01s are, well, on-ear headphones, so although we rate them among the best workout headphones, their use is limited to stationary, weights-based gym workouts.
The third set of buds in the range – the in-ear RPD-01s, which is confusingly close to the name RPT-01 – are the cheapest at £69.99, and thanks to their superior fit they’re also the best for sports. The sound isn’t exceptional and the neckband can be annoying with certain types of exercises, but the long battery life and secure fit make these a great option for well under £100, comparable with the best running headphones.
Compared with the FWD-01 headphones (seriously Adidas, better names please), the main design differences in the RPD-01s are the neckband and smaller earbuds. The latter have an in-ear with wing-tip design that provides a comfortable and secure fit, especially for running.
During running and cycling the neckband also generally sits comfortably in place and stops the wire tugging on the buds. In strong winds I found that the band would very occasionally get caught by a gust and pull on the headphones, though this isn’t something I’d rate as a major flaw.
When doing home workouts the neckband was more of a problem. When you lie down to do any kind of exercise on your back the band falls off the back of your neck. Thanks to regular adjustments it never actually pulled the headphones out, but it was a bit annoying.
The sound quality of the RPD-01s is merely OK. Although I wouldn’t expect the world for £70 there are similarly-priced headphones that sound better, such as the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 and Jaybird Tarah. The sound became fuzzy at times at high volumes, and the bass was entirely lacking in punch. You can play with the sound settings in the partner Adidas Headphones app, but I didn’t find it made a huge difference, moving the bass from the “almost non-existent” category to “adequate”.
The battery life of the RPD-01s does impress. I found the claimed 12 hours of play time to be borne out by real-world use and there’s a quick-charge feature that will net you 3hr 45min of playtime from 15 minutes of charging.(opens in new tab)
The controls are also easy to use while exercising, with a fairly standard three-button set-up on the right side of the neckband for controls like play/pause, skip and on/off. On the left side is a button that you can set to activate your voice assistant, or play a certain Spotify playlist or artist. It’s a nifty feature for having your killer running playlist available with one click, as long as you use Spotify.
Another useful feature is the magnet in the headphones that means they will connect to each other so you can wear them like a necklace when not in use.(opens in new tab)
In terms of water and sweat resistance, the RPD-01s are rated as IPX4 – not as high as some sports buds like the Jaybird Tarah, but I’ve never had any trouble with sweat or rain breaking IPX4-rated headphones.
The Adidas RPD-01 headphones deliver value for money, especially if you’re a runner, with the neckband and earbud design offering a reliable and comfortable fit. There are headphones with better sound quality available for a similar price, but you will have to accept shorter battery life than you get with the RPD-01s, which are exceptional on that front.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.
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