Talking tech since 2003

For the longest time, I have been on the hunt for a comfortable, great sounding headphone that I can safely sweat in. I have tried Beats Solo 2’s and 3’s, Beats Studio Wireless, Jaybird BlueBuds X, Jaybird X2, Power Beats 2, Bose Sound Sport, and most recently, a pair of Jabra Elite’s–all with the intention of finding the ultimate gym headphones for cardio and weight lifting. While some were better than others I have yet to truly find something that will stay on with little to no adjustment for long periods of time, such as 7 mile runs and 90 minute lifting sessions. Now I don’t want you to get lost in this and feel like I’m taking you on a verbal tour of a CES, but I needed you to understand where I am coming from before I introduce a pair of headphones that are comfortable, great sounding, over the ear, sweat proof, and built to last between charges.

The headphones I’m talking about are the LIVV headphones by Mark Clayton. You read that correctly. The story goes something like this. Former NFL player Mark Clayton was training one day wearing a pair of Beats and they slipped off and broke. Mark decided to make his own headphones. Much like Beats, which were designed by a music artist for the sole purpose listening to music, the LIVV headphones were made by an athlete for athletes. And if you know anything about athletes: we like our music.

LIVV packaging

The packaging on these is excellent. They have a pull the cover off style, reminiscent of Beats, but the similarities end there. Inside the box you’ll find an almost hidden in plain view square pouch containing the manual and a leather carbon fiber-style case containing the LIVV headphones. Inside the case there is a removable velcro pouch with a zipper which contains USB and AUX cables.

LIVV build quality

LIVV unboxing.

The headphones have a flexible metal band covered in a soft rubber plastic-like material that sits either behind the top of your head or slightly on your head. This makes for a comfortable or relaxed fit depending on how you adjust them.

LIVV headphones also have removable ear pads making them easy to clean and change out so you can always stay funky and fresh. This is an issue with your typical over-the-ear headphones as they get gross over time (I’m looking at you: literally every other brand).

One of my favorite things about the LIVV headphones is the button layout. They have dedicated buttons for skip track, previous track, play/pause (single button), volume up, and volume down all on the shell of the right ear cup. And the left ear cup has a Bluetooth on/pairing button as well as access to the micro-USB charging port and AUX jack.

The play/pause button can be held down for 3 seconds to activate MP3 mode where you can play songs directly from the headphones 8GB of onboard storage. Adding songs is as simple as plugging in the headphones via micro-USB and dragging and dropping the songs onto the LIVV headphones.

LIVV with 8GB of onboard storage

The 8GB of onboard storage is an excellent feature. Just plug in the headphones to your computer and transfer away. I have a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, so I used my USB-C to USB-A adapter and had no trouble. I was able to download my entire workout playlist on iTunes via Apple Music and drag the files from iTunes to the LIVV headphones. That was it. It was that easy.

At first glance you might think the 8GB storage is only good for leaving your phone at home or in your locker at the gym. But there is a secondary usage: if you go running with your Apple Watch or other smartwatch that has an activity tracker you can use the watch to do the activity tracking while pressing a single button on the LIVV headphones to activate MP3 mode and listen to music. I found this to be easier and faster than the W1 chip from Apple that’s built-in to AirPods and select Beats for switching connection to your Apple Watch.

LIVV sound quality

Wearing the LIVV headphones.

These headphones sound excellent due to their 40mm driver. The mids, highs, and lows are all very balanced. I tested with Netflix audio, EDM, rock, hiphop, even a little jazz, and was pleased with everything. They sound on par or even better than most headphones in the $300 and below price range. If you are an audiophile they’re not quite on the level of Sennheiser or Bower & Wilkins but you will enjoy the sound.

The phone call quality was excellent. I had tested between AirPods, Bose QuietComfort 35’s, and LIVV headphones and the LIVV’s seemed to be equally if not more clear. I had no issues with call quality and would absolutely recommend these for calls.

Battle tested and combat ready

The LIVV headphones have 10-12 hours of battery. With that said, they certainly have held up for multiple workouts for me without needing a charge. I will say you should make sure you adjust them before you go for run. They may be too tight or too lose depending on your head size but once you get the right fit and wear them, heads will turn, your head will turn, but the LIVV headphones won’t move. They are excellent to run with on the treadmill and they sound great whether you’re watching Netflix or listening to tunes. I was able to do my workout without hearing the chatter of others or terrible gym music. WINNING!

Improvements/Things I wish LIVV headphones had

I’d love to have the ability to shuffle tracks from the onboard storage MP3 mode. This could be achieved with an additional physical button on the left ear cup. In fact I think moving the MP3 unit to the left ear cup and having the left LIVV logo activate on the MP3 mode and change the right cup to a stay as play/pause but also adding the ability to hold down the button to activate Siri or other voice assistant would be very cool. It would also be nice if the headphones had a battery life indicator either on the headphones themselves or achieved by a voice notification like other headphones have.

Lastly, and this isn’t necessarily a product improvement, but I would like to see LIVV offer replacement pads on their website.

Thoughts to LIVV with

For a first generation product the LIVV team nailed the core use case which was a solid over-the-ear headphone that is sweat proof, water resistant, great sounding, comfortable, long lasting, wireless, adjustable, easy to use, and with great build quality. So yeah, they really did get a lot right. That being said, since these are over-the-ear headphones that are designed for exercise, I did feel like they were sometimes a bit much while working out–they are a bit big/bulky and can make your head feel hot while exercising, particularly while running.

Overall I highly recommend them, especially for the gym. You can order a pair from their website for $299.99.

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