Adidas has 3 new running headphones, which should YOU buy? Quavo from Migos knows which ones he likes…

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 with and without ANC and FWD-02 SPORT offer something for every kind of athlete (or rapper)

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC, Adidas Z.N.E. 01 and Adidas FWD-02 SPORT
(Image credit: Adidas)

Raindrops, drop tops. Are you looking for a new pair of running headphones or earbuds to wear at the gym? Good news: Adidas is releasing no fewer than three new pairs, ranging from cheap to high-end. If you like Adidas and you like true wireless running headphones, this is a great day for you, my friend. But which should you buy?

On offer are the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC – these have noise cancelling and top the range – Adidas Z.N.E. 01 – these do not have ANC and come in at under $100/£100. Probably of most interest for runners and gym-goers are Adidas FWD-02 SPORT which are more specifically designed with running in mind. They are all true wireless in-ear headphones, which is not a zone Adidas has ventured into. For my money, if you're making running headphones that aren't true wireless at this point, you are wasting your time – and mine! 

This is by no means Adidas' first visit to the sports buds rodeo, however. Its most interesting release so far has been the RPT-01 – this sits in our best running headphones top 10, largely because they are over-ear headphones, which is still fairly unusual in the workout market. 

For this wave of true wireless buds, it has once again teamed up with Zound Industries, which also makes the headphones branded as Marshall and Urban Ears. So technically speaking, by 'teamed up with' I mean Zound has made the buds, and Adidas has slapped its logo on 'em. Now that's teamwork. It makes the dream work, y'all.

The range

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC, Adidas Z.N.E. 01 and Adidas FWD-02 SPORT

Left-right: Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC, Adidas FWD-02 SPORT, Adidas Z.N.E. 01

(Image credit: Adidas)

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC – the lifestyle buds

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC


(Image credit: Adidas)

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC top the range and offer noise-cancelling – ANC stands for 'active noise cancelling' as I expect you know. 'Built to get you in the zone,' I would say they are aimed at a more generalised market of people who want comfortable and stylish true wireless buds, and may also go to the gym or pound the streets now and then. 

Proving this point, Adidas has teamed up with Quavo from Migos to promote the launch of the Z.N.E. 01 ANC. And while I'm sure Quavo is an excellent basketball player and seems in good shape considering all the Cristal and Hennessey he doubtless rocks, he is rather better known as a rapper in Migos than as a sportsman. 

As Adidas puts it, they have 'On-and-off the field comfort to meet both the sport and lifestyle needs of athletes.' The look and feel is said to 'match any activewear.' Uh-huh.

Image 1 of 2

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC

(Image credit: Adidas)
Image 1 of 2

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC

(Image credit: Adidas)

As well as noise cancelling, Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC feature an 'Awareness Mode' that lets in some ambient sound so you can 'stay in touch with your surroundings.' This is a very standard feature on noise cancelling buds; in fact I can't remember the last day I had ANC headphones that didn't feature this. A choice of ear-tips mean fit should be good no matter how weird your ears are.

Battery life? It's a solid but not game-changing 4.5 hours with ANC turned on. The battery case adds a further 15.5 hours by recharging the buds when you put them in it.

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 – the cheap buds

Adidas Z.N.E. 01

(Image credit: Adidas)

'Built to withstand various aspects of daily life' (?) these affordable but good-looking earbuds are also aimed at the more casual athlete, I would say. Adidas says the buds are comfortable and secure in your ears, and as there is no ANC you get longer. battery life here: 5 hours per charge, with an extra 20 from in-case battery top-ups. Which by my maths comes to 25 hours. That is still by no means class leading.

Adidas FWD-02 SPORT – the ones runners actually want

Adidas FWD-02 SPORT

(Image credit: Adidas)

There is nothing wrong with the other two Adidas buds, on paper, and with Zound providing the electronics I also expect them to sound good, in Zound's trademark, rather forceful way. They aren't so much workout buds as true wireless headphones that you could also wear for a workout, however. That is not the case with the Adidas FWD-02 SPORT – the clue is in the name! 

Selling for slightly less than the Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC, these are buds specifically 'designed to enhance the performance of runners.' So you get waterproofing rated at IPX5, meaning the buds are sweat-proof and rain-resistant, while a force sensor means their controls can be operated with gloves and digits fingers alike.

Image 1 of 3

Adidas FWD-02 SPORT

(Image credit: Adidas)
Image 1 of 3

Adidas FWD-02 SPORT

(Image credit: Adidas)

An awareness mode for runs and other outdoor workouts lets in sound, so you can hear traffic and other potential perils. 'Switch it off when all you want is the music,' Adidas suggests.

Here, the interchangeable ear tips and wings offer a 'perfect' fit as opposed to merely a comfortable one. Battery life is also enhanced a little, with 6 hours of playtime per charge and 19 hours of recharging in the case.

There are a few other interesting-looking features. The buds are coated in a breathable mesh fabric, so they can dry out quicker and better in between run or gym sessions. The battery case also has a detachable lid 'that removes the risk of the case breaking.' I can't say I have ever snapped the lid off a true wireless battery case, but I guess some of you must have, for Adidas to introduce this safety feature.

Speaking of the case, it's thin and lightweight, which will make a nice change for anyone used to the Powerbeats Pro's bulbous container.

These buds all look very promising, although of course it's not possible to judge sound or fit from photographs, no matter how stylish they may be. I'll have a review as soon as Adidas send samples.

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC, Adidas Z.N.E. 01 and Adidas FWD-02 SPORT: price and availability

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC

(Image credit: Adidas)

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC, Adidas Z.N.E. 01 are available now.

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 ANC costs $189 or £149. The Australian equivalent is AU$275 but we don't have official Australian pricing as yet.

Adidas Z.N.E. 01 costs $99 or £89 (approximately AU$165)

Adidas FWD-02 SPORT will be out later this year and will cost $169 or £139 (approximately AU$255)

Duncan Bell
Duncan Bell

Duncan has been writing about tech for almost 15 years and fitness ever since he became middle aged and realised he could no longer rely solely on his boyish good looks. He used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."
Pre-lockdown Duncan was widely regarded as the best-dressed man ever to work for T3 – admittedly not saying much. Post-lockdown he is looking forward to wearing clothes other than shorts and hoodies again very soon, assuming he can still fit into them. He currently writes about cycling, fitness tech that isn’t too heavy, and all things kitchen and home related.