If you’re a swimmer, sweat-resistant headphones just won’t cut it in the pool. While there are a lot of headphones out there made for working up a sweat, very few that can actually handle a few laps. Thankfully, there are finally some waterproof options on the market that are emerging. Using our experience as a guide, we’ve compiled a list of waterproof earphones that you should consider. Don’t have a waterproof media player? We’ve included a couple all-in-one solutions to make sure you’ve options no matter what your media player situation is.
Just be sure not to use any of these picks at depths greater than 2 meters, because water pressure can and will ruin your inner ears’ day. Additionally, because this market is so niche: you’re unlikely to find much in the way of premium products, so you’ll be compromising a lot in order to get waterproof audio.
Underwater Audio Swimbuds SPORT
Most underwater headphones aren’t appreciably different in price or features, but that’s where the Swimbuds stand out. Rather than just offer the buds and call it a day, you can pick up a specially-treated iPod shuffle to go along with them. This lets you clip your player to your swimcap or wetsuit, and avoid having a long cable flapping around. Widely regarded as some of the best earbuds for swimming, you can also pick up these headphones without the media player.
If you need an all-in-one option, there’s really not much out there that compares with Sony’s model. They’re no stranger to making electronics waterproof (see the Xperia line of phones), so it makes sense that they’d dip their toes in this market. Sony’s underwater headphones come with 4GB of flash memory to store your favorite tunes, and if you want to stream from a source outside the pool, just tap your phones NFC target to the icon on the headphones and you’ll be paired in short order. You can even use higher bitrate Bluetooth profiles like AAC and aptX—though the audio quality isn’t amazing. Unlike strapping a waterproof iPod to your goggles, these are 100% self-contained, meaning: no cables, and fewer possible points of failure. They’re not cheap, but they’re the best all-in-one solution currently on the market… that doesn’t cost several hundred dollars.
Underwater Audio HydroActive
Using an around-the-head design, these headphones are a little less likely to come out of your ears when you’re in the water. Though it costs a bit more (and adds drag if you like to swim laps), frequent swimmers would be smart to look to this model. Having two points where the headphones are held in place is much better than just the one normal in-ears do, so the around-the-head band is a godsend if you find your buds tearing out often.
Diver Waterproof MP3 Player with LCD Display
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t want to invest a lot of cash into getting your music to your ears while you swim. Not to worry, there are budget options out there that encompass all aspects of your equipment needs. One of the highest rated is the Diver series of products, which include an MP3 player/FM radio, and a pair of ultra-cheap earbuds. Many users report the earbuds breaking after a while, but that’s common for most in-ears—using this player and a new set of X-1s any time something breaks will probably be a lot easier to justify spending money on than say, another $200 to replace the whole thing should something go awry. This particular model has an LCD screen, which allows you to actually _see_ what you’re doing, rather than just press’n’hope with an iPod shuffle. Neat!
If you’re like me and have trouble with varying levels of pressure in your inner ear, earbuds aren’t the way to go. Instead, you should try a bone conduction headset. Though these have a rather huge tradeoff in audio quality, your inner ear will thank you for not sealing it up while you’re in the pool. Just clip these to the google strap and you should be able to enjoy your tunes while you swim laps. The Duo can store up to 4GB of media files, and can be controlled by a series of buttons on the side of the left ear unit.
Your favorite waterproof headphones not on this list? Be sure to let us know! There are plenty of new options coming out as time goes on, so you may see us updating this list from time to time.
Next: Headphones Buyer’s Guide
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