If you’re a swimmer, sweat-resistant headphones won’t cut it in the pool. Thankfully, there are finally some solid options for completely waterproof headphones. Just because a pair of headphones can be submerged, though, doesn’t mean they can effectively relay audio. For that, you’ll need something with onboard storage. Since 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.
Editors note: this list was updated on July 17, 2019, to address music’s impact on workout performance.
Who should buy these?
Swimmers, paddle boarders, and people who find themselves oft precariously placed by water. Generally speaking, these waterproof earbuds are ideal for athletes and the profusely sweaty. After combing through a range of reviews and lists, comparing what’s what in this specific class of earphone, we’ve concluded that these are the standouts to make Aquaman jam out.
The best waterproof headphones are the JBL Endurance Dive
This pair of waterproof headphones includes 1GB of internal storage, so you can upload your favorite songs and listen from the pool. When swimming, be sure to switch to internal storage as your source; Bluetooth connectivity is for land listening because it can’t maintain a connection underwater.
JBL Endurance DiveFull Review
Despite the seemingly large housings, the earbuds fit comfortably and securely and serve as a fine pair of all-purpose workout earbuds, too. The touch-capacitive panel makes volume and playback controls easy to operate. Unfortunately, the Endurance Dive doesn’t support virtual assistant access, but who’s going to ask Google a question from the pool anyway?
Battery life is ok at just below 7.5 hours of constant playback. While this is a bit short for wireless earbuds, it’s more than enough to get through about a week’s worth of workouts before needing to top up. Plus, if the battery is fully depleted, just 10 minutes of charging via the included microUSB cable affords an hour of playback.
As far as sound quality is concerned, bass response is rather underemphasized for a pair of workout earbuds. In fact, the Endurance Dive may benefit from a some boosted bass so you can hear your music above the splashing water. Fortunately, this is easy to do with some basic EQ tweaks.
What you should know about waterproof headphones
If a pair of headphones is officially water-resistant or waterproof, that means that they’ve received an official Ingress Protection (IP) rating. Now, if you want to take a deep-dive into decoding IP ratings, make sure to check out our in-depth article on them. But if you’re crunched for time, no worries, just skim this table.
|IPX1||✓||Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
|IPX2||✓||Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
|IPX5||✓||Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
|IPX6||✓||Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
Waterproof doesn’t automatically mean a pair of headphones can play music underwater
In a similar vein, just because a pair of headphones is IPX7 or higher doesn’t automatically mean it can properly transmit audio underwater. In order to ensure your pair will work for swimming, make sure there’s onboard storage included in the headphones. This is well worth it for people who feel their performance is boosted when music is playing. Many others feel the same way and there have been multiple studies conducted supporting music’s impact on athletic performance. Worst-case scenario, you’re at least distracted from the pain.
Get a pair of earbuds with onboard storage if you want to actually use them for swimming.
Now, there are plenty of reasons to get waterproof headphones that don’t include swimming. For one, if you’re just clumsy, the added durability is always helpful. Also, if you sweat a lot or they get dirty, you can easily rinse them off without worrying about short-circuiting them.
Bluetooth codec support
Aside from that, Bluetooth codec compatibility matters. Not all codecs are created equal, and if you want to avoid all perceptible latency, get a pair of wireless headphones that support aptX. If you’re using an iPhone, then AAC is fine. Additionally, the better the codec, the greater the sound quality. Though, in all fairness, sound quality is likely the last thing on swimmers’ minds when using waterproof headphones.
The Pyle Flextreme has the highest IP rating
The Pyle Flextreme include 4GB on onboard storage, so you can fit a slew of playlists onto these headphones for device-free listening. The wire neckband conforms to the contours of your neck, providing a secure, non-intrusive fit for workouts. Like the JBL Endurance Dive, they too can be twisted in an infinite number of ways in order to fit into your back pocket.
The headphones provide around 10 hours of playback before requiring a charge. For better or worse, these use a microUSB connector, but it at least keeps costs down. The IPX8 rating makes these the most water-resistant earbuds listed. That said, the Flextreme doesn’t have an official dust-resistance rating, so taking these to the beach may prove risky.
The Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless is packed to the gills with features
If you need the latest and greatest and have a passionate disdain for all things wired, then the Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless is for you. It includes a plethora of ear tips, including both the silicone and memory foam variety. Though the battery life isn’t stellar (three hours), the charging case lets you squeeze two extra charges out of them before needing to search for a microUSB cable.
Jabra Elite SportFull Review
As far as true wireless earbuds go, the Elite Sport successfully maintain a solid connection that was only interrupted occasionally during Adam’s testing. On the left earbud, you’ll find volume toggles that double as playback controls when held down. The right earbud is also outfitted with a few controls.
Now, if you’re interested in fitness, you may be pleased to hear about the Jabra Sport app. It’s not incredibly intuitive but it gathers plenty of information from the Elite Sport’s heart rate sensor. If you want, you can listen to a training coach in your right ear that will rate your workout, depending on your exertion.
If you have the budget, the Bragi Dash Pro is another true wireless waterproof option
I think we can all agree that everything sounds better in a British accent. Isn’t that right, John Oliver? Engineered in the UK, the Bragi Dash Pro waterproof headphones are IPX7-certified, come integrated with Amazon Alexa, and include 4GB of internal storage. What’s more, they support both AAC and SBC Bluetooth codes, which is good for iOS users, not so much for us Android users. Regardless of your operating system, the Bragi app supports AI activity tracking.
Though you may have your own opinions on AI mind reading, it’s at least interesting that the Dash Pro can sense if you’re running, cycling, or swimming, and appropriately catalog the information for health tracking. The Bragi app also includes an activity coach to keep you motivated or annoyed, depending on your disposition.
Meanwhile, the touch interface is extremely intuitive and houses a bunch of optical sensors and gyroscopes that allow for a gestural experience. Battery life is lacking with five hours of playback time and about two hours for a full charge, but Bragi compensates by providing a charging case that gives you an extra five charges for 30 hours of on-the-go listening.
Enjoy the music with the Sony Walkman NW-WS413LM
Like the Bragi Dash Pro, these waterproof headphones double as a 4GB MP3 player. The water and dust-proof design keeps moisture out, letting you focus on clearly reproduced vocals and treble. Ease of use is emphasized in the software as you can drag and drop your music—be it individual songs or complete playlists—right into the storage folder.
It’s a quaint process that’s reminiscent of early days of the MP3 player when the Creative Zune was relevant. I digress, the physical controls are simple and easy to access, keeping your mind and body focused on training rather than fumbling around with a hodgepodge of unreachable buttons.
By far one of the best features, aside from waterproofing, is the three-minute quick charge feature. Yes, you read that correctly; three minutes of charging affords an hour of playback. This is great for those days that you forget to charge them until you’re at the pool. Generally speaking, the battery life is 12 hours, and if you’re so inclined, you can opt for a pricier 8GB model of these waterproof headphones.
If affordability is your top priority, go with the Mpow Flame
The Mpow Flame waterproof headphones take a more traditional design approach to constructing waterproof earbuds. Sure, the housing is still bulkier than something like the IPX4-rated RHA MA750 Wireless, but it’s much slimmer than others on this list. The ear hooks help to maintain a secure fit by distributing weight and pressure around the back of the ear.
As far as sound quality is concerned, the company tuned the Flame to be bass-heavy, so if you have an aversion to that, the Sony headphones may better suit your needs. Additionally, the Flame only takes 1.5 hours to fully charge; this allows for 7-9 hours of playback time. For such a cheap pair of headphones, the Flame includes plenty of accessories such as foam ear tips, a carrying case, a wire clamp to adjust the cable, and alternate ear tips. If you want a familiar fit with your waterproof earbuds, Mpow is the way to go.
You may also like: The best workout earbuds of 2018
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How we picked
Although we’ve directly reviewed a vast array of products here at Sound Guys, we haven’t gotten around to all of them. After all, we’re only human and are inherently subjective. To counteract our unavoidable bias, we do quite a bit of research by perusing online forums, reading other reviews (PCMag, CNET, etc), conducting Twitter polls, and more.
In short, this list is the running conclusions of thousands of hours of use from a growing list of contributors over many years. This is a living document, and it’s updated every time a new model knocks an existing one off their pedestal.
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