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Best waterproof headphones
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 April 12, 2021, to include the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and Jabra Elite Active 75t to the notable mentions section.
Who should buy waterproof headphones?
- Swimmers, paddle boarders, and people who find themselves precariously placed near water.
- Generally speaking, these waterproof earbuds are ideal for athletes and the profusely sweaty.
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.
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 earbuds don’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.
Start here: Ultimate headphone buying guide
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 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
Before you jump in and buy a pair of waterproof headphones, you should know a few things about the tech specs and features.
What are IP ratings?
If a pair of headphones is officially water-resistant, that means that they’ve received an official Ingress Protection (IP) rating. Check out our in-depth article to fully understand IP ratings, but if you’re crunched for time, just skim this table.
Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min
Remember: no pair of headphones is actually waterproof. If a headset is submerged for long enough and at a great enough depth, it will fail after a given period of time.
Not all waterproof 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 the headset has onboard storage. This is well worth it for people who feel their performance is boosted when music is playing.
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.
What is a Bluetooth codec?
A Bluetooth codec lets your smartphone and headphones communicate with one another in order to transfer data (audio) from the source to the receiver. 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 includes 4GB of 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, this too can be twisted in an infinite number of ways in order to fit into your back pocket.
The headset provides around 10 hours of playback before you have to recharge it via microUSB cable. The IPX8 rating makes these the most water-resistant earbuds listed. 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.
As far as true wireless earbuds go, the Elite Sport successfully maintain a solid connection that was only interrupted occasionally during testing. The Jabra Sport app 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.
These earbuds don’t have onboard storage though, so they’re not great for swimming. But if you take your smartphone and these earbuds out paddleboarding, you don’t have to worry about accidentally falling in.
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.
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
Best waterproof headphones: notable mentions
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: These IPX7 rated earbuds are great for athletes who want something that can blend in outside of the gym. Samsung packed plenty of features into these noise cancelling earphones including Samsung 360 Audio, a great microphone system, and other experimental features.
- Jabra Elite Active 75t: If you want water-resistant earphones that can withstand a dunk in the pool, the Elite Active 75t is the headset for you. The compact charging case is durable and easy to grip just like the earbuds. You can control calls, playback, volume, and noise canceling all from the earbud buttons.
How we picked the best waterproof headphones
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 its pedestal.
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