Not so long ago participating in most water activities meant doing so without music because headphones on the market could not withstand the damaging effects of extended water exposure. Sure, some of them were water-resistant, but that only meant they were safe during the occasional rainfall or sweat. It was completely out of the question to listen to your favorite audio-book or album during activities like swimming, diving, and triathlons that require you to go underwater.
Thankfully newer materials and technology have made it possible for several underwater headphones to enter the market; but since understanding all that information can be tricky we designed this informative guide to help you find the best waterproof headphones to accompany your favorite aquatic activity. In it we’ll uncover the most important characteristics to look for while shopping, and even review our top five picks in depth.
Things to Consider Before Choosing
IPX Rating. The IPX rating system was created to give consumers a better idea of how protected their products were from water damage. This piece of information is usually found on the retail packaging, but can also be found by calling the store or manufacturer. Products earn an IPX rating after the manufacturer rigorously tests them to prove that they can be operated under different wet conditions. Products without this rating haven’t been tested so there’s no way to really know if the item is waterproof. IPX ratings are scaled from 0 to 8; the higher the number the better the protection. It’s this rating that tells you whether your headphones are safe in a light rain (IPX-4), can handle being splashed next to the pool (IPX-5). Only products rated IPX-7 and IPX-8 can be used underwater.
Fit. Water activities are usually pretty vigorous, so it’s important that underwater headphones stay in place. Underwater headphones generally come in two shapes: flanged and mushroom. Flanged shaped tips look like a Christmas tree. Mushroom tips look just like a mushroom. The flanged tips tend to create a better seal inside your ear, but are unsafe to use in deep water. Almost all headphones come with several different sizes of tips so that you can choose the one that fits most comfortably.
Construction. Waterproof headphones have to be able to withstand the corrosive effects of water, whether being used while surfing in saltwater seas or swimming laps in a local freshwater pool. They should be made of high-quality plastics and rubber that’s not easily damaged by salt or chlorine. Metal components, especially any connectors, should be gold-plated to resist corrosion.
Top 10 Waterproof Headphones Overview Chart
The ten headsets below were chosen based on their waterproof ability, fit, construction, and sound quality. A thorough review for our Top Five Picks is below it.
SwimBuds are one of the most popular brands of underwater headphones available, and for good reason. Their Sport Waterproof Headphones not only offer a short cord, and include loads of accessories, but they also deliver incredible sound.
What makes SwimBuds Sport stand out is their short cord. Measuring in at a mere 1.3 ft, the shortened cord alleviates having to wrap long cords around goggles and under swim caps. Swimmers really liked the way the shortened cord reduced drag on straightaways and stayed in place during flip-turns.
The short cord is a great start at keeping underwater users comfortable, but SwimBuds takes it a step further by including a bunch of extras such as spare mushroom and flanged tips, a waterproof extension cord if you want a long cord, ear hooks, and even a small tube of vaseline to help you create the perfect seal.
SwimBuds deliver very balanced, clear sound in and out of the water. Equalized bass and treble support audiobooks, podcasts, and all kinds of music. Best of all, none of the sound became distorted or muffled once we took these headphones underwater. Very little sound leaks from beyond the earbuds when the proper sized ear tip is used; small loose tips allowed sound to escape.
We see why SwimBuds continue to be the most popular underwater headphones. Their adaptability and sound quality are unmatched by any other headphones in the category. If you’re looking for the absolute best waterproof headphones, then you have found them.
Although OverBoard is better-known for their cases and bags than their electronics, that hasn’t stopped them from creating a satisfactory pair of underwater headphones perfect for lounging and snorkeling.
We’re impressed with their sound quality, especially that didn’t diminish when taken underwater. Overall, instruments and vocals stayed clear and precise even when played at high volumes. But we did notice that the buds don’t stay in place during vigorous activities like diving.
OverBoard’s waterproof earbuds are great for when your gear is likely to get soaked as a bystander or where lots of movement is not expected. Kids can use these at the beach without parents worrying about another set of headphones getting ruined. Parents can use them to listen to music while cruising down a slow river.
OverBoard created a satisfying pair of headphones that function well for your more relaxing water activities.
British-based surf company Northcore has a saying on their website that perfectly describes their Waterproof Headphones: Born out of Necessity, Built to Survive. Headphones aren’t Northcore’s primary product line. They were added in response to Northcore’s surf and snowboard customers growing demand for a high quality, durable set of headphones that could keep up with their active lifestyles.
Northcore offers several sized earbuds to find your perfect fit. It’s designed to fit any mini-jack socket and boasts 10mm aluminum speakers that are sure to please you bassheads.
Testing these we found that Northcore definitely delivered on their promise of strong bass. They offered excellent sound in a variety of active environments. The only problem we had was that their mushroom-shaped earbuds allowed water to pass through. This caused underwater sound to become muffled, but was easily fixed by reinserting the bud.
Soundwave’s exceptional durability and booming sound make this pair of headphones a ‘must have’ for anyone whose water activities include lots of adventure.
Since the early 2000s Pyle Audio has established itself as a one-stop-shop for all your audio needs. Their diverse selection and low price mean that you can find pretty much anything you’re after, including headphones for swimming.
The sound quality and design of these headphones perform adequately, but aren’t as clear or powerful as some of the other options. You’ll be happy to have music while you swim; you probably just won’t be getting lost in the bliss of the tunes. The ear hook fits comfortably over our ears but the tips of the earbuds easily detached from the earbud. This often left the small silicone pieces in our ear canals.
Overall, Pyle’s Marine Sport headphones are a good value if you’ve got a strict budget and aren’t overly concerned with hearing all the nuances of your music.
H2O Audio, the company behind the X-1 brand, is a pioneer of high-performance waterproof gear. They were the first to bring music to SCUBA divers in 2001 before the idea was popular, and created the market’s first waterproof headphones. Surge Sport shows their continued commitment to innovation.
X-1 Surge Sport waterproof earbuds can be submerged up for 12 feet and offer sound-isolating design making them perfect for wet or dry activities. We especially like that they come with five ear tips so that you can create the perfect seal for swimming, diving, surfing or even running.
We also liked the sound quality of these headphones in and out of the water. The bass was crisp, the speakers didn’t crackle, and the vocals sounded clear.
The X-1 Surge Sport is an all-around performer. It’s comfortable to wear and provides good sound in and out of the water.