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Watery environments and the best Bluetooth headphones traditionally don’t mix well. Many modern wireless earbuds and headphones do offer some level of water and sweat resistance, but what if you want to get more than a little wet? Listening to music while swimming requires a device that is fully waterproof, but in addition, you need a way to play your music or audio while underwater. Water disrupts Bluetooth signals, and so even the best wireless earbuds won’t be very useful in the pool, no matter how waterproof they are.
To solve this problem, there are two main types of waterproof earbuds for swimming:
- Bone conduction headphones or earbuds with an onboard MP3 player for storing your music
- Headphones and earbuds that come with a radio transmitter that can handle aquatic environments
Swimmers aren’t the only athletes looking for waterproof earbuds in 2022. Even terrestrial athletes may encounter water while they work out. For example, getting drenched in an unforeseen downpour while out running or being covered in three hours worth of sweat on a long-distance bike ride can also spell the end of unprotected electronics. An easy fix to this problem is to ensure your devices are fully capable of handling water-filled environments.
Thankfully, there are plenty of waterproof headphones and earbuds designed specifically for swimming that will completely suit your needs. Keep scrolling to find our selection of the best waterproof earbuds for swimming, or read on to discover what you need to consider before choosing a product.
How To Pick the Best Waterproof Earbuds and Headphones for Swimming
IPX67 vs. IPX8 Waterproofing
The IP waterproof system is a rating scale that helps you determine the water resistance rating of your devices. For Bluetooth headphones for swimming, you don’t even want to entertain anything that is rated below IPX67 or IPX7 — your headphones will get ruined. An IPX7 rating means your headphones, or any device with that rating, can handle being submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, which makes an IPX7-rated device suitable for activities in and around the pool.
You’d think that IPX8 would be a step up from IPX7, and in some regards it is, but not quite how you might think. IPX8 ratings are determined by the manufacturer. Devices that are IPX8 essentially go through the same testing protocols as IPX7 devices, but manufacturers can bump it up to an IPX8 rating if, let’s say, a device handles submersion for longer than 30 minutes. Either way, if you plan on doing anything in the pool, you should only be considering headphones specifically rated for submersion underwater.
Ear-hooks vs Earbuds vs Waterproof Headphones
Earbud-style waterproof headphones have come a long way with being able to stay in your ears even when you are being physically active. But when it comes to swimming, we only recommend earbud-style headphones (no ear-hooks) if you wear a swimming cap that covers your ears. That will keep the buds in your ears. Otherwise, there is a good chance that water will knock them right out, and it won’t be fun trying to find your earbuds at the bottom of the pool. If you do want to buy earbud-style underwater headphones, look for products that come with multiple ear tips (or ribbed ear tips) so that you can find a good fit.
Alternatively, the best waterproof headphones with ear-hooks stay securely on your head even during flips and turns, so you won’t have to worry about wearing a swimming cap. As long as the ear-hooks are on firmly, and the plastic ear tips have a good seal, you should be good even when you are swimming laps.
Finally, you can also buy wrap-around bone conduction headphones, which are popular among athletes.
3.5mm Connector vs. Integrated MP3 Player
You might have noticed that we don’t feature a ton of Bluetooth earbuds on this list, and that’s for a great reason: wireless audio technologies like Bluetooth don’t always work so well in water. Even if they did, finding a way to keep your phone within the 30-foot range at all times is far less convenient than just having a dedicated waterproof MP3 player. With this in mind, you have two options: Pairing a traditional, wired pair of waterproof headphones with a standalone waterproof MP3 player, or going with a streamlined solution where MP3 playback is integrated into the waterproof headphones themselves.
Each has its own pros and cons, but what it mostly boils down to is longevity vs convenience. With wired earbuds, you can basically use them with any device that has a 3.5mm audio jack and they’ll basically work until the end of time as long as you’re good fussing around with wires and a separate MP3 player. Meanwhile, the waterproof headphones with the integrated MP3 player will be the easiest to slip on and off when you’re ready to swim, but eventually, the battery life will decline and you never know when these won’t be able to connect to a computer so that you can transfer MP3s to them.
The Best Underwater Earbuds For Swimming
Below you’ll find our recommendations for not only swimmers but for all athletes who push their workouts to the next level. Trust us, these headphones can handle more than a little sweat. If you get caught in a rainstorm while you’re on your morning run, or if you prefer to work out in the pool, these headphones won’t mind getting wet with you.
In our experience, the best waterproof earbuds cost between $60-$300. You can find cheaper options for sale, but they’re not always worth your time or money. You can find lots of cheap wireless earbuds that work perfectly well on dry land, but if you’re headed into the pool, then expect to pay a premium for the features described above.
1. Zygo Solo Waterproof Headphones
Zygo took a different approach when designing their waterproof headphones for swimming, and it’s safe to say that we at SPY are big fans of the outcome. The headphones utilize bone-conduction technology and a wireless transmitter to stream sound into your underwater workouts. Thanks to the bone conduction audio, you can wear the headphones comfortably over swim caps without loss of audio quality. Best of all, you can stream any content from your phone to the headphones while you’re swimming, which means you can listen to music, podcasts or workout routines while you get your laps in.
But what’s most impressive about Zygo’s set is the included walkie-talkie feature that allows coaches to give commands and tips while you swim. For anyone who is keen on not only bringing some music to their workouts but also improving their overall technique, we think you’ll love Zygo’s underwater headphones. We recently had the chance to test out these headphones, and we found they offered great sound, were easy to set up, and had reliable connectivity underwater.
Why We Like It: Stream music and audio from your phone, live coaching feature, premium sound
Full Review: We’ve Never Tried Anything Like the Zygo Solo
2. Nocmpic Bone Conduction Headphones
Using the latest Bluetooth technology, these bone conduction headphones pair and keep a strong connection with your mobile device, even when you’re in the pool. You can also forgo pairing it with your phone and store music directly on the headphones thanks to 8GB of onboard storage that allows you to keep thousands of songs readily available. It sports about eight hours of battery life, plenty for your morning run and afternoon swim before it needs a recharge. This is also one of the top-rated options in the underwater headphones category, which is full of buggy products that don’t perform as advertised.
Why We Like It: Strong customer reviews, onboard MP3 player and bone conduction audio
Waterproof Rating: IP68
3. Swimbuds Sport Premium Waterproof Headphones
Swimbuds is the most well-known brand in the underwater audio category, and the Swimbuds Sport wired earbuds are the follow-up to the brand’s popular classic headphones. These new Swimbuds were designed to offer less drag in the water, and that’s because Swimbuds products are designed specifically for swimmers. The downside to Swimbuds? You aren’t buying a complete audio package, and you’ll need a separate underwater MP3 player. Swimbuds does offer some bundles if you’re looking for a one-and-done solution. If you’re looking for a truly wireless solution, then we recommend investing in the more expensive Zygo headset or the JBL Endurance Dive.
Why We Like It: Top wired option, great for swimmers
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
4. Finis Duo Underwater Bone Conduction MP3 Player
The problem with water and earbuds is when water seeps into your ear canal, it can make music sound garbled and muffled. Eliminate that problem with the Finis Duo Bone Conduction MP3 Player. These headphones clip onto your googles and actually rest on your cheekbones, instead of going over your ears. Through bone conduction, the music travels through your cheekbone to your eardrum, so you’ll still be able to hear your music clearly. Ah, the wonders of science. Plus, you’ll be able to store around 1,000 songs, so you can keep jamming in the water. You won’t win any style points, but these might be the underwater music solution you’ve been searching for.
Why We Like It: Designed to clip to goggle straps, MP3 player and headphones in one
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
5. Sony Waterproof Walkman MP3 Player
BEST FOR THE ADVENTURER
This Sony Waterproof Walkman MP3 Player is made for extremes. Whether you’re swimming across a lake or hiking the highest peaks, this water- and dust-proof device is capable of coming with you. The tough and durable design is ideal for sporting activities and also includes 4GB of built-in memory for storing your music. The intelligent device also lets you answer calls and delivers up to 12 hours of playback from a full charge. In addition, the player is capable of dealing with saltwater and extreme temperatures. These headphones are designed to be submerged (including in saltwater), but they have a lower waterproof rating than the other options on this list.
Why We Like It: Sony’s famous audio quality
Waterproof Rating: IP67/68
6. Swimbuds Waterproof Earbuds (w/ SYRYN Waterproof MP3 Player)
While we’ve only featured headphones with integrated MP3 players so far, there are also standalone wired earbuds that are designed to be used with a waterproof MP3 player that can clip to your headgear. This bundle from Underwater Audio pairs the Swimbuds with the Syryn Waterproof MP3 Player, providing everything you need to listen to music while getting your laps in. The SYRYN has big tactile buttons so you can easily shuffle through songs, play and pause, even while you’re in the pool. And since this MP3 player is rated to handle water up to 10 feet deep, you won’t have to worry about diving headfirst into the pool and damaging the player. And when it comes to battery life, you’ll prune up before you outlast the 10-hours it’s rated for, and you won’t even begin to scratch the surface of the 2,000 songs it can store.
Why We Like It: Convenient all-in-one bundle of headphones + MP3 player, great battery life
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
7. H20 Audio Sonar
These bone conduction headphones have 8GB of onboard storage, so you can fit thousands of songs on them to prepare for your long session in the pool. It supports both m4a and MP3 formats, you just need to plug it into your computer and drag and drop songs to the headphones. They are completely waterproof and can handle a dive up to 12 feet with no problem.
Why We Like It: Built-in MP3 player, bone conduction waterproof headphones
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
8. H20 Audio Waterproof Headphones for Swimming
These wired headphones use special tips to produce a tight seal inside of your ears, so you can still get premium audio quality underwater. And deep underwater you can go, with an IPX8 rating that means these headphones can handle being submerged up to 12ft. The headphones come with five unique tips for small to large ear canals, making them great for your entire workout regimen. Although these aren’t self-contained, they’re still a solid pair of waterproof headphones, specially made with swimmers in mind.
Why We Like It: Swimmer-friendly short cord, flexible ear fit
Waterproof Rating: IIPX8
9. Underwater Audio HydroActive Waterproof Headphones
BEST WIRED OPTION
If you want a more fitted wired option, the HydroActive earbuds are a performance-focused model that’s also made by Underwater Audio and features a wrap-around design that is guaranteed to keep your buds in place as you let those butterfly strokes fly. However, these still feature a 3.5mm jack and not an integrated MP3 player. And for some, this is a good thing: You can use these with any MP3 player you like for years to come without having to worry about compatibility with file formats or computers, or whether the battery will go kaput.
Why We Like It: Secure wrap-around design, unique design acts as earplugs
Waterproof Rating: IPX8
10. JBL Endurance Dive
MOST STORAGE SPACE
Stream music while you’re in the pool with the JBL Endurance Dive Bluetooth headphones. If you find yourself losing connection, you can use the 1 GB of onboard storage to upload music straight to the headphones. And we wouldn’t recommend trying to outlast these headphones in the pool. You’ll most certainly turn into a prune before the eight-hour battery life runs out. When the battery does get low, a quick 10-minute charge provides one hour of battery life. This is a great option for impromptu pool sessions.
Editor’s Note: These waterproof headphones are currently out of stock, but we’ll update this post as soon as they’re available.