Watery environments and headphones traditionally don’t mix well. Listening to music while swimming requires a device that is waterproof, but other activities may include encounters with water, too. 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 capable of handling water-filled environments. Thankfully, there are plenty of waterproof headphones designed specifically for swimming that will completely suit your needs. However, before you pick a pair of the best waterproof headphones for swimming, here are some things you should consider:
- Waterproof ratings
- Headphone style (ear-hooks vs earbuds)
- 3.5mm vs integrated MP3 player (and why Bluetooth doesn’t work for swimming)
IPX7 vs. IPX8 Waterproofing
The IP waterproof system is a rating scale that helps you determine the water-resistance of your devices. For Bluetooth headphones for swimming, you don’t even want to entertain anything that is rated below 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 IPX7 and IPX8 headphones.
Ear-hooks vs Earbuds
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.
With a good pair of waterproof headphones with ear-hooks, 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.
3.5mm Connector vs. Integrated MP3 Player (and Why Bluetooth Doesn’t Work for Swimming)
You might have noticed that we don’t have any wireless Bluetooth earbuds on this list, and that’s for a great reason: wireless audio technologies like Bluetooth don’t 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 the 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 Waterproof Headphones For Swimming That You Can Buy in 2021
Below you’ll find our recommendations for not only swimmers but for those 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.
1. JBL Endurance Dive
BEST WATERPROOF SWIMMING HEADPHONES OVERALL
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.
JBL Endurance Dive
2. 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.
Finis Duo Underwater Bone Conduction MP3 Player
3. 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 4 GB 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.
Sony WS623 Walkman
4. Underwater Audio Swimbuds Wearable MP3 Player
Enjoy your music without worrying about earbuds getting loose or falling out thanks to these waterproof headphones from Swimbuds. Swimbuds comes with 11 earbud tips to ensure you find the right fit. The ear-hooks add an extra level of security to keep these waterproof earbuds fastened to your ears during your aquatic workout. And with 8 GB of storage — about 2,000 songs — you’ll have plenty of music to keep you motivated during your laps.
Swimbuds MP3 Waterproof Earbuds
5. Pyle Flexstream Waterproof Headphones
BEST BUDGET OPTION
The Pyle Flexstream earbuds are about as no-nonsense as a pair of waterproof headphones for swimming can get. These buds have 4 GB of onboard storage for MP3s, 10 hours of battery life, IPX8 waterproofing and physical buttons which make it easy to control playback when you’re in the water. Other than that, there’s nothing fancy about these except that the cord is designed to bend so that it fits snugly around your head. And coming in at less than $50, these are one of the cheapest pairs of waterproof earbuds that have an integrated MP3 player.
6. Underwater Audio 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. But 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.
SYRYN Waterproof MP3 Player
7. 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.
Underwater Audio HydroActive Headphones
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.